Prep shop based at Motorsport Ranch Cresson has its roots in the beginnings of Spec Miata
One of the key things to know about Motorsport Enterprises Racing, more commonly known as MER, is that it was founded by Shannon McMasters. Don’t know the name? Well, McMasters is generally regarded as the father of Spec Miata, coming up with the first set of rules before letting others run with it. Now the shop is owned by Darrin George, who began working at the shop in 2007.
“Shannon McMasters started it – he started Spec Miata in ’99,” says George. “I think he built the first MX-5 Cup car in ’05. They campaigned it in ’06 and ’07 and I came out for the 2007 season. That was when everything blew up. They ran three cars in ’06; when I came out in ’07 we had five cars, then 10 in ’08. It got huge and then we all got burned out. [McMasters worked on] RX-7s before Spec Miatas. That’s where I learned about rotaries and how to rebuild them.”
George moved from California to Cresson, Texas, to work at the shop, and says he learned a lot about setups and race cars in general. When things slowed down, he moved on to work at car dealerships, worked with Dodge’s SRT program on the Viper, then McMasters talked to him about selling the shop.
“It’s been three years and nine months since I officially took over MER,” says George. “We’ve stayed true to Miatas and MX-5 racing. We haven’t done Mazda MX-5 Cup yet, we’ve just been trying to build the shop back up and get our name back out there and get back into racing. We still do a decent amount of support for MX-5s in NASA and SCCA.”
George says he has some customers with MX-5 Cup cars, but they’re just getting their feet wet with their eyes on possibly competing in Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires next year. The shop also does a lot of performance builds for street and track day cars, including turbo setups.
One of the cars he has found works really well for a dual-purpose car is the RX-8. “The RX-8 fits a lot of people’s needs for that,” he says. “I still think it’s one of the best chassis out there for the price, and they’ve kind of fallen by the wayside because of people not knowing about the engines. I have three guys with RX-8s tracking them one to three times a month and really loving them.
“The Miata stuff, though, is steady and constant. Mostly maintenance, but we’ll do cages, fire systems, mount the seat and let the customer finish out doing their own suspension and some of the simpler things,” he says.
MER just moved to a bigger shop, one that’s actually at MSR Cresson, from a location that was on the road leading to the track. The facility’s much larger – four times the size – and in a spot where they can look out of the windows and see the main straight. Right now, the shop is typically taking care of eight to 12 cars at any given time, with five fulltime race cars in the mix.
But despite the recent growth, George has his sights set on more – plus keeping existing customers happy. “We’re still going to be doing all the NASA and SCCA stuff,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of fun getting people into the sport and growing our customer base, keeping as many people on track as possible.”
Motorsport Enterprises Racing