The ChampCar Endurance Series Mazda National Champion was crowned at Road America in April. The PartsBadger.com 1991 Mazda Miata stepped up to the top spot after securing a 7th place overall on the amazingly fast Road America circuit using the chicane.
Drivers Jimmy Crawford, Chris Prey, and team chief Roy Dietsch took turns driving the car during 15-hours of racing.
Roy was asked what it takes to turn the car and team into a top contender and then finally taking the top Mazda honors. “The Miata is one of the most-developed and well-supported platforms on the planet, so it’s fairly easy to bolt on parts and go fast, while also being reliable. The most difficult thing is getting the car just a couple seconds faster. It takes thousands of hours of fabrication, dyno testing, and track testing to validate or invalidate what is in the global Miata knowledgebase, and to try things that have not been done before. We’ve spent a significant amount of time within the “repurposed materials” allowance in the ChampCar rule to repurpose unused bits of the car from one area into a useful item somewhere else. We have also spent a lot of time on aero. Since we are one of the lowest horsepower cars of the competitive teams, drag reduction has been a major goal, as well as, adding downforce in the most efficient way possible.”
The Cedarburg, Wisconsin team had always been interested in endurance racing, not only the challenge of driving for extended periods of time, but the team element really interested them. Roy had the opportunity to do an arrive-and-drive with a local team and fell in love with the ChampCar Endurance Series. He says, “I feel like I learned more in my first stint with CCES than my previous 15 years of racing. After the first 25-30 minutes in the car, I was able to get more comfortable and try new things to really hone my race craft, which I had never gotten an opportunity to do in sprint racing.”
Roy adds, “When my co-driver and I made the decision to join the series, there was no question that we would be racing a Miata. Both of us have been driving race Miata’s since we started racing in our teens. Not only are they reliable and great on a track, but it is also one of the most fun cars there is to drive. Since you do a lot of driving in CCES, it just makes sense to do it in a car that is a blast to drive.”
2020 added all sorts of obstacles to being a successful endurance racing team. “Once we knew the pandemic was going to hit the US, racing was put on hold and we began working overtime to protect the health and safety of our employees and do what we could to help supply critical goods while global logistics and supply chains were in disarray. Although racing was on hold, the racing community was in full swing and we were part of a network of fellow racers coordinating PPE delivery to hospitals and other front-line workers across the US, with James Ballenger at Ballenger Motorsports leading the way. Since PartsBadger had operations globally and a team dedicated to the pandemic response, we were well-positioned to not only weather the pandemic but provide much needed support and logistics during this critical time.”
It was not until later in the year that they were able to turn our attention back to racing, which now had another set of challenges. To remain acceptably distant from each other, work on the car was performed individually with alternating times. The races had to be attended by limited crew and drivers so that they could reduce their potential risk of exposure. Fortunately, all the team members were able to get the vaccine prior to the National Championship and they are all excited to start getting life back on track!
About ChampCar Endurance Series
ChampCar is the simplest path to real wheel-to-wheel road racing! The ChampCar Endurance Series is member driven organization and is for people like you that have always wanted to go road racing without all the hassles, huge rule book, or obscene expense. All you need is a valid driver’s license, some safety gear, and a race car, which you can rent from arrive and drive teams or build your own car! You can watch our races live at www.ChampCar.live or visit our website at https://champcar.org for more information.