Spec Miata Resource List: Trackbox Spares
Most track junkies spend all of their “normal” life just waiting for their time to head to the track. While most weekends go off without a hitch, the occasional problem can become a serious hiccup. No one wants to have a small issue the first session out and have to end their weekend early (Especially if you just drove several hours to get to the track). Thankfully miatas are pretty simple cars to work on, parts are cheap and often easy to replace. While some of these items are generally universal, each car is going to have it’s own unique weak points.
The list below has a few levels of “preparedness” for spare Miata parts to pack. Miatas are known for their simple operation and impressive reliability… but no track car is totally bulletproof.
The list primarily focuses on the common wear of a Spec Miata at a race weekend. If you are doing HPDE weekends where crashes are less common, you can cut out a lot of the crash-spare parts. As this website’s title implies, I run my Spec Miata on an incredibly low budget: With that, I make a lot of decisions (the parts I use, maintenance intervals, etc) based on minimizing risk within my budget. I’ve included some links to buy items, you’ll see that I am comfortable with buying some parts on the “lower end” since they are inspected (and replaced) so frequently anyway. There are people who say I’m crazy for that, but it’s worked fine for me, so far. Many other items are usually good (or even, better) when purchased used, “partouts” are your friend when building a spares collection. (Links to Amazon.com are part of an affiliate program and No Money Motorsports earns a small percentage on qualifying purchases, so use these links and support the site!)
A big-budget Spec Miata operation will have an entirely different list than this (likely 10x longer as well). Also, if you have a car modified outside the realm of Spec Miata (aero, power, etc) You will likely have additional items on your list. Modify and tweak for your own needs.
The important thing to note is if you have a problem in Spec Miata and you go around the paddock you will almost certainly find exactly what you need. You will absolutely have help turning wrenches. However, with many of us painstakingly building, maintaining, and hauling our own sets of spares… while we WILL fork over parts to get you back on track that weekend, it’s a lot of time and money on our end to do so, and we risk needing that same part later in the weekend.
Common failure/wear items – These are some of the more common failure points, but they are also relatively quick and easy fixes. Even HPDE drivers should bring these.
Front hubs + Bearing x2 -packed with good grease (Something like Redline is okay, there are plenty of other options though)
Front hubs are a common failure point on Miatas. Usually they give adequate warning, but not always. Make it a habit to check for hub tightness (Any time the car is jacked in the air, grab top and bottom of wheel and rock, feeling for any movement). Also, if you are feeling more “pad knockback” than usual after driving curbs, that is usually a sign your hubs are on their way out. Don’t forget the specific tools (like the large socket).
Source: If you can get your hands on GOOD Original, OEM hubs and repack with grease, they are the best. It is important to have them prepped with good grease BEFORE you toss them into the spares bin, as you probably aren’t going to want to do that at the track. There are some other popular brands, I personally rocked GMB Hubs from Amazon for years, they did okay but I usually replaced one mid-season and two at the end. I’m running OEM takeoffs now and have so far gotten two full seasons on a set without issue (With annual grease repacks)
Spare hub nut (and appropriate sized socket)
The hub nuts are usually able to be used a couple times, but if the knockout gets totally punched out, it’s time to replace it. It’s a good thing to have handy (plus they’re small and light)
Source: They’ll often come with a front hub/bearing.
Spare lug nuts
Makes sense to just keep a few spares in the box. If one gets lost or the threads get boogered, you don’t want to have to scrounge for a spare. I run open face because I also have extended studs (so the capped nuts won’t work). I also like to start extra lug nuts onto my spare hubs to protect the first few threads of the studs.
Source: I ordered a couple boxes of WheelGuard 1107 lug nuts (M12x1.5) from Amazon. (My specific choice seems to be unavailable at the moment, but any the same size/design will work)
Water pump/alternator belt
Belts don’t fall off very often (often, a failure is caused by something else like a misaligned bracket or broken crank pulley)… But they’re another small piece and cheap insurance. When I replace belts as preventative maintenance, I keep the old one as spare to get me through the rest of a weekend if need be.
Source: I just keep the last one I pulled as preventative maintenance.
Oil + Brake fluid
Obvious, shouldn’t need reminding… but here you go. I’m happy running Rotella T6 oil and ATE typ200 Dot 4 brake fluid.
Source: Wherever is cheapest that week: I’ll buy the ATE DOT4 brake fluid online, but oil locally.
Brake hardware (sliders, pins, brackets, high temp brake lube)
Brakes are the most important system on your car. It makes sense to pack a few spare components so you can keep them running in tip-top shape. I don’t run the springs but I do use the metal sliders.
Source: I hold on to spare hardware any chance I get.
