Are there really any similarities?

You bet. Both are extremely aggressive. Typically, there is a range of talent in both venues. The top ten in spec miata could surely run with any top ten in Grand-AM ST. With both having such large fields, you are constantly trying to occupy the same space as another car and inching your way to overtake another position. In addition, the large fields compliment the point, as it attracts some of the best drivers with both racing groups. Not to mention, many drivers have dual roles, driving both spec miata and ST during the season, especially with the Mazda platform.

Both can be quite costly.

I really didn’t realize how close the costs could actually be until my blunder at my first shot at Sebring with the spec miata. After two nasty crashes and a few offs, just the repair will approach $5k. Add $2k for tires since it was a double, $2,000 for support and incidentals, travel, lodging and other expenses and I’m in Grand-AM range.

Contrast that with my time at Daytona in ST, I was out about $13k, when all was said and done. However, in general, spec miata can be ran at below half the cost of ST, most of the time.

Equipment must be top notch at all times.

At any national event in spec miata, competition is fierce. If your set up isn’t spot on, engine performing at top level and your skillset isn’t up to snuff, forget running up front. Of course, same deal in ST. ST cars can be all over the place with equipment costs. I’ve heard of some cars rebuilding or replacing engines after every event. In contrast, there are some that do very well and run the same engine all season long. A top spec miata race engine built to the nth degree can be as much as $8,000. Not cheap by any standards, but a good one will last at least one season with minimal leakdown.

Differences?

SPEED channel! Seriously, it is really cool to be on TV, even though the Bimmer I drove only showed up twice. Running ST is super exciting, especially at the big show in Daytona. Can’t deny that, even if it is a little hokey. I would, and probably will, do it again. It is also very cool to run against the likes of Randy Pobst, Charles Espenlaub and many, many other pro drivers. Caveat though, we do get some of the same big names in spec miata. At the ARRC in 11′, Randy Pobst joined me in running the enduro. What a class act he is and a privilege to drive with. Did I mention talent? Man, he’s good and offered pointers which I soaked up like a sponge.

Take away.

Both rock. Both take a great deal of talent to consistently run in the top ten. If you are fortunate enough, run both. Spec miata will keep the skillset sharp and help racecraft. Then, take it to em’ on the Grand-AM circuit! Me, still waiting on that sponsor. As money permits, I will run something, somewhere, somehow. I love racing in most all venues (PCA, NASA, SCCA, Grand-AM…) and I’m one of many.