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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Background-

I live in the Atlanta area, and got pretty heavy into the track hobby a few years ago. Within three hours of where I live I've got Road Atlanta, Atlanta Motorsports Park and Barber. I've had a 1992 Miata for four years that I've put blood, sweat and tears into; aftermarket ECU and turbo setup, suspension, brakes, chassis stiffening, roll bar, race seat and harness, etc. It is a really good track car.
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Running around 200whp I started to have reliability issues at the track, and needed to turn the boost down. It does not have air conditioning or power anything, and is not very comfortable for a person my size, especially in the summer heat. I started trailering it to events, which makes things more comfortable but adds a lot of hassle. I don't have a lot of free time in my schedule so I wanted a different plan so I could maximize my track time and minimize the time committed to maintaining and transporting the car.

I started thinking about a car that would be comfortable to drive to and from the track, fun and fast on the track, and also be a nice toy for mountain drives or daily driving. I was ready to spend for a "nice" car but nothing too exotic that I wouldn't want to push at the track. After much research and a few ride-alongs in my friend's 981 Boxster S, I decided that a 981 Cayman S with PDK would be the ticket.

In October I found a 2015 Cayman S with PDK, Sport Chrono, 14 way heated/cooled seats, Bose, and 20" turbo wheels at a local dealership. It was Certified Pre-Owned with a 2 year warranty. After some negotiating, she was mine.

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My kids decided that she needed a name. I chose Elvira because she showed up before Halloween, wore all black, and was sexy as hell.

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Discussion Starter #2
Shortly after bringing Elvira home, I bled the brakes and took her to a track day at Road Atlanta to shake her down and get a baseline. I went with my friend who brought his beautiful 1962 Morgan race car, identical to the car that won LeMans.

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Elvira did amazing on the track. On three year old OEM Eagle F1 tires, she was 3 seconds/lap faster than my Miata on RS-4's. The only mishap was that I didn't tighten one of the brake bleeders down enough and lost all my brake fluid. After narrowly missing an off into the gravel pit, I re-filled and re-bled and all was right.

 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
There are a lot of upgrades I've read about for track use, but the approach I'm taking is to just drive it and fix things as my usage and skills require. For instance, the base suspension was actually really good for the amount of grip I had.

Some of the groups I run with require tow hooks, so I added this nice Rennline jewelry. The front one interferes with the parking sensor when flipped down, but flipping it up solves the problem.

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The wind buffeting in the cabin with the windows down is a real issue. Going 135mph down the back straight at RA, I thought my head was going to explode. I added the AWE diffusers.

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Next order of business was better track tires. I don't want to run anything crazy since I plan to drive to/from the track, but I want access to the good 200 treadwear options. These are very limited in the 20" wheel size, so I set about finding some 18" wheels. A local guy was selling a 987 set, and I scooped them up.

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I also figured out that changing wheels is a PITA with the stock wheel bolts, so I converted to wheel studs and acorn nuts.
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I set about finding reasonably priced 200tw tires. Nobody had RS4's in the right size and I haven't been wild about RE-71's on the Miata. Tirerack had the Nexen Sur4G's on sale for less than $800 a set, which was too good to pass up on. I went with 245 and 275/40/18, which looks a little wide on these wheels but keeps the rolling diameter within 3% of stock. I like the tall 2nd gear on the track and find it useful for powering out of slow turns.

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Discussion Starter #6
Took a drive in the North Georgia mountains last weekend. Weather was cool and clear with a touch of snow in the peaks. Most importantly, very little traffic. Pretty amazing day.

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Everybody raves about Porsche Sports Exhaust, but honestly I think the base exhaust sounds pretty great. Some of the tracks I drive have noise restrictions so I'm probably going to stick with it. I recorded the video below on an Iphone with a microphone placed in the rear trunk.

 

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I thoroughly enjoy the RE71Rs on my 19's 235/265. They have fantastic grip although I will say they don't provide a lot of warning for when they let go. I also have the X73 and 3rd radiator options I also opted for Ferodo DS1.11 pads along with Ti shims and Motul RBF 600. Combination works really well for me. Hope this helps.
 

