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Track test and review of the ND-chassis Mazda MX-5 Cup Car | Articles

Track test and review of the ND-chassis Mazda MX-5 Cup Car | Articles

Think back to the first time you saw a high-definition TV image. (Young people, just play along for a few minutes.) Television until that point had shown us amazing concepts, narratives and events, but once we saw those first high-resolution images, we realized we had never seen true beauty. 

Local Boys Made Good

All current MX-5 Cup cars come out of the garages of Flis Performance in Daytona Beach, Florida. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the Flis family has been a fixture of the Central Florida racing scene for decades. The Flises have been local to our offices, so we’ve known them since they were autocrossing and racing Volkswagen Rabbits in SCCA Improved Touring competition back in the ’80s. 

Brothers Todd and Troy Flis parlayed that success in amateur racing into pro careers as car preparers, even making appearances at the Rolex 24 with street-based Mitsubishi Eclipses in their early days. They kept progressing through the GT ranks, eventually fielding Daytona Prototypes under their Spirit of Daytona team. Most recently, they partnered with Mazda as stewards of many of the brand’s historic race cars and as the official constructors of the MX-5 Cup cars.

Each MX-5 Cup car begins not as a bare tub but as a complete running, driving Miata. Upon arriving at Flis Performance, the cars are totally disassembled and then rebuilt to race specs. Photography Credit: Chris Tropea

Far from being Miatas with a few bolt-ons, the Cup cars are fully realized racing machines with minimal maintenance requirements. They’re designed to endure the rigors of multiple weekends of doorhandle-to-doorhandle–sometimes doorhandle-to-windshield or even mirror-to-bumper–racing. Each Cup car is delivered to Flis Performance as a complete, stock vehicle, but they’re quickly stripped to bare shells in preparation for their transformation. (Check out Flis Performance’s website for a few choice MX-5 takeoff parts, too.) 

The main chassis addition is a laser-cut, FIA-approved roll cage that ties into the floor and dash support at eight points and is functionally symmetrical, meaning it can be installed in right-hand-drive versions as well. The cage is roomy inside for taller or wider–or both–drivers, with easy ingress and egress, even with the head-restraint Max Papis Innovations seat in place.

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