Mazda MX-5: Miata Horn Upgrade to Something a Little Louder

When I first bought my Miata it became painfully clear that most other bigger cars on the road are on the mission to kill me. Multiple times I found myself taking defensive action to avoid a pick up truck or an SUV veering into my lane, completely oblivious that I was there. My solution was to buy a dash cam so at least I would have evidence when someone runs me off the road. My buddy Bill instead opted to get a louder horn.

Today we went ahead and installed his Thompson Engineering sourced horn. The Tornado/Marco labelled model (Made in Italy) it says… looks a lot more bulkier than the puny stock horn. It was a quick and easy bolt on once we go to it by unbolting a whole bunch of plastic that packages the bumper area of the Miata nicely. At one point I was excited and a little bit worried we will have to take the whole front bumper off. But apparently there are 80+ fastening points one must remove, and I’m glad we didn’t have to resort to that. Nevertheless there were quite a few 8mm screws, 10mm screws and a bunch of plastic fasteners that had to be loosened to get to the horn.

Here’s some pix:

Bill bought the louder horn from Thompson Engineering. The kit came complete with the horn, several fuses, and all the mounting brackets, which was very easy to assemble. We made a trip to Lowe’s to pick up about 5 feet of quarter inch hose in order to route the air intake for the horn under the hood. Lots of zip ties were used to package everything nicely and it looked very factory in the end.

Beep beep!

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Trip Booked in October 2017

I’m really happy to say that the West Coast trip of 2017 has been booked. I had the privilege of participating in my first Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event last year followed by an exciting weekend of Pirelli World Challenge at the same facility, and this year I’m going to repeat the trip. Flights have been booked. Events registered for, the only thing left to do is find cheap accommodation.

It’s exciting!

First, I cashed in some airline miles to actually fly into Monterey (MRY) this time. No more flying to the Bay Area (SFO, OAK, SJC) and driving two hours. Instead I wanted to see the track from the air and there’s no better way than to fly into the Monterey Regional Airport which takes the final approach right over the circuit.

Second, I can’t wait to volunteer again with the organizers of Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event. It was such an amazing opportunity last year I couldn’t pass it up this year:  https://www.miatasatmazdaraceway.com/

Third, PWC is going to be a blast because of a potential race that may actually take place this year. I may sound a little skeptical because the SRO advertised a US round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge a year ago at COTA with a proposed 6 hour race, which never happened, and now the California 8 hour enduro is on schedule but suspiciously very little information is available about it. At the very least I think the PWC event will take place, and last year it was great fun to volunteer it. But as a fan of endurance racing I want to see this California 8 hour race happen. More importantly I love the concept of teams flying in their talent… race car drivers, engineers, crew and renting local vehicles to compete instead of flying all that machinery in with them (from Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) The concept is cool, there are certainly plenty of PWC and IMSA teams that wouldn’t mind making some money from rentals in this way, but will it actually happen? We’ll wait and see.

I will have a few days of downtime between events, so my goal (besides finding cheap accommodation) is to find something to do from Monday to Wednesday in early October. I’ve done road trips up to San Francisco and down to Saint Luis Obispo last year. This time I’d like to do something different.

Can’t wait!

 

PS. as an avgeek I used some of my recently converted Virgin America miles to book a flight with Alaska Airways whom have absorbed VX… lucky for me, I’ll still get to fly Virgin’s A320’s.. and the routing I booked is a little crazy. I’ll do JFK-SFO on a VX A320, connecting to SFO-SAN on a VX A320, my first flight into San Diego, for absolutely no other reason than to connect to a puddle jumper Bombardier Q400 on Horizon Air to do SAN-MRY. It’s going to be fun arriving Monterey on a little propeller plane. On the way back I’ll fly United Express Canadair CRJ-200 MRY-LAX, connecting to a red-eye transcon Boeing 757 on LAX-EWR route. So many dots and lines for my flight map thanks to frequent flyer miles.