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OP, congratulations on your new toy. Now, about the car that can be driven to the track, on the track AND enjoyed on the street ...

The one and only suggestion I have for you in order to realistically achieve what you said and I summarized above : do not time your laps. That's it. Going to 18" was a great move, that should actually make it not only more affordable with more tire choices, but also more fun (I like to feel slip angle personally).

Mine was bought with exactly the same requirement and it is still 100% stock (except for Michelin PS4S). I hugely enjoy it on both street and track - and stay away from timing my laps like a reformed alcoholic from the bottle. The only regret I have about that arrangement are OEM 19" wheels and tires, have been promising myself to get those 18" for 3 years now. Hopefully, it will be for this upcoming season.

Strangely, wind buffeting is no issue with me - but I drive with both windows down even when solo in the car. I did notice that, on the street, one window down can start getting annoying at 70-80 mph.

Good luck with everything and many smiles per gallon :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm running Barber on Sunday with the new tires, we'll see how everything goes. I thought the stock brake pads did really well the first time I ran the car at Road Atlanta, but they did wear very quickly. I bought another set of stock pads as backup, but if I keep burning through them fast I'll probably switch to better pads and Sebro slotted rotors. The pads that are often recommended are the Pagid yellows, the Ferodo DS1.11, and the PFC's. Any opinions on which ones last the longest? They are certainly not cheap.

Cinci, great perspective on timing laps. I think I'm going to keep the Miata as a dedicated track car. If I take the turbo out and put a full cage in it then I'll have a car (albeit a slow car) that I can push to the limits safely and cheaply. Hopefully that will keep me from going down the rabbit hole of a million mods to the Cayman that burn money and make it less enjoyable on the street. I'm really viewing the Cayman as a fun weekender that can punch above its weight at the track, no desire to squeeze every last drop of performance out of it for now.
 

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Saying that and doing it is the hard part but the Miata toy maybe you can control those feelings
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I needed to replace my brake pads before doing the track day on Sunday. First order of business was getting the car on jack stands. I bought the Lift Bars a few weeks ago, and the car is too low to get my jack under the lift bars. I knocked up some quick wheel risers from some scrap lumber I had laying around.

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After this, it was a breeze to get the car onto jack stands. The lift bars are very well made, this is a very secure way to put the car on stands.

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I decided to just stick with stock brake pads for now, they served me fine during my first track day. The brake pad sensors are a pain in the *** to remove, so I just cut them off and made a dongle by shorting the wires with a crimp connector. No more brake pad sensors.

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I also converted the front to Tarrett Engineering caliper and bracket studs, which was a pretty simple job. I bought studs for the rear calipers as well, but because those pads can be changed without removing the caliper I put that job off until I need to swap rotors. Overall, this is a pretty easy car to do brakes on.

When I went to start it up the dash was lit up like a Christmas tree. Three different error messages- "Fault Parking Brake", "ABS/PSM failure", and "Transmission Fault- no R gear". After playing out the scenario of a bad PDK in my head and changing my underwear, I went back through my work and found that I had forgotten to plug in one of the ABS sensors. I'm not used to working on cars with modern electronics... it's a bit of a drama queen.

My son and I took the car to Barber on Saturday in biblical rain. By Sunday morning the storm had blown through, and it was shaping up to be a nice day.

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The first two sessions it was in the 40's and the track was still wet. The Nexen Sur4G's were like steel roller skate wheels. It was impossible to get any heat into them, no grip whatsoever. By the afternoon it was in the 60's and the track was dry; once the tires heated up, they had pretty good grip. They also showed very little wear after five sessions. I had read reviews comparing them to Hankook RS-4's, and in my opinion they were very much like those tires. I think on hot summer days they'll be really good.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I went with the Rennline wheel studs, in the standard sizes that are recommended for a 981 CS in their application sheet.
 

