adrianrodriguez New Reader
Nov. 7, 2011 8:50 a.m.

So not too long ago I started a topic about purchasing the right car to start in the motorsports world.

I wound up buying a dream car of mine. A 90 Miata with about 163k miles on it. Since then I've raced in two autocross events. Last two of the season that were SCCA races and man did I love it. Two weeks ago during my first race I placed 2nd in E-stock of 3 entries and 3rd in Novice with 5 entries. No mods done to the car except an upgraded air filter which kept me in e-stock.

Yesterday was an even bigger event in the Tulsa, OK region and I placed 1st with the lone entry, but the biggest accomplishment was placing 5th in Novice out of 16 entries. :)

I've been driving on my all season tires, two different sets in the front and rear from when I bought it, but they are wearing out very fast and already were a bit worn out.

So I have a few questions as a rookie. I'll be racing two more events before the end of the year locally that are autocross, but not SCCA so that I can get more seat time before the new season.

My global question is: What can I do to make improvements to my car but at the same time staying in e-stock?

And to make things easier for you guys here are some things I want to do before the next season:

1) Change out the steering wheel. (The one in the car is old and worn and torn and I want to purchase a MOMO steering wheel)

2) Change the pedals. (The pedals are also worn and the covers are peeling right off of them which makes it difficult when I slip or feel like I am pressing in when I am not. Want to purchase some MOMO pedals)

3) Get a cat back exhaust

4) Adjust the timing

5) Get new wheels and tires (The ones I have are very worn and are not gripping well. I find myself often oversteering even with little throttle and often find myself understeering in the same situations)

6) Purchase a hardtop (If anyone knows anybody selling a hardtop PLEASE let me know. They have been so difficult to find.)

7) Change my shift knob and boot

So with that in mind hopefully someone knows the rules better than I do right now. I want to do all of these things but I know if I am not careful I can remove myself from e-stock class and I want to be in there for as long as possible until I am ready to compete with the street prepared, modified guys or C class. As far as the wheels I know there are some things you can and can't do and so I need clarification of that. As in is the a range of tire width so that if I go above that it will take or keep me in e-stock etc...

pinchvalve SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 8:55 a.m.

Number 1 thing that makes a difference at an autocross: Practice.

Number 2 thing is tires.

Number 3 thing is practice.

Number 4 thing is upgraded shocks/springs/roll bars

Number 5 thing is practice

N Sperlo SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:02 a.m.

Contrasts on finishing well. I've been thinking of auto-xing my zx2 (because the skyline powered 240 is not and will not be ready), but with an aftermarket clutch I don't know where I'd land. Really don't care, so I may anyway.

Good luck with the next season, and I wish I child help, but you will be the one helping me when I'm starting my career.

adrianrodriguez New Reader
Nov. 7, 2011 9:04 a.m.
pinchvalve wrote: Number 1 thing that makes a difference at an autocross: Practice. Number 2 thing is tires. Number 3 thing is practice. Number 4 thing is upgraded shocks/springs/roll bars Number 5 thing is practice

Yes, I understand practice. Hard to practice when the season has ended. I managed to find two events. Also never mentioned I wouldn't practice. I think it's a given.

mtn SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:07 a.m.

Steering wheel will bump you from ES. Pedals might also, but I really doubt anyone would care at your level. Shift knob and boot are usually one of the first things I do for the cosmetics alone.

If I were you, I'd go for the tires first. Not necessarily wheels (you have to maintain stock diameter and width--14 by 5.5 or 6?), but definitely tires. Don't go R-Comps, you aren't good enough and still have a lot to learn and street tires are the best for that.

As for tires, in 14 inch I believe you are limited to Dunlop StarSpec Direzza's as far as a good street tire.

After tires, I'd go for shocks, but honestly the thing you need most is seat time.

