Mazda Racecar: Craig Naylor’s STS Miata

The Miata is one of the most popular and successful cars in autocross and SCCA Solo. Light and nimble, it’s a great car for maneuvering around a tight course marked out by traffic cones. Early cars can also be quite inexpensive, and Craig Naylor’s Street Touring S Miata is a perfect example.

“I bought the car in 2009, second-hand, and I bought it for $900,” says Naylor. “It had supposedly a blown motor. I took it to a buddy, he looked at the motor and it turned out only the head was gone. I replaced the head and I had it at the San Diego [Solo National] Tour four years ago for the first time. It wasn’t competitive yet, but I ran it for the first time with less than $2000 in the car.”

The Street Touring classes are limited-modification classes running on street tires with a treadwear rating of less than 140. The rules allow intake and exhaust changes, along with alternate springs, shocks and swaybars as the primary modifications. He also swapped the exhaust from the catalytic converter back and a K&N air filter in a cold-air intake box. “It’s a stock car with some modifications that people might do on their street car,” Naylor says.

In his case, that involved buying $5 coilover kits from eBay – including the springs, which he threw away in favor of H&R springs, 700lb. front and 350lb. rear. He removed the rear sway bar and got about 2.5 degrees of camber on the front and and 2.25 degrees in the rear. “I’d like more, but the car won’t let me have more than that,” he adds.

“I love the car. A bunch of friends had Miatas, and I had fun jumping in their cars and driving them around. Even completely unprepped and on regular street tires, they were a hoot out on the course,” he says.

The car is good enough to get into the trophies at the big events, and at the recent San Diego Solo Championship Tour, Naylor’s co-driver, Glen Hernandez, won STS.

“I built it on a budget. It’s not nationally competitive. But locally, it’s very competitive. As long as you don’t have a ringer car come in, the car can get there.”