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Looking great! Elvira must be happy to be getting track time! You mentioned swapping rotors, and I'll just put in a plug for Girodisc. I've had them on my Cayman for several years now and they are fantastic! Paired with the Pagid yellows, they stop like crazy, they are easy to service and I've never had any brake fade since I changed my setup! On tires, I still love Nitto NT01s on mine, if you're ever considering a 100TW option.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks. One thing I learned with the Miata is that stickier tires are the fastest way to better lap times (next to better driving of course), and also demand upgrades on almost every other part of the car. I'm not a huge fan of these Nexen tires to be honest, but they are still in the range of grip where the base suspension and brakes are adequate. Faster tires send me down the slippery slope. The stock pads are actually fine for this amount of grip; they wear pretty quickly but they also cost less than 1/3 of the Pagids. The Girodiscs look awesome but they are really expensive and would require different caliper studs than the ones I just put on.

I think in a year or two I'm going to do GT3 LCA's, drop links, X73 suspension, and Girodisc with good brake pads all at once. That's a pretty heavy chunk of coin and labor though, and right now it seems to me like it doesn't make much sense to go piece by piece. All or nothing.
 

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Thanks. One thing I learned with the Miata is that stickier tires are the fastest way to better lap times (next to better driving of course), and also demand upgrades on almost every other part of the car. I'm not a huge fan of these Nexen tires to be honest, but they are still in the range of grip where the base suspension and brakes are adequate. Faster tires send me down the slippery slope.

All or nothing.
I agree! Words of wisdom, for sure. I went down that slope, but it started because I bought the car already with JRZ coilovers, GT3 sway bars, toe links, drop links, etc. which led to better tires, leading to brake upgrades, then a new engine. Now I’m looking at Aero (wing, splitter) and on it goes. Yes, we pick up seconds with changes, but in the end, the Cayman is so fun to drive that I think you can just keep trying different tires and brake pads and the fun is always a little different with each change. I’ve run Michelin PSC2, Bridgestone RE71, Toyo R888s, and Nitto NT01. Mine is a 987.1, and my guess is your car would handle any of those tires just fine without NEEDing to go down that slippery slope.

Good luck!
 

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I'd say look at the Tarret front hats to get a bit more camber and then the LCA's the rear for the same, and you've got a good track setup. my 2014 981S has those all done, along with a Cantrell cage and Recaro Sportster seats with 6 point harnesses. I'm running GiroDisc rotors once I wore out the stock rotors with Pagid pads. I really like the RE71R's on this car a lot, maybe the miata was too light to generate enough heat in them but I find them a super consistent tyre, and run them in stock size on 18" Apex wheels. Tarret brake studs are a great option makes changing the pads alot easier.

Do your wheel studs stick out past the wheels? My fronts ones I think were meant for race cars with pit stops and stick out way past the end of the wheel which I'm not a huge fan of so I'm trying to find a shorter set.
 

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Background-

I live in the Atlanta area, and got pretty heavy into the track hobby a few years ago. Within three hours of where I live I've got Road Atlanta, Atlanta Motorsports Park and Barber. I've had a 1992 Miata for four years that I've put blood, sweat and tears into; aftermarket ECU and turbo setup, suspension, brakes, chassis stiffening, roll bar, race seat and harness, etc. It is a really good track car.
I started thinking about a car that would be comfortable to drive to and from the track, fun and fast on the track, and also be a nice toy for mountain drives or daily driving. I was ready to spend for a "nice" car but nothing too exotic that I wouldn't want to push at the track. After much research and a few ride-alongs in my friend's 981 Boxster S, I decided that a 981 Cayman S with PDK would be the ticket.
In October I found a 2015 Cayman S with PDK, Sport Chrono, 14 way heated/cooled seats, Bose, and 20" turbo wheels at a local dealership. It was Certified Pre-Owned with a 2 year warranty. After some negotiating, she was mine.
/QUOTE]
Keeping in mind your statement - you don't need all this stuff unless you want to build another track car which I don't think you do.!
So do a max negative camber stock equipment alignment. buy some good street/track tires RE-71R, Conti Sportcontact 6, or one the many other capable tires and ENJOY
 
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