Tag Archives: mazda motorsport

Single-Make Fiata Series? Yes, please! Spy Shots of Abarth Fiat 124 GT4 in Italy

This is pretty awesome news from the motorsport spies in Italy. Fiat really is developing a GT4 version of the Fiat 124 Spider.

SportsCar365 says so

And so does Daily Sports Car:

This was either just picked up from a translation of a French fan site of Italian machinery. Or reporting of further sightings of the car being tested.

I’m really happy to see this.

I’m a huge fan already of the Fiat Abarth Rally car that came out a while ago:

The GT4 which apparently will be seen racing in a single-make Italian series, would be an amazing addition to the American version of the Global MX-5 Cup as well as the Japanese Miata series and European MAX5 series.

The Fiata is not dead yet!

It was Tough to be a Mazda Fan at Daytona 24 Hour this Race

I had high hopes for Mazda Motorsports DPi team this weekend. Team Joest showed so much potential at the Roar. And then 2017 repeated itself… deja vu all over again.

Right off the bat one of the cars had a hard time leaving the Le Mans style grid in pit lane. Remarkably IMSA allowed the car to retake its position on the sighting laps before the green flag started the race.  At one point (first full course yellow if I remember correctly) the car ended up in P1 briefly because it didn’t pit like the rest of the leading pack… but things fell apart quickly. I remember thinking, well at least it’s only tire failures which Mazda could easily blame on Continental Tire like Wayne Taylor Racing did, but long before the race ended there was an engine fire that took one of the cars out. Both would DNF from this year’s Rolex 24, much like last year.

What a shame!

The owners lounge in the fan zone  was similarly disappointing. I remember when they were generous… I remember collecting Mazda swag long before I bought my Miata. It encouraged me to develop enthusiasm for the brand. This year it was purely for show if you looked from the distance. Inside the fancy display you got some pictures on the walls with a nice Die-cast Model of the original Cosmo which you couldn’t even purchase. If you got a red wristband after registering as a Mazda owner, the lady behind the podium offered you a Mazda lanyard and a coffee mug. If you got a black wristband you only got a lanyard.

Why so stingy Mazda?

I hope with the money they saved on fans they could buy some better reliability. If that doesn’t work maybe their money is better spent slapping a Mazda sticker on a Cadillac powered Dallara like the Spirit of Daytona team… though their car failed to finish also, so clearly success isn’t guaranteed.

Hopefully things turn around in the future… It was obvious to see that Mazda Motorsport didn’t come to Daytona 24 to win it.

Spec MX-5 Cup Team is Hiring NC Miata Mechanics / Crew / Techs

Update: WOW! Quickest rejection response I’ve ever gotten. Good luck to all y’all that may qualify.


If you are starting your New Year off looking for a Motorsport job like me, you may be in luck. Atlanta Speedwerks is now hiring full time mechanics, techs, and crew to work on their fleet of Spec MX-5 Cup NC Miatas…

Interested?

I definitely am!

 

If the cars in the top photo (borrowed from ATLSpeedwerks/Level-Up Facebook page) look familiar… you are not wrong. You have seen them on this blog before. They are the ex-Skippy Racing School Miatas that were auctioned off at Road Atlanta recently… all 16’ish of them.

I’m not only happy to see them restored from this:

To this:

But Mazda Motorsport has created a companion / feeder series for their established Global MX-5 Cup to run these cars in. You’ve heard of Spec Miata race groups in Club racing. Now we have Spec MX-5 Cup too.

Good stuff… and good luck if you choose to pursue this job. My fingers and toes are crossed.

Visiting Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

For my last event of 2017 Racing Season I signed up to volunteer the HSR Classic 24 Hours of Daytona “presented by IMSA”… cheapest way to get to Florida it seemed was to drive down on one of the Hertz one-way rentals for $4.99 per day and fly back. So I did, and of course the goal along the way was to stop at Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina for their amazing pig wings, but after seeing all the Miata’s driving around the area I figured there’s got to be a shop somewhere locally specializing in these little cars.

So I paid a visit to Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

Very interesting place with a lot of cool projects going on. And since people always post on facebook looking for Miata car parts, I snuck a few shots of their Miata graveyard for the bone pickers out there… Need parts? Call Panic Motorsports… some pix:

This Mazdaspeed is for sale!

Miata knock-offs…

Thanks for the license plate cover!

See you at the races…

Skip Barber Racing School Bankruptcy Liquidation Buy Your MX-5 Race Car!

One man’s misery is another man’s blessing…. or however that saying goes. I should point out that Skip Barber the man is no longer affiliated with the Racing School he started and one that bears his name. He’s doing fine and happy owning Lime Rock. The school on the other hand has gone bancrupt. And there are a lot of unhappy people who haven’t gotten paid looking for some of their hard earned money.

