John "Woody" Rogers
John "Woody" Rogers
5/27/11 10:20 a.m.
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Memorial Day weekend 2011 will go down as the first time the SCCA has held a Pro Solo and National Tour event over the same holiday weekend. We can’t think of a better place to host the event than the awesome Lincoln Airpark, home to the Tire Rack SCCA Pro Solo Finale and National Championships. It appears that many of our fellow Solo competitors agree: the Pro Solo entries capped out at 250, while the National Tour count has topped 300 competitors. That's an incredible turnout and a testament to the enthusiasm within the Solo community--all despite high fuel prices and the still-recovering economic conditions.

With the big event just around the corner, the Grassroots Motorsports/Tire Rack Project STR team of John Rogers and Chris Harvey have continued the development of the 2010 Mazda MX-5. First up was the addition of Design Engineering, Inc. Reflect-A-Gold heat reflective material. We wrapped our cold-air intake tube, O2 sensor wires and plastic exhaust outlet hole with this state-of-the-art polymer to help ward off heat. Its self-adhesive backing makes it easy to install just about anywhere, and the price is right.

Next up was some fine-tuning for our exhaust system. In 2010 we installed an STR class-legal PPE header, mid-pipe and resonator, then capped it off with a Goodwin Race muffler. About 12,000 miles and lots of hard use had taken a toll on the resonator, so we decided to explore other options. We tried the simple solution first: replacing the resonator with a straight pipe. However, the resulting resonance in the cabin was too much for our eardrums to handle on the long drives to and from events. We made a call to Burns Stainless, and an Ultra-Light muffler was quickly on its way. We replaced our old piece with this unit and noticed an immediate drop in the exhaust tone and weight. It's quiet enough that we can bolt on a lightweight turndown in place of the Goodwin muffler and leave a few more pounds behind in the paddock.

To take care of our suspension needs in 2010, we installed an off-the-shelf, KW Variant 3 coil-over system with Hotchkis anti-roll bars. This setup carried us to Pro Solo and National event wins; it also helped us bring home hardware from the Pro Solo Finale and National Championships. The street-oriented spring rates, coupled with KW’s wide range of valving adjustments, performed better than expected on the Solo course and gave us a comfortable ride home. For 2011, we decided to turn up the volume a bit and assist KW Suspension with the development of a more aggressive system for Solo and track use. Stay tuned for driver impressions and track results as we get some seat time on this newly installed prototype setup.

Pro Solo event competition will take place May 27-28, with the National Tour running May 29-30. Find live results and a link to streaming audio here.

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