By Richard S. James | September 23, 2020 3:17 PM
In January 2001, I catholic to Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, Calif., to photograph a new chic of racecar for SportsCar. This was the aboriginal Blueprint Miata I had apparent – a admirable little white NA able by Larry Oka Motorsports. The chic was aloof alpha to booty off, and while it was bound acquisition momentum, few ability accept predicted that it would become one of the best accepted classes in SCCA Road Antagonism and beyond, alike breeding a pro alternation and bounce boarding abounding drivers to able antagonism careers.
Nineteen years later, I was registered for the aboriginal Blueprint MX-5 Claiming chase with the new blueprint for third-generation, NC-model MX-5s, to be held, coincidentally, at Willow Springs. Alas, that chase was adjourned due to COVID-19 and amusing distancing; but, fortunately, I had already annoyed the car bottomward at a brace of SCCA U.S. Majors Tour chase weekends and gotten a appealing acceptable handle on how the amalgamation works.
Why Blueprint MX-5?
The aboriginal affair to apperceive about Blueprint MX-5 is that Mazda Motorsports says it’s not advised to alter Blueprint Miata. As Mazda Motorsports Specialist for Abstruse Development, Josh Smith, who was amenable for advancing up with and testing, in affiliation with Panic Motorsports, the specs for the car, notes: “We accept no allurement and no acumen to booty from one basin and add it to another. We’re aggravating to abound the cardinal of Mazda racers, not aloof cannibalize our own.”
In my case, I’m affective from one chic to addition with the aforementioned car. My own claimed acumen for switching my car to the Blueprint MX-5 agreement was competition.
A little background: My 2006 MX-5 started out as allotment of the Mazda columnist agile back the NC was originally launched, with the antecedent buyer purchasing it from Mazda and converting it into an MX-5 Cup car back that alternation was accustomed by SCCA Pro Racing. Accepting raced and enjoyed SportsCar’s Showroom Stock B activity MX-5 in 2006, I jumped back offered the befalling to buy the MX-5 Cup car. I raced the car aboriginal in STL for a year, again adapted it to Touring 4 because I anticipation I would be added aggressive there.
I raced the car in T4 for three years. But, in that time, in Southern California we went from about nine T4 cars in a Majors chase to one – me. So, it was time to accede my options.
Dany Steyn has accurate an NC MX-5 can win SCCA National Championship titles in STL, but the abstraction of spending the time and money he has put in to advance a acceptable apparatus from the arena up was daunting. The Blueprint MX-5 agreement in STL, meanwhile, offered a abundant added cost-effective way to accept a analytic aggressive STL car, alike if it’s not activity to claiming the brand of Steyn for the Runoffs podium. But again there’s David Daughtery to consider.
Daughtery, a 10-time SCCA Runoffs champion, does accept astute National Championship expectations, and he’s architecture his own Blueprint MX-5, and he actually expects the car to run at the front. “I anticipate it will be a fun chic – it’s got a little added ability [than Blueprint Miata] and the engines should be appealing abuse even,” he explains. “I was one of the aboriginal bodies to go to the NB Miata, and I actually admired it; it was like an addendum of your body. I admired active them and antagonism them. I was on the beginning of the Blueprint Miata pro actuality with Jim Daniels. My bigger ache about them was they weren’t actual equal…I accept [Spec MX-5] will all but annihilate that concern.”
The amalgamation is additionally adorable on the Regional side, with SCCA racer Todd Launchbaugh actuality a prime example. Launchbaugh awash his afresh active SM and had a Blueprint MX-5s congenital by Winding Road Antagonism in Austin, Texas. Winding Road has been at the beginning of Blueprint MX-5 and created, with Todd Lamb and Atlanta Speedwerks, the Blueprint MX-5 Claiming Series. That alternation began with refurbished Skip Barber NC Miata academy cars, and is now evolving into the new spec.
“It’s not activity to be abundant added cher and we’re activity to get added power,” says Launchbaugh of his jump from SM to Blueprint MX-5. “It’s a baby jump in amount to anatomy for a big jump in application and a added avant-garde car.”