Spare brake pads (worn is fine)
Occasionally you’ll miss an overly worn brake pad or a sticking caliper will toast a pad to death. Your track pads are NOT readily available at the local autoparts store, so have spares with enough meat to get you through the rest of the weekend. Driving to the track? Bring street spares so you don’t need to worry about the ride home on overworn track pads. My favorite? Hawk DTC-60 Fronts and DTC-30 in the rear.
Source: Last year’s pads, they’re usually pretty eaten up but they are likely enough to do half a weekend. When I was tracking my Daily-Driven miata, I just kept my winter (parts store junk) pads on me in case I killed my track pads.
Clutch slave cylinder
This is a pretty common failure on a Miata, thankfully it’s also a very easy swap.
Source: Local or on Amazon, the Exedy is cheap.
Rubber Exhaust hanger
I’ve had a hanger break on track, leaving the exhaust banging all over the place. I nearly parked the car in the fear that the added strain could damage the whole exhaust system. Packing a spare hanger is cheap insurance. My current exhaust doesn’t use every factory hanger on the car, so I leave one hanging from the car: easy to find if I ever need it.
Source: For some reason my local auto parts struggled to find one. Online is easy.
This is a late addition: Last track weekend one of my buddies got to the track and started to unload, only to realize he left the key for his racecar at home. Two hours from home… He dumped the trailer and made the 4hr round trip in time to return for the afternoon sessions. This headache can be avoided in two ways: Just keep the key in your racecar! Keep a spare key somewhere (in the truck or your gear). Or better yet, both.
These are all less common failures and/or common crash damage: If you have the space and don’t want to risk going home halfway through a race weekend, I recommend bringing all of this. If you are racing Spec Miata you absolutely should have ALL this.
Alignment bolts (especially washers and nuts)
If you are still on your original 20+ year old alignment bolts, you either don’t change it much, or you drive a unicorn. These don’t hold up super well to frequent alignments, so in the event that you’ll be adjusting on track it’s always good to have a few spares. Often you can get away with just a fresh tabbed washer.
Source: I got mine direct from Mazda, you need 8 of each for the full car (I say buy 16 washers) – Bolt = NA80-28-66ZD: Nut = B001-39-037B: Washer = NA80-28-473A
Not a part here, but a very important tool. Toe Plates are the #1 tool to use after contact with a car, wall, or even a rough curb hit. A great, cheap, and quick way to see if your wheels are still pointed in the same directions. I made and used wood plates, but over time they began to warp which defeats the purpose a bit.
Source: I like the Longacre plates and they’re on the cheaper end (beware cheaper kits that don’t include tape measurers)
Assembled rear upright/hub
Rear bearings do not fail with anywhere near the same frequency as fronts. However, they can get damaged/destroyed by hitting walls or another car. (Higher Horsepower Miatas with wider, stickier tires can crack the hub, but it is much less common in Spec Miata) The issue with rear bearings is they are pressed into the hub, not bolt-on like the front. Bringing an assembled rear upright/bearing/hub makes it a 15 minute swap. * Make sure your axle has been removed and splines have been cleaned and greased at some point, if original they will likely be stuck together, requiring a torch, 20+ ton shop press, and likely an fresh axle as well)
*Note: Do not buy lower control arms with the spindle attached unless you KNOW they aren’t stuck together. The long-bolt that connects them often rust-welds itself in place.
*Note 2: NA and NB rear upright/spindles are different. NB is wider and some claim requires a different caliper bracket than the NA 1.8 rear brake (1.6 rear brakes are rumored to not fit at all). NB rear upright is easily identifiable by a large “NC” embossed on the inside.
Spare “Long bolts”
If you are replacing suspension parts from contact, expect the front upper control arm + rear LCA/Spindle “long bolt” to be bent as well. Front Upper and Rear Lower are different. The rears seem to get bent more frequently than the fronts.
Source: You can buy new from Mazda or find decent (non crusty, straight) bolts in partouts.
Inner+outer tie rods
Tie rods are one of the first suspension/steering components to bend with contact.
Source: My spares came from a good condition partout car.
Note that outers are all the same, but there are two different rack-threads (Fine or Coarse) for inners. I’ve heard conflicting info on which is fine vs which is coarse but I know my NA power rack is fine-thread. If you aren’t sure: It doesn’t hurt to keep both in the trailer, you may end up savings someone’s day at the track.
Clutch master cylinder
Not nearly as frequent a failure as the clutch slave, but they still occasionally go. An easy swap (if you have it), it’s worth carrying.
Source: Local stores, also easy on Amazon.
