Questions About Getting Started

Official Information about WHRRI racing, straight from the BOD and Chiefs of Specialties
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DanielS
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:11 am

Questions About Getting Started

Post by DanielS »

I have recently purchased a Spec Miata during the winter and am now looking to do driver's school and race at WHRRI, but have a few questions first.

First are some questions about memberships and licenses. What does it take to get a WHRRI license, in terms of memberships? From my understanding, a OCSC membership ($255) is required, but I also found a form '2015 WHRRI Credentials Application' with a $25 member fee, is that also required? For licenses, if I only get the SCCA novice license at the end of school, and NOT the WHRRI license, can I still race at WHRRI on a SCCA novice license? I saw in another post that driver's with a SCCA full comp. license can race at WHRRI, but just not for championship points.

Second is about driver's school and whether to use my car or a rental. I have not had my car out on track yet and plan to do so at the first OTD, and I hope we don't find any major issues and can use it for driver's school. Assuming we use our car for school, how important is a good crew for driver's school? I will only have my friend coming with me who has very basic mechanic skills. My biggest worry about using my car is, it breaks down in a way it can't be repaired before the next session. Without a car I can't finish school and get a license, and that would throw a huge wrench in the season. Has anyone ever seen this happen before and what the results were?

Thanks in advance for all the advice!!
Joel Hershoren
Posts: 655
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:49 am
WHRRI Member Number: 1361

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by Joel Hershoren »

Daniel,
First off , Welcome.
No worries,, you are bout to get a lot of response.
IN NO ORDER:

IF you own a race car,,,, and it's ready,, use it.
There are many times renting makes a lot of sense, for you,, only if you cannot get crew.

CREW,,YES , you need some. One will do,, two is better. I bet if you post a HELP PLEASE,, and state you have a willing buddy and need one more,,, you will find help.'
Plus,,, it's a good chance there will be fellow Miata folks onhand to help should the need arise.
I would worry very little about a Miata,, finishing events is a strong point about the car and class.

Membership.
Attend the next meeting ( weds the 4th ) and get CLEAR answers,, and complete all your
needs asap,, get it out of the way.
Yes,,,, you will need to join waterford, if you want wateford points,, but as student,,, your license fee is part of school.

Yes,,, you can go the SCCA route,,, but if you plan to race at Wateford all year,,, get the Waterford.
You will need to join SCCA ,, IF,, you plan to run another SCCA event sometime this year.
No wrong choice,,, it's just one path or another.
SO to be clear,,, If you want to run run another SCCA event,,, you will need to join SCCA at some time or another.
SCCA accepts the FULL Waterford license,, ( and imho should accept our novice )
You need to talk to JERRY SHILOFF the Chief Steward,about Novice permit values. if he does not check in here he will be at the meeting.'
Plus ,, do some math,,, the lesser fees for WHRRI members for entires may pay for it self on a lot of your membership.

That it's in simple,,, there is more,,,but let's keep it simple and basic.
Entry fees and memberships are the cheapest part of racing.

GET ADVICE :
It's always free, and will be worth what you paid for it at times,,, but there is a lot of good intel out there.
Don't just listen to other fellow Spec Miata folks.' They will have good insight, but there is help and advice from many sources.

A lot more to follow,,,,, wait for it ,,,

Cheers,, Joel
Camaro67racer
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:24 am
WHRRI Member Number: 2648
Location: Saline/Ann Arbor

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by Camaro67racer »

Welcome Daniel! Congrats on making the leap into road racing. I will try not to get too long winded, but I was in your shoes back in 2009. I bought my first Spec Miata having very limited race experience and even less of an idea on how to prep the car. First, I would download the 2015 SCCA GCR and read the general safety rules and the SM section a few times. I'd also pick up a copy of Dave Wheeler's SM Constructors Manual (Link here: http://www.advanced-autosports.com/inde ... ucts_id=42) and read that.

