Changing to the new Penske Racing Shocks for Spec Miata shouldn’t result in major setup changes with one exception: keep it off the bump stops!
Many Spec Miata drivers have heretofore preferred to have their car riding on the bump stops under compression. With the original spec shock – which was taken off the shelf and designed for street, not racing, use – not fully able to handle the weight and spring rates, riding on the bump stops provided a stiff and predictable, if skittish, platform. With the switch to the new Penske Racing Shocks setup that is approved for 2019 and mostly required for 2020 for both NASA and SCCA, setting the ride height to hit the stops – or not, based on driver preference – should be a thing of the past.
“We’ll still have the capabilities as far as ride height, but we’re showing what a good starting point is and how much deviation we want from that starting point – plus or minus a quarter-inch,” explains Mazda Motorsports Specialist for Technical Development Josh Smith. “The goal is to keep people from engaging the bumps. Where before our ride height changes were based on bump stop engagement, now we’ve got a little bit more throw due to the size and shape of the bump stop. We’re not changing ride height to engage or disengage the bumps based on the bumpiness and smoothness of the track. We’re going to find much less of a need to change ride heights for every particular place like there was in the past.”
Smith explains that the bump stops in the new package are designed as a last measure of protection to prevent damage to the shock or chassis. Not only will keeping the car from engaging the bump stops lead to more predictable handling, it should increase the longevity of suspension components and tires, Smith notes. Beyond ride height adjustment, little should change in the setup.
“Cross weights, toe, camber, all that stuff … racers are going to be able to use their current knowledge base. They can apply that to the new shock and be successful right out of the box,” says Smith.
The Penske shocks ship with detailed assembly instructions for the spherical top mounts and in what orientation to install the bump stops. Beyond that, installation should be pretty straightforward for anyone that’s ever done a Spec Miata shock swap. Smith does offer one piece of assembly advice, however.
“The only thing that’s going to be new from the past is we put an O-ring groove in the shock body to hold the coilover sleeve in place a little better. An installation tip would be to apply a little bit of silicone lube to the O-ring groove so the sleeve will slide over them easier and not roll them over inside the groove,” he says.
The first shipments of the new Penske Racing Shocks for Spec Miata are in the hands of customers who pre-ordered. More are on their way to Mazda Motorsports, ready to fill the demand. Call (800) 435-2508 to order your set if you haven’t already.