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What Does a Stock Miata Need to Handle the Track?

Old 11-01-2018, 11:43 PM
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Default What Does a Stock Miata Need to Handle the Track?

Just wondering what people have had experience with when tracking their Miatas. I have heard of overheating and brake pad fade. Solutions could include a coolant reroute, and an undertray usually helps. As far as pads go, just ones that can withstand high temperatures, which pretty much means race pads as I've heard performance street pads sometimes can't handle the heat. Other than brakes and cooling, are there any other common issues? These are the only 2 things I've heard that could possibly go wrong after a while of wondering and researching. Thanks.
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:49 PM
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Roll Bar
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:53 PM
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Better cooling and better pads is all you need for amateur track days.

cooling: good quality aluminum radiator with oem fans, and keep undertray on the car. This is usually enough. A coolant reroute will be also beneficial to 1990-2000 miatas to help cool the engine more evenly.

Good brake pads such as hawks hps and high boiling synthetic fluid is all that's needed for brakes.

this is all good for amateur track days. For advanced drivers, many more upgrades are done.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:03 AM
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Awesome! Thanks for the information. I have an aluminum radiator, so I just have to grab some spare track pads and an undertray for next time. I've done 3 autocross' and am just curious to see the all out potential.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:11 AM
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Autox you need nothing but a bone stock miata.

you cant overheat or brake fade in 45 seconds
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:16 AM
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Yeah agreed not enough time for anything to go wrong. That's why I've done autox 3 times already.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:22 AM
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Already got it. Thanks for the thought of safety tho! Got a harness and a bucket seat too to go with it!
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:26 AM
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A good safe car with a rollbar is really all you need.

But if you're going further I would grab a set of decent pads, and make sure you have newish DOT4+ fluid. As long as the undertray is there you should be fine cooling wise with a stock motor.
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Old 11-02-2018, 02:47 AM
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It really depends on how hard you drive it. For your first track day ever you aren't likely to be going that fast, so it doesn't need much. Cooling is probably not going to be an issue in November (assuming you're in the US, at least). This is assuming the car is in good mechanical shape, fresh fluids, etc. If you want to do stuff to prep it, I'd +1 the fluid, pads, and undertray.

My first-ever track day I did with a car that was 100% stock, it didn't even have a roll bar. The car handled it fine. (You're not going to find a track day that lets you out without a roll bar these days, but this was 20 years ago, at a Miata-specific school).

As you drive the car harder, you'll start to see more issues. The tires will roll over onto the sidewalls and wear badly and using the brakes hard will start to wear pads in a tapered fashion. You'll get frustrated with the body roll, the response of the stock (probably worn out) dampers, and the fact that the *&^% slow Mustang/Porsche/Corvette in front of you is parking it in the corners and not lifting to let you by on the straight.

--Ian
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:34 AM
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Fresh brake fluid a few days before the event is my best advice if you've got the rest. I've seen more track days ruined for novices because they thought it was "fresh enough" and didn't change it.
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Old 11-02-2018, 09:29 AM
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Add a roll bar and change your brake fluid. Maybe look into upgrading cooling if you want to run in the summer, but in November (in the US at least) you shouldn't need to worry. Decent tires and better brake pads would be nice but are far from necessary to go have fun on a track.

Really, sign up for the next track day you can. Dont worry about what you need to add to your car to make it faster yet.
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Old 11-02-2018, 09:37 AM
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Like everyone else said. Fluids, Pads, roll bar. As long as your maintinance is up to date and your cooling system isn't gummed up, you will be fine. I did my first few track days with some stock type aftermarket rad in mine with zero issues (other than when I left the license plate in the way of the rad, mounted on the tow hook)
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:41 AM
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+1 on the brake fluid. I learned that the hard way on a track day at wakefield park in australia - 3 hard braking zones in a 1:15 lap or so. having to pump the pedal to pull up is no fun.
After that, I had a rule, I changed the fluid every 2 events with dot4+ or every 6 months, whichever came first. No more fluid fade issues after that.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:13 AM
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+1 cat for codrus. He is bang on.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:26 PM
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Ian pretty much nailed it, but I wanted to offer a clarification. A stock Miata (with roll bar of course) can do really well on the track if properly maintained. Any 25 year old car has the potential for problems unless the maintenance is caught up.

Don't worry about modifications. if you haven't already, put your time and money into making the car as close to a new Miata as possible. Replace all the fluids. Replace everything rubber in the engine bay. Deal with any oil or coolant leaks. If your radiator looks brown, replace it (I actually think stock is fine, but you may want to go aluminum dual row as a preventive measure). Replace timing belt, water pump, seals etc. if that hasn't been done. New tires (good summer tires are fine to learn on). New brake pads (something like Stoptech Sport should get you started) and rotors (Napa or Centric are fine). Get a good alignment done.

If you stick with it and get faster, you'll know when it's time to upgrade things. The path is pretty well worn by the other guys on the forum.
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:59 PM
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Interesting but makes sense. Thanks!
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Old 11-07-2018, 03:02 PM
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In an ideal world you would have at the least a rollbar, fresh brake fluid, Gloc R8's, Dunlop DZ102, and some camber. I could drive that car to the track, run all weekend, and drive home. Pads and fluid are pretty much a non negotiable. You can always stop driving on corded tires and make it home or overheat and do a cool down lap, you can't stop yourself from hitting a concrete wall when you pads melt...

Edit: Dunlop DZ102 - 460 Treadwear tire, cheap, great for a daily driver dual duty car, doesn't chunk or mohawk, breaks away predictably, not loud on the street

Edit 2: Just as an example of what can happen. In 2010 I saw that the local PCA two hours from my house was running an event the next weekend. Wanting to be maximum lazy I borrowed the wifes 2006 Civic SI sedan. I drove the two hours and ran maybe 6/10 following my sister and dad around the track giving instruction. Next session I went out in the "Red" group with all the Cup cars and crap. I got a little carried away and by lap 3 completely blew a turn and luckily used the airport runoff to slow down. Came into the pits and all four tires were corded and the pads smoke for a solid 5 minutes, like 4 small campfires smoked. I had to drive home 2 hours with chunked, corded, vibrating tires and zero pads. The cost to fix everything and put it back stock was like $600. Its expensive to exceed the limits of your equipment...

Last edited by jacob300zx; 11-07-2018 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Melvin View Post
Just wondering what people have had experience with when tracking their Miatas. I have heard of overheating and brake pad fade. Solutions could include a coolant reroute, and an undertray usually helps. As far as pads go, just ones that can withstand high temperatures, which pretty much means race pads as I've heard performance street pads sometimes can't handle the heat. Other than brakes and cooling, are there any other common issues? These are the only 2 things I've heard that could possibly go wrong after a while of wondering and researching. Thanks.
Full cage, racing suit, halo seats, HANS device, built motor, Trackspeed EFR, Xidas, 6ULs, RC-1s or better, Megasquirt Pro or better, Cadillac Getrag rear end, BMW transmission swap, Stoptech calipers and rotors all around. Also start with an 01-02 or may as well not even bother.
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Old 11-07-2018, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by concealer404 View Post
Full cage, racing suit, halo seats, HANS device, built motor, Trackspeed EFR, Xidas, 6ULs, RC-1s or better, Megasquirt Pro or better, Cadillac Getrag rear end, BMW transmission swap, Stoptech calipers and rotors all around. Also start with an 01-02 or may as well not even bother.
How much of that is directly from posts of vendors on this forum for minimum HPDE equipment? Are you guilty of copypasta?
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Old 11-07-2018, 05:20 PM
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I'm only guilty of LEARNING from this great forum of yours, SIR.
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