The Big Aero Test

Much of the research and ensuing fabrication on this site is to support the first two days of testing at Watkins Glen International, June 5th and 6th. This is an ideal venue to test high-speed aero, partly because it’s only 25 miles from my house. The event I’m attending is a David Murry track day, with no run groups, so potentially 7 hours of track time each day, and an open pit lane, which will allow quick setup changes and driver swaps. I’ll have two drivers testing each setup to get subjective feedback and normalize the data.

I’ll also do some low-speed track testing at my car club, Pineview Run. The 1.1 mile track is tight and technical, and an ideal venue to test the kinds of speeds people encounter when street driving, or in autocross. However, the low speeds won’t really show off the benefits of aero.

Some of the things I’m interested in testing include:

  • Roofline shape – I like making different hard tops, and I want to know if the stock hardtop compares to a fastback, shooting brake, chop top, etc. This is the main knowledge gap in Miata aero, and if I test just the tops, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something.
  • ST5, ST6, and BTM bodywork – NASA’s ST classes give a performance benefit for base-trim model (BTM) bodywork. Ergo, using aero comes at the expense of power. Is stock bodywork and higher horsepower faster than improving bodywork and having less power? I’m not interested in racing ST5/6 unless it’s an endurance class, but this is good knowledge for others.
  • Supermiata – Supermiata-style bodywork is commonplace on trackable Miatas, but is it worth it to modify your street car in this manner? And then if you add a splitter and replace the spoiler with a wing, how much better is that? And now add side skirts, flat bottom, diffuser, venting, etc….
  • Cheap aero – The Miata aftermarket is full of cheap add-ons that make your car look faster. I’m curious if any of them work.