Post Race Photo Gallery from the Red Bull GRC in Atlantic City

The Red Bull Global Rallycross Atlantic City rounds 8 and 9 were everything they were cracked up to be and then some. It was my first time participating in a professional Rallycross event even though I have gotten a small taste of it at NJMP a few years ago with Rally America… but nothing could have really prepared me for what took place over the weekend. Not even Ken Block doing some Gymkhana at the opening round of V8 Supercars at Clipsal 500 in Australia, where I got to see him fling a similar Ford Focus WRC around a street course.

The sounds. The noise. The sights. The dust. The close racing. The banging and smashing of cars fighting for the same piece of tarmac. It was amazing. And I got to experience it from a very special spot where the asphalt turned into a sandy path around a 180 degree turn. It was fantastic and I’m a huge fan of GRC now.

But nobody really cares about my opinion of how cool marshaling is, people care about cars and racing, and celebrity drivers. So here’s some pix post-race. From parc ferme. The scrutineering. Post race inspection of the winning cars. Both of Supercars and Supercar Lites. It was amazing and I hope I get another chance to work this awesome event, wherever that may be!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Special thanks to Chris for driving down to use my guest passes and to spectate, and of course take some pix for me after the race. Always nice to have a photographer on hand!

The rest of my pix were selfies. I got to work Turn 2 with awesome views of the Atlantic City skyline across the intercoastal waterway. The water got pretty busy on Sunday with a ton of boats, paddle boarders and jet skiers stopping by to watch the racing. Saturday though we had stormy and wet weather. At one point we were pulled off station because of lightning in the area.

Next day it was a different story, very sunny and dry… which of course meant massive dust clouds.

I found myself using two bandanas, both to protect my face and neck from sunburn but also to shield myself from getting sandblasted. I was only feet away from flying cars, going sideways into a corner.

Some of the dust clouds made it in on the inside of my glasses.

My area of responsibility…

They fed us well, and of course there was plenty of Red Bull on offer.

First TRUMP nuked Atlantic City, and now he’s working on a bigger picture… SAD!

On the way back North, Chris and I hit a local seafood place for some dinner… it was awful! The $15 ceviche appetizer turned out to be a plate full of cooked shrimp with some tostitos salsa in the middle. Ugh! That was probably the only downer of the weekend.

But I have nothing but praise for the Red Bull GRC event, and again I’d love to work another one of their races somewhere in the future!

Red Bull GRC Driver’s Parade on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk

The coolest part of the whole Red Bull GRC Atlantic City weekend for me, was the driver’s parade along the Boardwalk.

Why was it so cool?

In my opinion any time the series takes it’s presence, the cars, the drivers, the ambiance out in the public and brings the show to the ordinary people… that I think is the best thing they can do to promote the sport. And I commend the Red Bull GRC folks for organizing their driver’s parade right in the heart of AC, the place where everybody goes… the Boardwalk!

Naturally, I took a million pix…

Team Red Bull Honda getting ready to leave the paddock on Bader Field for the driver’s parade on the Boardwalk.

I rushed out and found a nice parking spot a block from the Kennedy Plaza where the teams were to have an autograph session.

The Boardwalk to me brings a lot of memories. My family and I used to go to Atlantic City a lot. Especially in the summer time… back when my father had a mild gambling problem, and we all joined him to go out on the boardwalk for a slice of pizza, and some go-cart racing on the Steel pier. I got my first speeding ticket just outside of AC where the Parkway meets the Atlantic City Expressway. Good times… Although the current state of the city, and it’s major attraction is a bit sad. This place used to be packed, super crowded… and now, even the seagulls left (they used to swoop down and terrorize unsuspecting tourists, with food in their hands). But it is what it is. And I’m glad the Red Bull GRC is breathing a little life into this city. It’s worth pointing out that according to a local cop working security detail for this event, all casinos remain open except those that used to display TRUMP on their buildings. Go figure…

And then the crowds swooped in…

If the background looks familiar, you may have seen it on TV not that many moons ago… it was the venue for the Miss America pageant…

I love the fact that teams allowed spectators, especially kids, to climb in their cars and get a closer look. Get the fans involved!

There’s that 600+hp turbo east of an engine…

At most Motorsport events I focus so much on the venue and the racing I forget to check out the surrounding area. The main attraction of Atlantic City in the summer time of course is it’s beach… and while I didn’t get a chance to go for a swim, it was nice to at least walk by the water at sunset.

and take some selfies…

During the autograph session the first 100 patrons received weekend guest passes for the race along with other prizes from teams and the series. That was really neat! (and probably propped up the numbers in attendance for the weekend)

And as the sun set, it was time to get back to the paddock.

