Category Archives: Malaysia

Hot Wheels Race Cars Collection

Several years ago I started buying a ton of Hot Wheels diecast race cars to get my little nephews hooked on cars and racing. These days my young nephews have convinced me that I should have started my own Hot Wheels and Matchbox collection much sooner…

Don’t get me wrong I’ve been treating myself to a 1:18 model every now and again when I found a good deal online or in store, but those events have been rare. So far I only have a handful of SVT Cobra’s and SRT Viper’s to speak of. But Hot Wheels are cheap! And while they lack in detail of each tiny model, there’s a huge variety of choice out there. I’ve found myself lately rushing to the toy aisle of my local supermarket every time I go grocery shopping, to go thru the racks to see what’s new. If there’s a box display it takes me a good 20 minutes before I’m satisfied to leave that I’ve dug out everything there is to find in there. When I leave something I had in my hands without buying I feel instant regret.

That’s precisely what happened when I had Gulf Racing Porsche 917 Le Mans long tail from the 70’s and a modern Indy 500 open wheeler in the same livery. They were in my shopping cart for the whole store visit but before I got to the register I chucked them out because I have never seen Gulf livery on an IndyCar before… what a fool!?!

What’s even worse, there have been instances few years ago where I actually bought the cars. Gave them to my nephews who proceeded to bash them against each other, throw them around on the floor, and now keep them piled up in a large bucket because they have so many…. argh!

This happened to a red MIATA which I wish I kept in a box because I have not been successful finding another one for myself no matter how many Walmarts, Kmarts or Target stores I visit. But also other cool race cars like the pair of Castrol livery BMW 3.0 CSL’s below:

I even try to visit stores whenever I travel to see if other places get more variety. I did pick up several Mazda RX7’s on a trip to California last year, or Ford GT, Mercedes-AMG GT3, Cadillac ATS-V.R and Lambo Super Trofeo models on a recent trip to South Jersey while volunteering for MotoAmerica.

Seeing all these models glued to the wall makes me all nostalgic about working IMSA events where I blue flagged the exact Mercedes-AMG GT3’s and Ford GT’s. Or the Pirelli World Challenge where those Cadillac’s dominated everyone else.

Looking on the Hot Wheels web site I see a ton of models I’d like to add to my new wall collection. Including the white rotary Mad Mike MIATA which is the  closest representation of the livery he uses on his crazy drift car:

Or the yellow Lamborghini Super Trofeo, which looks awesome:

Or the Lamborghini Countach pace car which looks legit!

Or even little souped up Ford Fiesta from one of my new favorite sports that went belly up this year: Red Bull Global Rallycross:

Or many other new things that Hot Wheels hasn’t announced yet, or already stopped selling (is it me or is everything out of stock on their web site…. and I’m not paying eBay prices for any of these no matter how much I want them).

So if any one that knows me comes across a cool diecast, go ahead spend that $1 dollar on me, I’ll happily reimburse you.

Cheers!

PS. I’m very pleased with my growing ND MX5 collection, whenever I see them on a shelf I snatch them. I even beat another enthusiast that wanted the car while my eldest nephew an I went to our local Wal-Mart during the Hot Wheels 50th anniversary tour… and that never happens to me, for once lady luck was on my side.

Mazda MX-5: Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers Night Photo Shoot Malaysia MX-5 Road Trip

back to: Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


The Malaysian MX-5 Owners Meet-Up was a two part affair, after dinner we hit the road back to Kuala Lumpur for some amazing photo ops with Petronas Twin Towers in the background.

We got quite lucky because at the hour we went the highways were pretty clear and there wasn’t much in a way of traffic jams. We were also fortunate enough to have good weather. It must have rained while we were having dinner because the drive to KL with the top down was exceptionally pleasant and comfortable, where normally it is hot and sticky.

The roof top parking lot they picked for our photo shoot had amazing views!

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One more chance to check out a touchscreen Stereo. I had posted about wanting to see other people’s set ups and so many were happy to share what they’ve done to their cars. Just awesome!

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We stayed in the lot until security kicked us out. Apparently the parking lot is closed overnight. And so we headed out back towards Shah Alam for me to pick up my rental car for the weekend. Ironically while leaving the city we got caught in a major jam due to the new MRT line construction directly over the highway.