This weekend a facebook post popped up about a Liquidation Sale of all of Skip Barber Racing School’s assets. Someone may be very interested in this. The press release is below.

I’m just going to go out on a limb and speculate here that soon there will be a ton of NC Miata’s hitting the track in club and amateur racing scene that were once Skippy cars. In fact I always said that the reason I bought my Miata was because one had crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during the Playboy MX-5 Miata Cup race… well there were two classes in those races, with the slower field being Skip Barber Racing School cars/drivers. Looking at the pictures the Skip Barber Miata’s even use the same BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp tires I use on my car!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Liquid Asset Partners to Acquire Skip Barber Racing School

New York, NY – Skip Barber Racing School has received U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval in New York to sell all their assets and intellectual property to Liquid Asset Partners. The school is one of the largest racing institutions in the world. It has a 40+ year history providing racing instruction, defensive and high-performance driving classes, amateur and professional racing championships, and corporate entertainment experiences. Their list of Alumni includes top racers, business professionals, and world famous actors.

While most of the physical assets will be sold in a three month liquidation sale starting August 29, the iconic brand is available for outright purchase offers or potentially for licensing to regional race schools or tracks that want to grow their race programs. Liquid Asset Partners utilizes a unique approach to Intellectual Property and values the enormous brand recognition of the Skip Barber Racing School. Other schools and race tracks with instructional programs could add quality and demand to their race programs from the Skip Barber Racing School association.

A three-month liquidation sale will be held in Braselton, GA starting August 29. The sale will include hundreds of race cars and high-performance engines, transmissions, and components for Barber formula race cars, Mazda Miata, Porsche 911, Mustang GT, semi-trailers, trucks, fleet equipment, race equipment, memorabilia, and historical vehicles.

“Skip Barber Racing School has built a great track record for over 40 years as the leading race and performance driving school. We feel honored to have this opportunity and are starting to talk to different parties about options for its future,” said Bill Melvin, owner of Liquid Asset Partners. “The demand for Skip Barber Racing School training is very high, and it’s amazing how most men know the Skip Barber Racing School as the best of the best. It just needs the right structure for it to grow for another 40+ years. Licensing to numerous tracks could be an option. Adding the Skip Barber Racing School to any track curriculum would be a huge draw for any local race community, or a national player may emerge to acquire the brand for a national program already in place.”

Press contacts or interested parties should contact Liquid Asset Partners at 616-719-5917 to discuss.

About Skip Barber Racing School:
Since 1975, Skip Barber Racing School, based outside Atlanta, GA, has operated a fully integrated system of racing schools, driving schools, racing championships, corporate events and special projects across North America. The organization delivers a combination of high quality instruction, equipment, facilities, and memorable experiences. Their history includes associations & ventures with Mazda, Dodge, Porsche, Ford, and more. Some of their best know alumni include Michael Andretti, Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo-Montoya, Bill Elliot, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Petty, Al Pacino, Charlie Sheen, Jerry Seinfeld and more.
www.SkipBarber.com

About Liquid Asset Partners:
Since 1974, Liquid Asset Partners, based in Grand Rapids, MI, is an acquisition and disposition leader in motorsports, retail and wholesale industries across North America. Liquid Asset Partners specializes in creative ways to assist companies in unlocking value from underperforming assets. Some notable projects include Erik Buell Racing (motorcycles), BarcLounger, Circuit City, the Indian Motorcycle Company, and more.
www.LiquidAP.com

And of course the pix:

photo credit: Liquid Asset Partners facebook page

So if you’re in a market for new or used parts, tires, engines, transmissions, complete and incomplete cars, haulers, vans and trucks do reach out to this company and get a little piece of the action probably at greatly reduced price…

 

Liquidation Sale! Skip Barber Racing School liquidation starts Aug. 29th & will run 3 months until everything is sold! 5489 Technology Parkway Braselton GA. Call for info 616.719.5917

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Big day  working on my friend Bill’s Miata today.

We were planning on changing his spark plugs to NGK Laser Iridium plugs as well as put in his new rear end links and replace the license plate light bulbs to the new LED ones I ordered online from Taiwan. The day started early for Bill with a trip to Ramsey Mazda to help diagnose an air conditioning leak… which they spent many hours looking for but couldn’t find.

It was a very wet start to the day. I had to run some errands before meeting Bill at the dealership (to also pick up my rear sway bar bushings) and it was tough to get around with multiple highways flooded. But we managed to meet up, went to have delicious Korean BBQ for lunch and the day suddenly cleared up and became sunny!