Fin

Internships with Red Bull Global Rallycross

This is a little public service announcement for the college kids out there who love Motorsports and want to find a way working with various series. At the Red Bull GRC of Atlantic City I learned that the series does rely on Interns for various tasks, and will fly your ass around the country following events with little to no expense to you. And while you may not earn any money for this “summer job” the experience in my view is priceless. I sure as shit wish that instead of the lame bank internship I did in my university days, I had looked into something as exciting as GRC clearly is!

I may be stating the obvious, but before “volunteering” this event I had no idea that something like this actually happens. I figured that at most Interns for NASCAR have to be local to Daytona Beach or Charlotte and get to do coffee runs for real NASCAR employees instead of flying around the country to events, setting up displays, working the media rides, info booths, etc.

But this is real!

Ironically the only reason I learned about this opportunity is because I showed up a day early to work the event as a flagger. They paid us for our duties and besides guest passes there wasn’t much in a way of swag to be had. I wanted a neat little shirt and hat that all the real “volunteers” got, so I said the magic word to the person in charge…. “Hey, do you need help?  I’m happy to volunteer Friday.” And of course he needed help, I got a chance to earn my keepsake, the shirt and hat you can see me wearing in most of the pictures promoting the shit out of the series, as a direct result.

While helping out as a volunteer I met a West Coast chick who got involved with the company through an internship, and boy was I jealous of her. While I’m looking for a job, people helping with my resume advise against adding all of my volunteering on my CV because it won’t help me. While her internship will open doors with whatever events management job she wishes to pursue in the future.

Life is unfair!

An internship with GRC isn’t just providing cheap labor to help set up tents, which we obviously did, but it definitely teaches you the ins and outs of putting on a major entertainment event. And the AC GRC event was a great venue to learn.

How I wish someone advised me to pursue something like this about ten years ago. But I’m grateful I got to earn a shirt and hat I’ll probably never wear again, and learn a bunch of info that only made me jealous. Maybe one day I’ll land a cool job like this. One day…  a paid job that is.

Post Card from Red Bull Global Rallycross at Bader Field Atlantic City (Media Rides)

The maga photo gallery from Red Bull Global Rallycross at Bader Field,  Atlantic City continues. Here was a great opportunity to take some shots of complete cars (not when they’re in pieces in the team garage in the paddock) going around the track without getting in trouble (since we can’t take pix on station).

This was pretty awesome! And a great preview of things to come for the rest of the weekend. I was surprised to see cars shredding parts on the very first jump… bumpers flying off, etc.

The airport field provided a gorgeous backdrop of the Atlantic City skyline across the intercoastal waterway… it was beautiful!

Not sure what “Racing 4 Detroit” is, but I support the idea!

Props to the GRC crew for providing lunches for volunteers throughout the event weekend. Friday it was Popeyes chicken day.

More to come…

Post Card from Red Bull Global Rallycross at Bader Field Atlantic City (Paddock)

My first Red Bull Global Rallycross event in Atlantic City was a great success. So much cool stuff to check out, it was a sensory overload.

I’ll start by sharing some pix… from the paddock when I first arrived:

The two hour drive (no traffic) from home to Atlantic City was nice and uneventful… I stopped at one of the service areas and what do you know? There was a Red Bull display promoting this event… I couldn’t wait to check out the 600+ horsepower Civic “Supercar”

Was able to park right in the middle of the paddock between the Red Bull Honda team and one of the Supercar Lites teams… another Miata was already there, a fellow volunteer for the weekend.

And then the garages started opening with people prepping the Supercars and Supercar Lites for Media rides later in the day:

Surprised to see CORE Autosport here wearing the same paint job as their Porsche 911 efforts in IMSA, but then the surprise wore off as I realized there were many major teams present from other series, like Andretti Autosport and Team RLL from IndyCar

Vee Dub with their Manufactuer plated Atlas SUV that also wore a Watkins Glen NASCAR Xfinity series parking pass… Hmm

Anybody wanna buy a Supercar Lites body-in-white? It’s a fast little bugger…!

