The 15-hour track test
By the time we were done, the garages were deserted.
Road & Track Magazine had a lot of fun doing the "Miatagasm" massive Miata mega-test with us in 2016. In 2017, they came to us with an idea. "Wouldn't it be fun to run a single car in every single session of Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca"?
The event, if you're not aware, involves two days at the legendary track. Driving every single session means 25 18-minute sessions per day, or 50 total. That's 15 hours of track time, or equivalent to 10 normal track days. An extreme test for any car. It would be a brave move to do something like this in public.
So naturally we said yes.
This is the sort of stuff we love to do. Autocrossing is fun, but it doesn't test a car the same way as an event that's only getting warmed up after 6 hours. The car we chose to run was one of our turbo R&D cars named Andy. It's set up like a typical trackday car, not an enduro race car. It's equipped with the BBR Stage 1 turbo system, Flyin' Miata Fox Racing Stage 2 suspension and our Big Brake Kit. You can see the full spec at the bottom of this page. We decided to only use components that we sold, and not to go crazy with the spec.
We did add FM prototype oil, transmission and differential coolers as we knew this test would validate them as new products and give us good data. We knew this would be a brutal test of everything on the car - it's rough enough on a purpose-built racer, but it's unheard of for a modified street car. We also set it up to run normal 91-octane pump gas and 200 treadwear tires. Other vendors were running around on race gas and Hoosiers, but that's not what most people do on track. The purpose was to see how a typical customer car could handle the abuse without compromising it for daily use. We even decided to stream it all live - the replays are still available.
Manny at work dumping fuel into a hot car.
So how did it go? The short version is that the car was solid. The powertrain didn't miss a beat. The turbocharged engine just kept pulling and pulling and was even remarkably frugal on fuel consumption. The turbo system had no problems whatsoever.
What problems did we have? The original set of brake rotors had a vibration to them that we think came from some uneven material transfer. We swapped them out during the lunch break on the first day. By the end of the day the brake pads were worn down to the backing plates, so we swapped them out and gave the car a once-over.
The drivers reported a clunk in the suspension mid-day on day 2 on violent manouvers, so we did a quick bolt check on the suspension and it went away.
The new coolers worked nicely, with the trans and diff temps hovering right around 210-220F. We'd seen over 300 in pre-cooler testing.
As the weekend wore on, other cars dropped out of run groups and the track got emptier. By mid-afternoon on Sunday, the track garages were empty as all the other vendors and teams packed up and left. But our little turbo Miata just kept circulating around, mixing it up with everything from winged monsters to stock cars with novice drivers. When the checker finally dropped, we were all alone as the crew cheered from the pit wall. The end result was about 650 miles of hard track time. We didn't track all our lap times as they varied depending on the group, but we know the car was in the 1:47-1:48 range even on day-old tires. Tire wear was so even and so good that one set of tires lasted the entire time. We had a whole pile of spares with us just in case, but we only used brake pads and rotors.
But when the checker dropped, we weren't done. After a quick dyno test - no loss in power - and a new set of brake pads we packed the trunk and drove home. That's another 1000 miles of driving - still on the track tires and on the same suspension that we'd been running all day.
Matt Horn gives the car a once-over over the lunch break.
An effort like this is not just about the car. We had a range of drivers to keep the car circulating, with experience levels ranging from a championship winning pro to track day instructors. Alex Lloyd, Jack Baruth, Charley Baruth, Zandr Milewski and Richard Dekker did the bulk of the work, with Nelson Ireson and Rick Weldon also taking a turn behind the wheel. Refueling was handled by enduro fueling expert and good guy Manny Hernandez. FM's Matt Horn did the wrenching and Keith Tanner was the crew chief. 949Racing also helped out by supplying some specialized gear and Zandr Milewski took care of telemetry and live streaming. Long Road Racing helped us out with some info on their fleet of Global Cup Cars and by turning around a transmission for us on short notice. The Auto Tech program at Monterey Peninsula College offered up the before/after dyno time.
Checking out the scenery on the way home
Car spec- all parts are currently available from Flyin' Miata unless they are identified as prototypes.
Flyin' Miata Fox suspension (Sport springs)
Flyin' Miata sway bars
Flyin' Miata four wheel big brake kit with bridge bolt upgrade and Wilwood BP-40 pads
Verus carbon fibre brake ducts
Verus rear diffuser
17x9 6UL wheels with 245-40-17 Bridgestone RE-71R tires