One of the reasons Randy Pobst is so highly regarded in American road racing is because, despite having won at the professional level, he still enjoys the casual ambiance of grassroots competition. He’s one of those types who will hop in most cars and drive the ever-loving piss out of them for giggles. One of those cars was this impressively quick Miata, intelligently modified and run by Wu-Chan Clan in the Lucky Dog Racing League, which has relaxed rules that allow them to run this Frankenstein creation in a wheel-to-wheel event. Powered by a potent Honda K24, this well-balanced machine has all a seasoned veteran needs to put on a racecraft clinic that any driver would appreciate.
The K24-swapped Miata is rapidly becoming a popular platform for several reasons. Lightweight, reliable, and torquey, the K24 offers Miata drivers some real grunt that changes the game entirely and keeps the V8-powered competition within striking distance. With the availability of these motor s— this K24A2 coming from a ’08 Acura TSX — and the KMiata swap kit simplifying the process, it’s relatively easy to accomplish. This particular example benefits from a Hondata KPro ECU, Skunk2 Racing intake, KMiata “Race” header, and 3-inch exhaust. This offers the driver roughly 210 horsepower at the rear wheels, a broad powerband, and the ability to power-oversteer.
“This was the second race for this car, and it was still pretty rough. Randy was able to give us some good constructive criticism to help improve the suspension. Overall, Randy is a very approachable guy, and has great enthusiasm for amateur racing. He is very much ‘one of us,'” said Wu-Chan Clan’s Mike Marich.
While the torque available still makes wheelspin a real possibility, the 245-section Hankook Ventus RS4 tires do a respectable job of putting the power down efficiently. When coupled with a significant weight advantage over the competition, Xida coilovers, and powerful Wilwood four-piston brakes at all four corners, this Miata has enough to claw back into contention with cars that can spread a massive gap on every straight.
“The car looks pretty much like a stock Miata, so it caught a lot of people by surprise. When Randy ran the sprint race, we were on top of the UMC garage platforms watching with a lot of other teams. There were some shocked faces,” laughs Marich.
The Contest and the Craft
The Mustang ahead sports Capri-style lights and a distinct horsepower advantage. As Utah Motorsports’ Campus is long and full of straights, perhaps if it weren’t for the smooth, consistent, and brave Pobst behind the wheel, the Mustang might’ve sailed off into the distance.
We can clearly see how much neater Pobst’s lines are. While the Mustang misses quite a few turn-in points, Pobst is hyper-accurate, consistent, and economical. Just note how much quicker he is through The Attitudes (1:01-1:08). By taking plenty of curb and keeping the car moving forward with tiny hints of lock, we can see he’s carrying a healthy 15-miles-per-hour more in some corners.
Not that the Mustang’s driver is a slouch, but the difference in speed throughout UMC’s corners — especially the faster ones — is striking. The more technical sections of the circuit demonstrate this well; Pobst passes around the outside in the course’s final corner, only to be repassed down the long front straight. So much for having an advantage in close-quarters dueling.
Pobst’s experience informs him there will be a better moment to strike, so he stays calm and observant. After exiting alongside the Mustang in Satisfaction (4:18), he keeps the Mustang on the inside down the subsequent straight. Knowing full-well that the Mustang’s entry speeds aren’t great, Pobst plans an over-under. When the Ford attempts to turn in on a tighter radius and inevitably runs wide, Pobst times the pass perfectly and shows the Mustang his taillights (4:29).
It’s a great display of composure, strategy, car control, and sheer speed. Put a pro of Pobst’s caliber behind the wheel of a punchy Miata like this, and even the V8-powered competition struggles.
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