I understand your worries about the car breaking down at school, but I would highly recommend using your own car for the school. Seat time in your car is VERY important and it will allow you to get comfortable, get a real feel for your car so you can work on specific race mechanics. (Good call on doing the first OTD) You've got a Miata, probably one of the most robust race cars, so I wouldn't worry, BUT...spend time going over and working on the car NOW and OFTEN. Set up a schedule to devote time to working on the car. Everything will take longer than it seems like it should. What is your feeling about the current condition of the car? Did you get the feeling that the previous owner performed regular maintenance or did they just race the car until something broke? Joel said it, but the beauty of a Miata is they are easy on tires, brakes, and can take a real beating. But, there are still things that should be regularly checked. Fluids (oil, cooling system, trans, diff), check the ball joints and torque on suspension hardware, wheel bearings/hubs, and sway bar links. The ball joints and wheel hubs seem to take the most abuse in these cars and are typically the most common failures at the track.

Back to reading and research, there is a TON of info on Miatas and SM out there. Check out Mazdaracers.com, which also has the old SpecMiata.com archives. If there has been an issue with a Miata, someone has encountered it and talked about how to fix it.

When it comes to prepping the car, if you aren't sure what to look for, it's not a bad idea to have someone that does look over the car. But ask questions so you build your knowledge (i.e. Can you show me how I should check my hubs or what am I looking for?)

Make friends and ask questions at the track. Waterford is a place where just about anyone is willing to go out of their way to help you. Need a part? Find another Miata guy and if they've got it, you'll probably be welcome to it.

Getting you feet wet this year, I'd recommend racing at least the first part of the season at Waterford. It's local and will allow you to figure out a groove without adding the travel element into the mix. Starting at Waterford will have its advantages like learning how to race close on a technical track.

If you can get another buddy to come to driver's school, that would be great. Even if they don't have any mechanical experience, but can help out with the small things. You'll find yourself strapping in the car and suddenly dying for a drink. Having help with things like that makes it all run smoother and allows you to focus on what you are learning/processing.

I'm going to finally end this now, but keep the questions coming. Don't allow the nerves or stress to overcome the excitement that is forthcoming.

Cheers,
Jon
Jon Yanca

#20 Spec Miata
(Former) #20 T4 MX-5
DanielS
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:11 am

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by DanielS »

Thank you Joel and Jon for your responses and advice!

Joel,

This winter I did go through the rule book and checked the car, to make sure it’s compliant, and did some minor work on the car. The worst thing was a small leak in the radiator which may have been solved with some bar’s leaks. It looks like it’s in pretty good condition sitting in our garage and at idle, and the previous owner had it professionally maintained. I do plan on chaining oil and bleeding brakes when the weather warms up.

Unfortunately I can’t attend the membership meetings on Wednesdays because I am actually a student at MSU and am only home for the weekends. That’s the main reason I am asking these questions on the forum and not at the meeting like a normal person. Haha.

I am already a SCCA member and have done autocrosses with them for the past few years. I also hope to do some SCCA events in the future, but I’m not entirely sure what races (SCCA or WHRRI) I will do this year, that’s why I asked about a SCCA novice license being allowed at WHRRI. I would like to have both events available for me to do and will probably do some WHRRI races first to get comfortable before moving up.

Jon,

This adventure started back in March when I finally decided to do giving me ample time to get prepared. As I said above, I have gone through the GCR rules checking the car and equipment at the same time making sure everything is in order… and appears to be all set! I did buy Dave Wheeler’s SM Constructors Manual and have read that. I actually met him by chance out at Grattan during the summer and he recommended me to his book. So I took his advice! I also monitor and read the MazdaRacers website and have read a few books, but nothing beats the real thing.

