BEST DAMN SPEC MIATA, PERIOD! VERSION 3 - BUILT BY OPM AUTOSPORTS

BACKGROUND

Over the past four years, OPM Autosports has built me two outstandingly successful cars. After winning my first ARRC, I sold my championship winning Spec Miata, and commissioned OPM Autosports to build Version 3 of the "Best Damn Spec Miata, Period".

This is the build project story.

Hopefully the photos here will be able to do justice to the amazing work done by the entire team at OPM Autosports.

Thanks to Tom, Ryan, Mikel, Tracy and everyone at OPM Autosports in Georgia for building a really awesome car. You guys are the best. I know how much time you put into this over this past few months and it shows. And thanks for taking such great photos during the build to document the progress. Thanks for your dedication much appreciated!

This car is a testament to their unwavering attention to detail. Ryan, Tom and the team worked countless nights on the small details, and unfortunately the pictures cannot begin to show the amount of work that it takes to do a build of this quality.

 

OUTGOING CAR

The car below pictured below was the second car that OPM built for me, and became the reference from which the new build would emerge. 

NEW CAR BUILD

Tom's mission was simple:- Improve on version 2, make it prettier and make it lighter to meet the new Spec Miata class weight limit.

For those of you who saw the my previous build in this thread on the old Spec Miata Forum Best Damn Spec Miata, Period, you might remember it started with a concept originating from my wife Kim who always says Danny, it's not how good you are, it's how good you look!. Well the previous build obviously nailed it as it was not only fast, but photographs of the old 39 car appeared in many magazines over the past two years, and resulted in significant exposure to my business and to those of my sponsors.

And this is what Version 3 of the best Damn Spec Miata looks like - read on to follow the build log.


DONOR CAR

Fowler made contact with all his suppliers and found a high mileage '99 donor in silver and tan that had a blown engine, with zero frame rail damage. In fact the car body panels were almost perfect except for a few door dings. The crew at OPM set to the task of stripping it out to an empty tub. This unpleasant job takes lots of time, patience and a few skinned knuckles.

CAGE

In the previous build, Tom and Robinson Racing collaborated on making some new improvements to their tried and tested design. With this build, Robinson further improved the design of the main hoop gusseting, further improving cage integrity and strength, while at the same time reducing the weight and center of gravity. We also removed the Petty bar to save weight. Robinson?s cage work is exceptional. The welds are beyond excellent; the penetrations through the parcel shelf and dashboard cutouts are incredibly tight with no gaps at all between the lower door bar and the side sills. I have seen a Robinson caged car that have hit a concrete wall at over 100mph, and while while the unibody was bucked right through the transmission tunnel, the cage didn't even have a crack in the paint on he welds, and most importantly, the driver walked away.

DRIVETRAIN AND UNDERSIDE

OPM completely went over everything in the gearbox, differential, prop shafts and half shafts. Joe is the man there, and did a tremendous job on freeing up our components. This new car rolls in the breeze! The full Mazda comp package was installed. We fitted new bushings, shocks, calipers, rotors, hoses, as well as a new steering box.

FULL CONTAINMENT SEAT

After hearing about and seeing one-too-many side impact rib fracture videos, I was adamant about installing a full shoulder containment seat. Most seats offer adequate hip and lower body containment, and those with halos constrain the head movement, but the heaviest part of the body is the torso, and unless contained, the heavy torso will move with huge energy transfer, often cracking the ribs on the lower seat rail, so its critical to contain the shoulders to stop the torso from moving.

At the PIR show in Orlando I sat in every seat I could and settled on the Racetech RT4119HRW. While the overall dimensions appear no larger than the original Racetech RT4009HRW seat I have used for the past 4 seasons, the shoulder restraint reinforcing bar unfortunately does get in the way of the main cage hoop and requires significant finessing to be able to move the seat far enough back for optimum seating position and fast egress.

GAUGES, DASH AND DATA

The blue digital AutoMeter gauges were a big hit with the last car and we decided to stay with them as they are very easy to read in the car. We also took some cues from Elivan's Runoffs car and kept the center console to hide a lot of the components and wiring and make the interior look much cleaner. From left to right we have the following displays:- AF Ratio (using innovate sensor with calibrate button below), Fuel Pressure, Traqmate Traqdash, Fuel Level, various warning lights, Oil Pressure and Temperature.

Traqmate's new Traqdash is a huge improvement in display over the original unit and this unit has replaced the speedometer and rev counter in the car and also performs the shift light functions.

Like several other cars we placed the Traqdash in the instrument panel to be visible through the steering wheel and this gives a less cluttered dash and easy visibility of the predictive timer.

We are mapping several inputs into the Traqmate including AF Ratio, Fuel Pressure, Throttle Position and Brake Pressure. The Traqmate also controls my Sony HD camera via LANC.

Glenn, congrats on building a great system. I love the fact that you are always accessible, listen to our suggestions and have incorporated so much into this new unit. We are all very appreciative! Thanks Glenn.

A Moroso illuminated rocker switch panel performs switching duty to Coolsuit, helmet blower, radio charger, and video charger.

