Race Car Tech Discuss anything related to road racing and auto X.

Beginner on FC

Old 03-25-06, 04:53 PM
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Beginner on FC

I already have a daily driver and im looking between the RX-7 FC N/A or the NA Miata. Im wanting to become a better driver and get into autocrossing and racing. I am not interested in drifting or anything like that. Now with that said i will be driving this car hard and will be practicing a lot on it. Im on a budget but not an extremely low one. Honestly i like the RX-7 better and the idea of a rotary. I love the look of a FC. But im scared to get into it because my last project was a bust (240). Im not that smart of a mechanic( besides changing fluids and regular maintenance), and i hear that it will run into problems a lot especially if driven hard.


What would you guys prefer ? keep in mind im looking to become a better racer, im gonna take it to autocrossing and track, and its not a daily driver.
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Old 03-25-06, 07:23 PM
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As much as I love the RX cars(any), its tough to beat the Miata on the auto-x course. They are also good road race platforms. Its easier to find an acceptable mechanic anywhere. Also consider that the newest FC is older than the oldest Miata, this may help you get a better car mechanically. With all that and starting from not having either, I'd buy an FC, oops no, a Miata... Its hard to type that but it may be the best for you.
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Old 03-25-06, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jgrewe
As much as I love the RX cars(any), its tough to beat the Miata on the auto-x course. They are also good road race platforms. Its easier to find an acceptable mechanic anywhere. Also consider that the newest FC is older than the oldest Miata, this may help you get a better car mechanically. With all that and starting from not having either, I'd buy an FC, oops no, a Miata... Its hard to type that but it may be the best for you.

I thought much the same thing, a miata is a sweet autoX machine. They are super easy to drive fast and are VERY well developed for racing, probably more so than an FC. plus they should be cheaper to race long term.
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Old 03-25-06, 08:10 PM
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One problem that many Miata owners run into with track days and road racing is head clearance. The roof prevents you from having a very tall roll bar if you want to be able to still use the top. Many people, not even necesarily tall people even, have major troubles even getting their helmeted head below the top of the roll bar, nevermind the full 2" below that the SCCA deems necessary. You must have a roll bar to do most of the track days or driving schools with a Miata, but most places won't require anything extra for the FC (provided it's not a convertible). If you're going to make it into a full racing car with a full cage and everything then you can make the bar taller and lower the seat to get more room, but I've heard of people having to cut the floor to lower the seat in a Miata to get enough below the bar to be legal.

You should definetly try out a Miata to see if you fit properly, they're a very small car. If you can go to an autocross, chances are if it's a larger even there'll be at least one Miata with a roll bar that you can try on for size.
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Old 03-27-06, 04:50 PM
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Look into the MR2s. They are a good AutoX car as well. The MR2s and the Miatas pretty much dominate E Stock class. They have me by about 2 seconds. Just got lighter wheels and sticky tires, hopefully a little more seat time will drop that time down.
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Old 03-27-06, 06:37 PM
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MR2 isn't the greatest beginner car with the RR layout IMO. I like the Miata's. There is more that enough parts, and Mazda supports the **** out of those cars! You can also pick up a good used car for a cheap price VS the older FC's that are either beat up badly or just too expensive for a clean one.
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Old 03-28-06, 10:07 AM
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This is from an open track point of view not Auto X. From what I've seen MOST people (even some of the taller folks) can get away with sitting a racing seat on the floor and welding it in place (as opposed to rails, with the stock cushioning, etc.) of the Miata. (I think it lowers your total height around 3 inches.) They are VERY small though. I always feel claustrophobic in those things!!! They do get much more support from Mazda than the RX7's. Which means it's easier and cheaper to find parts. Not to mention, there are many more shops that specialize in the Miata's due to the spec class, so it's easier to find a good (well versed on the tricks of trade) mechanic. I've also heard that the MR2's are much harder to get support for (almost non-existant from Toyota on the amatuer level) and cost more $$$ to make competitive.

The other problem I have seen is the "true classification" of FC's. Spec Miata's are in a nationwide class and you can race with SCCA and/or NASA (which means more opportunities to race) and have a very competitive car. NA FC's are normally classified in the ITS class (unless you go in to EP which means more $$$ to be competitive) which is considered regional and you may not be as competitive. But race what you enjoy, having fun is the name of the game!!! Just my $.02 worth.
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Old 03-28-06, 08:53 PM
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thanks for the feedback. I do love RX-7's though.. but as long as i stay mazda its not a bad thing right? haha
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Old 03-29-06, 03:30 PM
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i guess what i really need to ask is why did YOU choose RX-7?
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Old 03-29-06, 11:46 PM
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Well here is my story.....

I got an 87 Rx-7 that I was planning on racing in Improved Touring. Right now I just do track days due to budget and time issues. My Rx-7 was practically free! Try that with a miata. A lot of times, I find myself passing Miatas whose drivers have have approximately the same skill level as I do. I have heard the miatas engines are not as robust for racing, and when you go off, a lot of the suspension bits are prone to damage. I have seen many bent control arms, etc.