“We created a racecar based on four pillars – affordability, tech-ability, reliability, and absolutely fun to drive,” explains Mazda Motorsports Manager of Business Development David Cook. “But the car and blueprint apparatus are alone a portion. The appropriate abutment affairs for the racers and for the shops, to get anybody abaft this alive in the aforementioned direction, is key.”
Cook’s annual reflects one big aberration in Blueprint MX-5 vs. Blueprint Miata: SM was developed by racers application readily accessible parts. Blueprint MX-5, meanwhile, was developed in affiliation with Mazda Motorsports and its partners.
Much of the Blueprint MX-5 apparatus are based on the old NC MX-5 Cup platform. That alternation raced with the cars (along with a additional chic for the similar, but hardly different, Skip Barber cars) for 10 years until it was replaced with the single-supplier, ND-based Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car. That agency there are a lot of absolute cars out there – some of them accept begin homes in STL or T4, but others accept been sitting idle. The springs, swaybars, algid air intake, header, and bankrupt for Blueprint MX-5 are carryovers from MX-5 Cup. “[Those parts] formed absolutely able-bodied on the car,” says Smith. “The bigger affair we’ve done is put a able shock amalgamation tailored to the bounce ante beneath the car.”
For that, Mazda Motorsports angry to its new accomplice for SM shocks, Penske Antagonism Shocks, which again developed a single-adjustable, tamper-proof shock for Blueprint MX-5. On the drivetrain side, Mazda Motorsports specs a Roush-developed base arch and Mahle artificial pistons and a new ammunition rail. Ability is delivered to the auto through an ACT clamp (OEM is allowed), and there’s a new CR Antagonism radiator and oil acknowledgment to accumulate the agent temperatures beneath control, abnormally in a draft. Pagid anchor pads, a new antagonism caster from Rays (or OEM), and Toyo RR tires complete the package. Best of those apparatus were called for durability, believability and, abnormally in the case of the base heads, they’re accessible to tech.
“We went through some of our old surveys, and we had absolutely a few inquiries from barter if Mazda would anytime achieve a Blueprint Miata base arch or would do a CNC base head; that affectionate of led us bottomward that path,” explains Smith. “We are [also] aggravating to anatomy some backbone into the cars. We’ve now been antagonism [the NC Miata] for 10-plus years, so we’ve abstruse a lot forth the way, and we capital to advance all the acquaint to achieve [Spec MX-5] article agreeable for everybody and try to abate some of the costs in burning ante and parts.”
Because I was converting my NC from T4 – and the alternative abeyance for the NC MX-5 in T4 is about the MX-5 Cup/Spec MX-5 abeyance with non-adjustable shocks – the anatomy was appealing straightforward. I enlisted the advice of Mark Nichols at Iron Canyon Motorsports, which has taken affliction of the car for me and provided trackside abutment back I purchased it; Nichols was assisted by ONV Motorsports. Mynor Barrios had already smoothed out a few anatomy wrinkles and activated a agleam new acrylic job to the car.
The abeyance assignment was as apprehensible as it gets, with alone a little acumen and accomplishing things in the appropriate adjustment required. For the engine, I had the best of affairs abundance and accepting it congenital with the Roush base arch and Mahle pistons; but accepting alone one acceptable engine, and with Mazda Motorsports alms 20-percent discounts to the aboriginal Blueprint MX-5 customers, accepting a turnkey agent from Mazda was the alive choice. The added agent will be adapted back my coffer annual recovers.
With the agent out, the blow of the actuality – new clamp kit, the new radiator with an oil acknowledgment and adapter curve – is appealing easy. Mazda Motorsports was a little ablaze on affidavit with the aboriginal ones it beatific out, so there was a little bit of addition out to do, but they affiance to fix that situation. A brace items of note: There are two ports in the radiator for a zinc anode and temperature sensor that charge to be acquainted if you’re not application them, but the plugs are SAE and can be begin at your bounded accouterments store. Also, the actual baptize corrupt is the one for a 2006-’07 MX-5 after the branch oil cooler.
For the engine, the EGR block-offs charge to be installed afore the agent goes in and the assorted goes on, because at that point it’s inaccessible. Mazda Motorsports should accept a kit to do that now. Also, achieve abiding that the ammunition abuse is installed correctly; things can go actual amiss if it’s not.
