Everything You Wanted to Know About NASA's Spec Miata Racing Series

The Mazda Miata is the most-raced car in North America, and for good reason. The platform itself is compliant and predictable, which makes it a great car for learning to drive well. At the other end of the learning curve, it takes every last ounce of technique and error-free driving to get the most from the car, and if you watch some of the videos at the end of this feature, you’ll see what that looks like. If you’re on the fence about racing in Spec Miata, read on to find out what it’s like. Then come join the fun.

The NASA Spec Miata is an affordable racing series, primarily focused on road racing, and shall function as an advertising and marketing tool for the series sponsors, the independent sponsors of each team, as well as the official sanctioning body of the series. The purpose of this series is to provide an avenue to promote sponsor brand awareness on a national scale. Additionally, this series should provide a stage to showcase driving talent, in hopes that the most talented drivers will advance to even higher-level professional series.

All first- and second-generation Mazda Miatas are eligible for competition in Spec Miata. Because there are differences in performance between the models, Spec Miata uses the “weights and plates” method for achieving parity.
Everything from free on Craigslist to about $5,000 for a nice, clean donor. Availability is still plentiful, although rust can be a problem in some regions.
All engines, components, and parts must have been offered for sale in a Mazda Miata, sold by a dealer in the United States of America unless otherwise specified in these rules. All engines and their internal components must remain stock, except as provided by these rules, and within factory specified tolerances unless otherwise specified within this document.” This applies to all 1.6- and 1.8-liter cars.
Year Min. Weight (lbs) Restrictor Plate
2,290 (w/.010”overbore)
2,415 (w/.010”overbore)
38 mm
38 mm
40 mm
40 mm
Fuel usage is restricted to unleaded gasoline commonly found at retail pumping stations (Shell, Chevron, Citgo, etc.). Octane is limited to a maximum of 94 (R+M)/2 as labeled on the pump. Race fuels such as, but not limited to, ERC brand are prohibited. All fuel additives are illegal, per the CCR. Note- event supplemental rules supersede this section.
$10,000 to $15,000. Plan on spending more for a front-running, Championships-caliber car.
$5,000 for an older car to $30,000 for a front-running, Championships-caliber car.
  • There aren’t many modifications allowed. Follow the rulebook to take advantage of all permitted mods.
  • A race exhaust is required, and now there are a number of options available.
  • Extended lower ball joints and offset front bushings open up more setup options.
  • A “pro” motor is more or less essential for running up front.
Average cost to run a weekend — $1,000, all in, entry fees, lodging, food, brakes, tires, fuel. And beer. Mmmm, beer.

Tires, size, brand and prices

  • Toyo Proxes RR, 205-50-15, $188 from Phil’s Tire Service, Cragsmoor, N.Y.
  • Toyo Proxes RA1, 205-50-15, (wet), $184 from Phil’s Tire Service, Cragsmoor, N.Y.


Brakes, brands and prices

  • Hawk DTC 60 front $115
  • Carbotech XP10 front $160
  • G Loc R10 front $150
Mazda Motorsports, Toyo Tires, Hawk Performance,
Yeah, boy howdy!
  • Respectable fields in nearly all regions. Big fields in most regions.
  • There’s usually someone to race with anywhere in the field.
  • Genuinely affordable cars if you just want to race and have fun. 
  • The best factory support in all of amateur racing.
  • Miatas are good racecars for rookies and experts alike. 
  • Huge knowledge base.
  • Spec Miata is a rung on the ladder to pro racing.
  • An occasional tendency for argy-bargy at the front and middle of the pack. 
  • Comprehensive teardowns at Championships.
  • Spec Miata is a rung on the ladder to pro racing.
  • 1.6-liter vehicles may use a cone-type air filter assembly. The air filter assembly may include integrated or attached components that may serve the purpose of shielding ONLY the air filtration element and air intake tube prior to the AFM from radiant engine heat. 
  • For 1.8-liter cars, any filter may be used, providing that it is comprised of components and materials other than air cooling systems, cooling chemicals, or cooling chemical compounds.
  • Any adjustable mechanical fuel regulator may be used, but it may not be adjustable from the cockpit.
  • Any front and rear camber is allowed within the normal limits of adjustment. The only modifications to increase or decrease camber allowed are the inner suspension bushings on the front upper control arms and/or the extended lower ball joints.
  • All cars are permitted to use the “R” model tie rod ends part # N021-32-280A.
  • Steel braided brake hoses may be used.
  • To improve driver exit through the window area, the driver vent window and vent window supports may be removed.
  • Power steering rack may be converted to manual.
  • All cars now use Penske nonadjustable shocks. The Bilstein shock package will remain legal through 2019. The Penskes will be mandated on all cars in 2020 and beyond.