Spark plugs wires and plugs
Nice to have if you’re tracking down an ignition issue
Source: I got mine from local autoparts store. Some people like to mess with plug types and temp ranges, I’m just fine with standard plugs.
After plugs and wires, an ignition coil is the swap. They do occasionally fail. Make sure to research which specific coil is needed for your car, there are several versions (including 94-95 and 96-97).
Source: I got mine from a partout, I also kept one from an old replaced engine as well.
Good to have. Some people seem to use more than others, If you use the kill switch to shut off the car often, certain wiring configurations put a lot of strain on the alternator. Alternators are often expensive and hard to track down the right model at a track. It’s an easy swap if one is in your trailer.
Source: I got mine from the local autoparts store. The spare in the trailer came off an old motor.
These parts are less likely to fail, but they’re all pretty easy swaps and many aren’t easy to find on a whim during a track weekend. If you have the space, and are racing SM, I’d recommend bringing them.
Usually won’t end your weekend but in the odd chance that you come off track and are told that you’re spewing gas on sweeping right handers… it’s nice to see if a bad gas cap is letting fuel by. After not needing one for over 5 years, I had one weekend at Watkins Glen where three (yes, 3!) people noticed leaks from cracked cap o-rings.
Source: Partouts or new. On a used one make sure you check the o-ring and for cracks in the plastic.
1 rear upper control arm (same both sides)
Can be bent in with a decent hit. Left and right are the same, hopefully you’ll never need more than one in a weekend.
Source: Partouts. These seem to survive the best of all control arms so they are the cheapest and rather plentiful.
4 lower control arms (all are different)
Lower control arms can all be bent or damaged in contact. Each corner is specific so you’re packing 4.
Source: Partouts. For rears, check to make sure the welded nut for the lower shock mount is still there.
*Note: Make SURE you are not buying a rear LCA with a spindle attached unless you are positive they can be separated. The long bolt that runs through it all often gets rusted into the bushings and is anywhere from tough to impossible to remove.
Front upper control arms
Also can get bent in contact.
Source: Partouts (also available from Mazda). The upper balljoints generally survive a lot of abuse, even with a bad boot they can often be repacked with grease and put into service with a fresh boot.
*Note: NA and NB are different (Upper ball joint has a different design and may or may not fit right into the spindle)
Lower ball joint (especially if you run extended)
Yet another suspension piece that can get claimed in a hard hit. If you are running extended Ball Joints, make SURE you have spares as they are not available locally (and are often backordered even with the few shops that do stock them)
I use extended lower balljoints. The 2 degrees extra camber is a welcomed addition (And I prefer that over the other camber-gain option of offset upper control arm bushings which have are known to wear poorly or move)
Source: Most Spec-Miata prep shops carry the SM legal “Bauer Extended Lower Ball Joints” (BL-ELBJ)
Extra sway bar end link
Not a bad idea to have one as a spare, they can break with contact but occasionally snap on their own. In a pinch, if you break a front link you can take a rear and run barless in the rear, but if you like a car with a rear bar that will be a pretty big change.
Source: I like the 949 Racing SuperMiata kits, and they seem to be the cheapest, but any similar design should work well.
Assortment of bolts/nuts and any other hardware.
You never know what could possibly end up bent/broken/missing. Having spares basically guarantees you’ll never need to use them. For some reason, rear upper control arm nut+bolt are a common thing to come loose on people’s cars. I’ve also personally been having issues with my exhaust manifold-downpipe nuts coming loose, so I packed a few of them.
Source: Partouts, saving usable parts from trashed components (like nuts from bent bolts, etc), just generally hoarding hardware.
Brake caliper(s) and other hardware.
Miatas aren’t especially hard on brakes, calipers included. As with all things, occasionally you may have an issue… especially if you are showing up with untested, rebuilt pieces. Extra clips, bolts, lines, etc are all good.
Source: Local parts stores.
*Note: When I get new rear calipers I immediately pull them apart and remove the little e-brake self adjuster “grenade” behind the piston.
Windshield chip repair kit
A windshield chip can quickly spread into a full broken windshield. If you catch and repair a chip quick enough, you can often save the windshield (until the next nasty chip).
Source: I’ve bought this one from amazon a bunch of times, I’ve tried a few different kits and styles but keep coming back to the Blue-Star kit.
It’s not exactly common for fuel injectors to fail, but they’re relatively small and can’t hurt to have an extra set. Also, the little seals are known to fail and leak, so a complete set of injectors means you’ll also have extra seals on hand.
Cam angle sensor
A less likely, but not impossible failure on Miatas. It’s nice to have.
Source: Partouts or old motors.
An even less likely failure. 95% of electrical issues are ground related anyway… But they’re pretty small, so bring one if you got it.
