SPORT NEWS – Wheeling SCCA champ Man Ankeny’s XS-B Miata

Wheeling SCCA champ Man Ankeny’s XS-B Miata

Competing in a completely ready SCCA autocross automobile is a deal with – and for many, a rarity. Within the 24 years since I first stepped foot on an autocross course, I’ve performed it exactly 3 times. The primary two got here in 2010 after I was attempting to find a automobile to co-drive at that yr’s Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationwide Championships; the third was in December. But, whereas I recognize the opposite two alternatives to drive championship-caliber vehicles, it was the newest drive I merely couldn’t resist.

The decision got here mid final yr from three-time SCCA Solo Nationwide Champion and three-time SCCA ProSolo Champ Man Ankeny. It seems, he was constructing an NC Mazda Miata for the newly minted XS-B Solo class, and he needed me to offer it a spin, so to talk.

For lack of a greater time period, Man is an elite shock tuner. On this planet of autocross, the Ankeny Racing title is synonymous with {custom} Penske shocks – and profitable. Working example, his suspension parts have made their method into the fingers of champions like Billy Davis, Mark Daddio, Jeff Kiesel, Shauna Marinus, Andy McKee, Frank Stagnaro, Mike Meyer, and extra. In reality, Man estimates his custom-tuned shocks have been on greater than 200 Solo Nationwide Championship-winning vehicles, plus Membership Racing and professional vehicles, too.

However Man is greater than a “shock man” – he’s an entire suspension tuner, which is what intrigued me a lot about his newest construct, and the rationale I couldn’t wait to hit the Solo course.

Meet Man

“My dad autocrossed perpetually, from the late Nineteen Fifties into the ’60s,” Man replies after I requested him about how he received began in motorsports. From there, although, his story took an sudden flip:

“We lived down the road from Kas Kastner, and my dad would assist him put engines in his automobile,” he explains, “after which my dad would go together with him to Willow Springs typically and break-in the motors that Kas constructed.”

Kas Kastner’s story might fill this journal a number of occasions over, however a quick abstract is that past making ready Triumph racecars and profitable street races on the Membership and professional degree within the Nineteen Fifties and ’60s, then managing Nissan’s motorsports division within the Nineteen Eighties, Kastner was good firm to maintain.

Man’s father would lean on these he knew with the intention to construct velocity, and younger Man absorbed all of it. “My dad would take his automobile to get it labored on by varied individuals,” he says. “He’d get data from Kas, after which he’d get the automobile labored on by some individuals who had been actually well-known on the time. I discovered from them – I’d keep and clear elements and pickup data.”

Following a stint within the Military, by the mid Nineteen Seventies it was Man’s flip to autocross and street race. “I had the power to run in opposition to Joe Huffaker’s manufacturing facility vehicles, in addition to Lee Mueller, Dwayne Anderson, and Dave Lemon – we had been those who had been operating [SCCA road races] who had been quick. I began just about on the backside, however after I stop, I used to be as quick any anybody else in E Manufacturing.”

Journeys to the SCCA Nationwide Championship Runoffs in 1977 and ’78 weren’t as fruitful as he’d hoped, and he quickly discovered pursuits elsewhere. “I ended up promoting my automobile and going filth bike driving, the place I discovered extra about shocks and adjusting them as a result of no one knew something concerning the shocks, and I’d alter them to see what they did completely different.”

Returning to motorsports, Man and Tri-Level Engineering’s Craig Nagler would push one another to be higher, in the end main Man down the street of extra in-depth shock and suspension tuning from the novice degree to professional, in addition to a number of Solo Nationwide Championship titles for Man’s Ankeny Racing model, be it with or with out Man behind the wheel.

Extra Than Meets the Eye

Man’s newest undertaking automobile is an NC Miata constructed for SCCA’s latest autocross class, Xtreme Road – and this automobile is a hoot to behold and to drive. Xtreme Road breaks down into two courses, XS-A and XS-B, with comparatively open guidelines (assume CAM for imports), which makes it very best for a tinkerer like Man.

Underneath the hood of the NC is just not the inventory 2.0L, however a 2.5L sporting a supercharger. And, whereas custom-tuned Penske shocks sit in any respect 4 corners, the complete suspension has been improved upon.

“On this automobile, I’ve gone for extra of the true racecar stuff,” Man explains. “The suspension hyperlinks are all on bearings, in order that makes the wheels transfer up and down as they’re presupposed to as they comply with the contour of the street, as a substitute of sticking and never transferring. All the rubber has been changed so the whole lot is a direct connection – that makes the shocks work even higher as a result of now the shocks have a extra direct relation to the street.”

