Spec Miata Rules Interpretation: Enter the "Gray Area"
There is a lot to know regarding what you "can and cannot do" in Spec Miata. The rules book states what these things are, but it doesn't state so clearly what it is you "cannot" do (unless it does, in which it will clearly state "you cannot do this!). We all know that we cannot bolt on a turbocharger to our engine (although I've seen one used as ballast before. True story!), even though the rules don't say you cannot bolt on a turbo, this is common sense to 99.99% of all racers! (There are those few special ones who will lose common sense unfortunately)
The rules do delve deep into the specifics of certain items with part number references, minimum weights, and tolerance measurements, but it still leaves A LOT of unanswered questions about certain items. It "pays" (literally) to pay close attention to every single word in the rules, and then question every single rule. Racers have been doing this since rules were first established, and it's a very common practice in a Spec racing class to interpret the rules to gain an advantage over someone who doesn't. This is called the "gray area", and it consists of unanswered questions, not-so-specific rules, and even open rules that leave room for interpretation and eventually experimentation. It's our intention to help you interpret these gray areas and areas of possible experimentation to help you understand the class better, and to not be so dumb-struck and surprised when you show up at your first event with a car that you built to the rulebook - using the best of your knowledge of the rules - and look at the cars on the grid to find things that you think are blatantly illegal, but are actually clever interpretations of the rules (trust us, we've been there!).
We've been reading and re-reading these rules since 2005, and much to our surprise, we STILL find new things that we haven't noticed on one of the subsequent 1000+ readings! Also, new rules and updates are added every year - and even every month from the SMAC (Spec Miata Action Committee). These updates will change the wording of certain rules, add new parts or specifications to existing rules, or eliminate/obsolete rules in some cases, then be written into the next edition of the rulebook in red print as an addendum.
In essence, one must really, REALLY, read between the lines when reading the rules and consider what they're saying very carefully. There are tons of little tidbits to pick apart within them, and unless you're on the forefront of the rules changes and the latest interpretations, it is very hard to know exactly "what you can and cannot do". We are on the forefront of the rules changes and follow the potential rule changes closely, as it is of great interest to us being a Miata racing parts manufacturer who can possibly create a new product based off these rules. Considering this fact - and ensuring we are giving back to the community that supports us - it's our goal to provide an on-going series of blog posts that interpret the individual rules, and highlight the hidden aspects of them for you. These posts will also be archived in our 5X Racing Technology and Information Center Spec Miata Tech section as individual "case studies" of certain rules within the Spec Miata rules.
We hope you find this series enlightening and educational, whether you're building a Spec Miata to begin your journey into America’s most popular sports car racing class, or you are a seasoned veteran of the class looking to find the latest updates and upgrades you can perform to your car. Enjoy!