I Want Lighter Race Wheels for My Miata. But Will They Matter?
I’ve been campaigning a Miata MX-5 NC in southern California autocross for the past two years for cancer awareness and I’m having a lot of fun. But I’m not winning.
I’m running a 2010 PRHT in C Street class, the same class as the new ND version of the Miata. I’ve done everything legal to improve my NC’s performance: Koni shocks and upgraded bump stops; a heavier progress front sway bar; and a race muffler that saved 29 lb., all from Good-Win Racing in San Diego. I also had Darin at West End Alignment put the maximum negative camber on the front wheels to help in the corners.
Alas, I’m not winning or even placing in the top half of C Street. So, I’ve been hearing that lighter wheels can make a big difference in moderately powered cars like the Miata.
The guys at Grassroots Motorsports just did a study on this very subject. Here’s their conclusion:
“The test showed clear differences both on the kart track and at the strip. Times were substantially worse with the heavy wheels, which slowed the car by 0.31 second on the average lap and 0.46 second on even the best lap. Even though Alan’s final run on the heavy wheels was substantially quicker, it still was 0.16 second behind his best time on the light wheels.”
This is a great article and is well worth the 6 minutes read if you are thinking about investing in lighter wheels: READ THE FULL ARTICLE.
My Personal Take Away . . .
I’m having a lot of fun running autocross and SCCA Track Nights with the NC but, given the amount of time I have available to train, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not ever going to be a trophy contender. That said, I’m going to forego investing in wheels that will yield a .3 second time savings and invest those dollars in bringing people to the track to ride with me and enjoy the fun of experiencing autocross.
That said, though, the top contenders in class are winning and losing by hundredths of a second and .3 second is a big advantage!