Tag Archives: mx-5 cup car

2017 MX-5 Cup Cars Already Being Built at Long Road Racing in North Carolina

Huge props to the Long Road Racing social media team… I checked in with a silly comment on facebook: “drive-by wave to the best MX-5 shop on the East Coast” or some such statement, and someone replied: “Come Visit!”

So visit I did… I was making good progress on my Florida Road Trip, with about 20 minutes to kill before the restaurant opened – my designated foodie pit stop before continuing on to Jacksonville. And what better excuse to kill time than checking out some MX-5 race cars being built…? the actual process of it!

Some may remember my earlier visit to Long Road Racing in March while returning from another Florida Road Trip where I volunteered at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hours. It was a neat tour then… but this was a great follow up. Considering the racing season just wrapped up at Road Atlanta with MX-5 Cup playing a support role to Petit Le Mans, there were plenty of banged up MX-5 cup cars being re-built… some with body panel damage others with blown engines, where new ones were being put in. And then there were the shiny new 2017 models being ready to go through the configuration process, roll cage install, suspension and braking components upgraded, etc.

I had such a fun time being a tourist. And I wasn’t the only one… apparently some journalist from Racer magazine was getting a private tour also, look for an upcoming write up about the Long Road Racing prepped street-version of the Cup car to hit the streets soon… This time around I took a ton of pix:

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Oh and it’s worth mentioning that Long Road has plenty of OEM new take offs from all the standard cars before they’re configured. You can buy wheels/tires combos… complete seats, or even Long Road Racing designed office chairs that utilize the stock ND Miata seat. There’s a whole pile of brand new air bags for sale. Soft tops… exhaust systems. And I’m sure plenty more. So if anyone is looking for some brand new stock take-off parts, I’d give Long Road Racing a shout. I’d be the first to say that facebook gets a real quick response.

I’m looking forward to flagging some MX-5 Cup races next season, they are sure a lot of fun especially with the huge fields!

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PS. Thanks for the freebie Long Road Racing t-shirt… I already have a ton of Mazda swag, but it’s my first MX-5 Cup factory souvenir, I’ll wear it proudly!

Worked my First “Pro” Event as a Starter at NARRA / Trans Am / Global MX-5 Cup Weekend at Watkins Glen Int’l

Woo Hoo! I still can’t believe it but I was lucky enough to work the starter stand for my first pro event weekend at Watkins Glen Int’l.

My goal for this weekend was just to watch the Global MX-5 Cup race for their second stop on the 2016 calendar after Laguna Seca last week. I knew I would have fun flagging but I couldn’t even imagine they would allow me to work the Starter stand… but they did and a big thanks to Jim Wilbur for giving me the opportunity. I certainly greatly appreciate it!

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I have to say I was a bit nervous because my only prior experience was working some club racing at Thompson Speedway and I had made a few hiccups during that day. But this time I was ready to learn on the go and it was a lot of fun doing it. The atmosphere was a lot more relaxed to my surprise. Things went pretty naturally and my training from Thompson Speedway paid dividends. I was in good hands on Friday and thought that was going to be it… I figured the locals would not want to see an outsider taking such a spot away from one of them and that I’d be put back on F&C roster the next day… which is exactly what happened. I got to work Turn 7 which was a blast in itself because it allowed me the opportunity to do a few laps around the newly repaved circuit while getting to my post. But on Sunday I got a surprise of a lifetime… I was back on Start! Woo Hoo!!!

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Friday was a very wet and rainy day… I went from wearing shorts driving up to the track on Thursday to wearing few layers plus my rain gear on Friday but it was still bearable. On Sunday though the weather took a turn for the worse… the temps were in the 30’s! The four layers I had on were insufficient, I was absolutely frozen, and for the end of the Trans Am race at the end of the day we had snow flurries coming in waves… it was absolutely nuts!

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I was thrilled with the opportunity to work on the Start / Finish stand, so much so I would love to do it again in the future. The view of the pit lane across from us gave you a good vision of what was happening throughout the race. We had to keep track of incidents around the track also and display the appropriate penalty flags, etc. I loved it!

The best thing about working start was going up to use the race control bathroom which felt like a steam room being either heated too much or it was just that cold outside. The views from Race Control were amazing, you could see most of the track up there. Parking under the front straight grand stand was convenient also, sure didn’t worry much about getting stuck in the grass like at turn 7. What a tremendous experience this was!

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Mazda MX-5 Cup Car in SCCA Club Racing

One of the cars that caught my eye early on upon arriving at Palmer Motorsports Park was a brand spanking new Mazda MX-5 Cup Car from Long Road Racing (the place I got to visit in North Carolina on my road trip back home from Florida in March).

While I knew the cars were sold as a package to anyone willing to shell out $55k (+/-). I didn’t quite comprehend the possibility of someone getting one to flog it in SCCA Club Racing… in a field of mostly NA and NB gen Miatas… Who’d do that?

