The blog has been a little quiet while we were hard at work installing and testing “go-fast parts” on the Project STR MX-5. In addition to the KW Variant 3 Coil-Overs and Hotchkis Sport Anti-Roll Bars, we’ve been experimenting with different sizes of Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tires to find out what makes our MX-5 faster. A full tire test report will be appearing in the next issue of Grassroots Motorsports magazine on newsstands in a few weeks.
To put our efforts to the test, we competed in the Tire Rack SCCA National Tour autocross in Peru, Indiana. 15 drivers showed up in an array of vehicles – Honda S2000s, Pontiac Solstice, BMW Z3 and our Mazda MX-5. Day One saw Mike Lillejord jump out to a half-second lead in his Pontiac Solstice over Matt Glagola in his S2000. Our MX-5 was less than 2/10ths further back with Chris Harvey at the wheel, while John Rogers was just another 1/10th of a second behind in 4th place.
Sunday dawned a new day with a revised course layout that featured a six-cone slalom and several fast, decreasing radius turns. Chris and John changed tire pressure and shock settings to help the MX-5 put down more power when driving off the corners. Our drivers used this to their advantage, posting the two quickest times of the day in the STR class. When the dust settled, the margin Mike and Matt gained on Day One was too much for our MX-5 to overcome, leaving Chris and John in 3rd and 4th respectively, about 0.4 seconds behind the winner.
As a reference point for how the project is progressing, this weekend 2nd place finisher Matt Glagola was driving the Honda S2000 that won the Dixie Tour earlier in the year where we were over eight seconds behind in our bone-stock MX-5. At least on this day, on this course, we’ve closed the gap to his car down to a scant 0.015 second margin. We still need to figure out how to chase down Mike and his Solstice. I guess we have a little more work to do.
<Click on the photo for a video of Chris Harvey's FTD run>