The rear shock mounts are fairly trick with Man’s custom-tuned Penske shocks inverted after which hung by the manufacturing facility mounting location on mounts of Man’s personal making. “The inverted rear shocks take away a number of the spring bind that was happening within the inventory suspension, the place the spring is bent in methods it’s not designed to be bent due to the way in which it was mounted to the automobile.”

Up entrance sits a blade-type swaybar designed by Man that does greater than counter roll. “The entrance swaybar is tremendous simple to regulate with out even jacking up the automobile. You attain underneath the automobile, loosen one bolt, and rotate a blade that lets you alter about 100lbs of roll fee in 20 seconds.”

An unmissable characteristic of this NC is the huge rear wing. “The wing is basically essential, and you’re feeling it instantly – even in a straight line. The automobile has higher hookup with the rear wing.”

Is the wing needed, I inquire? “If you’re an elite driver, you will get by with out it,” Man admits, “however if you’re a median driver going in opposition to elite drivers, you’re not going to win with out one thing they don’t have.”

That’s the purpose of this NC construct, says Man – engineering an autocross automobile to the highest of the outcomes sheet. “The elite drivers are typically going to win except you will discover sufficient higher issues that they don’t have that provides a tenth right here or a tenth there.”

I’m Removed from Elite

My greatest declare to autocross fame is a Sixteenth-place end on the SCCA Solo Nationwide Championships. To say the least, I’m not the elite driver Man was referencing. Topping that, my first time to drive Man’s NC Miata was throughout a Cal Membership Area SCCA autocross as I pulled from the grid to the beginning line. But even I impressed myself with what got here subsequent.

The starter dropped the inexperienced flag and I gingerly accelerated to the 90-degree left that led to a brief slalom, cautiously feeling out the automobile. I breathed the throttle on the second slalom cone, not understanding whether or not the Falken RT660 255/40-17 tires would maintain. But, as I rolled again on the throttle, I immediately realized that grip was ample. Then heading into the lengthy, undulating right-hand sweeper that adopted, I knew definitely that this automobile was extra succesful than I used to be. From lateral and longitudinal grip to acceleration and braking, Man’s Miata was not the weakest hyperlink within the equation.

4 runs and one cone later, my quickest time was sitting about 0.7sec behind Man’s, but that’s not what was fascinating. Chucking my first run (which was a 57.238) and discounting the cone on my second, my occasions had been a 56.436, 56.500, and 56.507. Consistency has all the time been my robust level, however with a complete unfold of 0.071sec and two runs falling inside 0.007sec of one another, this was a complete new degree.

Whereas Man sees nice worth in placing elite drivers behind the wheel of his vehicles to obtain enter, he was fast to see worth in my expertise. “For you driving the automobile, for by no means seeing the automobile earlier than after which being simply 0.7sec off of my time, you probably did nice – and that tells me the automobile works fairly nicely,” he says.

Components of a Entire

Components for this Miata got here from corporations each large and small, together with Ciro Design, Competitors Tire West, Penske Shocks, DifTech, Fab 9 Tuning, Falken Tire, FRSport, Goodwin Racing, Kraftwerks, Mazda Motorsports, RPS Racing Clutches, and Wilwood Engineering, and the top product is moderately superb. For one, the ability supply was dreamy – the two.5L with a supercharger is how all NC Miatas must be outfitted. However whereas the ability was a pleasure, the true magnificence got here because the automobile would transition into, by and out of the corners. It was an absolute pleasure to drive.

Being that custom-valved shocks are Man’s specialty, I inquired as to how a lot of the automobile’s demeanor got here from his specifically tuned Penskes – what would the automobile carry out like with the Ankeny Racing shocks however with out the bearings, {custom} shock mounts, and blade entrance swaybar?

“The shocks make a giant distinction it doesn’t matter what the opposite suspension is,” Man explains. “The shocks make the automobile extra constant. It does the identical factor extra typically on a given observe, whether or not it’s a street racetrack or an autocross. Each time you hit a bump with lesser shocks, it’s a little bit of a crapshoot as to how a lot it’s going to throw the automobile in a sure route and the way you’re going to catch it.”

Double that with the remainder of the free-flowing suspension and the expertise turns into beautiful.

What’s left for the Ankeny Racing NC Miata XS-B construct? Much less weight, for one, however after that, Man’s plan is straightforward. “I don’t know at this level what the automobile can really do as a result of there hasn’t been an elite driver in it,” he says, including with a chuckle, “no offense.” But he’s in no hurry for that. “I simply wish to have enjoyable with the automobile myself,” he says.

And for these trying to take their competitors automobile to the following degree, you possibly can contact Ankeny Racing at (805) 279-1338.

This characteristic has been tailored from the March/April problem of SportsCar Journal, which is included (in each print and digital kind) with membership within the Sports activities Automotive Membership of America.

SPORT NEWS – Wheeling SCCA champ Man Ankeny’s XS-B Miata


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