Did you know that the Mazda Miata MX-5 is the best-selling, two-seat roadster in history? That’s right, the Miata MX-5 officially achieved its best-seller status in 2014 when the Guinness Book of World Records named it as the “Best-Selling Convertible Two-Seater Sports Car” with a total sales number of 940,000 units reported in April of that year. But nothing says “best seller” quite like hitting the 1,000,000 mark, which the Miata did just a couple years later in 2016 as a fourth-generation (ND) model.
While a whole team of Mazda designers and engineers were involved in the Miata’s development, it was a Southern California car guy named Bob Hall that gets credit for having first pitched the idea of a small sporty convertible to the head of Mazda’s R&D back when he was an editor for AutoWeek magazine in the late 1970s.
Today, the little Mazda MX-5 not only continues to hold down the best-selling title for two-seat roadsters, but it also has become a favorite on the track as well with club racers and weekend autocrossers competing in Miatas with various levels of performance modifications ranging from barely modified Street stock versions to the more track-committed Modified and Prepared categories of SCCA Autocross.
“On any given weekend at SCCA Autocross events across the U.S., you’ll see more Miatas on the track than most other cars combined,“ says Brian Goodwin, founder of Good-Win Racing who specializes in high-performance Miata MX-5 builds.
So, what makes this little British-inspired roadster such a favorite choice among weekend racers? To answer that question, we asked a guy who not only races a Miata, but also makes a living by selling Miata performance parts and modifying them for the street as well as for autocross, and serious track competition in his Chula Vista, California, shop. Brian Goodwin, founder and CEO of Good-Win Racing is one of the standouts in local west coast SCCA Super Street Modified (SSM) competition and his current track weapon of choice is a 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 ND sporting a boatload of go-fast parts.
“The beautiful thing about the Miata is that it’s the most popular amateur race car in the country,” according to Goodwin, who’s built and raced several Miatas over the years starting with a first-generation ’94 NA that saw more than 100,000 miles of street and track duty. “That’s because it’s inexpensive, doesn’t break, it’s easy to modify and relatively cheap to build compared to anything else, and they’re just a ton of fun to drive,” said Goodwin.
Goodwin bought this particular Miata new in July 2015, making it one of the first fourth-gen ND cars that became available to the public. He hadn’t even worn the nubs off of the tires before the new car went immediately onto the dyno to see how much actual power it made at the rear wheel in stock form. From there it went to the track to get some baseline lap times to use as a comparison for the many modifications and new performance parts to come.
VIDEO: Eddie and Eric take a look inside the new E-Force supercharger for the Mazda Miata MX-5 in this episode of Edelbrock Live.
Aside from having some fun at the track, the main purpose for building this project vehicle was for Good-Win Racing to have a platform for developing and testing performance parts that can make the ND an all-around faster and more capable track car. This included fitment for wider wheels and tires, bigger brakes, better suspension, and chassis reinforcements. A complete list of Goodwin-approved upgrades that have been tested successfully on the Race ND Miata are now offered on the Good-Win Racing website, including the one power add-on that has allowed the little roadster to compete with bigger, more powerful cars.
“There are at least a dozen classes in which you can successfully compete with a Miata.”
When it came time to look under the hood for more power, Goodwin wanted a bolt-on forced induction system that would be reliable, easy to install, and, for his street customers, emissions legal to run in all 50 states. Goodwin says that the Edelbrock supercharger for the MX-5 SkyActiv-G engine has been a point of high focus among Miata owners because it adds substantial power to an otherwise low-powered car. It makes the car more exciting to drive on the street, and for track or autocross applications, supercharging allows the Miata to run competitively with bigger and more powerful cars.
“In SCCA competition, we run against a lot of different toys in the SSM class,” explained Goodwin. “A lot of them have more serious horsepower, but thanks to [the Miata’s] lightweight and torque of the Edelbrock supercharger package, we can compete with cars like the Honda S2000 when it’s got boost on it. Even if a car has 300 or 350 horsepower we can compete because we’ve got a 500-pound weight advantage, and with help from the boost of the Edelbrock supercharger kit, we can compete with cars that cost a lot more like the twin-turbo Mazda RX-7 and others that have higher peak numbers.”
“The power and torque from the Edelbrock supercharger lets the Miata run with the big dogs.”
Goodwin says that one of his most serious competitors lately has been a 500-horsepower Mitsubishi Evo wide-body running E85 with big 18×11 wheels. “The Evo gets it in a straight line, but the supercharged Miata gets it a little more in the corners. It’s a tough battle and it comes down to the course of the day.”
Goodwin has tried turbocharging as well as other brands of superchargers on other Miatas and he recalls how excited he was when he heard that Edelbrock was developing an E-Force supercharger kit for the Miata. He jumped on that kit as soon as it became available and, to date, Good-Win Racing has sold between 40 and 50 Edelbrock supercharger kits for the Miata ND.
Most Miata owners would be satisfied with 230 supercharged horses on tap. But a test bed for a company like Good-Win Racing is never complete (at least until the next generation Miata comes out), so Goodwin and his head mechanic for the Miata racing effort, Rocky Murphy, are busy trying to hit the 250-horsepower mark with new cams, E85 and more time on the dyno. Rocky operates Miata Motive, a specialized Miata service and installation business within the Good-Win Racing facility and is very likely one of the best Miata wrenches on the west coast. Murphy is the one who can meet Goodwin’s performance goal of having an even snappier throttle than it already has. The plan is to run E85 with more initial timing so the car will leap out of the corners a little better and stay cooler on long runs at the track.
Now entering its 30th year in production, the original Miata concept focused on building a British-inspired two-seater while repurposing as many existing parts from the Mazda 323 parts bin as possible to keep production costs down. It’s doubtful that Bob Hall or anybody on the original development team had any inkling as to how successful the Miata would become or how popular it would be on the race track. But thanks to guys like Brian Goodwin and his Edelbrock-supercharged Race ND project, the Mazda Miata will continue to rule on tracks across America for years to come.
Brian Goodwin of Good-Win Racing unboxes an E-Force supercharger kit for the Miata ND here.