Probably the most “famous” cars of the weekend. A slightly modified version of the rental car I drove from NY to Florida last year…

I was debating whether to drive down to AC early in the morning on race day Saturday or spend the extra $80 bux for a hotel on Friday night and be a tourist for the day…. naturally I’m really glad I did spend the money (although frugal me has a hard time justifying paying almost double for a hotel room that usually goes for $49 a night… but it’s peak tourist season in South Jersey where everyone hits the beach in the summer).

Also glad I showed up early because I would not have had the opportunities I had on Friday to take pictures during the rest of the weekend. Especially since my station was fairly remote and away from the paddock. So glad I was able to be here Friday!

Skip Barber Racing School Bankruptcy Liquidation Buy Your MX-5 Race Car!

One man’s misery is another man’s blessing…. or however that saying goes. I should point out that Skip Barber the man is no longer affiliated with the Racing School he started and one that bears his name. He’s doing fine and happy owning Lime Rock. The school on the other hand has gone bancrupt. And there are a lot of unhappy people who haven’t gotten paid looking for some of their hard earned money.

This weekend a facebook post popped up about a Liquidation Sale of all of Skip Barber Racing School’s assets. Someone may be very interested in this. The press release is below.

I’m just going to go out on a limb and speculate here that soon there will be a ton of NC Miata’s hitting the track in club and amateur racing scene that were once Skippy cars. In fact I always said that the reason I bought my Miata was because one had crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during the Playboy MX-5 Miata Cup race… well there were two classes in those races, with the slower field being Skip Barber Racing School cars/drivers. Looking at the pictures the Skip Barber Miata’s even use the same BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp tires I use on my car!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Liquid Asset Partners to Acquire Skip Barber Racing School

New York, NY – Skip Barber Racing School has received U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval in New York to sell all their assets and intellectual property to Liquid Asset Partners. The school is one of the largest racing institutions in the world. It has a 40+ year history providing racing instruction, defensive and high-performance driving classes, amateur and professional racing championships, and corporate entertainment experiences. Their list of Alumni includes top racers, business professionals, and world famous actors.

While most of the physical assets will be sold in a three month liquidation sale starting August 29, the iconic brand is available for outright purchase offers or potentially for licensing to regional race schools or tracks that want to grow their race programs. Liquid Asset Partners utilizes a unique approach to Intellectual Property and values the enormous brand recognition of the Skip Barber Racing School. Other schools and race tracks with instructional programs could add quality and demand to their race programs from the Skip Barber Racing School association.

A three-month liquidation sale will be held in Braselton, GA starting August 29. The sale will include hundreds of race cars and high-performance engines, transmissions, and components for Barber formula race cars, Mazda Miata, Porsche 911, Mustang GT, semi-trailers, trucks, fleet equipment, race equipment, memorabilia, and historical vehicles.

“Skip Barber Racing School has built a great track record for over 40 years as the leading race and performance driving school. We feel honored to have this opportunity and are starting to talk to different parties about options for its future,” said Bill Melvin, owner of Liquid Asset Partners. “The demand for Skip Barber Racing School training is very high, and it’s amazing how most men know the Skip Barber Racing School as the best of the best. It just needs the right structure for it to grow for another 40+ years. Licensing to numerous tracks could be an option. Adding the Skip Barber Racing School to any track curriculum would be a huge draw for any local race community, or a national player may emerge to acquire the brand for a national program already in place.”

Press contacts or interested parties should contact Liquid Asset Partners at 616-719-5917 to discuss.

