2016 SCCA Solo National Championships ©2016 Rupert Berrington

McCelvey finds a winning combination

Despite a short season of rapid development, Daniel McCelvey claimed the 2016 SCCA Solo C Street championship in a 2016 MX-5

Daniel McCelvey of Houston, Texas, won the 2016 SCCA national championship in SCCA Solo’s tough C Street class, driving a 2016 Miata Club in its first year of competition. The veteran autocrosser earned his first C Street championship in 2013, then finished third driving an RX-8 in 2014. He took a break in 2015, but not for long.

“I was working on the announce team at the SCCA Solo Nationals as a pit reporter for C Street,” McCelvey says. “I was there in the grid with all those guys, watching the battles between Chris Fenter and Chris Harvey in the Miatas driving against Dave Ogburn in the Scion FR-S. I thought the level of competition is so great, and the camaraderie was so great. Then they made the announcement that the ND [MX-5] was going to be classed in C Street. I’d had my eye on that car for a while and I knew it would be competitive. So I discussed it with my wife; she wanted the convertible to drive during the week, and I could have it on the weekend as a racecar.”

So McCelvey bought a 2016 Miata Club and started developing the car during the 2016 season. The rules in C Street strictly limit performance modifications, so competitors put their effort into testing and tuning to get every last millisecond from the car. The SCCA Solo National Championships happen in September, so the development period for the new Miata was just a few months.

“It was a challenge because the car was so new that there weren’t that many parts available,” McCelvey recalls. “About every month or two, someone would come out with a new part. I’d buy the part, test it, and the car would get a little bit better. Then we’d wait until the next piece of the puzzle became available.”

Preparing a car to go fast in the particularly challenging Solo environment is never easy. Every weekend is a different course, there’s no warm-up lap, and the car has to be fast in the tightest corners without sacrificing acceleration. But after a season of rapid development, McCelvey drove his Miata to the C Street championship. Second place went to Julian Garfield in a 2016 Miata, just 0.058 seconds behind McCelvey. Third place was also claimed in a 2016 Miata, by Tyler Kvetko.

“The Miata chassis is great,” McCelvey reports. “Because the car is so light, and the suspension geometry is so well-designed, you don’t need to do too much to lock the car down. If you let this car move and you let the suspension work, it will generate a lot of grip because it’s designed so well.”