Let's talk "golden boys"

Race series tend to hang their hats on one or two drivers. You can usually find them on the poster, or billboard. IMO it's not a bad thing to promote a driver. It gives focus to select people in a huge crowd. That focus will help fans build a familiarity with the racers. Overall build a bond and elevates excitement. not bad.
Back-story Gloss over this paragraph if you know it.
the video https://youtu.be/JMJG36aAQPo…

Last weekend a big crash happened two cars hit at 160mph. one car that was in the lead contained Scott Lagasse Jr., Scotty was sent for a very scary ride. Smashing on his roof first. The guy in 2nd Thomas Merrill a skip barber racing instructor. The facts are this. The video is blurry and up to interpretation on who you think is at fault. many feel (myself included) that Merril was angry about losing the leed and "hard left" on the M1 chassis. the facts are this.
- Scotty has allegedly protested the incident.
- Trans Am allegedly  denied the protest
- Trans Am will not release video from Merrels car
- Track officials did ask local photographers to delete pictures taken of the crash.
- Trans am has removed the video after outrage.
- Racer magazine has also removed the video
- One official in charge of protests is also a Skip barber Instructor same as Merrill
- No Disciplinary action has fallen Merrill
- Merrill has not apologized, nor acknowledged the incident publicly

The debate

Over the last few days, multiple drivers, crew, and fans have been talking. I guess this Thomas Merrill is the "golden boy" of The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. Allegedly All year he's basically given a green light to drive any way he wants. smashed cars, broken bodies you name it. Allegedly If anyone touches him it's probation and suspensions. it's been reported That he's smashed up a bunch of cars already. This crash with Scotty is so far the worst. Skip Barber Racing School isn't a sponsor of trans am, but I assume they are back door paying The Trans Am Series. my only evidence it of that is, I see Skippy plastered all over the marketing and race reports. SKippy has been promoted more so than the actual sponsors. that's just a guess Trans am might just suck at updating the website. I also have been told the officials are made up of Skip barber instructors. Thomas Merrill is skippys poster boy as he is on the front page of their facebook. after this huge crash, He's allowed to keep his license. According to Scott Lagasse Jr.'s FB page, he's still coughing up blood. my question is how far should a "golden boy" be allowed to go, and how far should a series got o to protect their investment?

The "Big Wang" test

As you might have heard we started selling wings. What you might not have heard was that we tested the Big Wang vs an APR 200 wing. The interesting part was, If our wing failed to beat the APR200 we would scrap the whole Big Wang program. The thought process was, to offer a wing that's worse than the industry standard would be pointless. We at Nine Lives would also like to express our absolute respect for APR they are valued competitors. On with the test.  

The test car was our V8 powered Miata. We've run this car for 5 years with the APR200. Everything on the car was exactly the same between tests. Same tire psi, hell... even the same oil! The only thing that would be different would be the tires' heat cycles. The big wang's tires (Pirelli P-zero dm)had 10-15 heat cycles as the APR's test had fresh tires. 

Test location was good old Road Atlanta. Our home track with lots of data on file.

Warning: Our tests were not done on the same day. Take that for what you will, but conditions were close enough not to find any reason to void the results. Both where 65* and sunny at test time. Barometric pressure was 30.1 for the APR test and 29.9 for the Big wang. A difference of 0.1. (Normal daily barometric pressure shift is +-0.5) 

APR's data came before we were encouraged to do the "Big Wang" program so test driving is unbiased.   

 The Subjects 
 The two test subjects were a 60" 'APR-200' ('new 200' standard Miata) and a 66" Elan made 'Big Wang'. We picked the 200 to test with because both wings were set around the same retail price. APR 200 is $935 retail, ours is $686 w/Optional R-Theory mounts. 

So like any good test, we formed a theory and tested it. 

 As you can see above the big wang was a whopping 6" larger. This raised a few questions for us to base our test on. 

  • Bigger Wing = more/less drag?
  • 3d (Twist) style vs 2d = more/less downforce?
  • Aluminum v Carbon = weight play a factor?

The test 

The first question was if the Big Wang's extra 6" would increase drag. Drag would affect the car's ability to gain speed. The evidence we'll use is the effect on top speed, more drag = lower top speed.

The result: Big Wang had less drag! 
 Evidence below. 
APR 200 top speed 156 (AiM solo DL detected 157mph) 
Big wangs top speed of 159mph 

Test notes: We gained an incredible amount of speed. 3mph from a wing swap is a huge performance advantage

Next question was about downforce levels. 
for this, we selected turn 12, Road Atlanta's fastest turn. 
The result: Big Wang had more Downforce! 
evidence below. 

 Corner speed at turn 12 was 107mph 

Corner speed of the big wang was 109  (other laps we saw as high as 111mph)

 Test notes. we noticed a significant amount of stability with the Big Wang. We were able to 'keep our foot in it' for much more of the track. 

The final question was about weight. 
Carbon vs Aluminum. Carbon will always be lighter and stronger. Our wing weighed in at 0.2 lbs_per_in. The apr weighed in at .14 lbs_per_in.  A difference of just .6lbs_per_in. although our wing was heavier, it wasn't that much heavier. Elan really did their homework and made a well-performing lightweight airfoil.   

