Project STR Hits Four Events

Update by John Rogers to the Mazda MX-5 Miata project car
Jun 10, 2011

Chris Harvey twisted a few go-fast knobs on our KW Clubsport suspension.
A coil spring was rubbing against the body of a rear shock, creating some undersireable handling characteristics.
Project STR sat amid the huge 26-car Street Touring R field.

The summer race season has finally made its way to the Midwest. It’s been a busy few weeks for Project STR, as it just took three back-to-back weekends of competition.

First up: a Tri-State Sports Car Club event at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. This served as a shakedown run after the installation of our new KW Clubsport suspension. The installation went well, but driver Chris Harvey noticed some unusual handling characteristics at the event. Investigation revealed that the machining on one of the prototype rear shock mounts allowed the spring coils to come in contact with the shock body, creating a significant bind. Once back home, we shimmed the angle of the top mount; this canted the spring enough to clear the shock body, solving the problem. We’re using the first prototype, so the final production piece will be corrected to prevent this from happening.

The KW Clubsport suspension was put to the ultimate test over the Memorial Day weekend: Harvey and co-driver John Rogers drove the car 600 miles to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the Tire Rack SCCA Spring Double Nationals, with back-to-back ProSolo and National Tour events. Rogers was quick early on at the Pro, but he faded on day two and slipped back to seventh, one spot away from earning a trophy. Harvey was able to capitalize on his day-two runs and jumped up to third, right behind the S2000s of Robert Thorne and James Yom.

Here’s a video look at the right-side course on day two.

At the National Tour event, rain was the story on day one. The first two heats ran in conditions ranging from wet to soaked. A drying course for our heat meant it would come down to the third and final run to get it done. Adding to the challenge was the sheer size of the course, covering the entire area normally devoted to two courses and lasting 75 seconds per run. Rogers struggled to find the rhythm in several of the four long slaloms on the course, slotting into 16th place out of 26 drivers. Harvey fared better, posting the seventh-fastest time in the class. He was also the quickest third-gen Mazda MX-5 driver, but a gaggle of Honda S2000s led the pack. High temperatures and high winds greeted our drivers on day two. In the end, our team wasn’t able to find enough speed to catch the leaders. Harvey took the eighth and final trophy while Rogers moved up one spot to 15th overall.

Back home in Indiana, Harvey took some time out to compete in the 19th annual Yokohama/Tire Rack/Windy City BMW Club charity challenge held at the Tire Rack test track. All non-BMWs are lumped together in the “everything else” class, competing heads up with no index factor. Harvey put his local track knowledge to good use as he drove his way through the tight and tricky course set up by the Windy City crew. When the dust settled, Chris had the third-fastest non-BMW and the fourth-fastest time of the event. Not too bad considering the cars ahead of him were rolling on sticky Hoosier R-compound tires; the MX-5 was wearing Hankook Ventus R-S3 street tires.

Next up will be the Tire Rack SCCA National Tour in Toledo, Ohio, over the Independence Day weekend.

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View comments on the GRM forums
nervousdog HalfDork
6/14/11 1:29 p.m.

Nice work, guys! Its always fun to see this car at an event.

I'm surprised to hear Chris noticed some "unusual handling characteristics" at the Tri-State event. He was absolutely flying out on course. His fastest raw time was only 1.242 seconds behind a Porsche GT3 on Hoosiers!

hcsi99 None
6/15/11 7:39 a.m.

You drove right past our event (Indiana Northwest Region SCCA) on Sunday. If your in our area again and looking for a place to run check our schedule at

6/22/11 1:47 p.m.

Chris has a highly refined, err, butt dyno. The ride and handling was definitely wonkey with the binding, but better now.

We'll be sure to keep on the lookout for INR events. Always good to have another place to play!

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