Miata Sim Rig: Repurposing a Miata Dash to Make an Awesome Sim Racing Rig

I have dabbled with sim racing for a few years as a way to practice and fill gaps between real track events. I started like most, with a simple Logitech pedal/wheel/shifter set, clamped it to the computer desk and went driving.

This is an ergonomic disaster. The wheel starts to move, the shifter is in the wrong place, the pedals slide on the floor, and a rolling computer chair will just roll backwards when you step on the pedals.

A computer racing wheel controller attached to a desk, with three monitors in front of displaying a view from a race car.
A basic sim racing setup with the controllers attached to a desk, and several monitors providing a wide view.

When the Oculus Rift VR headset came out, fellow sim racers raved about its immersion and use within the game. Stereoscopic vision let you perceive depth and elevation change, as well as rotation of the car – plus, no need for elaborate angled displays! Untethered from the need for monitors, and frustrated with the process of attaching a wheel to the desk, getting a non-rolling chair, aligning everything, and then suffering through poor ergonomics, I set out to build a crude “sim rig” for use with VR.

A chair mounted to a metal frame on wheels, with a corded steering wheel and pedal controller attached.
The first sim rig – crude, but better.

The first iteration was a unistrut frame along with a steel tube frame for the wheel. Many people make similar frames with PVC pipe, wood, and other hardware store supplies. The seat was an inexpensive “racing” seat from the Summit catalog with adjustable sliders, and I just bolted everything together. I started out with the intent of improving the mounts and ergonomics, but it soon became apparent it would need a total do-over to get the results I wanted. I had focused on small form factor a little too much and it was uncomfortable and difficult to get in and out of. It worked pretty well for a while though.

Then along came the $135.00 auction gem. A 2001 Miata, bone stock, with some minor front end damage. A perfect candidate for a future race car and the price was right. Fast forward a few years and we finally moved into our new shop. I started the teardown of the white Miata, and decided to jump on a project I had thought about for years: using the actual interior of a car to build a sim racing rig!

The interior of a white convertible car, viewed from above, missing its roof. There are no seats or carpet inside.
A new race car being born, but first I’m going to repurpose its dash board!

We have more space at the house now, so I’m going to build for awesome-factor!