I’ve not done an install and parts review for a while. I figured it was about time. And I’ve got a good one. The brand new Track Dog Racing Radical air splitter for NA Miatas with the factory airdam. It’s so new, TDR doesn’t even yet have it listed on their splitter page. I was lucky enough to receive one of the first ones produced.
And it rocks. It rocks hard.
I’ve had a small splitter on Sharka for years, ever since putting on the factory chin spoiler a decade ago. I remember it very well. I bought the spoiler and spent a weekend painting and striping it. I think I managed to drive 20 miles before I scraped the stripe all up and the paint was horrible. My downtown parking structure was very aggressively inclined.
So, I made something similar to the splitter in the top photo. Nothing like that existed for the NA at the time. TDR made an NB splitter, but nothing for the NA. I bought a sheet of 4′x8′ ABS plastic and carefully created my own splitter. Nothing very big and aerodynamic, just something small that would protect my lower lip’s stripe and paint from damage. Over the years I’ve gone through three or four of them. The one pictured has been on Sharka since after his big wreck.
Lately, I’ve had the desire to upgrade it. My splitter worked fine at protecting the lip, but nothing much more. It really didn’t look great. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I was thinking of making up a new design when I next got a break in gauge orders. I’ve always thought the little support turnbuckles were cool, so I wanted to integrate that. And I wanted something less understated than what Sharka was wearing.
And then Track Dog posted this new design on Club Roadster. It was exactly what I’d been dreaming of. I ordered immediately.
TDR doesn’t require you to remove your airdam for installation, but I thought it would be the easiest way. I needed to remove my old splitter anyway. And man, do I hate laying on my back under the car for things like this.
They tell you to use binder clips to attach the splitter to the airdam for hole drilling. THAT is a heck of an idea. I’d never thought of that before on any of my previous splitter installs. I always struggled with drilling that first hole and then used that bolt to get things going. Binder clips make things a lot less cumbersome.
Notice how there are already holes in Sharka’s airdam? Yeah, we’ll get to that next.
The holes in my DIY splitter were offset from the TDR splitter holes by almost exactly half. The 12 holes I drilled were right in the middle of the 13 holes in the TDR splitter. I originally planned to just drill the matching holes in the TDR splitter so I’d not have to have extra holes in Sharka’s airdam. Then I thought a few more holes couldn’t hurt.
As you can see, ever hole has a bolt in it. This is known as extreme overkill. But there should be zero gaps between the splitter and airdam. Gaps were always something that I struggled with on my old versions.
TDR supplies nylon hardware with most of their splitters, but they send regular metal bolts with their Radical versions. Seems logical to me. Still, since I was going overkill with the bolt holes, I decided to use SOME nylon hardware. All of the corner bolts on my installation are nylon. The center area uses metal and the very far paired edge bolts are metal, but those corners that stick out got nylon. Not sure if that was a good, great, or horrible idea. Time will tell.
The binder clips were perfect for this job too! Usually, I’m left laying on my back with the airdam sorta supported by a spare jack stand and my foot while I try to bolt it in place. This time, a few binder clips made life easy. Huge props to TDR for this idea.
Ignore the coroplast belly pan. That’s something for a future blog post.
Another suggestion in the TDR install document was to drill some extra holes in the bumper to keep it from deforming. Each little duct hole gets a pair of bolts added to it on either edge. Great idea!
TDR supplies bolts for this, but I wasn’t able to drill straight enough to use them. In other words they were too short for the holes I drilled. I grabbed a handful of capscrews from my stash and zipped them on. They look way too long in the above photos, but… eh, they worked. I might swap them out with something shorter next time I have the airdam off.
The turnbuckle mounts to the bumper through a convenient hole in the skin. And there just happens to be metal behind that hole. It’s like Mazda designed it for this exact purpose.
One thing – tighten these things down with a wrench. I did them finger tight at first. After about 2 miles, one of them worked its way free and was resting on the lower edge of the mouth. Fortunately, the bolt remained in the hole. A stubby wrench is the tool for this job. TDR supplied bolts with 11mm heads with my kit.
You drill a hole for this one. Since every install will have these holes in a slightly different spot, TDR leaves it up to the owner to drill this final pair of holes. I’d suggest measuring many times. Mine ended up 1.5″ outboard of the corner vertex and 1″ from the outer edge of the lip.
Mounting the supports out at an angle like this is really the best way to do it. The factory airdam will make the splitter want to angle upward slightly on the corners. Putting the turnbuckles on the corners and forcing the splitter back down lets you achieve a nice, flat angle of attack.
And that’s it! Really not much to the install. Nothing tricky.
I believe I mentioned about how this splitter rocks above? Now you can see for yourself. I love it. It really is exactly what I had pictured in my mind.
I wish I’d been able to do all of the installed shots with film like that side view. I drove out to my chosen photo location with both cameras and discovered I only had three frames left on my film roll. Alas. At least I also brought the digital…
Yeah, it’s a winner.
If you’d like your own TDR Radical splitter, hit their website. If it’s not listed, give them a call.