I do not think you will be competitive for awhile in the miatas, especially if your just starting out. Too many pro drivers and too many people with unlimited budgets. Why spend crazy amounts of money when your just learning. If I put my rx-7 in a wall, I'll just pick up another for dirt cheap. Besides, I hear the 2nd generation Miatas will be the ones to beat soon, and we all know those cost even more than 1st generations.

So cheaper to race and a tad faster = rx-7.

Just my opinion!
-Jack
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Old 03-30-06, 12:25 AM
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jrx13: What are you using for a suspension set up? What's the handling like? Any more plans for improvement?

I'm trying to gather information for a suspension upgrade that I'll get to do someday and I'm looking for a good track setup that can also be uised on the street (I'll tolerate a stiff ride).
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Old 03-30-06, 09:49 AM
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This is a tough decision. As was pointed out earlier, the Miata's are great little platforms. You can get one relatively cheap and start auto-x'ing it immediately. Put a good roll-bar and some harnesses in and you can start running HPDE's and Timetrials. It's a real good car to progress with because even in stock form, the initial limitation will be the driver skill and not the vehicle. As you move forward you can improve the car as you improve the driver.

If you want to go and start door-to-door racing, there are several classes in SCCA you can run in (I'm not as familiar with NASA). Realize that at this point you will not be competetive without a large investment in your car ($10k-20k) and a larger investment in your driving skill, but you can go out and have fun running in mid pack :-)

Also, if you are bound and determined to get out and truely road-race fairly quickly, consider looking around for already built car, rather than building it yourself. You will save considerable money.

The FC's in general are faster track cars. But the Miata's don't even run the the same class as them. Don't let "top speed" determine your selection. Either car, if set up correctly, is an absolute blast to drive. Also, it you want to get into it ffor a little less money consider an FB. Good already buiilt cars can be had for around $3k that are ready to go on the track.

Having said all this, I will point out that I just went out and bought a built FC as a dedicated track car. But then I love rotaries and am a decent enough back-yard mechanic to maintain it (and I have friends who are even better mechanics :-). I would say that the Miata would be easier to maintain (but not any cheaper) as a track vehicle in terms of finding people who know how to work on them.

Some references:

SCCA Improved Touring: http://itforum.improvedtouring.com/forums/. Look in the classifieds for some decent deals.

A good writeup on building a track FC: http://www.negative-camber.org/crispyrx7/fc/fcpart1.htm

Just my $0.02. Good luck with your decision.


-bill

Last edited by wrankin; 03-30-06 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 03-30-06, 11:48 AM
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very good messages. Im just trying to learn how to drive better. Im not wanting to hit the track and win the day everytime. Even on just backroads or anywhere. I live in the middle of no where and dont really have any tracks around. Really my dream car to get is a FD someday . But for now i just wanna learn how to drive a car correctly cause all i drive now is a big clunky SUV. I dont really care about winning just getting better. To build me up to the day i get the FD haha. If thats my goal im thinking i should just probably stick with rotaries and move on up.'


ive been doing hours and hours of research on both cars.. its been giving me a headache.. yesterday i spent 4 hours just looking up stuff.

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Old 03-30-06, 02:17 PM
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One thing to consider also is that while the Miata is nimble and agile at low speeds making it excellent for autocross, it can be down right unstable at high speeds, especially if set up for autocross. Some oversteer at low speeds makes for good rotation at autocross (they do that stock), but will be dangerous and scary at higher speeds. With an aftermarket suspension this can be fixed and they can be made to be quite good at high speed driving, while stock they aren't as good as an FC in that department.

The FC is a very stable, forgiving platform at speeds. It is a perfect beginners car. I've had mine on track a few times, always with a stock suspension so far, and it's incredibly forgiving, you can give it absolute hell and it won't bite you, allowing you to correct and drive out of the situation. It still punishes you for mistakes by slowing you down and hurting your lap times, but it won't cause you to crash unless you've really gone hugely wrong. It also handles quite well when the speeds increase, but that's at the expense of some autocross performance. Part of this is the suspension design and tuning, but it's also partly due to the FC being a bigger, longer, wider car, which makes it more stable.

For a beginner at track days with a stock, or nearly stock car, I think the FC is a better choice for its more forgiving nature.
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Old 04-01-06, 11:10 AM
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Sorry I don't drive my rx-7 on the street. I run the Mazdaspeed motorsports suspension kit. It uses AWR coilovers.

-Jack
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Old 04-01-06, 10:38 PM
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For autoX, I'd say miata.. for road racing.. I'd go with an FC. I take my FC N/A to open track days.. and its just sticks like glue! My suspention isn't the best, tien springs with KYB's adjustable and poly bushings but its good enough to have fun. With sticky tires and good brake pads.. the car was just like a go-kart. Very little understeer with almost no oversteer.. I think this is a very fun car to learn on.. and it doesn't have enough power to get you introuble when your coming out of a corner at WOT. So I will say the FC will be a good choice.
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