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Christina Lam went from the sidelines to full-on track enthusiast in 8 simple steps.
I would really like to get involved in rally-x and I have a $1500 NA Miata that is now my dedicated auto-x car. I figure for $500-800 I could make it safe/legal with a hardtop, some longer stock springs, and cheap shocks. I figure this would be cheaper than buying (plus licensing and insuring since I don't have a tow rig) another car dedicated only to rally-x.
Is this a bad idea? I know the Miata is unlikely to be competitive, but my largest concern is will it survive? I know Miatas don't have much suspension travel, but what mind of damage will that create? I only want to rally-x for fun and to increase my driving skills during the off-season. Would it be worth it to buy another car better suited to rally-x? I would like to continue auto-xing the Miata when season resumes in the spring. Is the Miata a good dual purpose car?
I rally-x'd a Peugeot 505GL, and it survive, so I think you're fine.
I don't know what the rules are for roll bars, but you're a lot more likely to roll a car in Rally-x than autox.
In reply to Tyler H: The Miata does have a Hard Dog roll bar, but I thought the SCCA rally-x rules only required a hardtop. I know I saw a Miata in the rally-x national results.
Maybe I should also ask the question, how much does rally-x tear up a car in general? Should I expect to significant damage on any rally-x car?
Probably depends on the rally-X. Here in Ohio our rallycrosses seem to be rather tough on cars...much more so than an auto X.
Thinking myself about buying a cheap FWD car as a Rallycross car....not sure I want to tear up either of my DD cars running a Rally-X.
Yeah, it really depends on the surface you're running on. In the region I run, we tend to have pretty dry ground that gets rutted quickly, so it beats the snot out of cars. I went through several front wheel bearings and a couple of axles on a GM FWD car one year. The lack of suspension travel is gonna be a killer. But, if you are in a region that stays pretty muddy, it shouldn't be as hard on the suspension and chassis.
I think a Miata has a good chance of doing well in SR or PR, as long as it can stay together. Its short and narrow, and visibility is good enough to see the corners.
I think a Miata has a fair amount of suspension travel if you remove the short travel stock shocks. Fix that problem with a good aftermarket coilover, set ride height about 1" higher than stock with the suspension, gain another inch with slightly taller tires, add skidplates and I think you would be fine.
There's a fellow in the DC region that regularly competes with his Miata, I belive it's a NB, but it's been a while since I've been out to an event. He runs snow tires and though he isn't always at the front of the pack, he looks like he's having fun. I've considered the same setup several times myself.
Wouldn't a miata with longer shocks be called a ranger?
I don't think it will 'break" an otherwise healthy car, but it will definitely 'tweak' a few things. That, and you will get dirt everywhere in the car. In the vents...in the carpet, in the headliner, in the instrument cluster...everywhere.
For me, rally-x requires a dedicated car, but you see a lot of folks do it with nearly new Subarus.
I might have maybe known a guy once who brought a rental Hyundai to a rally school, which included a rally-x. Had to clean a lot of mud off the roof.
Other than an over-watered mud-fest, I have no experience with rally-x. Tell me what the car will deal with and I'll help you figure out how to set it up :)
There are very few aftermarket shocks that provide more overall travel than the stock Miata setup, but there are a couple. They're not cheap though. I'd be tempted to just try one with a stock suspension and some decent impact protection - frame rail reinforcements and any factory braces you can fit to the car are the easiest way to start.
Winter (snow/ice) events are a lot easier on a car than gravel, and I've done a few winter events in Miatas. They're great fun and hold up well, but due to the lower speeds they're generally not as hard on the car as a gravel event. It's strange to drive a stock Miata in a situation where power oversteer is easy to achieve (too easy sometimes), but lots and lots of fun.
I only did one rally-x event, but it was a National tour stop (just because it was close.)
I saw a lot of relatively stock suspensions with winter tires.
Thanks for everyone's input. It seems like there is always the potential for damage to any car during rally-x. I might get lucky and not have any problems, but I think I'm better off finding a cheap car to dedicate to rally-x. Especially if I want to continue auto-xing the Miata.
I thought about a Rally-X Miata myself, but decided that there just wasn't enough room inside to bounce around.
The rally-x up here in Ontario are pretty tough. We punched a hole in the rad, and bent the snot out of a checkerplate steel skid pad on the GLH last fall. Lots of deep ruts and the occasional big rock if you slide off course.
I would worry alot about the oil pan. These cars, while tough, just don't have the ground clearence for something like that. Plus, and I'm not sure how big of a deal this would be, on a rallyx car, it seems like you could easily knock it out of alignment.
