How’s that for a title? About as basic as I could make it. But that doesn’t mean this event was basic. In fact, through all the issues I endured this season, I still managed to capture the regional championship and reset a couple of my records in the process. But not without a little hardship.
The Lead Up
But that doesn’t mean the ST6 Miata wasn’t going to fight me just a little bit more this season. If you read my previous post (Rewiring the 1.6l NA Miata … Part 1) you already know the lead up to this event was nightmare fuel. I don’t think I have ever worked harder to make an event.
The fun didn’t stop there though.
After a strong showing in TT6 and setting the fastest laps of the day, I would line up for race 1 in last place as I skipped qualifying to prioritize the Time Trial session. As a side note, I was running in a field of 1 Saturday and wasn’t too concerned as I had time in hand, almost a second, on the front running Spec Miata field. I figured it would give me a lot of fun passing opportunities instead of running by myself.
Unfortunately, early in the race the rear diff ate itself. Not in a spectacular fashion, but in a, ‘hey that noise isn’t normal, I should definitely come in’ fashion. This happened around lap 3 or 4 of the race so I did get to have a little fun. Passing the 944 Spec group and a few Spec Miata’s before retiring the car.
Lucky for me, two things lined up after the failure. One, the next race was the next day so I would have time to replace the diff … if, and only if I could procure a replacement. That led me to item two, finding a replacement diff for the NA Miata. I asked every Spec Miata racer to no avail and then was put in touch with Andy Funston. Andy races with NASA and Gridlife and was using the event to test out his v8 swapped NB Miata. He also happened to live close to the track and graciously gifted me a working, 1.6 open diff to keep me in business this weekend. In short, thank you Andy.
An evening spent swapping the differential was a small price to pay to race. Although the lack of showering facilities at Nashville Superspeedway made cleanup more involved, I woke up Sunday morning relatively refreshed, mostly clean, and ready to hit the track.
Starting in the back once again, this was the race I was supposed to have Saturday. I worked my way through the field quickly until reaching second overall. I settled in for the remainder of the race as the car ahead was a forced induction S2000.
Limited Slip (LSD) vs Open Differential
I thought this would be worth a mention. The ST6 1.6 Miata originally had a limited slip differential. After it failed, the replacement was an open differential with the same ratio. Where I noticed this change the most was in the tight infield section at Nashville Superspeedway. In my book, these turns, (2,3,4) are all compromise turns with the focus being the exit speed for turn 5.
I immediately noticed I couldn’t turn the car as well with throttle and if I was too aggressive, I would get quite a bit of one-wheel spin. At turn 3 it would feel like the car was gaining revs but going nowhere. To remedy, I would trail brake a little longer and feed throttle a little slower. Basically, a little more finesse in this section. These small adjustments yielded lap times repeatable and identical to the limited slip times.
Race 3 would be our end of the year Aussie pursuit or handicap race. I would once again start last. This time because I had the quickest and most consistent times of the entrants. The handicap this time would be 12 seconds from the car in front with a 50 second handicap overall. Needless to say, this was going to be fun. It took 13 minutes to make contact with the back of the field and before 20 minutes I was solidly in 2nd place. Here I made a slight mistake. As I reeled in the 1st place car, I incorrectly assumed it was one of the rookie drivers. Instead, it was Shawn Taylor in his ST6 Miata. (He was supposed to be in a 944 Spec) I settled in looking for a clean pass, but Shawn knows how to drive defensive, and my brain was thinking, ‘dang, this rookie is really stepping it up.’
I bid my time thinking a ‘rookie mistake’ would be eminent. It never came and on the last two laps I started a more aggressive approach but was unable to pass for 1st, even though I was running a faster pace. Ironically, I had no idea who was driving what until I went to congratulate a rookie who looked at me like I was insane. It was a good laugh but note to self, know who is driving what.
That’s a wrap for Nashville Superspeedway for the 2023 season. And it was nice to clench another championship in the process, despite all the hardships this year contained. I do have a few more races and test events before 2024 and the main focus of those events is to develop the car further as well as get the driver in shape for a full 2024 season in multiple series.