I had such an incredible time hanging out with the Malaysian MX-5 owners I really cannot wait to come back for more.

Mazda MX-5: Kuala Lumpur Miata Owners Meet-Up, Malaysian MX-5 Road Trip

back to: Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


The third and final stop on my Southeast Asia MX-5 Miata Road Trip was in Kuala Lumpur the capital city of Malaysia. Though I’ve visited KL a bunch of times on my previous trips the new dimension on this visit was definitely going to be the Miata owners I was hoping to meet up with. My facebook contact Martin helped organize the meet even though he himself wasn’t able to join due to work and travel plans. But David, my other local contact came thru in a big way. He picked me up from my hotel in Brickfields and gave me a lift to the dinner venue on the outskirts of town.

David did some heavy modding of his 2008 GT PRHT giving an NC1 facelift with NC3 components like the front and rear bumpers, headlights and taillights. A custom exhaust (from the USA he kept saying proudly). Custom interior including some fancy looking leather seats. And many other parts I’m sure were there but I tried hard to take advantage of remaining daylight to take some shots of his car.

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We hit the road to make it out of the city in time for dinner. And of course the top went down for the ride.

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The Miata sure gets a ton of looks on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, especially one so tastefully done like David’s. Before you know it the darkness set in and as we approached the restaurant I kept on spotting Miata’s parked on the street, so of course I veered off to take as many pictures as I could before they pulled me into the restaurant for dinner.

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As usual Malaysian food didn’t disappoint, the spicy fish and all the side dishes were amazing! And of course I was in great company, it was so good to see so many people show up to share in our common hobby and have a very friendly chat about the cars, the travel and the food we were sharing. I was feeling incredibly welcomed.

And from the restaurant some of the folks headed home. It was after all, a busy work week for many. Some had to get up for work early in the morning. While a bunch of us headed back to KL for a night photo shoot with the symbol of Malaysia in the background.

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UPDATE:

After my four days volunteering at Sepang International Circuit I got another opportunity to meet up with a few “local” Miata owners. While in Singapore I was hoping to meet an NA owner but unfortunately my flight and his schedules didn’t quite work out. But we tried again in Kuala Lumpur and this time: success! Wei-Ming wanted to give me a few SG Miata stickers. Him and his girlfriend Stephanie organized a nice dinner with me in KL and I got one more chance to take some shots of Wei-Mings car:

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Mazda MX-5: 500+ Photo Road Trip – Southeast Asia Visiting Miata Owners in Thailand, Singapore & Malaysia

In just the first year of ownership of my Miata, I had taken it on a number of Road Trips around the Northeast, including a few trips Upstate New York, several to New England and a few smaller trips down the Jersey Shore. Now, I have embarked on my biggest Road Trip yet to Southeast Asia. Of course I didn’t bring my car along with me but it was a proper Miata Road Trip to be sure.

I had an opportunity to visit MX-5 Miata / Roadster owners in 3 countries: Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Besides meeting people and sharing delicious local foodie experiences with them I also had a chance to ride along and drive some cars around Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and have returned from the trip with a phone full of pictures and videos from an adventure of a lifetime.

I would like to share these experiences in a few posts which I will outline below:

Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this amazing adventure so I would encourage the interested readers to look up my Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trip facebook page and see many more photos shared on there for your Liking.

This would probably be a good place to give a little background about the trip and how it all came together. So to start, I needed an excuse to go to region in the first place. And I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s wedding in Bangkok. I was even luckier when I discovered that Sepang International Circuit was hosting an event a week after the wedding, and not just any event, one of my favorite events at present, the Sepang 12 hours endurance race featuring amazing GT3, GTC and GT4 machinery from around the world.

Once I had the trip planned I explored the Miata angle. I had attempted to organize something for my previous two trips to Europe this year visiting Germany for the Nurburgring 24h race in May and Belgium for the Spa 24h in July but nothing really materialized so I was optimistically cautious about managing my expectations for Southeast Asia… I was however very pleasantly surprised and humbled by the amount of MX-5 owners that actually came out to meet me and how friendly they all were.

