Race car drivers are athletes– no, REALLY!

Here’s the Strategy Elite Athletes Follow to Perform at the Highest Level

I was reading this article from the Observer last week. I try to read as much as I can. I especially like to read things that I think will make me a better man, husband, coach, and of course, race car driver.

When I show up at a driving event, there’s a lot that I want to get done. My list of things has grown so long, that I can’t really expect to finish it all. One of those things is to walk the course about 20 times. This isn’t realistic. So, since there isn’t enough time in the day to do all the things that I think will make me a faster driver, what should I do?

Well, in the article they quote Marcus Aurelius:

“Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?”

They say that the best thing is to focus on what’s immediately in front of you. In football, they say that’s the next 7 seconds… In autocross, that’s the next 60 seconds. It really is amazing how hard it can be to be totally focused and in “flow” for what really is a short period of time.

What’s the solution, then? Create a process!

We’ve now begun the racing offseason in Illinois, so I’ll be refining my process for 2021. I’ll share my journey here, so stay tuned!


The Boys Return To Grissom

Matt and Chuck will return this weekend to compete in the 2019 SCCA Peru Championship Tour at the Grissom Air Reserve Base.

Chuck is coming off a win at Chicagoland Speedway over defending National Champion, Bartek Borowski, and Matt is returning from Packwood Washington at the 2019 SCCA Packwood Pro Solo.

Both Matt and Chuck have have been performing strong all year, despite some dissapointments in the results.

During the weekend live results can be found here:

E-Street Live Results

and the radio broadcast can be found here:

Live Audio Broadcast


Revolution In The Approach To Street Class Suspension Tuning

I was reading a bunch of Facebook posts today and came across something interesting. As many of you know, I recently appeared on the Cone Coach Podcast with Neil Tovsen and Shane Donahue. I discussed my approach to tuning and why I think bump stops are such a big part of what makes for a good street-class setup.

During that conversation, Neil asked if this was something only applicable to Miatas or if it could be used on any modern car. I suggested that while I didn’t know for sure, I suspected most modern cars used bump stops as supplemental springs, making this a vital place to explore.

So, back to today, the interesting post that I was referring to was from Ed Fish Jr. He’s currently prepping a Porsche 944 for National competition and will be competing directly with Matt and I. Was Ed inspired by the podcast or something else? I hope we can talk to him soon and find out.

Check out Ed’s blog post here:


While you’re at it, don’t forget to check back on my previous post for updates. And if you haven’t listened to my episode of Cone Coach, check it out here.


From Whence I Came

It’s often fun to look back at where we started. It can also be funny at times.

The video I’m sharing today is from back before I became a setup guru or a really good autocrosser. I started recording video back then with a Flip camera mounted to the hood of my 2001 Mazda Miata LS. If I recall correctly, this was the first event where I was faster than my dad in a rear-wheel drive car and the first time I’d beaten National Champion and family friend, Jane Vinton on the overall results (PAX).

I’ve come a LONG way since then, as has my car setup skills.

Results by class – I’m in RTR in 4th of 7

Overall Results – I’m in 17th of 63


Michana Autocross #2

Chuck Mathews made his way over to Tire Rack headquarters on Sunday, June 30 to represent #TeamOverkill with Michiana BMW at their Autocross event #2.

It was an exciting event where Chuck earned a class win in addition to doing some driver coaching and tire testing. Several drivers requested his assistance, including brand new autocrosser, Aaron Grise, who prior to the event, had only ever done Track Night in America with SCCA. Due to the rapid-fire nature of autcross, it can be quite a learning curve coming from track events.

The tire testing was completed and data was collected. Chuck will be sifting through the mountain of video and data to try and gain the insights that are necessary when chasing a National Championship. Matt will be back at it for the Toledo Pro Solo on July 6 & 7. Chuck’s next event will be on July 21 for the next Chicago Region SCCA event while Matt heads to Packwood for the Pro Solo. They will rejoin forces on July 27 for the Peru Championship Tour

Chuck’s Fastest Run – Michiana BMW – 41.295 s


Monday July 1st, 2019#


E-Street Setup Recommendations

Let me start by saying that what you read here is my opinion, based upon lots of trial and error over the years and theories that I currently hold to be true. YMMV

These setup instructions are specifically for the 1999-2000 NB1 Miata with the Hard-S suspension. My car is a 1999 Miata Base Sport Package car with no A/C or power steering. Setup shoud be similar on the NB2’s. Bump stops were the same length on my 2001. Other years should be verified for compliance. You can check part numbers in the Mazda Motorsports store. The NA6 and NA8 are very different cars. I have been asked to help develop a 1997 Miata R Package to be a fast local competitor, so I may be able to give some guidance there later as well, but not at this time.

Secondly, while I’ve had a good bit of success with my setup, it is considered controversial by some. It doesn’t follow the path that many others have claimed is the best. That being said, there’s more than one way to end up with a fast setup. This is mine and it works very well for the current crop of tires, the Bridgestone RE71R and the BFGoodrich Rival S 1.5. It also works well in the wet on the Continental Extremecontact Sport. Other tires may or may not work as well with these particular setup details.

If you haven’t already, you really should listen to Cone Coach #19 where I discuss bump stops, suspension tuning, and my theories for car setup. One thing that has changed since the podcast is that Matt Waldbaum and I have started to develop a wet setup. It appears to help improve grip over the dry setup. So far, that only involves softening the shocks.