About Skip Barber Racing School:
Since 1975, Skip Barber Racing School, based outside Atlanta, GA, has operated a fully integrated system of racing schools, driving schools, racing championships, corporate events and special projects across North America. The organization delivers a combination of high quality instruction, equipment, facilities, and memorable experiences. Their history includes associations & ventures with Mazda, Dodge, Porsche, Ford, and more. Some of their best know alumni include Michael Andretti, Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo-Montoya, Bill Elliot, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Petty, Al Pacino, Charlie Sheen, Jerry Seinfeld and more.
www.SkipBarber.com

About Liquid Asset Partners:
Since 1974, Liquid Asset Partners, based in Grand Rapids, MI, is an acquisition and disposition leader in motorsports, retail and wholesale industries across North America. Liquid Asset Partners specializes in creative ways to assist companies in unlocking value from underperforming assets. Some notable projects include Erik Buell Racing (motorcycles), BarcLounger, Circuit City, the Indian Motorcycle Company, and more.
www.LiquidAP.com

And of course the pix:

photo credit: Liquid Asset Partners facebook page

So if you’re in a market for new or used parts, tires, engines, transmissions, complete and incomplete cars, haulers, vans and trucks do reach out to this company and get a little piece of the action probably at greatly reduced price…

 

Liquidation Sale! Skip Barber Racing School liquidation starts Aug. 29th & will run 3 months until everything is sold! 5489 Technology Parkway Braselton GA. Call for info 616.719.5917

Red Bull Global Rallycross Spotter Guide for Atlantic City, NJ Rounds 8 and 9

And now for something completely different… this weekend will be my first opportunity volunteering for the Red Bull GRC being held at Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Other than watching a few YouTube video highlights I know nothing about this series, so a good start to familiarization is with a spotter guide… the GRC web site doesn’t have much other than last year’s guide so I snagged their previous race one assuming most cars will wear the same livery. and as one would imagine car liveries change from race to race, so the same day I posted the Indianapolis spotter guide the Red Bull Global Rallycross web site released the correct spotter guide for Atlantic City:

redbullglobalrallycross.com/news/features/spotter-guides/red-bull-grc-atlantic-city-spotter-guide/

Really looking forward to this event!

Supercars:

Photo credit: redbullglobalrallycross.com

Lites:

Photo credit: redbullglobalrallycross.com

This is probably the best guide on their web site for the Lites, as part of the Pick 5 Fantasy rallycross game.

Added on August 14, 2017… notice something interesting? The CORE Autosport team from IMSA is here complete with their driver line up. Similarly the majority of the other teams had a strong IndyCar affiliation with Andretti Autosport and RLL teams fielding very strong entries.

Clubs

I wish I were smart or clever enough to make a presentation on Club Memberships in a witty way like John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight (who did not give me permission to use the screen grab above and I beg of them not to sue me for it’s use)…. but I’m not. So instead I’d like to share my two cents on some observations I made about clubs I’ve had the fortune and misfortune of dealing with, and what those experiences have led me to believe.

For the love of God, it’s important to issue a disclaimer that YOUR experience may differ and not necessarily be anything like mine.

So there are two types of clubs I’m going to talk about… automotive clubs like those I come in contact with though my ownership of the Mazda Miata… the MX-5 Clubs. And Motorsport clubs, like those I have worked with in my racing hobby as a volunteer.

I love and hate clubs, all at once.

How is that possible? What does that even mean?

I love it when you reach out to a club and something positive happens. This is especially true with my Miata hobby. If I’m travelling to France and reach out to a Miata Club in Paris to see if any of it’s members want to join me for dinner, hang out and chat MX-5 talk… and they respond positively. I’m thrilled with an experience like that. It’s absolutely lovely when like-minded individuals half way around the world want to share their enthusiasm and passion with you, even if there are language barriers or scheduling conflicts, or anything else in the way of obstacles that we overcome to make things happen.

I hate it when clubs are so bureaucratic that unless a president of the club or some high ranking officer blesses your request to make something happen, none of the members will participate in whatever it is you propose to do. Whether it’s a meet-up. A dinner. A car show, etc. I hate it when people act like sheep and only follow their leader instead of making decisions on their own to do what they may actually enjoy without the input of their president, or some random individual with a “power” position in the club. That has been a pretty negative experience in my view and one I’ve had experienced a number of times both in Miata community and the racing community.

I hate it when clubs take the position that unless you join their club they won’t talk to you. Or hang out with you. Or meet with you. Joining the club typically implies some sort of membership fee. So basically you have to pay the club to even talk to you. Owning a Miata and being enthusiastic about it isn’t enough, you must kick some cash in to the club’s coffers so that other members of the club even consider accepting you as an enthusiast. That blows!