Hardtop is almost a necessity for me driving my Miata as a year round DD. Just keep looking and be prepared to spend $1000 when all is said and done with purchase+paint. Might also have to travel a bit for it.

theenico New Reader
Nov. 7, 2011 9:12 a.m.
adrianrodriguez wrote: What can I do to make improvements to my car but at the same time staying in e-stock? 1a) Go to SCCA.com and download the Solo rules for the stock category. It's free. 1) Change out the steering wheel. (The one in the car is old and worn and torn and I want to purchase a MOMO steering wheel) - This will take you out of E-stock 2) Change the pedals. (The pedals are also worn and the covers are peeling right off of them which makes it difficult when I slip or feel like I am pressing in when I am not. Want to purchase some MOMO pedals). - This may be okay. 3) Get a cat back exhaust - You're okay here. 4) Adjust the timing - This is Kosher for stock. 5) Get new wheels and tires (The ones I have are very worn and are not gripping well. I find myself often oversteering even with little throttle and often find myself understeering in the same situations) - Wheels need to be stock size and within 1/4"/6mm of the factory offset. You'll have a hard time finding aftermarket wheels in 14X5.5 that are lighter than the stock Miata wheels. Just get another set from the junkyard and mount up some dedicated autocross tires. You can run any 14" tire that you can cram onto the wheels. 6) Purchase a hardtop (If anyone knows anybody selling a hardtop PLEASE let me know. They have been so difficult to find.) - Legal but adds weight up high. 7) Change my shift knob and boot. - Legal if you use factory parts.

I put my answers with your questions.

jstein77 Dork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:19 a.m.

Late apex lines make a huge difference in autocrossing. Here's a few articles on the subject:

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/articles/oops/

http://www.turnfast.com/tech_driving/driving_cornering

http://www.pca.org/Activities/Autocross/AutocrossDefined.aspx#Techniques

ProDarwin Dork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:49 a.m.
adrianrodriguez wrote: My global question is: What can I do to make improvements to my car but at the same time staying in e-stock?

1) Get a BIG front swaybar. This will depend on the valving you want to run, but the easy button is the bigass RB bar (this is a common ES solution).
2) Pick up a set of used bilsteins - have them revalved/rebuilt, slap them on 3) Get a good alignment 4) Get some 225/50-14 R comps 5) Catback

What is your budget anyway? How serious are you about being competitive?

iceracer SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:57 a.m.

Just remember, the more competitive you get, the more it costs. Your decision..

93EXCivic SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 10:04 a.m.

Honestly I would number make sure of all the maintenance is up to snuff first. Then I would keep my eyes peeled for deals on parts whether that is a sale by a parts distributor or used parts. I would also count the pedals as maintenance items though and find a better condition stock wheel.

wbjones SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 6:59 p.m.
theenico wrote:
adrianrodriguez wrote: What can I do to make improvements to my car but at the same time staying in e-stock? 1a) Go to SCCA.com and download the Solo rules for the stock category. It's free. 1) Change out the steering wheel. (The one in the car is old and worn and torn and I want to purchase a MOMO steering wheel) - This will take you out of E-stock 2) Change the pedals. (The pedals are also worn and the covers are peeling right off of them which makes it difficult when I slip or feel like I am pressing in when I am not. Want to purchase some MOMO pedals). - This may be okay. 3) Get a cat back exhaust - You're okay here. 4) Adjust the timing - This is Kosher for stock. 5) Get new wheels and tires (The ones I have are very worn and are not gripping well. I find myself often oversteering even with little throttle and often find myself understeering in the same situations) - Wheels need to be stock size and within 1/4"/6mm of the factory offset. You'll have a hard time finding aftermarket wheels in 14X5.5 that are lighter than the stock Miata wheels. Just get another set from the junkyard and mount up some dedicated autocross tires. You can run any 14" tire that you can cram onto the wheels. 6) Purchase a hardtop (If anyone knows anybody selling a hardtop PLEASE let me know. They have been so difficult to find.) - Legal but adds weight up high. 7) Change my shift knob and boot. - Legal if you use factory parts.

I put my answers with your questions.

if I'm not mistaken, shift knob ( and I assume boot also ) is considered cosmetic and therefore any is ok.... 'course I've been wrong before

jrw1621 SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 7:38 p.m.

I hope that your early successes have come from the knowledge gained from these videos.
Autocrossing with Dick Turner:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRhTUf9iaG4
Watch and rewatch the videos often.
Congrats on the early success!

You can change out the steering wheel but it must stay within a half an inch of stock diameter, but... Since your wheel is airbag equipped it must continue to be airbag equipped, therefore replace it with a fresher stock wheel is really the only option for you in stock class.

