Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Mirabella Alfaro is a Spec Miata driver that came from autocross. What started with a love of hot wheels grew into wheel to wheel racing fueling her passion for competition. She brings us through her journey thus far and her plans for the future.
How did you get started in motorsports? Who has been an inspiration to you along the way?
For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a love for cars. As a child, for every Barbie I owned I also had 5 Hot Wheels. But it wasn’t until my parents got me a dirt bike as a teenager that I knew that I wanted to be involved in motorsports in some form or another. In 2014 I stumbled upon a local autocross event that was happening at Texas Motor Speedway. I saw this as an opportunity to get started in motorsports and signed myself up for one with SCCA the following week! I showed up to the autocross in my daily driver on run-flat tires and while I definitely was not the fastest, I had so much fun and was hooked!
My dad has been a huge inspiration for me throughout this journey. He has always encouraged me to pursue my wildest dreams and has been very supportive in my racing career. I attribute a lot of my passion for motorsports to him.
What SCCA region do you belong to?
Texas Region SCCA is my home region and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’ve met so many great people racing in the Texas Region and have made many friends along the way. Plus, we race pretty much year round here in Texas and it just can’t get much better than that!
What made you make the switch from autocross to track? What made you choose spec Miata?
Not long after getting into autocross I got a Mini Cooper JCW that I ended up running for the next two years. I enjoyed autocrossing, but I still wanted the high speeds you get at the track. So when I learned about the Texas Region Time Trial program I made the switch from autocross to track. I ended up selling the Mini Cooper for a BMW 135i, and that year I competed in my first full season in Time Trials. I was able to take the 2017 Championship for Prepared Class in my region. A little over a year ago I made the decision to "retire" the 135i and obtain my competition license to race Spec Miata.
I chose to race Spec Miata because it is a very competitive class and I knew it would develop me as a driver. Spec Miata is typically the largest class at the races and can have some of the most exciting racing to watch and drive. Spec Miata is also one of the more affordable avenues in club racing, so for me, the choice was clear.
What skills did you gain from autocross that have translated to the track?
Autocross requires a lot of car control and quick reaction times. There are so many more transitions in autocross for the amount of time a run lasts compared to being on the track. So when I made the switch to the track, it was helpful that I had already learned these skills from autocross.
What challenges did you face moving from an autocross program to a spec Miata program? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to face switching from autocross to wheel to wheel Spec Miata racing is learning race craft. Both autocross and Time Trials are a race against the clock where your goal is to find the best line and push to get a fast time. With Spec Miata it’s a battle for position and there’s the added element of passing, defending, and overall race strategy. It has been an adjustment getting used to wheel to wheel racing but it all comes with experience and is something I greatly improved on in the last year.
What are your 2020 motorsport goals? What are your long term goals?
For 2020, my goal is to gain the experience and exposure to be able to race professionally in the upcoming years. So in a way, you could say my goal this year is to work towards making my long term goals achievable.
Last year my time was split between running a CSP Miata in Time Trials and racing my Spec Miata in the Southern Conference Majors. This year I am completely focused on racing wheel to wheel to build upon what I’ve learned so far to achieve top finishing races. A lot of learning comes with experience, so this year I’ve decided to run two full schedules in both the Southern and Mid-state Conference Majors with an appearance at the June Sprints at Road America. It’s definitely going to be an exciting year of racing this season and I look forward to what the year will bring!
What is the most exciting aspect of wheel to wheel racing for you?
What excites me most about wheel to wheel racing is how unpredictable a race can be. Funny enough, it’s also the same thing that makes me most nervous before a race.
There’s a lot of planning that goes into play before a race but the reality is you don’t really know what’s going to happen until you’re in the moment of it all. When the unexpected happens you have to make a split second decision and hope you made the right choice! It’s the adrenaline rush I get from the unpredictability of a race that keeps me coming back!
Going from autocross to spec Miata. How do you handle the chaos of a spec Miata start?
Turn 1 of a Spec Miata start is almost always the craziest part of the race! I clearly remember holding on for dear life through turn 1 as I drove though brake and dust clouds created from the start of my very first Spec Miata race.
Handling the chaos of a Spec Miata start goes back to what I mentioned about unpredictability. Going into turn 1 I have a general strategy of how I’d like to approach the corner, but when it comes down to it, quick reaction time and decision-making is what gets you through it.
What would you like to see change in the motorsports world for women?
While the number of female drivers in motorsports is increasing, it is still not where I’d like to see it. At a typical weekend race event I can usually count the number of female drivers on one hand and that’s considering some races have over 200 entries!
This is why I love what Driving Forward Together stands for and what they are doing for women in motorsports. It’s so important for us to support, empower, and encourage each other in a sport where we are the minority. Because somewhere out there, there is a little girl playing with Hot Wheels dreaming about being a racecar driver one day.