Test notes: 
We didn't notice any added body roll from mounting the larger wing. We were paying attention, if we did, we would notify customers of what to expect.  

Final Thoughts
We went the same lap times between the two wings. Considering the Big Wang had tires that were into their 10-15 heat cycle we considered that a point for the Big Wang. Overall the downforce was astonishing. We had the APR set to its maximum aoa at 15*. At this angle of attack, we couldn't get it to overpower the front splitter. The Big Wang was able to overpower the front splitter at just 2* aoa. We wound up running the Big Wang at -1* just to find a balance in the car. At this point, with The Big Wang, we can start adding a lot more front downforce to take the car even further.       

 Videos from the tests. 
Big Wang 
 Apr 200 

Links to products 

 If anyone would like Data from these tests please visit 9livesracing.com , request "Big Wang test data" in the "contact us" box, and provide your email. We will be happy to share all information.

Testing speed parts at speed. MSD Atomic Intake, 105mm Throttle body and Pirelli slicks.

Test time. When you run time trails every time you take the track it's test time. This time we take the time too look for time.... ;) We installed a MSD atomic intake, paired to a 105mm Holley Throttle body on our 5.7l LS1 engine. We also tried out some slicks.

This was our first event trying out the Perrelli P zero DM. fitting 225's to 9" wheels was a real pain. these tires did not want to go on.  DM's are allegedly Pirelli's Time attack tire. super sticky.

We also bolted on an MSD atomic intake W/105mm holly throttle body. we had lots of people reaching out to us warning about our TB size choice.  Lots of internet rumors about drivability on such a "small" engine. We also needed to grind our Corvette water pump to clear the intake. 

The lat thing to test was CCP fab Fiberglass doors. already proven to remove 60lbs from the chassis. 

With the updates installed, we sent her out on a flier. 


 Intake and TB.
 Reading the internet gossip was quite intimidating. A constant barrage of "you'll lose driveability" came our way. We aren't sure if they were wrong or if the tapered bore on the TB was that big of a help. Despite all of that we didn't notice any mid throttle hesitation. Mid range pulled just as hard as before. On the top end, we did notice a huge gain in top speed. Previous peak top speed was 155 we where now trapping 157. a 3mph gain is a big deal on our cars with big wings. Overall very happy with the results. 


This was our first experience with "real slicks" Data shows that we were peaking at 1.5G we will compare this to our Maxxis tires that are normally peaking out at 1.3G. a 15% gain. The P Zeros gave us 3 great laps, after that, they were a bit hard to control and needed to be cooled. They did take 2 laps to heat up, a solid lap more then any other tire we tested. Release and brake away was sudden, but not uncontrollable nor shocking. Overall these were very easy to dive very fast.  The second day of running the P zeros was not as fast as the first day. looks like they we already had grip falling off, this was after the first 8 heat cycles. A big punch in the gut after finding out how much they retail for.  The maxxis... old trusty... have lasted us a good year, 80 heat cycles,  and still peak out at 1.3g. going forward despite the time gained we will switch back to the Maxxis to keep costs low.  
 We have heard rumors of a stickey-er Maxxis coming out. 

Times are in. Previous fastest lap set on the same day in 2016 was a 1:34.8, new fastest lap set on 2017 1:32.8. A huge improvement. This puts us on par with corvettes with similar tires. our advantage is much lower operating costs.

We are keeping the doors and the intake. but going forward we will be switching back to the Maxxis.  


Daytona didn't go as planned.

What is that smoke coming from? oh ...... 

About 3 years ago we had a chance to drive under the lights with USCA. The Miata blew a diff seal and we never made a lap under the lights. Exciting news to hear that David Murry Track days, this year was running under the lights. Super stoked to finally check the bucket list we packed up and headed south.  

 Landed in Datona around 1pm. Normally driver meetings require a 5 am wakeup. not this one.  We could get used to tracking days like this. 

The Drivers meeting ended around 3pm and the sun slowly went down. 

After the first Dusk run Fire erupted. Our Dry sump tank vent clogged, pressure built, blew the dipstick out, along with 3 qts of oil and it coated the headers. 

 The real hero was the Little 2lbs fire bottle. Without it, the fire would have grown. It delayed the damage just long enough to allow Daytona Fire to put it out. I owe those guys a lot of beer. 

Here is the little Hero in all his glory. If you drive without one of these your an idiot. buy one a link is above. don't be an idiot. A billy bad ass fire system and another one have been ordered for the Miata. 

I thought I was done. The Boys from Mosler motorsports said: "You're getting the lights" and jumped into action. 

Damage was only cosmetic, the car ran fine. We were worried about damage to the tire. So the last few laps were super slow.  but we got the lights. 

Thank you- My wife Andrea, I know i scared the hell out of you. 
Mosler Motorsports (part of Nine lives racing) for kicking me in the ass and making the car work.
 OG racing for employing me and giving me the safety gear I need.   

and to all of our partners. Holley performance, Maxxis tires, PFC brakes