DESIGN PAINT AND GRAPHICS

The previous blue and orange color scheme stood out so well on the track that I wanted to stay with the same color palette, but in a fresh new design. My graphic designer David and I played on the computer looking for at cars from other racing series and how they use the body real estate for graphics and marketing. It was also critical to make sure the car looks fast even when standing still.

We had to go to a new fluorescent orange color as House of Kolors stopped making the previous fluorescent Honey/Orange. I think the new design works. It certainly is bright.

A big thanks to Glenn and Vic for the excellent job on the paint. The quality is amazing, better than you will see on many cars on a showroom floor. The entire car is base coat / clear coat, even the interior which we did in silver to show well, and we did the matte black cage detail again.

These photos should give you some idea of the tremendous amount of masking and preparation that goes into painting the cage a different color from the interior.

The exterior gets prepared for the paint booth

Coming out of the paint booth the car was literally glowing and lit up the entire shop. Without any graphics the car looked way too orange but I was confident that the addition of the graphics would tone down the color and add the detail to make it look fast.

All of the colors you see is in the images above are painted. The idea is to detail the final graphics with vinyl decals. Tiffany at FishHead Graphics did a super job with the graphics and the overall combination is a stunner. Thanks Tiffany

ENGINE

What can I say? I really like Mike Rossini and I like his engines. Rossini Racing Engines have powered me to many championships and many national wins including victories in the the June Sprints and two ARRCs, and we were a front runner for the Runoffs too. Sure we continually want more horsepower and we often hear numbers that make us go "huh?", but my Rossini engines have been fast and reliable and Mike stands behind his product, and you can't ask anything more from your engine builder.

Of course Ryan, Mikel and the guys at OPM detailed the entire engine bay so it looks like a new car off the showroom floor.

Here are some photos of Mike Rossini working his considerable magic on his portable dyno. If you are looking for a winning Spec Miata builder, Call Mike Rossini at (336) 595-3413

COST TO BUILD?

The obvious question to ask is "What did it cost"?

Way more than necessary but less than you would think. Much of the stuff is purely for appearances sake and the build could have been done for less, but we wanted a show car that would stand out, and I hope we pulled it off. I look forward to all your comments..

Tom Fowler at OPM is in the business of building championship winning race cars, and whether you are looking for a budget racer or a top shelf show car, he would love to chat with you. Just call Tom at (770) 886-8199.

SPONSORS AND CONTRIBUTORS

Thanks to all my sponsors and to all those that have offered advice and assistance during this build.

OPM Autosports is a proven race and championship winning race car prep shop that specializes in trackside support. OPM has literally built hundreds of race cars, and currently specializes in Mazda and Honda, as supports all classes including Spec Miata, Improved Touring classes ITA, ITS, Super Touring Classes STL and STU, as well as Prod cars. They offer a complete arrive and drive program with rental Spec Miata's, and also offer trackside support for all SCCA races in the South East, and offer trackside support to visiting racers.

Rossini Racing Engines offer top shelf pro built engines for motor racing drivers and street enthusiasts. From their origin as a factory AMA motocross support program, Rossini has transitioned into motor racing with amazing success. Over the past four years, Rossini Engines have powered their drivers to countless championships, wins, podiums and track records. Moreover, Mike Rossini takes care of his customers.

Mazda Motorsports sets the standard by which all companies are judged in terms of their commitment to motorsports, and especially the grass-roots motor racing community. On any weekend there are more Mazda's racing than any other make of car, and at some events, more than all the other makes combined. Mazda has produced more than 1Million of the legendary Miata's, one of the most successful racing platforms of all time, and Mazda has the only open-top one-marque class in the world, the incredibly popular Mazda Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Car

G-LOC Brakes are a high performance brake manufacturer based in the USA and are owned and operated by the Puskar brothers Chris and Danny. G-LOC performance brakes feature a unique brake pad technology that is now being used by pro racers, club racers, and tuners throughout the USA. They offer amazing initial bite, strong anti-fade stopping power, but more imporatantly they provide great pedal feel that minimizes flat spots in the high threshold braking areas. Overall they help reduce lap times and win races.

Traqmate is a vehicle data acquisition device designed for pros or track day enthusiasts who want to record their day, play it back with their HD video, and analyze their performance to get the most out of their car and themselves. It uses a high-speed GPS receiver and high resolution accelerometers to track and record the speed of a vehicle, its absolute location, and forces acting on the vehicle. The Traqview analysis program uses advanced mathematical algorithms to translate this data into visual form where it is easy to spot differences between drivers, vehicles, and sessions.

Traqgear Innovations is a motorsports apparrel and equipment company. Its revolutionary fireproof lightweight driver underwear sets a completely new standard for driver comfort and safety. It also produces innovative driver cooling systems and accessories.

Adept Studios is a full service commercial and family photography studio serving South Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean Islands. Operating out of a state of the art 4000sqft studio, Adept Studios specializes in commercial and product photography, as well as personal and family photography including weddings and engagements, family portraits, headshots, model portfolios and more.