What queues do you look for to determine if it’s “the business” and not just rice?

This came up today when on my way back from work I got up behind a new, blue Civic Si. Being an Si AND having a huge aftermarket exhaust I quickly assumed this was a fart can/intake build. No surprises, it was also insanely loud.

Buuuuut. But but but. I got up next to the guy at a light and we started chatting. Turns out it’s his daily, and he threw a supercharger on the 4 cylinder because his normal “big boost turbo setups” were too laggy for the traffic he deals with on his commute. Okay. That’s cool. I judged too quickly. He did a few pulls, and damn. That Honda is fast. I’ve heard of them of course, but I’ve never actually SEEN a fast Honda until today...

Anyways, he said something that stood out to me. I’m quoting verbatim here -

“as soon as I saw those headlights behind me, I knew you were the business. Most Miatas seem to be rices out around here”


Huh. Headlights. This is the 3rd person to say something to that affect about my LED headlights. A Civic Si driver, a fellow Miata driver (he has 6 😯) and a 997 driver. Never would have picked headlights as a deciding factor in rice-to-race scale. You?

The other thing I get a ton of people assuming my build is “legit” because of the brakes. I guess I can kinda see that one. They’re 11" disks as apposed to the stock 9", and big red calipers with WILWOOD stamped on them.


So what do you look for? For me, it’s tire width and tread. Wider tires goes hand in hand with performance oriented builds (usually) and I’m pretty good at spotting 200tw tires. After that... I normally look for a rollbar and the equipment that goes along with it. That’s a pretty big step to take just for looks. Actually, I should say a properly put together rollbar, with cross braces and not just a single hoop.

On Miatas in specific, hood vents are a huge giveaway, because there is one ideal location for venting, and everyone in the community knows about it. Cooling is also a major issue for our cars. The alignment is also a pretty good way to tell, as well as wheel choice. I’m almost positive I know every wheel that is used in racing (in the 15 inch Miata specific bolt pattern) and that makes it pretty eeasy to say “oh, those are 100% for style, probably weigh 17lbs a corner. Not a performance build”


Okay, your turn. Feel free to get specific with particular models. This is your chance to teach everyone about the car circles you’re invested in!