Marc Monnar: Into the Unknown

SCCA Solo competitor took his RX-8 where few others dared tread – right into the Street Prepared category.


Marc Monnar didn’t listen to the naysayers.

If he did, he never would have built an RX-8 to compete in the Street Prepared category in SCCA Solo. If he did, he would have ended up with a Street Mod class car like so many others. If he did, he might not have done something everybody said couldn’t be done and ended up with a fourth-place finish in D Street Prepared at the 2014 SCCA Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Neb.

Monnar started autocrossing in 2008. Then, in 2010, he lost his RX-8 to a car accident. When it was time to replace it, he chose an RX-8 Sport with the idea of taking his Solo competition a little bit further and a little more seriously and set out to build it for the Street Prepared category. At the time, the class where the RX-8 was placed in Street Prepared was populated by turbocharged, all-wheel-drive cars. Few believed the RX-8 could compete in the class. But Monnar did.

“Everybody said it’s a waste of time, a waste of money,” Monnar says. “Everybody said, ‘Build it for the street tire class.’ Well, I wanted to see what could be done without the turbo, because everybody said if you really want to spend money on it, put a turbo on it and put it in Street Modified. That just sounded like a cookie-cutter build. Everybody had done it. I wanted to see how far I could take the Renesis rotary engine and keep it naturally aspirated.”

Monnar did it, and found supporters. But he also found detractors. If he did well, the critics said, the rules makers would keep it in B Street Prepared, where they felt it was outclassed. They wanted Monnar to stop racing it.

“As time had gone on, all the boost cars moved to another class, and BSP was undefined and people said the RX-8 will never compete against the 350Z or the S2000, but my thoughts were, ‘No one has tried.’ I’m the only one going to national events in Street Prepared with an RX-8. I couldn’t make it to Nationals in 2012, so I had to wait until 2013, but by then the car had moved to DSP, which was funny, because everyone that was in favor of moving it to D Street Prepared were people that had never built an RX-8 or planned to build an RX-8 for Street Prepared.”

The DSP class had been, for years, the domain of the BMW 3-Series, and still people said he couldn’t compete. In 2013, he didn’t do so well, but his co-driver did, finishing fourth even without any aero. In 2014, Monnar upped his game as well as improving the car.

“This year the car is really on point. I’m very happy with how far it’s come. At this point, it’s just nitpicking what I can do within the class; nothing major. Even though I placed fourth, the top five people were all separated by five-tenths. If I took my run, I was in first; then the next person took first. It was back and forth. Not only did I feel great about that as a driver, I felt great about it as a builder,” he says.

And Monnar is perfectly happy to share what he’s done with the car. As he started, he created a blog to do product reviews of different things he tried on the car, including products from his sponsor, Black Halo Racing. He’s even helped them develop some products, such as long-tube headers based on some used in World Challenge. As the build neared completion, he shifted the blog to focus more on the competition side of things.

“I thought that was a little more interesting,” he says. “I received a lot of positive feedback. I still share all the information I get, whether it be product testing or setup changes or whatnot. But the main focus of the blog has changed more toward what I’m doing as a racer.”

Find Monnar’s blog here.