Project “My Fiancée’s” Miata: Part 10 – Nitto NT05 Tires, Exedy Stage 1 Clutch & Flywheel, Two Track Tests and Road Trip Bonanza!


A slew of parts were shipped to Austin and he was kind enough to take them and the car to Road Race Engineering to get everything installed. Apparently, the Miata barely made the trip to the shop on the old, dying clutch.
Road Race had the car in the bay and on the lift within minutes. When I arrived to pick up the car, it was quite late in the evening and they welcomed me with open arms. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that helped save my bacon at the last minute!

The parts were shipped to Austin and he bravely drove the Miata the final 45 minute trip of terrifying, clutch slipping fun through LA traffic. Road Race Engineering wasted no time, getting it on the lift, while he was still there, and started swapping the clutch and flywheel combo. It was right about this time, a few days before my flight, when something interesting happened. Turned out, I wasn’t needed to drive the Evo at Super Lap Battle after all. Jeff Westphal had become available and was ready to rock and roll.

Hmm. Quite interesting. Now what to do? Screw it, there’s a Miata in LA with a killer set of Nitto tires and a brand new Exedy clutch and flywheel, I’ll still fly out early, burn money on the practice day, drive the hell out of the Miata at North America’s greatest Time Attack track and then cruise back home across some of the best roads in the country!


It’s quite the shock to leave a Midwest winter and arrive to a great car in a beautiful location. With the upgrades, the Miata was also perfect for driving over The Grapevine. Upgraded brakes, cooling system and clutch make for a perfect mountain pass sports car.

Flying into LA, it was exciting to know my Mia… err… my fiancée’s Miata would be waiting for me. After picking up the old girl, I hopped on the freeway headed north and made it to Buttonwillow with just enough time to get 8 hours of sleep in before hitting the track. The next day was spent putting in laps, taking people out in the Miata, letting buddies drive it, sliding and scaring friends. It was lovely. My best lap time was a 2:18.53. The Miata really became a treat to drive on track. Drifting effortlessly over the high speed turns, putting in good times consistently, lap after lap. The quickest lap was also my last lap. I had gotten steadily faster and faster with each trip around the circuit. The more I drove, the more I learned the track, which is exactly what I had hoped for. I did end up turning 2 shakedown laps in the Evo, just to get things prepped for Jeff, but never pushed hard. The crazy thing is, the Evo, with the right driver, is capable of lapping over 40 seconds faster at Buttonwillow. Count to 40 right now and realize how ridiculous that is.


While I was perfectly comfortable beating the crap out of the Miata before letting Austin drive it from Michigan to California, I was a little more cautious when driving it at Buttonwillow. The car put in about 20 laps total. The 8 you see here were by myself, ending up with a 2:18.53. I went for a few ride-alongs and let friends drive as well. As I didn’t have to drive the Evo in anger, there wasn’t a need to get the absolute perfect line down, so I am sure I left room on the table for next time, if there’s ever a next time.

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