For almost 20 years now, Mazda’s Spec Miata class has been providing enthusiasts with a cost-effective solution for competitive racing. In some cases, with limited modifications, a track-ready Spec Miata can be purchased for less than $10,000. That, in addition to the Miata’s broad availability and plentiful, cheap replacement and aftermarket parts, has made Spec Miata an extremely popular class.
The excitement surrounding the scene seems to never die down — this week’s news proves that. It was just announced that Mazda Motorsports and Penske Racing Shocks have now partnered up to offer a new spec shock kit.
In the press release, Mazda Motorsports Technical Specialist Josh Smith, explained that the current off-the-shelf street shock isn’t necessarily ideal for ripping around a track. Frequently hearing of suspensions bottoming out, Josh listed the other items affected by the shocks’ inability to handle aggressive spring rates such as tires, wheel hubs, and bearings.
“The Spec Miata community will receive tremendous value from the new Penske shock in terms of drivability, consistency, improved areas of compliance, longevity, and great long-term value for the cost,” said David Cook, Business Development Manager for Mazda Motorsports. “This new shock doesn’t raise the performance of any single SM generation car over another. What it does accomplish is to enhance the SM platform as a whole, and bring in a shock partner interested in servicing customers with trackside support and contingency awards.”
The new kit was just recently put to the test up against competitors’ products at Carolina Motorsports Park by professional drivers Joel Miller, John Dean, and Randy Pobst. A plethora of different vehicles were tested with multiple tire setups, resulting in a study group of over 72 vehicles and driver combinations. While results seemed to be similar in comparison to the existing suspension setups, there was a clear improvement in overall pace and a steady 3-plus-second improvement on 30 minute and longer runs. You can read more in depth stats about the tests that were conducted HERE.
Pobst, who tested the new shocks, explained, “The Penske Racing Shocks package is a major step forward for Spec Miata, upgrading the cars from an underdamped street shock to an uncompromised race piece intended solely for the track. [The shocks] allowed the tires to maintain more grip because the suspension worked properly, rather than constantly crashing down on the bump rubbers. With every car, driver, tire, and track condition, the Penske provided superior control.”
As expected, the price point is somewhat affordable, with the shocks coming in at $199 each, and the complete kit with the upper mount/bump stops coming in at $250. The entire kit, consisting of four shocks, top mounts, bump stops and lower spherical mounts, comes in at just over $1,000. The best part about it is they’re completely rebuildable for only $100 each.
NASA and SCCA have both signed-off on the new Penske shock kit and have approved it for use starting January 1st. It is likely that they will be available for purchase through Mazda Motorsports starting this November.