How to Outfit Your 2016 MX-5 Miata for Autocross
Mazda Motorsports has been working with Ron Bauer, multi-time National Champ, for over a year developing parts for the new 2016 Miata. These parts are proving to be quite successful in both CS and STR. This article will break down what parts are currently available from Mazda Motorsports and will provide you with part numbers so that you can outfit your car with proven parts.
In CS, the rules limit what can be changed, but we have been working with various vendors to provide top level parts that are proven to be capable of taking class wins.
The most important changes that you can make is with your suspension. The rules allow you to change your shocks and either front or rear swaybar. In the case of the new Miata, the front bar is the one we recommend changing. We offer a speedway style bar that consists of a torsion tube and set of arms. For CS purposes, we would recommend our 0.120 torsion tube, as it allows a wide adjustment for you to fine-tune the car to your driving style. If, however, you plan to start in CS and move on to STR at a later point, the 0.188 bar would probably be a better option for you. The arms on our bar are slotted to allow for basically unlimited adjustment, and the arm kit includes not only urethane bushings, but also new endlinks. You’ll need to drill the hole out on the lower control arm to accommodate the larger stud on the new endlinks. A good starting point for the stiffness is in the middle on both sides.
National Champion Brian Coulson is running this bar on his car and has this to say, “I love how the slots give me the ability to fine-tune the settings. Making the adjustments is quick and easy. I’m able to make changes between runs. I chose it for autocross, but I’ve found that my car is more fun on the streets as well.” Brian also just won the Crows Landing Pro Solo using these parts.
As for shocks, we have a couple of options. We sell the Koni Sport Dampers, which are single adjustable for rebound. These will work very well and are budget-minded. If you’d like the better control and valving that Ron won with this past season, we have partnered with ProParts USA to modify these dampers. We would send the shocks to them, they’d then make the changes and send them on to you for you to fit to your car. Prices will vary depending on whether you’d like to update them from single adjustable to double adjustable, so contact ProParts at (818)888-8904 for current pricing. Coulson is also running these modified shocks.
We currently offer brake pads as well, with one option in stock and another coming soon.
Winmax pads are offered in a variety of compounds for both the regular factory brakes and the upgraded Brembo package brakes. Ron Bauer ran the W3 pads in front and W2 in the rear on his Brembo-equipped car. “These Winmax pads were a great upgrade over stock,” stated Ron. “While the stock brakes on this car are quite capable, I loved the increased stopping ability that these pads provided for autocross purposes. While they do create more dust than stock, the increased bite was well worth it,” said Ron.
We are also working with Pagid on pads that can be used on the street, but are also a great upgrade for autocross purposes. Additionally, while these are not full-on race pads, they can handle the heavier duty work of the occasional track day. Pagid is well known in the race community and provide pads for many top level race teams. These new pads come in at a great price point as well. Of note, while these pads will be available for the rear of either brake package, the fronts will currently only be available for the factory Brembo front brakes.
The last item we currently offer is wheels. The factory BBS wheels are available for purchase and are lighter than the wheels that come standard on the normal Club without the BBS/Brembo package. Since Street class rules allow you to run non-factory wheels, there are less expensive options available, but it’s hard to find a wheel as attractive as these.
Moving on to STR, we have a variety of parts available to make your car a top level contender.
Starting with swaybars, as noted above we recommend the 0.188 front bar for STR. That’s not to say that you can’t use the 0.120, but the 0.188 will allow you better adjustment for the increased grip that STR brings. Ron has run the 0.120 at both the middle setting and full stiff settings for STR. The 0.188 bar soft setting is about the same as the middle setting on the 0.120, so you can see that the stiffer bar is the way to go to allow yourself the most adjustment capability.
For the rear, we will soon have a similar package available. The bar will be more of a standard style bar, but we offer different wall thicknesses to give further adjustability beyond the standard adjustments. Because we offer different wall thicknesses versus the more standard solid bars, you can reuse the urethane bushings and arm kits with multiple different overall stiffnesses. We recommend the 0.095 wall thickness for STR purposes.