Questions and Answers to Feed Your Curiosity

Currently, the hot-ticket cars are the NB2 (01-05). However, the balance between the cars is always under review and may be adjusted to improve the competitive balance between the cars.
Spec Miata has some of the closest racing out there. When you combine the proximity, talent, and desire to win among competitors, you’re bound to have a few errors. Incidents can happen — but that’s racing. In Spec Miata, we’re fortunate to have cars that are rather modular and easily repairable. Cost to own, inclusive of repairs, is marginal compared to other classes.
Spec Miata features some of the closest competition around. If you view some regional results, it’s not uncommon at the regional level to have the first three rows of cars within a half second of each other. With competition like that, there is rarely a driver who is always “guaranteed” to win. However, with so much talent and so many drivers, there’s competition no matter where you are In your driving ability.
It’s popular in almost all regions. With NASA being so large and broken down by regions, I’ve noticed that regions have cultural preferences with their racecar selection. With there being so many Miata drivers across the country, if there were a region with a small contingent of SM drivers, It would be safe to say people could easily grow the region and competition if they wanted.
I love this question. I’d say this depends on your personality. Are you a tinkerer who is meticulous with the details? Build a new one. There is something quite nice knowing every detail about your racecar — good and bad. In a rush to just get out there and drive? Well, buy a used one and let it rip. However, just realize for that value you do inherit the bad when you buy used. I’ve seen and talked to quite a few people who, after looking at the car they just bought, ask the “Why would he do that?” question. Welcome to the value in buying used.

Jim Tramontano from the NASA Northeast region did a fantastic article on this topic. It’s exceptionally detailed and well thought out. I doubt I could write anything better than what he wrote. The article is here:

How Much does a Spec Miata Cost? -A simplified buyer’s guide for Club Racing’s most popular class.
I see this question a lot. Many tall people tell me about how they “think” it’s impossible for tall people to fit in a Miata. To accommodate the vertically blessed, Spec Miata rules allow for a floor-drop option, which gives extra space for head clearance. You’d be surprised how much that drop gives for driver space. Just check out the paddock and ask around. If you’re interested, I’m sure most drivers wouldn’t mind you sitting in their vehicle. When doing this, also take note of how far back the seat is. This may give you a gauge of how much more space is available.
I’d say the car’s biggest weak points are the transmission and differential. Because of how hard we drive these cars, with no-lift shifting, bump drafting, etc., these items have the propensity to get worn to the point of breaking. The transmission has a “mystery” gate and the counter shaft can suffer torsional distortion. The rear differential carrier can break at the ears because of rough “consensual bumping.” These bumps cause a factory notch point in the differential to break. Both of these issues have been addressed by Mazda, which has given us a geared spacer and weld-on plates to address the transmission and differential respectively.
Spec Miata has some of the best racing and support in the industry. When I mean support, I mean in the paddock and by Mazda. Gone are the days of having to carry an entire car worth of spare parts. You can get started racing and build that stash up over time. If you have an issue, you can most likely find someone who has the part you need to get you back on track. Another factor is that Mazda is exceptionally active in supporting the racing community through its parts and contingency prize programs. You can call the support number, and the representatives are extremely helpful. They want the class to stay active and are present at every Championships event, giving racers amazing catered food and goodies. If you want to test your competitive ability against the best, Spec Miata is the class for you.


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