lotusseven7 New Reader
3/22/15 12:49 p.m.

I recently purchased the Infamous 2003 GRM Challenge winning Mongrel Motorsports Miata and will slowly be tearing it apart and rebuilding it. I figured what better place to document the car than where it got its humble beginnings.

The original builders did some amazing and unique fabrication work on the car in attempting to keep within the Challenge rules. I hope to only add to this in the months to come.

My name is Dan Lipperini Jr and I've been around SCCA racing since I was born as my father has been racing for 50 years. It's a family affair as my brother Joel is a multi-time Run-Offs winner. We have a small race-prep and fabrication shop here in PA, RaceLabz, so doing this rebuild will be a fun after work project.

Plans for the car: - decide whether it is going to be a track toy or street car? Maybe both! - remove existing roll bar and install one of my rollcages. I've done dozens of Spec Miata cages, so this one is easy. - some bodywork and paint. - exhaust needs some love as it seems to contact several areas under the car. - alternator mounting needs help. - possibly change the fuel injection for a trusty old Holley 4- barrel. Call me old school, but this decision will be looked into after some driving miles under my belt. - better offset wheels. It currently has 15x8 +20 and they are a bit too aggressive offset. - one rear axle needs to be replaced and one CV boot as well. - possibly removing the existing stock dash and fabricating an aluminum one?

More to follow in the weeks and months to come.

noddaz Dork
3/22/15 1:27 p.m.

Outstanding! And signed up, I am.

grafmiata SuperDork
3/22/15 1:59 p.m.

Looking forward to this!!!

lotusseven7 New Reader
3/23/15 9:42 p.m.

I decided that today was a good time to take 1/2 the day off and play with the Miata.

  1. Since I'm in the process of moving to a new shop and don't currently have the use of a lift, I had to go old school and work on the ground to get the exhaust changed. The old exhaust was beautifully TIG welded together, but too quiet and it hit several items under the car. I removed the muffler, tailpipe and tubing from the differential rearward and replaced it with a SPINTECH muffler, some more direct mandrel bent tubing to the muffler and a nice 3" stainless steel tailpipe which exits in the stock location. Tomorrow I will replace the front V-band clamp, drop the whole system, final weld all of the joints and replace the rear muffler hangers.

  2. Moved the oil vent catch can to a better and more convenient location.

  3. Moved and remounted the alternator. Had to add a bushing in the front motor plate so the mount bolt didn't wear and oval-out the hole in the aluminum. Also the tensioner rod also had to be moved. Simple but necessary fixes.

  4. Removed the vinyl stripes.

Link to pictures:


Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
3/24/15 10:35 a.m.

Glad to see this one found a good home. Looking forward to the progress.

fstbandit New Reader
3/24/15 3:38 p.m.

Following this for some bad ideas

lotusseven7 New Reader
3/24/15 6:56 p.m.

Only a little time tonite to work on the car. I really wanted some sort of venting in the hood becaus these V-8 Miatas are known to build lots of underhood heat. Rather than making a few louvered panels, I decided on fitting an extractor instead.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/24/15 7:12 p.m.

Very cool. It's neat seeing Challenge cars continue on.

dcrabill New Reader
3/25/15 7:22 a.m.

It's hard for me to believe the Miata made it back to good old PA. after all of these years.

lotusseven7 New Reader
3/25/15 5:09 p.m.

I installed a second set of hood pins due to the amount of flexing that showed up after removing the part of the hood where the extractor now resided. I also used some SEM 39747 panel adhesive between the inner and outer hood skins in hopes of adding some additional strength. I was worried about the hood buckling when at speed, hopefully the 4 pins will do the trick.

3" mandrel exhaust with SPINTECH muffler and hangers fully welded and reinstalled on the car. There are a few placed that needed to be slightly dented to gain a bit of clearance but it should be a very good flowing exhaust. I hope a single 3" exhaust is enough to support the horsepower the car makes.

Hood pins installed out back. I guess they should be called trunk pins then.

DaveEstey PowerDork
3/25/15 5:15 p.m.

Is that a GT500 hood extractor?

lotusseven7 New Reader
3/25/15 5:44 p.m.

Ford part # AR3Z-16C630-AA

lotusseven7 New Reader
3/26/15 5:37 p.m.

I removed the "R" model front lip and replaced it with a GV(Garage Vary) style front spoiler/lip. This is the first of many parts of the aero that will be added to the car. Next will be a splitter and radiator ducting. Once that is done, it will be off to the rear of the car for a diffuser and wing but that is weeks away.

lotusseven7 New Reader
3/29/15 10:20 a.m.

