Team Benetton barfed on our race car!

Our first bit of work on the Miata before deciding to enter it in ChumpCar was to do a quick sanity check- perform a  brief mechanical inspection, and try to replace the door that was crushed up against the roll cage, lovingly received from a talent-starved competitor at LeMons Thunderhill 2008.  Our friend Vadim joined in on the crap-car festivities.

Removing the crushed door presented what seemed to be a daunting task. Thinking the door was so jammed after the impact I started cutting through the mid-section with a reciprocating saw, hoping to relieve some pressure. After about 10 minutes of cutting we stepped back to reflect and assess the situation. Light bulb goes off: what if we forcibly pop the mechanism manually? We peered down into the gap where the window once was and identified where we might be able to unlatch the door.   So, we dropped a breaker bar down into the door, positioned it on the mechanism, and “tapped” it with a sledgehammer. After some strong prodding, out pops the door!

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Next task was to remove the also-smashed fender. To our surprise, we found ye olde lost treasure trove of tools! Two tetanus-marinated rusty screwdrivers and one sad  3/8″universal joint now supplement our tool collection.

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The Miata is feeling a wee bit nekkid. If it had legs to cross…

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We obtained the stripped out shell + glass of yellow miata door for a modest price of $40. Oh, and some spare hinges too. We’ll attempt to sell the glass and hinges before the event.

Fitting the door was a bit of a challenge- at first we thought the frame was so twisted the door had no hope of of being re-installed. Yet, we squeezed it in there by twisting the mounting holes “straight” – whatever that means..  Then the striker bar on the door frame needed some “encouragement” with a 5 pound sledgehammer, just so the door latch mechanism had a chance to engage it.  Door now closes with zero gap. between door and rear quarter panel….

So here’s what our crap-tastic race car looks like, with the hard top installed.

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We would only need to add green to vault our Miata to the level of prestige only seen in Formula 1:

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