The old battle between big-and-powerful against gutless-and-featherweight will never end. The videos are everywhere, and sometimes, they’re just clickbait. In these cases, the driver in the heavier car, which is often the more expensive car, isn’t really up to the task. The eager underdog supporters jump to the conclusion that the rich guy in the GT-R wasted his money and should’ve bought an Integra or whatever the budget beater that finishes first is.
Not only is that mindset predictable and boring, but it doesn’t serve the studious viewers well. Those who find the differences between two dissimilar machines intriguing are best served by videos like the one above, which shows two clever, similarly-matched drivers pushing their machines hard, scything through traffic, and keeping in touch with one another the entire time.
It needs to mentioned that both these cars are designed for road course racing, with the slight edge given to the Spec Miata. Nevertheless, it’s still a production car which can be had for peanuts and doesn’t carry many upgrades; it just relies on its slimness and short wheelbase to brake and corner well.
Rubbin’ is racing’ with Spec Miatas. Photo credit: Rossini Racing
It’s what first stands out to the keen-eyed viewer too—at 0:33 when the Corvette crests the hill, rubs the brake, and turns in smoothly. The Corvette arrives at a greater pace, obviously, but only needs a sniff of the middle pedal and looks remarkably composed. Predictably, it’s the Miata which works better here—if the engine note is anything to go by, it sounds as if the Miata hardly brakes and can turn into the corner just by breathing off the throttle, and carries more speed into and through.
It’s such a treat to see these two at work since they’re fast, neat, and consistent; never driving over their limit but still manage to pass everyone else easily. The ‘Vette has torque on its side—making it very effective when moving around traffic, but the Miata can brake so late. Listening to the giveaway chirp from the tires at 1:43 suggest the driver is braking on the limit, and the gap is closed, despite the Corvette’s impressive speed through that section.
The Corvette is quite handy on the brakes, but occasionally misses the apex when pursued closely from behind—see 3:22. Although, it’s also noticeable that after some of these botched braking zones in the slower corners, the Corvette turns in a little later, which would make sense. With all that power on demand, it pays to get the Chevy rotated a little more assertively so that it won’t light up the tires—it takes a ‘v line’ when the Miata’s line is smoother, especially in the slower stuff.
What some might not consider is the width and length of the Chevrolet—specifically the length of the hood—and how that limits the driver. Not knowing the exact location of the front wheels adds another challenge to place the car precisely. In this regard, the Miata is head and shoulders above the Corvette, and that advantage will pay over the course of tens of laps.
Poor perspective from the long-hooded Corvette make it hard to place accurately, and so it runs wide.
Eventually, the driver of the Chevrolet swallows his pride and gives the Miata’s driver a point-by. Though the ‘Vette boasts four times the power of the Mazda, its owner shouldn’t feel any shame. He did a stunning job keeping the Mazda behind, and showed just where a little car with stiffened suspension, stickier tires, and much less weight closes the gap: it’s more manageable in slower corners and medium-speed corners. In the fast stuff, they’re pretty similarly matched. Though it could be seen either way, it’s a real complement to the Corvette’s owner, who kept one of the world’s best-loved race cars behind on a technical track for multiple laps. There’s no doubt, he was getting a little hot under the collar in the Oklahoma summer.