When I purchased my 2016 Mazda Miata it seemed like it was the perfect little sports car for me until meeting up with the local Miata club where they are in short very aggressive drivers.
What I mean by aggressive drivers is that we take back roads that rarely see much traffic and take the turns at a much higher speed than recommended. For instance, the speed sign recommends 15 MPH, they take them at 40 to 45 MPH. Now (at least for me) it gets crazier, imagine going on a down hill decline with no more than 30 yards between these turns and it’s one lane with no side of the road.
From September of this year until two months ago I have been very lucky in that while taking these turns (without any braking) I managed to stay on the road. Then at about two months ago I was second to the lead driver, he rounds the turn, no issues (an his car is highly modified suspension wise), I take the turn (zero suspension work) and do a 360 and then some. When it was all done, I am stopped, get out of the car and look at the front of my car. Missed hitting a tree by less than one inch.
Lead driver had stopped, looks out his window and said “think we took a wrong turn”, nothing about me doing the spin. Well we turn around and do the rest of the drive then at lunch he says “that was simply a learning thing, not a mistake as the car is in one piece).
This driver has 20 years doing this type of driving and the fellow who was second to the lead has over ten years in. The one behind me let’s me go in front of him so I can learn better from the lead driver.
So the following Saturday, before heading out on the drive I talked to both of them about what should I get done to better handle the road?
Both recommended specific tires and anti-sway bars (they reduce body roll) with specific settings on the sway bars. Optionally springs which reduce the roll on the tires.
Went online to the store which sells the anti-sway-bars and springs, ordered them but they arrived two weeks between so I had to hit the auto-shop twice in two weeks.
So my assessment, tires were mounted, made somewhat of a difference, sway-bars where next, they in tangent with the tires made a significant difference. Then the springs were installed, couple the tires, sway bars and springs and the difference was huge.
With all modifications done I took seven 15MPH turns at 45MPH and the car simply attached itself to the road. Tomorrow will be the real test where the drive has been pre-planned and know for sure there will be some fantastic turns.
Okay, important note here in regards to aggressive driving. Unless you know what you are doing please don’t take your car out and hit roads and turns as mentioned above. Even when you have experience it’s dangerous and without experience it could very well be your last time out driving.
I first learned from taking a LEO (Law Enforcement Officers) week long course which is not the same as aggressive driving but the physics and methods are the same. In my youth I was able to drive Corvettes, Porches and Triumph sports cars on similar roads I drive now but not nearly as aggressively. My last car was a Toyota Camry with beefed up suspension and that kept my skills up yet with all that there was still a learning curve driving with this club. So be safe, know your limitations and come home in one piece.