Steering shaft quick release adapter installed today, but it took 2 hours! The car came with a generic "hex style" quick release which had developed alot of play over the years, so i decided to remove that one and to use a Miatacage release instead. Sounds pretty simple, but since I don't really like the stock Miata collapsible steering column, I disassembled a second column and put 2 small roll-pins(0.090") where the plastic shear pins are located.

Modified the 2 rear factory tie down hooks into SCCA legal tow loops. I have some laser cut 3/8" thick, 3"od and 2"id "loops that are welded onto the modified stock tie downs. Pretty simple yet effective project. They also make it simple to tie the car down on the trailer as the hooks on my ratchet straps easily fit in these where they wouldn't in the stock units.

Finally today, I looked at the heat discoloration of the paint on the rear bumper above the tailpipe and needed a way to hide it. Some poster board to make a quick template, cutting it out of aluminum, a few holes drilled and this should do the trick. Now that this fits, I will make one out of stainless steel rather than the aluminum.

AngryCorvair UltimaDork
3/31/15 4:36 p.m.

i remember seeing that car in person at the challenge and drooling over the switch / fuse panel in the center console. glad to see it's still there. i did something similar in my $2008 challenge V8 944, inspired by the mongrels.

lotusseven7 New Reader
4/17/15 11:30 a.m.

Not much progress lately, but I was able to get a set of 949 Racing 6UL 15x9 wheels and throw on some 275/35-15 Hoosier R6's. Hopefully they provide enough traction!

lotusseven7 New Reader
1/30/16 7:42 a.m.

Someone forwarded this to me. I guess that it is a "shake-down" run for the car? Could this be from the 2003 Challenge?


lotusseven7 New Reader
5/15/16 7:55 p.m.

Finally getting everything moved into the new shop and semi-organized. It's been months since I've even had time to pick up a wrench and work on anything with 4-wheels, but a friend came over this weekend to do some disassembly work. I told him that he could have the rollbar out of the car if he removed it along with the dash. A few hours and numerous sawzall blades later, they were both out on the floor.

Now its time to bend up a new rollcage and decide whether to reinstall a stock dash or fabricate an aluminum one?




lotusseven7 New Reader
10/15/16 6:56 p.m.

Was finally able to get a few days free to fab a rollcage for the car. Same as all of the Spec Miata cages I build but I left out the door bars for easy of getting in and out. I did make the mounting plates large enough so that if I need to add them in the future, its just a days work. I'm now fitting all of the plastic interior trim and carpets back in an attempt to continue with the whole "stealth mode". After all, this is going to be mostly a fun street car. By the end of next week I should have the entire interior, dash, gauges, wiring and seats installed.

lotusseven7 New Reader
10/15/16 7:09 p.m.

Almost forgot. When I got the car, the shifter was shaped strangely due to the engine being so far set back. It looked like an original 427 Cobra and was difficult to shift. I needed to move it 6" forward to get it centered where the original Miata shifter came out of the tunnel. I was going to build a remote shifter and linkage, but after some interwebs searching I found this beautiful billet piece. It's made by White Lightning and moves the shifter of the T-5 trans forward by 5-1/2". Should work well(fingers crossed).

SVreX MegaDork
10/15/16 7:24 p.m.
lotusseven7 wrote: Someone forwarded this to me. I guess that it is a "shake-down" run for the car? Could this be from the 2003 Challenge? http://youtu.be/rF0juGmh44M

Yes, its a shakedown run, but that not Gainesville Speedway.

Glad to see this car in in good hands. I almost bought it, but decided to keep my wife!

lotusseven7 New Reader
10/16/16 8:35 p.m.

I know the car competed in the 2003 GRM Challenge, but cannot find the timed results. I would like to know what kind of 1/4 mile times it ran. I could care less as I'm building it as a trackday car, but every butthole that sees the car asks the question. I would like to have an answer for the "I drag race because I really don't know how to drive" crowd.

lotusseven7 Reader
2/13/18 9:58 a.m.

Many months later and the car is almost ready for some testing. Rollcage finished. UltraShield seat and G-Force 5-point belts “correctly” installed. New windshield installed. Stock dash is trimmed and back in place. Gauges and switches fitted in a stock tombstone. Factory carpet set made to fit along with most of the stock interior and windshield plastic trim. Front “aero” installed(GV lip and custom splitter) but still waiting on the rear spoiler from Blackbird Fab Worx. The next choice to make is whether to leave it as-is or paint it. The body isn’t great, which isn’t a huge concern since it’s a track beater, so I’m thinking about “vinyl wrapping” it. 


Can’t wait for the weather to break here in the Northeast!!!


Here is a link to pix from back when I purchased the car right through to today. It includes numerous shots of the original team of builders and when the car competed back in 2003. 







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