Changing platforms?

The car is running well – ran a 1:26:low at Summit Point on RA-1s last fall, and can consistently run 1:27 this spring (on RA-1s). The 1:26 beat my best time on Hoosiers – not sure why but perhaps alignment, perhaps driver. In any case, it continues to be fun, and can do nicely in any run group in a DE. Ben (son) and I will be heading out to Mid-Ohio next month which should be fun, as we haven’t driven there in a couple of years. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and rewards a well-set-up car, without as much penalty for low HP as some other tracks we drive.

All that said, I’m thinking of changing platforms. I love my Porsche, but I also love the thrill of wheel-to-wheel racing, and the consumables (tires!) are expensive if I want to stay in my recently-achieved position of top half of the pack. The money-shift top-end rebuild last fall also demonstrated how expensive it can be to campaign a Porsche, even an older one that one (mostly) works on themselves. So I’m looking at cars in true spec classes, namely Spec Racer Ford (SRF) and Showroom Spec Miata (SSM). Greg C. has been kind enough to really help me out with the former, letting me sit in his car and carefully explaining adjustments to driving position and limits, features of the car, and the impending engine upgrade. SRF is a true purpose-build race car. I sat in 4 other SRF’s up at the SCCA race at Summit Point last weekend and determined that it will be a challenge to set the car up for me to be safe due to my height. Not that it can’t be done, but not easy and my height will definitely be a disadvantage. It’s unlikely I could rent one to try, as none that I’ve seen had a hoop high enough for protection, and there would also need to be modifications to the dash (to not hit my knees) and pedal cluster (to get an extra inch of leg extension) and possibly a custom seat – not something you get in a rental car.

SRFs

Then there’s SSM (and thanks to many drivers for help with this, especially Scott at SportsCarShop for having me consider it, Chris at Windsor Customs, Mike and crew at Meathead Racing, Billy at Performance Auto Works, and especially Greg Obadia who really walked me through the class). I didn’t think I could fit in a Miata, but sat in over 10 of them up at the SCCA event, and in each one saw how lowering or moving the seat back would have made the difference needed (could easily get a seat low enough for headroom, or could get a seat back far enough for leg room). I found tall drivers, but none as tall as I was, so I had trouble finding a car that was already comfortable and safe. Then I sat in one last driver’s car at Meathead Racing, set up by Mitch Piper (who made my cage in the Porsche) for another tall driver. Getting in, sitting, and then getting out (sometimes an issue with a full cage and certainly important in case of a fire) felt like an Escalade rather than a Miata. Amazing room and very comfortable! SSM is governed regionally and in the Washington, DC region, it is a strictly governed class, with a single spec suspension, spec tires (RA-1s – much less expensive than Hoosiers, last much longer, and no speed penalty since everyone is on them), and engines sealed at 97 HP. These are not powerful cars, but the class records at the various tracks I race are within 2-3 seconds/lap of my fastest times now. And the classes are HUGE. 40 cars at Summit Point this past weekend.

So the plan is to rent a SSM at Summit Point at my next DE there (probably July), and if I enjoy driving it, buy one “ready to race.” Then work with OG Racing and Mitch Piper to fit me into the car and set it up for me. 

 

SSM photo

One thought on “Changing platforms?

  1. Sorry we won’t see you in SRF, but you’ll love SSM. When you do a track day to test the SSM, keep in mind that highly spec race cars are often a blast to race, but may be unfulfilling as track day cars. I’ve had my SRF at PCA and Audi events and it can be frustrating. I can run the same lap times as a street Corvette, but I’m fast where the Vette is slow, and vice versa. Focus on the SSM fit and dynamics and remember that the real fun is when you have 25 nearly identical cars on track with you!

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