The crank pulley has two possible failures (Unrelated to “short nose” keyway failures that people talk about too much): One: The 4 M6 bolts that hold the pulley on come loose and create issues/get lost/break/etc. and Two: The rubber “balancer” core of the crank pulley deteriorates bad enough that it separates. This one is personal to me, The one mechanical DNS I have had with my car was from this. If I had a spare in the trailer It would have been a 10 minute swap, and may have even gotten a qualifying lap in… But I didn’t and ended up missing my first race.
Source: Partouts and old motors.
All coolant hoses
Chances are, a track car will already have good-condition coolant hoses, but in case you missed an issue or track damage nicks one, it’s worth having.
Source: Direct from Mazda. On a race car, you want top quality coolant hoses. That means OEM hoses direct from Mazda, and buy new spring clamps while you’re at it (Do not use the worm-gear clamps if you can avoid it). The hoses on my car are all good Mazda ones, my spares are good-condition old hoses that would easily get me through a weekend.
*Note: A (Very common) leaking Cam Angle Sensor O-ring often leads to premature failure of the head to heater core coolant hose, The swelling hose is hidden behind the motor and is often not noticed until it starts squirting coolant.
AFM – Air Flow Meter (if 1.6)
Known to be a slightly finicky part of the 1.6. Bring a spare if you’re driving a 90-93 car.
Diff internals (if 1.6 running vlsd) [or better yet, get a torsen for ease]
I once read someone say “1.6 diffs win races, but Torsens finish races”
Torsen Differential internals are basically bulletproof (though they do suffer from a weak point on the aluminum housing). However, 1.6 cars can run the VLSD and Mazdacomp diff, which some drivers prefer. However, these are fragile and do suffer from the occasional catastrophic destruction. If you are not running a Torsen, consider bringing a spare set of diff guts.
This is stuff that rarely fails, or is big to transport, or is a pain to swap… but if you’re making a long, important, long distance trip to a championship race, better to have than not. Something like a Trans job isn’t really an “easy” project on the ground in the paddock, but it is certainly doable.
Axles in our cars don’t have a particularly hard job. Low Power, RWD, not a ton of suspension articulation are all good things for axles. In fact, some SM axle bearing cages were famously “clearanced” to get an iota less rolling resistance. However, an axle may still occasionally go, especially a parts counter cheap reproduction (We recently saw one break off at the nose, we’re not sure if it was from a bad casting or the stress of a loose nut).
Source: OEM is best (partouts), but parts store axles should hold up too.
Some tracks are hard on transmissions for drivers at the upper echelons of competition. It is pretty common for top teams to be performing transmission swaps in the paddock of COTA.
Source: Partouts and paired with engines from the various JDM engine importers. There are shops who rebuild and sell “blueprinted” transmissions but they are prohibitively expensive IMO. Unfortunately, decent low mile transmission takeout sources do seem to be drying out.
If you’re bringing a trans, why not bring a fresh clutch?
Source: The rulebook is pretty particular with allowed clutch components, check it out and make sure you order/have the right parts on standby. Nobody is going to pull your motor and trans apart to check at a regional race, but it’s obviously right to always keep it all legal (especially if you are doing some big races)
Why not? There’s a few important components on the throttle body, they don’t fail often but it’s small and can’t hurt to have.
Source: Partouts and off old engines.
Diff housing (reinforce the one on your car when you can)
One of the most vulnerable parts of our car in “normal” conditions, a hard enough hit to the back bumper is capable of breaking the diff housing. With the amount of bumpdrafting that happens in class, the housings are particularly vulnerable. SM Rules ALLOW a reinforcement plate to be bolted or welded in place. If you haven’t gotten the reinforcement plate welded in yet, a spare diff housing is a good idea. Toss a reinforced one on your car ASAP for peace of mind.
Source: Partouts. Finding one should be relatively easy (and cheap) as the housing is the same for torsen and open (most common) rears.
This is a Living List and I’ll add parts as I see a need, mostly by my own anecdotes.
A friend brought his new (to him) NA8 to the track, only to find the EGR Crossover tube was broken (at the flange where it contacts the header). When I checked my spare, it was already broken in the same spot. So, I’ll add an EGR Crossover tube to my “insanity” list.
So there you have it: My own spares list. I’d love to hear from you with what you agree with, disagree with… and any additional spares you may pack. Even with a list this comprehensive, I’m sure that I missed a few things.
Save the image below for a quick checklist format, this PDF won’t be updated as frequently as the full list above but it’s a good starting point
(As I add items to the main list above they may not all make it to this spreadsheet. I’ll try to keep this updated but know some things may be missing!)
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