The second of a trio of STL MX-5s built by Nick Leverone that MazdaMotorsports.com will explore
Most of the SCCA Super Touring Lite-class Miatas in competition are NA or NB MX-5s. But there are a few NC-based cars that are doing quite well. Craig McHaffie’s car is one of those.
Built in 2008 by Nick Leverone’s Flatout Motorsports and McHaffie’s father, Hugh, for Grand-Am’s Koni Challenge, the car now finds a home in STL.
“Back in 2008, we bought it right off the dealer floor and stripped it out and turned it into a race car for the Grand-Am series,” explains McHaffie. “Nick and my Dad ran it, had some success there, and then we kind of put it away for a while. As soon as STL came up as a National class, we decided we should dust it off and get it going.”
The car has a lot of the same Flatout-developed equipment that has found a place on Leverone’s STL NB, although obviously adapted for the different dimensions of the NC.
“The car is real fast – I think it’s a good package,” says Leverone. “It has the stuff that we’ve developed – the chin spoiler, the aero. I think there is still some more development with that car.”
There are a few differences in the way the car ran the Koni Challenge and the STL specifications, so there were some changes that needed to be made.
“We had to take the compression down in the motor,” says McHaffie. “We were running about 12:1 in Grand-Am, and we tuned it down a little bit to meet the spec in STL. Some engine work and dyno, getting it right with the fuel mapping, is pretty much all we really did to it. We used to run Delrins in there, now we have stock bushings. It makes for a smoother ride through the corners. It has the same Koni adjustables and Eibach springs we had on in Grand-Am.”
After getting hit in practice at the 2017 SCCA Runoffs, McHaffie qualified 15th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, about a second-and-a-half back of Leverone, while Danny Steyn’s MX-5 was the fastest Mazda. He made up some ground in the race, finishing ninth, the second highest-finishing Mazda. While McHaffie lamented that the gearing of the 6-speed transmission in the car was less than ideal for the Indy road course, they got the handling back to being spot-on.
“It’s got the perfect amount of rotation through the corners, all-wheel drifting through the tight stuff, which is what we want,” McHaffie says. “It handles great; I can’t think of anything else I’d rather drive.”