Gregory Pecora apparently would. I didn’t get a chance to meet him until the end of the race day while walking back to race control from Turn 1 where I was stationed, and he was conveniently set up in the paddock directly in front of my point so I can see the car all day. But why let facts get in a way of a good story, the whole weekend I was speculating what was going on with that vehicle… you see most of the day Friday, during practice and the first race or two, Gregory was pretty consistent slotting himself between two NA Miatas somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was confused. Shouldn’t the ND be faster than the NA’s? Is he running some sort of a restrictor or a handicap to balance the performance of the vehicle?

On race day Saturday the speculation got worse! Gregory came out on the formation lap while the track was mostly wet. Made it as far as Jessie’s station at Turn 5 pulled over and let the field by him starting the race if not dead last pretty close to it. Then he spun it at Turn 4 on the first green flag lap where I had perfect vision of the incident watching from Turn 1. He pitted and retired from the race. For the second race he circulated around for formation, started the race and retired after first lap again… What the hell was going on?

Things improved quite a lot later in the day when the rain stopped. Gregory started form the back of the field and relatively quickly moved up a number of positions. It was exciting to watch! The leader of the race in car #37 / Flatout Motorsports NB MX-5 Miata, had been dominating all weekend as the driver “double-dipped” and raced in almost every race group (except for open wheeler’s and SRF’s), finished first at least four or five times during the day, in the race with the ND, the #37 car managed to lap him before taking a checkered flag, but then I look across in the paddock and the folks in Gregory’s entourage are happily displaying the little checkered flag winners get for taking the top step on the podium in their class. Had he won that race? Apparently so… I was confused!

I will be first to admit I have no idea how the SCCA Club Racing classes work, even in a group of identical Miatas most cars have several classes stickered on them typically with lines through the ones they don’t want to represent in a particular race. But I thought both #121 ND and the #37 NB that lapped it for an overall win were both in STU… maybe there were sub classes in the same group? Not sure… but it was nice to see the ND win.

I went over to the paddock to ask Gregory for permission to take some shots of his car and he explained to me the reason for early retirements in the morning were because he did not have rain tires for the car…. D’oh!!!  Of course that’d make perfect sense… and it would explain why he suddenly picked up speed on slicks in the dry! He also said he set the lap record first time out in his class, that’s pretty impressive also! I congratulated him and snapped a few shots:

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Gregory reminded me to give a shout out to Long Road Racing when sharing these pix. He was very appreciative of the outfit saying that he had spoken with them earlier in the day as they were providing technical advice to him for the race. How cool?! So for all you up and coming racers, the choice to get started… go out and buy yourself a jalopy that you can painstakingly convert from street car into a race car or go to LRR and for a fixed amount get a brand spanking new MX-5 Cup Car that comes with all the racing and safety equipment standard, along with tech advice on race day via your phone or internet connection.

In my naive view, it was the best looking car of all the Miatas on track this weekend. Very happy to see one racing on the Club level.

Post card from Palmer Motorsports Park: Whiskey Hill Raceway

Another last minute road trip to New England to help Jessie staff the NER SCCA club racing season opener at Palmer Motorsports Park: Whiskey Hill Raceway. And it turned out absolutely fantastic!

Palmer Motorsports Park is my #41st track to marshal. I was excited to check it out. It’s a brand new facility that only opened last year and still has that brand new track smell to it. Lots of areas are still a work in progress, but what is finished looks very impressive. It’s pretty fascinating how much rock… nay, boulders there are here. It reminded me of Pikes Peak… except instead of going up into the heavens forever, the track climbs up and then swoops down in a series of zig zag zoom zoom turns… which I was lucky enough to experience for myself at the end of day Friday when they let workers drive the track… at speed… in pouring rain. It was a Wicked Pissah! of an experience, I loved it sooooo much!

I’ll write a longer debrief later, but for now enjoy some pix:

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Pretty low key entrance… but the boulder lined driveway into the facility gives you a preview of what to expect at the track itself.

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Worker transport was very useful not just while getting flaggers to stations during the work day, but also at the end of day when we took it for a spin in town of Ware to celebrate Cinco de Mayo…

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Back to the track… the 2D layout doesn’t do the 3D track justice!

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NER SCCA region folks are a tight knit community of down to earth, hard working, racing enthusiasts! Racers and Flagers alike…

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My favorite toy of the weekend was the MX-5 Cup Car from LRR, but I’ll write more about it in a separate post.

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I was lucky enough to score some Mazdaspeed swag on this trip.

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As well as some worker “TIPS” the Track Incentive Plan which is $8 per slip of which you get a few during a race weekend. Three of these plus a $1 bill were redeemed for a $25 Shell Gas Card which almost paid for my fuel bill on this trip!

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First day I got to enjoy the views working Turn 3.

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It was a great Blue Flag station.

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The first day ended with a tasty warm meal.

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And of course I got to haul ass around the wet track, for 2 laps.

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While there was a little bit of variety, I was thrilled to see the majority of race cars at the track were Mazda MX-5 Miatas… and #37 in particular mopped the floors with all of it’s competitors as the car raced in multiple classes… it won against other Miatas, it also won against a mixed field of similar cars… and it won against a field of GT’s on a wet circuit, none of them could put the power down.

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I had an absolute blast! And I’d love to return to this facility when the surrounding forest/trees are covered in luscious green leaves. Although baren trees certainly contributed to better visibility, especially when I worked Turn 1. I will be back here for sure!