New Mandated Penske Shocks For Spec Miata Released

Penske Racing Shocks have made significant advancements in the Spec Miata dampers. Photo credit: SCCA

Ever since Penske was selected as the supplier for shock absorbers for Spec Miata several months ago, the company has been working at a feverish pace to produce something reliable and robust for the most widely road-raced car in the United States.

With the intention of improving predictability and consistency, they implemented all the typical features they’re known for—a nice bore finish, a good piston design, and strong seal—and put it through the ringer in testing. The result are dampers that are well-suited for the application.

Discoveries in Testing

Though not a massive redesign, the dampers feature improvements in several less-obvious areas to make better suited for long, harsh seasons. Much of the focus was placed on eliminating continuous compression on the bump stop, thereby reducing wear and tear on other components and increasing reliability of the parts.

Increase in Shock Travel

Though it was never intended during the R&D process, Penske also managed to increase shock travel—the travel to the bump stop when measured at ride height increased over the Bilstein units they replace by more than one inch in both front and rear positions.

Compromises Required

In developing these new shocks, they determined that a raised upper mount could allow for more travel, but the physical limitations of the chassis could marginalize actual travel gains. This meant the raised upper mount was not developed to increase rear suspension travel because the rear upper control arm would have metal-to-metal contact with the rear subframe—only to be compounded by the tire contacting the wheel well.

For more information on the technical details regarding shock travel and bump stop performance, read here

Maximizing Bump Rubbers

The bump rubber provides a plush cushion at the end of shock travel. With the integration of a Delrin shaft spacer against the top mount, abutting a polyurethane bump rubber at the top of the shock body, violent chassis disruption was avoided.

Photo credit: Mazda Motorsports

Developed on the Penske Technology Group 7-post shaker rig

By utilizing the 7-post Penske Technology Group dynamic shaker rig, the engineers were able to determine how unsettled the car became when hitting the bump stops. See the video below for a demonstration of curb strike and the effect it has on the stability of the car. Clearly, keeping the suspension working within its intended range does wonders for stability.

Usage in the Future

For this year, this new shock will be eligible at any level of SCCA and NASA Spec Miata competition. For 2020, it will become mandatory at Championship and Majors Tour events. The response from racers at the first test, held at Carolina Motorsports Park, was overwhelmingly successful—an auspicious start to a new development from one of the most illustrious names in racing.

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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