Altogether, it was about $12,000 in appropriate genitalia for the conversion, including the turnkey engine. Labor, of course, depends on how abundant of this you’re able to achieve yourself. And, naturally, with added genitalia required, the amount will be added for addition architecture a Blueprint MX-5 racecar from a artery donor.
Launchbaugh bought a donor and alien it to Winding Road. He says his anatomy amount could accept been as bargain as $36,000, but he chose some options that will booty that higher, such as converting the rear hubs to RX-8 hubs, a new seat, and new abstracts system. He estimates about $45,000 all-in. One can absorb that abundant on a Runoffs-level Blueprint Miata, so it’s not a huge bound for a new build.
In reality, there are alone two capital differences amid the NC Miata in T4 and Blueprint MX-5 configuration: the minimum antagonism weight and the shocks. The agent ability isn’t abundantly altered (Mazda says a baby ability bang over a T4 engine, and that’s what the base dyno suggests). But those added two items are the ones that achieve the difference.
The NC MX-5 minimum weight in Touring 4 is 2,745lbs, with 100lbs for alternating abeyance and 20lbs for an aftermarket hardtop. The Blueprint MX-5 minimum weight, meanwhile, is 2,500lbs – and that’s additionally the weight for the car in STL antagonism if it’s able 100 percent to the Blueprint MX-5 rules, including the Toyo tires.
At the Buttonwillow Hoosier Super Tour in February, I beyond the scales at 2,593. There are some HVAC items that can be chucked, and the headlights can be replaced with blanks. And the disciplinarian needs to bead some weight as well. But the 150lb (so far) abridgement over T4 trim was a huge advance in how the car felt, abnormally beneath braking.
The Penske shocks are a huge advance over the non-adjustable Bilsteins I had in the car, too. The adaptability is a nice touch, but artlessly accepting purpose-built antagonism shocks in the car feels amazing. The aftermost circuitous of corners at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., area I competed in the January U.S. Majors Tour, appearance a across-the-board about-face that is the best analytical on the ambit as it leads to about a mile of beeline on the oval. It’s additionally actual bumpy. With the Penskes, the car acquainted far added abiding through that section, and I was able to go to abounding burke far sooner. For the Super Tour at Buttonwillow the afterward month, the shocks were again dialed stiffer.
When dialed in, a Blueprint MX-5 should be able of lap times advancing those of NC MX-5 Cup times. Comparing some of those with absolute clue annal shows that it would be aggressive in STL at shorter, abstruse tracks, admitting added cars in STL accepting aerodynamic mods and annoy options.
For myself, while it’s not apocalyptic of anything, I managed a third-place accomplishment at the Auto Club Majors – bigger than any after-effects I had in T4 in a similar-sized acreage – and was active third in Sunday’s Buttonwillow Super Tour back I threw it abroad with a mistake. In the easily of a acceptable driver, the car has potential.
The Abutting Steps
For my car, the abutting footfall is to abolish added weight and additionally install the one-inch-wider alternating Mazda Motorsports Antagonism MX-5 wheels, which, according to the testers, absolutely helped the car. For Blueprint MX-5 in general, the abutting footfall is to see chic growth, which should be appealing accessible back Mazda says 50 kits to anatomy or catechumen accept already been sold, with Mazda prepping the abutting 50 kits.
Mazda’s ambition for Blueprint MX-5, Cook explains, is for it to become its own chic in the SCCA and added acceptance bodies, but he additionally addendum that Mazda sees that as a chat to be had in several years. For now, however, the Blueprint MX-5 amalgamation in STL is an economical way to own a absolutely fun, low-maintenance racecar. The advantage to chase in the MX-5 Claiming Series, which contest during several SCCA weekends and appearance appealing big prizes, alone adds to the appeal. It appears Mazda Motorsports has delivered on its goals in creating the spec. Now it’s up to the racers.
This account originally appeared in the June 2020 affair of SportsCar magazine, the official advertisement of the Sports Car Club of America. A book agenda cable is aloof one of the abounding allowances of SCCA membership.