For someone that travels like me, joining every club I come in contact with is not a practical solution. If I drive through Jacksonville, Florida once or twice a year and want to meet up with a few fellow Miata owners… I love it when the meeting actually takes place. If I drive up to Watkins Glen and want to meet up with the MX-5 community there, it would be nice if that materialized too. But paying to every club I wish to meet with would be ridiculously expensive and in my view completely unnecessary. If only there were one Global Miata club one could join that would back you up as a paying member recognized by all the smaller clubs around the country and the world. Wouldn’t that be nice? Yes it would.

And this is where my Motorsport volunteering hobby kicks in. I’ve joined a number of clubs along the way since I started marshaling in Singapore in 2011. Some clubs I’m still a member of, others not so much. In Singapore I was only the “insider” when I lived there, but when I moved out of the country I was very much treated as an “outsider” and no longer part of their club. That’s fair. Even if it wasn’t a pleasant feeling to experience.

Once back in the US I joined the main club for American volunteers and have had nothing but problems since. And because of that experience I have been super reluctant to join any more clubs. Even though at one point it was costing me close to $200 a year to pay for memberships and participation fees, which I’m now basing my experiences on.

So in general terms it’s been my observation that clubs typically are made up of three type of people:

  • People in Power
  • People that feel Powerless
  • People that don’t give a fuck, the oblivious type.

Generally speaking, when joining a club and paying a hefty membership fee, newbies like me feel enthused and eager to contribute. That enthusiasm typically comes off as a threat to people in power and they tend to either flex their muscles to put people back in their place or point out that their ass must be kissed for anything to happen in the club. And therefore newbies either lose interest because of their powerlessness or accept the fact that it’s not worth the trouble pushing for something to happen and remain oblivious, stop giving a fuck, and like sheep follow what their fearless leaders say.

And that’s where frustration sets in. As a paying club member you expect to get something worth your membership fees. In the example of my Motorsport Volunteering hobby I was hoping that regular training would be offered, as it is around the world and many parts of the country. Instead I was shut down and reprimanded making me leave the local region and joining GUAM. A region that doesn’t necessarily really have any actual racing in it, but has a club.

So why would they shut down someone who enthusiastically wants to better the club?

Hard to say… but it probably has something to do with Money!

There have been many stories in the news concerning the club and racing in America as a whole where shady shit takes place to fund this expensive hobby (and Industry for many involved). There was a story of embezzlement where the person at the top of the club hierarchy stole money from a business to fund their hobby. There were stories of multiple racers as a group cheating on a massive scale to ensure that all involved would be at the top of their respective racing groups. Even worse, these guys were in the Spec Miata group, a series that I enjoy to watch very much. There were rumors that people are getting thousand dollar budgets to participate in Motorsport industry events to help them make contacts and build leadership skills… I spent less than a thousand dollars on a month-long trip to Europe last year volunteering three major events in three different countries. An expense that cannot reasonably be justified! There are other rumors that when big series like IMSA or PWC pay tracks for providing marshals, that money doesn’t necessarily go back to be spent on volunteers but instead is used by the club to promote club racing, like supporting up-and-coming racers. Another idea that seems so absurd but most likely true. How is all this crap happening and kept on the hush. Anytime you talk about money in the club, you’re public enemy #1! Why is it OKAY to be a jerk, but if you call someone for being a jerk you’re the bad guy?

I truly don’t understand the cool-aid drinking nature of club members as a whole who don’t ask questions about what they’re getting for their money, and don’t want to know anything about it. But are ready to jump down someone’s throat for even questioning the decision making patterns of people in power at the club.

This makes no sense!

Is there a utopian club that one could join where everything is perfect? I doubt it… The story of SCCA is full of people leaving and starting their own clubs. USAC is the most direct and probably oldest descendant. NASCAR had it’s start in a similar manner. NASA did too. But those clubs experience the same shinanigans since too.

What is one to do?

Other than reluctant participation, pointing out the wrongs while praising the rights, I don’t know what one could do to be a member of any particular club out there. Even if it is a hugely unpopular position to be in and one that will probably result in many attacks by fellow members.

How dare you have a different opinion than the majority in the Club?

Surely there’s more to club membership than just Politics…