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Miata track preparation is crucial for those who want to push their Mazda MX-5 to the limit on the race track.
As a popular sports car among enthusiasts, the Miata offers exceptional handling and responsive steering that makes it an ideal vehicle for track driving. However, to truly maximize the Miata’s potential on the track, it’s important to make the right modifications and upgrades.
From suspension and brake upgrades to lightweight wheels and high-performance tires, there are a variety of modifications you can make to your Miata to improve its performance and make it a more capable track machine. In this guide, we will dive into the various modifications and upgrades that can be made for Miata track preparation, helping you get the most out of your driving experience.
1. Roll Cage
If you can only afford one thing, make the roll cage your absolute priority. This is especially applicable if you have a soft-top MX-5. In that case, some places wouldn’t even let you out on the track without a cage. Having a cage also helps when it comes to getting your car track insured.
In addition to all the technicalities, a roof half cage for the MX-5 serves as roll protection to keep your head in one piece in the event of an accident. Moreover, it will substantially improve your MX-5’s structural rigidity. This translates to a nimbler car with better steering response with minor added weight being a trade off.
2. Suspension upgrade
Upgrading the suspension is one of the most important modifications you can make for Miata track preparation. The Miata’s stock suspension is designed for everyday driving, and may not offer the stiffness and responsiveness needed for high-performance driving on the track.
By upgrading to a performance-oriented suspension setup, you can improve the handling and cornering capabilities of your Miata, giving you better control and feedback during aggressive driving.
Coilovers are a popular suspension upgrade that allow for adjustable ride height and damping, making it easier to fine-tune the suspension to your driving style and the specific demands of the track.
Other suspension upgrades, such as sway bars and strut braces, can further improve the handling and stability of the Miata on the track. A properly upgraded suspension can help you shave seconds off your lap times and take your driving experience to the next level.
3. Better Tires
Arguably the second most important upgrade to a sprightly MX-5 is the tires. People often skimp out on tires, but they’re all that keep your car out of the ditch. Before you head for the track, always check your tire condition. Consistent high performance driving thrashes any tires, especially ones that are high traction with softer compound.
If you’re looking to use up all of your admittedly modest Miata horsepower, then you should look for performance-oriented tires. They needn’t be racing slicks, as there are plenty of worthwhile road-legal offerings out there. Stick with performance options from reputable makes and you’ll be fine for the day. Also make sure your tires are properly inflated for the event and not leaking pressure.
Have you checked your fluids recently? When was your last oil change? If you don’t know the answer to any of that, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A filter change and fully synthetic oil is an affordable way to safeguard against engine failure, as synthetic oil behaves better on cold starts and sustained heat.
Following that, check your transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, clutch fluid, differential fluid etc. Make sure nothing is dirty or contaminated. Fix your leaks, as track driving can potentially turn a small leak into a serious one. Stick with quality DOT 4 brake fluid and exercise caution to avert boiling brake fluid. This is also the time to ensure your coolant is good, because you don’t want to be spewing smoke out on the track.
If you are still using normal organic brake pads, now is the time to switch to something more ambitious. Ceramic brake pads are an easy upgrade to your braking system, and when paired with grippy tires should prove invaluable in reducing your braking distance. If you don’t mind the noise, dust and harshness, then metallic pads will be your best bet.
Should your financial ability allow, then opting for larger rotors with better cooling capability can help on prolonged sessions. Generally speaking, you’ll be alright if you allow some time for your brake to cool from time to time during your session.
Something worth mentioning are fire extinguishers. Regardless of regulations, if you’re driving your Miata on the track, a fire extinguisher will be irreplaceable when the need arises. Of course, get it installed properly somewhere you can grab quickly. It’s an easy and cheap way to protect against fire while you’re driving on the track, where anything can occur.
Other than that, you’d want monitoring gauges and possibly oil coolers to keep your temperatures under control. Don’t cheap out on gauges due to accuracy concerns. Track driving will unravel any flaws your MX-5 has, therefore having a visual indication of excessive heat will save you from any catastrophic aftermaths.
This isn’t an all encompassing guide to track readying your Mazda MX-5. You should always read up on your local track regulations to better comprehend the specifics. However, after your first track day experience, it may prove to be the most fun you’ve had yet with your sporty roadster.
Read how to prepare your Miata for tracks here.