So here we go…

I first vacuumed and then blasted the top of the engine with compressed air to clear any debris from the area we were going to work on…

and there was some debris, especially from the underside of the engine cover that left a fine sand-like crap over the wiring

I’ve done the spark plugs on my car at around 50k miles so it was interesting to tackle Bill’s car which has over 100k miles on his and presumably these were his original spark plugs…

Getting to them was easy, instead of unplugging the coil packs I just moved them upwards and out of the way

Most of the holes were clean except for the one next to last, which had a visible amount of oil in it

Shiny new plugs… while undoing the old ones we quickly were faced with them being stubborn and not turning as freely as you’d want them to… so Bill went ahead and sprayed them with PB Blaster… and while they soaked we moved on to doing some other repairs

So we proceeded to changing Bill’s rear end links. I had him using my old take offs as a temporary solution to see if there would be any issue. The shop that did his suspension install used some cheapo aftermarket ones and we quickly discovered that one of the end links had it’s ball ripped out of the housing. So it was nice to see that the OEM pieces held up and we replaced them with new ones.

After this we took another crack at turning the spark plugs and all were loose except for the very first one closest to the front of the car, so we blasted it again and moved on to installing rear sway bar bushings on my car hoping that would stop the clunking… spoiler alert… it didn’t! But now I have new bushings in the back. Oh well!

My old bushings looked fine. We lubed them up with Mobil 1 grease not that long ago. But I was hoping against hope that they were the culprit of my clunking noises. Now I’m not sure what it is. We put on new end links, new bushings…  what could it be? Bad shocks? But bad shocks would surely show wear. I am stumped!

Back to finish the spark plug change:

With enough lube all came out effortlessly. In fact they came out with much less effort that I did on my car doing the dry swap.

The hole that had oil in it was showing clear debris left when the spark plug was removed, so I cleaned it out nicely before installing the new one

All done! Started up no problem. No engine noise. No vibrations. Perfect!

After a short test drive we proceeded to the last job of the day… changing the pesky license plate bulbs on the trunk lid… one of Bill’s burned out and that was the reason I ordered a bunch of them from Taiwan to replace mine as well

I already knew how to approach this change. Pulled out a bunch of fish line and started working my way along the backing of the light unit. The rubber piece that touches the metal trunk lid was very much stuck to it. So the reason for using the fishing line was to break it loose and then the light unit slides to the left and pops out by pulling on the right side of it. And so that’s exactly what I did.

All the plastic tips in tact, nothing snapped or broken. Nothing brittle

Interesting observation the soft top Mazdaspeed spoiler has a little area cut out for the Mazda logo… who would have thunk?

I asked Bill to bring his new ramps so we could change the rear end links, and they fit very nicely into his trunk. Taking up all the space!

The LED’s look perfect!

What a difference a couple of hours make. It was a perfectly sunny day for Bill’s drive home… I had an awesome time working on this car looking forward to another excuse to do something else in the near future. Thanks Bill!

Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen Spotter Guides by Andy Blackmore

Don’t know about all ya’ll but I’ll be spending this Forth of July Upstate New York, volunteering yet another Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen… you know the race weekend is near because Andy Blackmore has released a whole series of new spotter guides for this event. And because IMSA is pretty awesome, there are spotter guides commissioned for nearly every series racing!

So go to SpotterGuides.com or IMSA.com and download them:

What can you download?

  • WeatherTech Sports Car Championship spotter guide
  • Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge spotter guide
  • Porsche GT3 Cup North America spotter guide
  • Porsche GT3 Cup Canada spotter guide
  • Lamborghini Super Trofeo spotter guide

OR… do what I do, and stop by one of the many info booth’s at Watkins Glen International and pick up a spotter guide as a souvenir to take home… those are my favorite!

links:

http://www.imsa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SpotterGuides/

2017 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

 

The Debut of MX-5 Cup Cars (Hardtops) in PWC Pirelli World Challenge

My goal signing up to volunteer the Nissan Grand Prix of VIR was to see the Global MX-5 Cup cars make their debut in the Touring Car class of Pirelli World Challenge series. This series, unlike the Global MX-5 Cup which I got an opportunity to volunteer for under the IndyCar sanction at Alabama Grand Prix a week prior run with hard tops (instead of open top convertibles). I figured it would be great to check out the new hard tops in person… funny enough, most of the tops didn’t arrive until the very last day and the final race. Most of the practices and the first race for some cars was run open top. I’m sure many teams had a nail biting experience waiting for the big box shipment to arrive.

Naturally I took a million pix of both the new ND MX-5 Cup cars and the established NC MX-5 Cup cars that have run and win PWC TC / TCA class for years now.

The Skittles Team:

And the Long Road Racing trailer:

On Saturday big wooden boxes started arriving… and that’s when you started to see hard tops on ND’s being installed… At last!

