7/19/13 12:32 a.m.

Hey all, Looking to get your opinion on which car I should go with/ what spec series to go with in the midwest.

I am looking at Spec e30, spec miata and maybe 944 Which ones have the most races close to this area? (I am located in Saint Louis, MO)

I have been racing on a chumpcar team in an e36 which I like, and all the other guys on the team have e36 M3 bmws, and we know a great shop in town. So they are swaying me towards bmw...

But I think there may be more spec Miata opportunities for races, SCCA and NASA vs just NASA for bmw?

I bought a miata last summer for $1300 as a fun/autocross car and enjoyed driving it but it was too rusty to turn into a racecar so I just sold it and now am looking for the next toy to buy.

Looks like I can get a used e30 or miata for around the same price 8-10k so with price being equal, what would you guys recommend? Thanks, -Chris

amg_rx7 Dork
7/19/13 12:46 a.m.

Go to a few races and talk to the people that race at your local tracks. That's what I did. Settled on Spec Miata.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron UltimaDork
7/19/13 1:10 a.m.

I agree with the above. Pick your series based on the people you will be racing with. I am in the NorCal region and settled on 944Spec because they were some of the most welcoming and mutually supportive racers I've ever dealt with.

With the E30 and the 944 you should have no shortage of opportunities. Even if there is not a "Spec" class for them in other sanctioning bodies, I understand they slot in quite nicely in the German Touring classes, and you will have opportunities in the marque clubs.

ddavidv PowerDork
7/19/13 5:28 a.m.

SM will always be the most popular, but...

I didn't go that way because the cars are pretty tiny once you get a full cage, hardtop, etc. Because SM is so competitive to run near the front you really have to spend cubic dollars making the car the absolute maximum it can be. And, they don't call them Spec Pinata for nothing. Upside: you will always have someone to race against.

I race SE30 because I like the car a whole lot more and where I live there are quite a few other racers, so we usually have at least a dozen cars in a field. With the BMW you can also race BMWCCA but frankly NASA's schedule between the two regions I can hit has more races than I can afford to do in a year, so I pick and choose from the tracks I like. At least here, car prep doesn't mean a 10 grand engine to be competitive. It's a really cheap car to maintain in spite of the logo on the hood.

I know there are people who like the 944, but my never-to-be-humble opinion about them is "why?". They are more expensive to maintain (not a lot, but they are), aren't much faster around a track, and make horrid exhaust noises. I've seen more 944's blowing oil smoke and having mechanical failures than any of the BMWs.

I would also recommend you go to the track and hang around with those who race what you're interested in, as well as read their various message boards. Then maybe rent one for a HPDE to try them out. And if at all possible, BUY don't BUILD. Far cheaper, even if you have to fix some mediocre build quality (other than the cage).

smileyke New Reader
7/21/13 8:10 p.m.

Thanks for the responses so far guys.

Talking to the guys in the various series sounds like a good idea. I will try to seek some of them out on their forums. I know one local spec miata guy but not any e30 guys yet.

Thanks for the recommendation to buy rather than build. I have been tempted to build so that I could spread out the cash payments and use the car for DE's in the mean time but it seems like buying is way cheaper in the long run.

asoduk New Reader
7/21/13 9:37 p.m.

I went the miata route, and probably would go the same way again. When I built my car though, the 944 series was mostly on the west coast and I don't know that e30s had a series yet.

The 944s had 2 big red flags for me: 1. the spec 944s don't look cool 2. working on 944s SUCKS and is expensive

ddavidv PowerDork
7/22/13 6:10 a.m.
smileyke wrote: Thanks for the recommendation to buy rather than build. I have been tempted to build so that I could spread out the cash payments and use the car for DE's in the mean time but it seems like buying is way cheaper in the long run.

Well, that's what we all think when we start. I can tell you I built my car as inexpensively as is probably possible; $1100 donor car, painted it myself, cage installed from a kit (that's a LOT of work), recycled race seat, wheels, etc. and I'm still into it for around 9 grand. You can buy them for $10,000 or better builds with win records for slightly more. I haven't touched the engine or trans in mine other than maintenance items. Racing is NOT a cheap hobby (and these use some of the cheapest tires out there).

Duke PowerDork
7/22/13 9:56 a.m.

I'm only 5'-10" tall but (unfortunately) not too skinny. From driving my Miata autocross car with a HDHCDD rollbar, racing seat, and 5-point harness, I know there is no way I am ever going out the window of a caged hardtop Miata, especially not with a HANS or similar device.

If I ever get the time and money in the same place at the same time, it's going to be SE30 or SE36 for me, based on that alone.

mistanfo SuperDork
7/22/13 10:31 p.m.

You don't go out the window. But if I were to strap you in and throw a smoke grenade in, you bet your bottom dollar you'd be able to get out through the window. If my size 48 jacket, 250 lb self can get out that way, most people that fit in the car will be able to just as well. Oh, and get some quick releases for your HANS, much easier to move around when you aren't tethered to your torso.

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