I relied on a variety of facebook groups to get the meet-ups set up and more or less organized. I was very lucky to find so many active groups including the Miata Club of Thailand, Miata Club Singapore, MX-5 Malaysia Community and Miata & MX-5 SEA (Southeast Asia) Region page. In each community I also tried to seek one contact person to rely on for communication once I was on the ground. On this trip I didn’t bother getting local SIM cards in each country so I completely relied on WiFi where I could find it, and having a local contact really helped to keep things running smoothly. I will write more about my contacts in each individual post later on, but suffice to say I am extremely grateful to each and every one of them for the warm hospitality they had offered me, the experiences they had treated me to, and the amazing friendship they extended to a stranger with a similar interest (MX-5!).

Looking back at my cheesy posts and even more cheesy photos, like the one below, I’m amazed people took me seriously enough to meet with, especially in such big numbers. It was totally unexpected.

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But I’m so glad they did because I’m sure the friendships made on this trip will last. And while I have been to Southeast Asia many times before and was even lucky enough to live there on a short working holiday stint, this was a completely new experience for me, and one I was very much surprised by. It was meant to be a trip for a wedding and a race to marshal and instead the Miata aspect completely took over as a theme throughout the journey.

I would highly recommend this experience to any Miata owners or even Car Enthusiasts in general (wherever you live in the world) to try on your travels. You would get an adrenaline rush like no other!

Special Thanks to:

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Tanet, my Thailand fixer and a lucky owner of several generations of MX-5’s including this beautiful 2008 NC GT PRHT that I got to ride in on a five hour Road Trip to the northern border with Laos (including 1 hour behind the wheel). An amazingly friendly and generous fellow to whom I’m incredibly thankful!

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Woon, my Singapore fixer and the only owner I got to meet while briefly visiting the tiny island state in a middle of a busy workweek. Woon met me on his lunch break and was kind enough to show me his car (2008 NC GT)  including the amazing interior with an Audio system I’d like to install in my car. He was also kind enough to take me for a short drive which was awesome. So thankful for the opportunity!

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David and Martin, my fixers in Malaysia. While David was kind enough to drive me around in his beautiful 2008 NC GT PRHT, on our way to dinner and an amazing photo shoot by the Petronas Twin Towers. Martin kept me abreast of all the plans being made while I was busy running around Thailand and Singapore, sadly I didn’t actually get an opportunity to meet Martin or his car which was recently converted from Automatic to Manual transmission and painted a beautiful Brown color not typically found on a Miata. I’m really thankful to David for spending the time with me and being an awesome host and to Martin for helping with the planning.

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And finally Wei-Ming and Stephanie, a “Miata couple” that met because of the car, they each own an NA Miata (I’m so jealous!). Wei-Ming and I almost met-up in Singapore but unfortunately I ran out of time and had to rush to the airport. But he and Stephanie were kind enough to meet me in KL after the races before I rushed back to the airport again to fly home. What an amazing opportunity! I’m grateful to them for the meeting, the delicious dinner they treated me to and some cool SG MX-5 stickers I will proudly display on my car.

Sepang 12 hours 2015 Debrief

Sepang 12h was one of those must-do events I’ve been contemplating for ages, and now I could say I’ve finally done it. In it’s current reincarnation the event was put together by the SRO  together with SIC (Sepang International Circuit) as a precursor to the upcoming SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, which in the future will include the Bathurst 12h event in Australia as well as the crown event of the Blancpain GT series: Spa 24h in Belgium.

Things came together for the event thanks to a friend’s wedding I wanted to attend in Bangkok the week prior. I was very excited that things came together so nicely, though the actual registration was a bit of an up and down experience. I really wanted to try my hand doing something new this time around. After reaching out to some contacts I had hoped to be in Pit Lane as a Pit & Grid marshal. But I noticed some resistance from the very beginning especially since I wanted to bring a fellow Singaporean marshal along to give him a new experience. After a little more inquiry it was clear that Pit wasn’t going happen for me, so I asked my friends at Turn 6 to take me back to make sure I get to volunteer and not become a spectator. My buddy Joey was accepted by a friend that chiefs a post on Turn 7. And we were set to go. When I arrived at the track I discovered that I was indeed put on the Pit & Grid team. I felt bad, and wanted to see if I could work at least one day in the pits and then move back to my team trackside, but that wasn’t possible. And I’m sure I made a number of people from the Pit & Grid team very unhappy.

