Sunday 21 July 2013

The Mazda MX-5 Cup

Racing in the USA
The MX-5 Cup is a race series in the USA exclusively for the NC Roadster.  The series was created in 2006 to mark the launch of the new model and aims to provide a chance for aspiring race drivers to compete in identical cars and show what they can do.  Races usually have a full grid between 20 and 30 entrants, making for close and exciting racing.  Rolling starts are used and each race lasts around 45 minutes.  The championship visits some of the most high profile circuits in the USA, including the Sebring Raceway and Laguna Seca.  The MX-5 Cup is sanctioned by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) and is their entry level of production-car based motorsport.  The MX-5 Cup represents the first step on the way to becoming a professional racing driver. 
mazda mx-5 cup race series
The cars themselves are very strictly controlled in terms of modifications.  The rules are designed to keep the cars as close to stock as possible, keeping costs down.  Everyone must use the same engine, gearbox, and Hankook tyres, but there are a few permitted modifications.  These include mandatory use of a fully welded rollcage (hardtops are not permitted) the front strut brace that is standard on the Sport model, and all cars must run the Mazdaspeed induction kit and Mazdaspeed exhaust system.  There is a choice of wheel designs, but again they must be original factory 17" wheels.  All cars must use the Mazdaspeed suspension kit which consists of adjustable dampers, uprated springs and anti-roll bars, and modified bump stops.

One of the most interesting rules I've read is the "claiming rule", this basically means that any driver finishing in 6th to 10th place can "claim" the engine from a car finishing in 1st to 5th place.  In the interests of fair competition, so if you thought the winning car's engine was performing better than your own, you could claim it.  It'll cost you $3000 though.  Should your own engine be claimed by a competitor, you would be supplied a new one from Mazdaspeed.  It's estimated that the Cup spec cars produce around 195Bhp, that's 25Bhp up on stock after fitting the intake and exhaust modifications.

At the 2010 SEMA show Mazda displayed a stripped out MX-5 in Cup race mode.  You can see that Mazdaspeed induction kit behind the front grille.  An interesting point about this show car is that it uses the facelift NC2 front end and the original NC1 rear end.  Perhaps they used an NC1 and added the facelift front as the older car weighs a little less.  It does show that old and newer parts can be mixed and matched.  You can see what I mean in the photo gallery over on You can read more on the MX-5 Cup series, including full details of the rules and regulations over on the website
mazda mx-5 cup race series sema show
mazda mx-5 cup race series sema show