At idle and sitting in my garage, the car seems healthy. No engine noises, no corroded parts, no torn boots, and no loose parts I didn’t do a nut and bolt check of the suspension, but giving it a few tugs it seemed solid, but that’s a good idea (and the proper thing to do) and will put it on my list.
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38Bfast
Posts: 727
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:57 am
Location: Macomb

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by 38Bfast »

Fixing the radiator that way would not be recommend for a race car. I would suggest replacing it. Rember that race cars endured way more extreme conditions than a street car. Is it a stock radiator of aftermarket?
V2 Motorsports
Ralph Provitz
2008 Spec Miata Champion
2008 WH top 10
38 DSR
Ralph@v2motorsports.com
Camaro67racer
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:24 am
WHRRI Member Number: 2648
Location: Saline/Ann Arbor

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by Camaro67racer »

Second what Ralph said. While Bars Leak often does exactly what it promises, it can be pretty evil to the rest of the cooling passages. Being on a race track and knowing you need excellent engine cooling, I'd replace the radiator and flush the cooling system real good. Running an upgraded radiator in the Miata and you'll never have to think about the car overheating, in fact sometimes they do too good of a job. If you need to run a stock radiator for school and the first few races, you'll be fine. Water with Redline water-wetter is the best for track, other racers, and workers. An inconvenience in Michigan I realize, but set an alert on your phone for beginning of Oct to drain radiator and add coolant if storing in a non-heated garage.

What year is your car?
Where is "home" away from MSU? I'm in Ann Arbor area and happy to meet up sometime and go over some stuff. Can be easier in person.

Jon
Jon Yanca

#20 Spec Miata
(Former) #20 T4 MX-5
DanielS
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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:11 am

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by DanielS »

There is an aftermarket radiator on it right now, a koyo i believe. After I got it my garage and had it idling I noticed a little steam coming from the front of the car and traced it back to the radiator. Couldn't pinpoint a location, but don't think it was something else. I put in a very little bar's leak, way less then recommended because like you said, it's not the best fix. But it did seem to stop the leak as of now, don't know how it will hold up on track. I do plan on flushing the system as there is antifreeze in there right now, and putting in some Redline water-wetter, so hopefully some will come back out then. That is defiantly one thing I will be monitoring at the first OTD.

It is a 1999 Mazda Miata with 14,000 ish race miles and been racing since 99.

Jon, home is in the Bloomfield area, don't know how far of a trip that is for you.
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38Bfast
Posts: 727
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Location: Macomb

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by 38Bfast »

Race cars matiance should not be left to chance. If you have a known issue it should be delt with properly prior to track use. The failure is a leak on track causing a loss of traction for you or another car that may be behind you. Or a overheat situation causing the loss of a motor. Both cases can be very costly. A new koyo is much cheaper and safer. Our shop is in Sterling Heights / Utica area. We do a lot of SM. I know I am bias but I think we do them very well.
V2 Motorsports
Ralph Provitz
2008 Spec Miata Champion
2008 WH top 10
38 DSR
Ralph@v2motorsports.com
Liz H
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:36 am

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by Liz H »

Welcome Daniel! I apologize for not replying to your post earlier, I've been doing a really lousy job of monitoring the forum this winter. I wanted to introduce myself, I also race SM, and I'm really glad to see a new person join the class! I started racing back in 2009, the same time Jon did, but I have been taking breaks along the way to have babies - lol! After taking the whole season off last year, I've decided to attend the driver's school this year to get some seat time in before the first race. If you or your crew have any questions during driver's school (or race) weekend or need to borrow a tool, don't hesitate to ask, we will be around to help out when possible.

Liz Smith
#2 SM
SeniorPBA2B
Posts: 371
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:25 am
Location: Livonia

Re: Questions About Getting Started

Post by SeniorPBA2B »

As a car owner & crew chief ... my approach to car preparation is based on Murphy's Law. :roll:

Whatever needs to be done to hopefully prevent a break-down, and God-forbid, an injury or worse to my driver and/or the others on the track will get done BEFORE the car gets put on the trailer.

Jim Kidd
#37 SN
"Tough times don't last ... tough people do."
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