Club Spec: Meet the Contenders

Club Spec: Meet the Contenders

In June, the Sports Car Club of America® announced the Club Spec concept – the idea that anyone should be able to build a car to one common set of rules that has the performance and competitiveness for autocross and Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty events, paired with the reliability needed for Track Night in America® Driven by Tire Rack events, SCCA RoadRallies, RallyCross, and beyond. Along with it came a survey where you responded in droves, telling us you couldn’t wait.

About a month ago, the next step was taken – a second survey was released to the enthusiast community to determine which platforms best met your needs. The goal was to find who wanted to participate, at what level, and which cars made the most sense.

The results from the latest survey spoke, and they spoke loudly. Three cars were head and shoulders above the rest and have been selected by the SCCA Board of Directors and SCCA Staff to provide an initial focus for the concept moving forward.

First Up…

Mazda MX-5 (NC, model years 2006-’15)
We can beat you to the punch – of course SCCA picked the MX-5, Miata Is Always The Answer. But there’s a reason for the trope, and it’s because the roadster is versatile, affordable, and fun. It’s great out of the box, but has room for upgrades and improvements.

More specifically in this case, the NC has been a bit of a “lost” generation in motorsports, slotted between the old-school versions and the newer and lighter ND. But it remains a spectacularly fun track car and a much-more-than-capable autocrosser, especially with an upgraded performance package.

In an interesting and unexpected twist, our friends at Mazda Motorsports have expressed interest in developing a NC MX-5 performance/suspension kit. While decisions have not been made, it would create an opportunity for an MX-5 owner to be able to take a car from Solo, to track, to the Spec MX-5 road racing class with the same base kit. It would also mean that the MX-5 kit may be a bit more track focused than originally imagined, giving enthusiasts who want a bit more tuneability a better Club Spec place to play.

Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ (1st Gen, model years 2013-’16)
In a mild surprise, the survey results had a clear cut second-place finisher: the first-generation “Twins” of the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S. Like the NC MX-5, the base cars are now relatively affordable and available. The package is proven in the “fun” category, especially with minor modifications.

Yes, this is the same car used in Solo Spec Coupe (SSC), and already has an SCCA-approved upgrade package. But in the survey data, 1,173 respondents showed interest, and only 50 of those were already involved in the SSC autocross class. Does this mean the timing is right for SSC to be included in Club Spec? Perhaps – but changing a class that is eligible for SCCA Solo Championships is much more complex than introducing a new idea.  And before taking any steps, we want to talk to those already deeply involved in Solo Spec Coupe to gauge their interest in being included in Club Spec.

This would potentially mean that first-generation Twins in Club Spec would use the current SSC performance kit, allowing current SSC owners to add safety and durability equipment to their car without affecting competitiveness in Solo.

Ford Mustang GT (S197 4.6L, model years 2005-’09)
Let’s be real – this is the anti-hero for the MX-5 and the combined entity known as the Twins. It’s available, it’s got plenty of horsepower, and it roars. This is the quintessential ground pounder that’s a proven enthusiast favorite on the autocross course and on track.

When it comes to Club Spec, the NC Miata is an obvious choice with relatively simple tuning decisions to be made. Carrying with it several years of successful SSC history, the Twins are also a solid pick for Club Spec, although it gets more involved when deciding how to incorporate existing SSC cars. The S197 itself is a bit complicated. The 2005-’09 model used the modular 4.6L, the 2010 model received a slight power bump, and then 2011-’14 saw the Coyote motor under the hood. While the 5.0L would be a blast, the early-year 4.6L in Club Spec may actually be more usable in every form of motorsport, not to mention more affordable at buy-in and much more plentiful in the used car market.

If that all means that the 4.6 is the better choice, a primary focus of the performance kit would be to balance the various sub models within the GT line.  Many past and current S197 owners have fondness for the Shelby GT version of the car, which was a popular F Stock choice due largely to its handling package.  The Shelby components and the experience gained by SCCA members in setting up those cars are likely good starting points in establishing a kit.

What’s Next

The important thing to remember is that this is just the next step in the process. These are the cars that will get the initial focus from the committee pulling the Club Spec procedures together – a committee that’s working with all of SCCA’s Program Boards.

From suspension components to engine upgrades to brakes and swaybars, all upgrades and packages are on the table.

This also doesn’t mean that these are the only cars that will ever be in the Club Spec program. It will certainly evolve, especially with success – so don’t give up if your first choice wasn’t selected for this initial round (we see you eighth-gen Civic Si lovers).

Stay tuned for future news, announcements, and next steps in the process.

Photo by Philip Royle / Staff