At first it seems like each team got one hard top allocation, but by race day on Sunday all teams were wearing theirs.

They do look pretty good!

Congrats to the Miata teams that took the top step on the podium this weekend. It was great to watch!

Thanks Playboy!

Fun fact: I bought my MX-5 Miata thanks to Playboy…

Disclaimer – this is a clean post, no nudity will be shared. 

Although I have to say I ended up with a car I can go topless in… well, not me, the car can… ugh nevermind!

What better time than Valentine’s Day to share the story of how I fell in love with the Miata. I was single then, I’m still single now, so this is not a real romantic story but since I’ve been spending a ton of money on this damn car it might as well be shared. (the story that is)

All the way back in October of 2014… I was volunteering Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It was my turn to work as cross-track safety at Turn 2 (the corner with a big Mazda billboard, since the brand sponsored both the track and the event: officially Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda) when a car went off track at Turn 1, skipped over the gravel trap and fucking nailed the wall. The incident occurred down hill from me, and as soon as I saw the smash occur I started running down towards the crash hoping I could potentially help. The race car was a white NC Miata and the series was the Playboy MX-5 Cup that ran huge fields of cars that were split in two classes with the newer/faster class being Playboy Miata and slower class Skip Barber School Miata.

When I got closer to the scene the driver had gotten out of the mangled vehicle unhurt. But the car was in a sorry state. The driver’s side front wheel got ripped off in the incident and lay about ten feet from the car. I looked over the concrete barrier that the car hit and there was a large piece of broken rotor stuck in the concrete smoldering, with steam/smoke still coming off of it. It was nuts!

I think at this moment I realized I wanted a Miata of my own.

I’m pretty sure I had decided then and there because by the time it came around to the big worker dinner party and swag giveaway I had my eye set on Mazda gear and picked up several items including a t-shirt and a few hats to help start my collection.

As previously mentioned Mazda was the title sponsor of the race, Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda. So I took a shot with my swag and the Andy Blackmore Spotter Guide:

It took me several months to finally find a Miata of my own but at this point I was determined!

Over the next few years I kept coming back to Road Atlanta to volunteer one of my favorite endurance events, featuring the Mazda LMP2 Lola’s cruising along…

This was the place I got to see the brand new ND Global MX-5 Cup debut (or at least several of their test vehicles, before the debut).

I discovered the Skippy Racing School Miata grave yard which was a very sad sight to see. But this place and the Playboy series was still the main reason I think behind me falling in love with the little convertible. And I’m thankful for that.

Now if only my little red race car would help me find a real Girlfriend

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24 Daytona Int’l Speedway

Mission Accomplished!

My goal for this 1,000+ mile Road Trip in my MX-5 Miata from NJ to Florida was to get some close-up shots of the new Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24. It almost looked like it wouldn’t happen. Every time we would visit the paddock during lunch or at the end of day, both Mazda’s would be in pieces… I wanted the whole car. So we tried again on the very last day… instead of going to the CFR SCCA compound for lunch we rushed to the paddock and snuck into the Mazda pits where a few photographers crammed into the back of the minivan they were going to use to drive on track and take pictures of the Mazda’s following them… that didn’t happen. We talked to one of the crew who told us that the #55 Mazda was called in for tech inspection, so we started making our way back to that area when we saw one being towed. Not sure what happened at inspection but they pulled it into the garage and it didn’t return for the afternoon practice session. At the end of the day we again rushed back to the paddock after watching #70 car practice, and caught it just in time after it was parked in it’s garage and one of the crew started removing the rear engine panel off. I made a comment that no matter how we tried we just couldn’t seem to catch the car in once piece, the crew member looked at me, stopped walking away, and put the panel back so I can take some pictures. Wow! What a nice gesture!?! He let us come into the garage and get some good selfies there. Thanks so much SpeedSource employee!

Here’s the pix, finally:

A perfectly executed 5 point turn 🙂

I’m really thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to watching the team do well in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship!

First impressions of the car? I love the body styling. It’s all brand new. Instead of the bug-eyed look of the previous gen Lola, this one has much sleeker surface, almond-eyes, nice RX-hues to it all over. But the power house sounds exactly the same as the old one. Reliability issues remain similar. Both cars took a while to come out to practice and just as quickly went back into the garages. When they were running both were very quick. For the longest while in one practice session #55 was quickest. #70 was right behind it. The #13 Rebellion Racing prototype took the top spot away but the Mazdas were solidly quick. They did not get nearly as much track time as the Cadillac DPi’s did and that’s what makes me think that they will continue dominate while the Mazda’s will challenge them for pole position at most races, faltering back due to reliability during the races. Sucks but that seems to be the reality. I’d like to be proven wrong. Good luck SpeedSource & Mazda Motorsports!