But the day to day work at Turn 6 went along very smoothly. It was fantastic to see the team again, though many of them weren’t present and we worked on a skeleton crew of just a handful of people. I took advantage of the opportunity to visit Turn 7 a bunch of times over the weekend, where they gave me a chance to Blue flag a little and that made me very happy.

Having a rental car for the first time in Malaysia allowed me to visit the pit lane several times over the weekend whenever we had some free time. So I got plenty of pictures from the garages and ultimately from the Pit Walk on race day. I even managed to bring a British marshal who was spectating, to check out the station set up (with permission from the post chief of course). It was amazing.

The race itself was relatively uneventful. This being the rainy season caused two red flags to be displayed during the 12 hour race. Resulting in some much needed breaks for us to take around dinner time while the skies opened up and there was a spectacular lightning storm overhead. It was pretty beautiful. At the start of the event the local Clearwater Ferrari team jumped ahead which I thought was predictable. But they ran into trouble with repeated tire blowouts. And then a number of other cars took the lead including a beautiful livery Thai Ferrari. A french McLaren jumped ahead, while the Bentley’s seemed to struggle mid pack. And then Audi took the lead until the very end, winning the race (this being an SRO event, that seemed predictable also).

And then after the feature race there was a local race day on Sunday featuring Formula 4 SEA cup and Caterham Racing Series. The day was incredibly sleepy and only got exciting when the skies opened up again with a much heaving downpour than the day before. The day ended with a fantastic dinner with my fellow Teammates at a local TomYum restaurant around the corner from the track… I absolutely loved this opportunity and would love to return again.

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Can’t wait to return to Sepang International Circuit again!

Post Card from Sepang 12 Hour Endurance Race in Malaysia

My last event of the 2015 racing season took me to Malaysia for the Sepang 12 hour at Sepang International Circuit.

This was by far one of the more exciting events I’ve done this season, for a variety of reasons. First, I was back in Southeast Asia, perhaps my favorite region in the world to visit. I got to catch up with a bunch of friends I’ve made over the past few visits to Sepang, and I even managed to sneak in a fellow Singaporean marshal to volunteer with me to get a new experience for him.

All in all a great experience. A typical Malaysian weather to experience, and some excellent international machinery on display.

I loved it thru and thru!

Some pix from Pit Walk:

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Stay tuned for more pictures from the post…

Sepang 12 hours Provisional Entry List for the December 2015 Race

Great news! SRO and SIC have released the entry list for the upcoming Sepang 12 hours endurance GT race and the list is pretty lengthy full of exotic machinery including Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborhini Super Trofeo Huracan, Audi R8 LMS Cup, Porsche 991 and 997 GT3 Cup, McLaren 650S, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and of course a Honda Civic Type R, Toyota GT86 and a Subaru STi Imprezza to balance things out. Oh yeah, there’s a Lotus Exige there too, a total field of about 26 cars if they all show up.

sepang-12-hours-entry-list

Download: click here.

What’s really interesting about this entry list is not so much who’s on it but where I found it. With SRO’s new involvement in a partnership with Sepang International Circuit (SIC) this event is part of a bigger picture. And I don’t mean like Asian Le Mans Series was (which was the last event I marshaled at Sepang a few years ago), but instead it’s part of a new SRO series called Intercontinental GT Challenge which will also include the world famous Spa 24h race – the crown jewel of the Blancpain Endurance and Sprint Series. As well as a new event at COTA if that place doesn’t go out of business, and Bathurst 12h. What’s most interesting about the Bathurst connection is that’s where I found the entry list posted, not on the Sepang 12h web site but on the Bathurst 12h web site.

I think this points to good things to come in the near future .

I’m excited!

MX-5 Miata Road Trip

I launched a new Facebook Page for my favorite pastime: MX-5 Miata Road Trip’s: www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

I’ve been blogging quite frequently about the trips I’ve taken in my NC Miata, mainly to get to a race track Upstate New York or up to New England. But that hobby is about to take me internationally, with a trip to Southeast Asia booked in early December 2015 and another to the Pacific in February 2016. I’m making it a priority to meet up with any and all MX-5 owners I can on the road. Hence the MX-5 International Road Trip.

I’m hoping that the facebook page would allow me to make new connections as well as to share some pictures from my meetups without mixing the content with my Motorsport hobby that I also blog about frequently: Marshal Cam (#MarshalCam) as well as the Foodie Tours that I enjoy very much and also blog about separately. I have a feeling people visit this site for each of the things that interest them most and perhaps not all of them want the Marshaling, Foodie Tours and Miata stuff mixed.