The Miata holds up fine for Rally-X. And don't underestimate how fast it can be on dirt. How do I know? Check my avatar. I ran a full season of Rallycross in Southern California in 1999. Won the production-stock (2wd, under 2-liter) rallycross championship that year. Finished 2nd overall out of 50 cars in one event. This from an ex-SCCA showroom stock C 1.6-liter car with an open diff. OK, sure--Michelin rally tires helped.
Late that same year I ran a full l stage rally called Treeline in the nearby mountains--a pretty rough gravel event according to those with experience. I finished with no damage exept a holed stock rear muffler (they really hang down). I adopted Bilstein shocks and Eibach ERS race springs and made my own coilovers. Had a custom rally valving put in based on the rear-drive european Ford Escort of old. I ran a front skidplate for the full rally but not for the rallycross events. The Michelin rally tires have a larger diameter, and they lifted the car 1/2 inch more without screwing up the gearing. The coilovers were good for another 1/2 inch. I didn't go crazy in that regard; you don't want lift so much as you want droop travel.
I don't know how rough your Rally-X events are, but the rear subframe horns, muffler and rear bumper proved to be most vulnerable spots when the car squatted on deeply rutted tracks with a high center. The front steering rack mounting will be OK if you don't nose-in, but I gave that area extra protection (along with the radiator) with my skidplate just to be sure.
I have pictures. I'll post a link after I figure out where they are.
Oh, I see you can insert images here. I didn't see the control. Here are a couple...
Out here, I could have run an auto-X car dual-duty in the auto-X events and it would have survived, with no trouble. I don't know how rough your events are.
White_and_Nerdy wrote: Winter (snow/ice) events are a lot easier on a car than gravel, and I've done a few winter events in Miatas. They're great fun and hold up well, but due to the lower speeds they're generally not as hard on the car as a gravel event. It's strange to drive a stock Miata in a situation where power oversteer is easy to achieve (too easy sometimes), but lots and lots of fun.
Yeah, these are fun. You can also explore the fun of going from spinning your wheels at 50 mph down a slightly kinked straight to immediate lift-throttle oversteer at the first right-hand corner.
^^^^^^ This was more fun than any auto-x event that I have ever been to by far!
In reply to confuZion3:
Resurrecting the old here, but I came across this on a search. I just bought a '95 Miata for rallycross. I bought it with the following on it: -Ground Control 500/300 with Koni Yellows -FM rear top mounts -Eibach sway bars f&r
-Any suggestions on spring rate?
-Keep the sway bars or trade for stock and cash?
-Does anyone build honest to goodness skidplates for these?
I've done some pretty rough rallyx's, and the worst things that have ever happened to my cars were a broken exhaust pipe (it was rusty, anyway) and a tire that broke the bead and went flat (it happens when you slide sideways into ruts made by annoying Subarus).
RUSSOM wrote: In reply to confuZion3: Resurrecting the old here, but I came across this on a search. I just bought a '95 Miata for rallycross. I bought it with the following on it: -Ground Control 500/300 with Koni Yellows -FM rear top mounts -Eibach sway bars f&r 3 questions: -Any suggestions on spring rate? -Keep the sway bars or trade for stock and cash? -Does anyone build honest to goodness skidplates for these? TIA
Your spring rates sound really high for rallyx, but I don't know what is typical for a Miata. I would consider removing the sway bars, depending on how stiff they are. Giant huge ones may not allow enough suspension travel for any kind of rough surface.
I would NOT raise any car for rallycross. That low CG is to your advantage, that way you can really stuff it into ruts without having to worry about flipping it, unlike Civics or Golfs that always feel like they're up on one tire.
Oup, I may have let out one of my secrets.
I don't know for spring rates for a Miata because of the control arm geometry. I'm very, very happy with 260 front and 200 rear on a similar-sized RX-7, which has nearly 1:1 motion ratios. So, I don't know, 350-400lb?
If anything, I need stiffer front springs so it doesn't bottom out as much, but it's currently at a nice balance between handling and the tires grinding the inner fender maybe once or twice a weekend. Miatas have the luxury of not having a friggin' chassis rail right above the tire, which limits tire size.
We had our first RallyX ever here on Oahu a few weeks ago. Our 1990 bone stock Miata was driven by 4 of us for a total of 32 runs, all without any problems. We ran Falken 512s in the morning and switched to Blizzaks for the afternoon run. The snows were much quicker.
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