The stock NB bump stops are 58mm in the rear and 60.5mm in the front. For E-Street, you need to follow 13.5.D of the rulebook:

A suspension bump stop is considered to be performing the function of a spring. Therefore, the compressed length of the shock at the initial point of contact with the bump stop may not be increased from the standard part, although the bump stop may be shortened. Bump stops installed externally and concentric with the shaft of a shock may be drilled out to fit a larger diameter shock shaft. Bump stops may be substituted provided they meet the length requirements and are in the same location as stock.

Fortunately, if you’re running Konis or Bilsteins, you just need to make sure the bump stops aren’t longer than the stock ones. If you run a fancy shock like a Penske (like I do) then you’ll need to do your own calculations to ensure you’re compliant. If you’d like to go down that road, Guy Ankeny does some wonderful machine work and will build you a set of Penskes that are rules compliant.

What I personally recommend for setup on the Konis or Bilsteins is as follows:

SFR Bar (State of the art) or Flyin’ Miata Bar (the budget minded option)

Soft setup:

Rear bump stop–> 55mm long Ohlins brown bump stop and the 0.125” packer (3.17mm)

Front bump stop–> 2-3/8” long (60.33mm) Ohlins black bump stop and the 0.125” packer (3.17mm)

Front bump stop–> 2-3/8” long (60.33mm) Penske blue bump stop

If you already have a Racing Beat bar and don’t want to swap it out, here’s an alternative:

You can use Penske black bump stops for both the front and rear, but you’ll need to trim the rears by 2.33mm or more. I think it’s easiest to trim them at the first dimple, but no matter where you trim them, you’ll want to make sure you get them even and measure them when you’re finished to ensure compliance with the rules. If you trim them at the dimple, then you’ll also need packers. When I trimmed mine I ordered an assortment of sizes so I would have exactly what I needed.

While this isn’t my preferred bar (I have a strong preference for a smaller bar), autocrosser Shane Johnson has used this setup with great success, winning PAX at his local autocross on the first outing in the car. We discussed his options at great length and part of the motivation for writing this blog post is to have a place to point people to that although I love talking about setup, I don’t always have time to discuss every detail.


I use a very simple alignment.

Max camber in the front. Max camber in the rear with one caveat.Make the split front to rear the same from side to side. i.e. LF -1.1 RF – 1.3LR -2.0 RR – 2.2

I run zero toe all around but have suggested 1/16” toe in certain cercumstances.


I’m hopeful that with this information we can see more people showing up with cars that are capable of winning. If you’re close enough to the Chicago area, please come out and autocross with us.

I’ll update this post periodically with information that is useful for a good E-Street setup and change the last updated date at the bottom. Please keep the questions coming.


Bump Stop Travel Sheets

RE Suspension bump stops vs Penske bump stops:

Some people have been asking what the difference is between the RE Suspension bump stops (that are also available through Fat Cat) and the Penske bump stops I recommend.


– Blue – 225 lb/in

– Black – 155 lb/in

– White – 100 lb/in

RE Suspension

– Blue – 235 lb/in

– white – 141 lb/in

– Red – 85 lb/in

updated 06/27/19 with additional alignment details

updated 07/03/19 with link to bump stop information and clarification about tires

updated 06/27/19 with notes about which Miatas this applies to

updated 07/08/19 with comparison between Penske and RE Suspension bump stops


2019 SCCA Toledo Pro Solo

It’s been a difficult season so far. The car seems to be performing adequatly, but the results haven’t met our expectations yet.

It seems that based upon the data we’re getting off the RaceCapture/Pro that we’re using that there’s still development work that needs to be done to optimize the car. Matt Waldbaum and I were able to make some progress on developing a good wet setup. My initial impressions are leading me to believe that our shock settings, while producing good results and being very drivable, are probably too extreme and we’re giving up some grip in sweepers.

With this, we also have a new tire to test, the Yokohama Advan A052. It’s already showing promise in other classes, so testing this tire is vital to ensuring we don’t get caught out at Nationals in September. Chuck was able to put together a group funded tire test that is currently underway that should give us a good answer to which tire will be needed in September.

We didn’t manage to get video for the first session of the Toledo Pro Solo (which ended up being wet, but still the fastest session), but we did get some good video showcasing how well the car does in the wet.

Chuck’s Video
Official Results

Reaction Times and 60 ft times


Chicago SCCA Solo Event #1 – Makeup From Snowday

I didn’t have the event I wanted, but it’s hard to be too disapointed when you consider the results. My mind was elsewhere and I was struggling to concentrate enough to really get in the zone. It was also a little frustrating that Bartek ran in the off heat, as its always more fun to go back and forth searching for time each run.

However, it was really good seat time against some of the best drivers in the country the weekend before an important Pro Solo in Toledo, Ohio. So, I’m feeling like chances are good for a strong showing there. I’m just hoping the weather holds out…..

Here’s video of my fastest run of the day.

“Chuck’s Fastest Run – 48.678”

And here are the official class results:

“Chuck – 3rd in E-Street”

And here are the official overall results:\

“Chuck’s – 3rd overall”


2018 SCCA Solo National Wet Tires Test

Back in September I was able to do some tire testing on the practice course in Lincoln at SCCA Solo Nationals. What did we learn? Watch below!