Mid-Ohio event had nearly two-dozen entries, with no contact
As word spreads about Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Mazda Miata Heritage Cup for NA Spec Miatas, the entries are growing. The reasons are fairly apparent – good value; great tracks on vintage racing weekends (and the outstanding machinery that goes with it); tight racing; and, perhaps most importantly, little chance of going home with a dented car.
“I absolutely have zero patience for contact,” says Tony Parella, the President and CEO of SVRA, who has also raced in all three Heritage Cup events run so far. “With these cars, and what we’re racing for, I have firm belief that you can enjoy the car, race extraordinarily hard, but stay in an envelope that doesn’t involve bump drafting, tear up the cars or take a chance when you’re absolutely sure you can’t pass clean.”
Parella says that means racers can prepare their cars to the same quality that the owners of the high-dollar vintage machines do, and know it will look as good after the race as before. “I think there will be a huge demand when people find out about it,” he says.
Indeed, entries ballooned for the third event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course the last weekend in June, with 23 cars – Marc Cefalo won both races overall in his 1997 1.8L car, while Brian Murdick and Joey Selmants split the honors for the 1.6L cars, both in 1990s. “We had a field of 23, and not one yellow flag, not one bump, not a single scratch on a car. That’s the recipe and I think it can be replicated nationwide. I think it’s a logical evolution of our growth,” says Parella.
Parella says he expects a dip in Spec Miata entries at the next event at Portland International Raceway on July 27-30, primarily due to the event’s proximity to the popular Rose Cup Races only two weeks prior. But he expects continued growth, not only for the reasons already cited, but also because it’s something a younger generation can connect with.
“I had a separate drivers meeting at Mid-Ohio with the Miata guys,” Parella explains. “I told them the vision behind it – Mazda is behind it, SVRA is behind it. We want a safe place to race where they can show off their cars. We want factory involvement to keep cost down. And I want to bring existing vintage racers and have their children and grandchildren get engaged, where they can rent a Miata and get their feet wet. I want to appeal to a younger demographic who doesn’t understand what a Triumph is, what an MG is, because they don’t make them anymore, and they’re not in their generation like they were in mine.”
Parella is having fun racing Miatas as well, getting quite the education in the process. “I raced Corvettes all my life, and to get in a Miata, I realized just how hard it is to be fast in one,” he says. “You make one mistake and the world’s passed you. You don’t step on the gas and get it back. You’ve got to be smooth and fast. It’s way harder than I realized…it’s all about momentum, and it’s a completely different style of racing than I’ve been involved with. I’m having a ball, and the guys are great people.”
After Portland, the final Heritage Cup event for 2017 will be at VIRginia International Raceway on Sept 21-24.