For rims and stock class the best answer is factory alloys. Being that you have a '90 that will mean 14x5.5" which can be distinguished easily from the later 14X6 rims because the 14x5.5's had caps that covered the lug nuts. However, you are not required to run these caps when racing.

Freshen up the pedals with new factory parts, not Momo.

Continue to tighten up the nut that holds on the steering wheel. Ge as much instruction and seat time as possible.

fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:19 p.m.
adrianrodriguez wrote: My global question is: What can I do to make improvements to my car but at the same time staying in e-stock?

Well, I'd do four things- get a second set of stock size wheels and buy dedicated race rubber. See if you can find some used in your local region. If not, the local E Stock Miata guys here are going stoopid fast on those Hankooks. They're less expensive and seem to last a really long time.

Get a big front sway bar. You have no idea how much difference this will make.

Get (or DIY) a performance alignment. E Stock Miatas are pretty much the standard right now for the class, so I'm sure the info is out there on the net for a good starting point.

Get as much seat time as you can.

That's pretty much it. As long as your struts aren't worn out or anything, that will get you probably 85% to a nationally competitive E Stock car. That's the great thing about E Stock. It doesn't cost a ton to get a car that's in shape for the class. Then you have a good gauge of how you're doing.

fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:20 p.m.
jrw1621 wrote: I hope that your early successes have come from the knowledge gained from these videos. Autocrossing with Dick Turner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRhTUf9iaG4 Watch and rewatch the videos often. Congrats on the early success!

Oh man, that is no joke. Wish I had seen those when I started out. There is a ton of really good info on those videos.

fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
Nov. 7, 2011 9:26 p.m.

Sorry, can't help nudging new autocrossers. Its just so much fun I want everyone to do it.

If you're on the fence about buying wheels and race rubber, see if you can buy a ride from a local racer in a similar car- another E Stock Miata or MR2 would be great- who has their ride set up well. Once you get a taste of race rubber there's no going back. I had used V710s on my completely stock MR2 with worn out struts and stock front bar at my second autocross. Some say it's better to learn on street tires, but I can tell you I had more fun that I thought possible going to race rubber early. I remember going for a run and thinking I was pushing as hard as the car could possibly go only to find that I wasn't even close. So next run I thought "okay, stoopid fast this time!" Still not even close. I came out of that event convinced that the 1991 MR2 must be the most competent car ever made! lol, even though over all I came in like 100th out of 150 drivers! Driving a car that passes 1g with ease is a blast.

adrianrodriguez New Reader
Nov. 7, 2011 11:28 p.m.

Thanks for all the advice and notice guys. I watched all those Dick Turner autocross videos, but will definitely watch them more and more. I just need mroe seat time and it's tough with the season ending.

Gonna buy new tires before the start of the season and see how much a front sway bar costs.

Brotus7 Reader
Nov. 8, 2011 7:51 a.m.

I drive a MK1 MR2 and started in ES (now in SSM :) ). I picked up a set of used Falken Azenis, replaced the shocks, and did an alignment in my first year. The alignment is often overlooked, but can completely change the balance of the car. However, seat time is the most important. Even though the season is almost over, look into karting in the off season. In the winter between my first and second autox seasons I took up karting, and when the second season started, I was on race tires (RA1's when everyone else was on V710s) and I was compettive. You learn alot of the feel thru a kart that can transfer over.

So if I were you, I'd get an instructor at the next event, have them ride with me on all my runs and have them critique after each run. I still have an instructor ride with me occasionally when I don't know where I'm losing time, and I've been doing this for 4 years now.

Nov. 8, 2011 7:51 a.m.

If you don't have your own helmet, that goes to the top of the shopping list. Passing the club loaner around is a pain....

adrianrodriguez New Reader
Nov. 8, 2011 10:22 a.m.
Gearheadotaku wrote: If you don't have your own helmet, that goes to the top of the shopping list. Passing the club loaner around is a pain....

Buddy of mine is selling me his for $30 so that's a score :)

wbjones SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2011 6:38 p.m.
jrw1621 wrote: had caps that covered the lug nuts. However, you are not required to run these caps when racing.

I think you're actually required to remove them during competition

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