Moving on to shocks/dampers, we offer the same coilovers that are used on the MX-5 Cup cars. The Dynamic dampers (see video) are double adjustable for both rebound and compression. Multimatic utilizes its DSSV (Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve) damping technology on these shocks. The advantages to spool valves is that they have amazing repeatability and tight tolerances. This technology has made these DSSV shocks the choice for many top race teams, with over half of the cars, and three of the four division winners at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans running them.
These dampers are run in an inverted position, which further benefits unsprung weight. You will need to also purchase the pillowball top mounts for use with these. David DeRegt has put these on his car and said, “The shocks are fantastic, and I drive on the street with the same settings I autocross on. They’re a ton of fun without being too stiff on our Seattle roads.” Ron added, “I’ve run shocks from AST, Moton, and JRZ. These shocks are at least as good, and since they are specifically built for the Miata after running the car through kinematics exercises and on a rig by Long Road Racing when developing the car for the MX-5 Cup, you can stand assured that you’re getting the best developed shock for the car as possible.”
We have combined these shocks with Eibach springs in 600 front and 300 rear rates to give the car fantastic balance. The car can still be driven on the street with these springs, but gives you the balance to be able to trust the car.
Brake pad options are the same as CS, with the addition of the Pagid pads being available soon for the popular aftermarket Wilwood brake setups. Ron is currently running the Pagid pads on his Wilwood Powerlite calipers front and rear and said, “These Pagid pads are tremendous! They bring the car’s speed down so quickly that I’ve had to recalibrate my expectations. Now that I have the feel for them, I can trust braking later. The ND platform is also much better about being able to brake into a corner without changing the balance of the car, so I’m still constantly amazed at what these pads allow me to do.”
As with previous Miatas, when you lower the ND, you gain camber, however, for STR, we highly recommend our offset bushing kit for the front of the car. The rear multi-link allows for plenty of camber, but the front needs help. Our offset bushings go in the lower control arm versus the upper, as other kits do. The advantage to putting them in the lower arm is that there is better control of the camber and caster changes while the car is moving. Since camber and caster are adjusted on this lower arm, when force is applied to the stock bushings through bumps and when grip occurs in corners, they can flex, which alters where the camber actually is. These urethane bushings take away that flex. Additionally, the feel is increased as you are now more directly tied to the contact patch of the tires.
The stock LSD that comes in the Club is very good, but as with any Torsen-style LSD, when you have a wheel get unweighted, the differential basically goes open, which momentarily decreases your capability to accelerate out of a corner. We offer the Cusco Type-RS 1.5-way LSD to fix this. The 1.5-way LSD activates under acceleration, while the understeer under deceleration is less than on a 2-way LSD. The LSD can be used as it comes from the factory, but we recommend that you have it sent to ProParts for the same tuning that Ron runs in his car.
“I’ve run my car with both the factory LSD and the Cusco. The factory one works great most of the time, but in quick transitions I’ve had a wheel get unweighted enough to cause the tire to spin, even on asphalt,” said Ron. “The Cusco LSD fixes this issue. It also helps the car turn in better when accelerating through turns. I haven’t experienced any issues associated with understeer under deceleration, and highly recommend this as a standard upgrade for STR.” The other benefit to this LSD is that it allows you to purchase a Sport or GT trim level and not have to buy a Club strictly because it comes with an LSD.
While we’re talking about the differential, a “must have” upgrade is to purchase our urethane diff mount inserts. The stock bushings in the diff mount are on the soft side to transmit less harshness for a stock car, but when you move up to the grip that the car has in STR trim, taking away that flex is pretty much mandatory. The cost for these inserts is very reasonable, and although there is a bit of work to be able to install them, once the arms are free of the subframe, they just push in place as opposed to having to press out the existing bushings.
Lastly, we also offer engine mount reinforcements that reinforce the stock mounts to limit side-to-side movement of the engine. These are easy to install and give peace of mind that the drivetrain is able to more directly transfer the power to the wheels.
The attached PDFs list all of the part numbers for the items listed in this article as well as current pricing (be sure to check pricing before you purchase as it can change). They are also available for purchase even if you aren’t currently a member of Mazda Team Support Program (since they are competition parts); just go to the “Parts Store” tab on MazdaMotorsports.com and enter the part numbers to verify pricing and place your order.