Originally Posted by wankelbolt
I want to start Spec RX-8
here in the US. Same idea as Spec RX-7 and Spec Miata, both of which are extremely successful in the Mid Atlantic. The idea is minimum preparation, streetable cars, and great competition. The key to a successful spec series is very tight rules with few allowed changes to the car so the racing can be about the drivers and not the money. Don't make the same mistakes Spec Miata did.
Having owned, built and raced several Spec Miatas and owned, built and raced what is now RX8 number 5, I think I'm qualified to offer some input on this subject.
First off, Spec Miata is the best car to own and race out there. Soooo many of today's professional road racers have cut their teeth, raced at one time or race to keep fresh. It is by far the best place to play to stretch your driver skill set. For those who don't know about this---here is a quickee:
Purchase a 1990 and up Miata (about $2,500 and up rust free from Florida or the South West if you hunt hard) add a hardtop for $1,000 (this is not a typo). You then need the required Mazda spec suspension (anything else is illegal) and that runs about $1,300 if I recall. Bilstein non-ajustable shocks, Eibach spring and bars. 700 lb front and 325 rear I think. Check www.specmiata.com
for specifics and to really understand a racing rule set.
OK. So you find a donor rust free/decent car and pump about 10 grand into it or more. Let's do something similar with an RX8:
-Find a donor car or convert your street car. $7K+ for the car.
-The car will most likely be high mileage and the motor at or near compression loss and in need of a rebuild. I need not go into detail on this as any person knowing about these cars would know this.
-The trans would be the 04-08 model and this is one of the major weak links in the car. Rebuilds are costly (you can crush a box in a weekend---the 3/4 syncho will get worn due to 3/4 shift fork misalignment/bending. Again, this is common info to those who own and race (not drive), road race an RX8. In only solution for this is to spring for the new 09/10 gear box (which is fantastic). With a Mazdaspeed discount (or discount is a little different so I'm guessing here) that should run you about $1,500+. You'd need a spec flywheel OPTION or someone could easily cheat by using a very lightweight assembly (which is faster than the lightweight commercial products sold in the RX8 street community. A Mazdaspeed part number would solve this and/or everyone has to use stock. The problem with a stock flywheel is that SOMEONE has to check the cars to insure somebody is not cheating. The solution to cheating in racing is to have lots of tech inspection staff. If you don't know this then you have yet to be around racing enough to understand this. Making it easy for tech inspection is the name of the game for a new series which is why something like TDI jetta cup and MX5 cup is all about drivers and not cars. For those of you who don't know, high level amateur racing to pro racing involves something commonly referred to as "tear downs". Sometimes it's referred to as impound but when you get "torn down" it is because the tech officials are looking for something or wanting to confirm all is legit. Be prepared if you own a piston motor to take off your head. Be prepared to remove your transmission and give it to tech. Be prepared to show them your throttle body, intake and exhaust ports, battery location, check transmission and diff gear ratios (can be done without removing diff or trans), check ride height, etc. Read your local NASA or SCCA racing rules and you'll get an idea of what this looks like. Most racing impound is common in nature and the things checked are commonly understood.
The good thing about the stock RX8 engine is that you can't fudge with it enough to find power gains. The bad thing is you'll need a rebuilt/fresh motor to make the most power possible. But this is commonly known in racing just like running newer rubber is faster than something with a dozen heat cycles.
So we've found a donor car (or have or own tried and true (with or without mods that may have to be throw away in favor of the new spec)), we've rebuilt the motor (or have to suffer getting beat by someone who has rebuilt one) or run the risk of blowing a motor at 8,000 rpm (which can be more expensive than pulling it apart and rebuilding it when it just has low compression, we have the new 2009/2010 trans, an SCCA AND NASA approved roll cage. Add the Mazdaspeed swaybars (which are near perfect for this car---the 3 piece speedway style front bar branded as SpeedSource) is perfect. Need high spring rate and a coilover shock. Contrary to popular belief, the primary benefit of a coilover type suspension is the adjustability of ride height and corner weight. Most street type guys don't get this or even touch their coil overs. THIS IS THE SECRET to making your car work. Anyone racing spec miata uses this before and after each session. Each SESSION. So be prepared to be racing against those who know somethign about suspension tuning.
Wheels are easy. Plenty of rubber available for 17" wheels. Wheels are generally open in every series as long as they are above a minium weight and not over a certain width. 17" is a smart number for this car as plenty of rubber sizes currently exist. Tire vendors at the track don't want to carry a bunch of new rubber that somebody says they will buy but doesn't. They would rather carry rubber that is common to several cars. You'd need a spec tire and this gets us to a Toyo as they are huge sponsors of amateur racing. Others would work but Toyo would most likely step up to the plate. "Stepping up" does not mean discounts or sponsorship. Stepping up means they offer a contingency of free tires to those that finish up front. Mazda corporate will not throw dollars at it because they haven't (and won't) in the past unless the series gets to the SCCA or NASA Championships. Then you might see $3K to the winner if we're lucky. This comes in the form of a pre-paid debit card.
Brake pads are open and Hawk might sponsor this (again, offereing coupons to the winners or first 3 finishing positions depending on field size).
I'm trying to touch on a few things here as this could easily end up being a novel based on years of experience and interacting with officials, sanctioning bodies and other racers.