For the International trips, except of course for my future drive up to Canada, I won’t be taking my car. So my goal is to meet other owners and take as many pictures and videos of their cars as they would let me. I am also planning on perhaps renting a few MX-5’s and sharing those experiences in the blog and on the facebook page as well. I think it would be pretty awesome to read and based on a few searches I did thus far, there’s nothing like it out there (except one kiwi page from a few years ago that promoted MX5 Roadtrip’s – it was hard to find perhaps because of “roadtrip” used as one word).

So hopefully this works!

Go ahead and like the page to have all that content pop up on your Facebook feed automatically. www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

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Where Can I Rent the New ND MX-5 Miata?

With several trips coming up in the near future, I’m curious to learn where is it possible to rent the new Mazda MX-5 Miata for a few days of driving?

It might sound like such a simple idea but save for a few “MX-5 rental” exclusive places like those in New Zealand or the UK, I haven’t really come across many major rental car chains advertising the new ND Miata in their fleets. I’ve read about the possibility of renting a track spec Miata for the big Mazda MX-5 get together at Laguna Seca in California, which is neat. I’ve also seen plenty of other track rental Miatas like those pictures I posted from Flatout Racing at Thompson Speedway, but nothing from Hertz or Avis, Budget, National, Europecar, Sixt, etc.

Why?

I would really be interested in considering a Miata rental while, say in the Cook Islands. One of the TripAdvisor reviews mentioned a tourist talking about their green MX-5 convertible hire in Rarotonga. How cool would that be. How expensive would it be? The rates posted on the Kiwi MX-5 Hire Car web site on the North Island of New Zealand were in the $50+/day which is crazy expensive. On the other side of the spectrum, South Florida is where I regularly rent cars for $10-$20/day and while searching for my own Miata have come across a number of cars on eBay with “Fleet” designation on their car history report. But when it comes to rental car companies, I can’t say I’ve seen any MX-5’s as rentals in a sea of Chevy Camaro’s, Ford Mustang’s and of course the Ferrari and Lamborghini exotics that you can easily find on every corner of South Beach. Who’s got the Miata’s?

Would love to find out more about this…

Buy a #MarshalCam Patch. American or Australian Versions. Or Both!

A few things to accomplish in this post:

1st: I wish to express my gratitude to my buddy Joey in Singapore for designing the Marshal Cam patches which I have recently re-ordered to distribute to marshals that participate in my interviews about their volunteering experiences.

2nd: I will have both versions of the patch with me at the following events to distribute to marshals that wish to participate in my interviews:

  • WEC 6h of the Americas at COTA in September
  • Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October
  • Sepang 12h – Malaysia in December
  • Bathurst 12h – Australia in February
  • Auckland Car Club – New Zealand in February

3rd: If I am not at an event near you and you’d really like to get a patch for your collection, you are welcome to buy one or many. Just get in touch about pricing and shipping charges and we could set up a package for you in no time.

The patches cost me $400 USD for 400 pieces. My break even point is to sell 100 patches at $4 USD apiece (or more at a cheaper price). Plus shipping and handling charges which killed me the last time I mailed out a ton of the original Marshal Cam patches, paying for everything out of my own pocket.

I am going through serious withdrawal right now, my last event was NASCAR at Watkins Glen in early August and it’s been a month without any volunteering whatsoever. So I’m eager to get back to the race track. I’m also very much looking forward to traveling again. Especially to my trip back to Southeast Asia!

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For any of you on the list of stops above I’ll be sure to have patches with me if you’d like to meet over lunch or dinner and catch up about marshaling in your neck of the woods. I’m sure that besides my right hand drive Miata exploits in Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur I’ll be hanging out with some marshal friends too.

Again, huge thanks to Joey in Singapore for designing these awesome patches, they look fantastic!

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The original Red, White and Blue design resembles the American Interstate system sign. While the Green and Yellow design resembles the Australian Interstate system sign. They were designed specifically for my trip to Bathurst in February of next year, and I’m very much looking forward to that journey.

Stay tuned for more, and get in touch if you want one, or a bunch!

#MarshalCam