Tag Archives: California Road Trip

Day 1: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – The BBQ

Last year I weaseled my way into the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event by offering to “volunteer” with the organizers. I really wanted to be a part of this event at the home of Mazda on the west coast of the US. They said “YES” and I had a blast… luckily for me they invited me back and I could hardly wait to participate. The Friday night BBQ leading up to the event has become quite an experience in it’s own right and in my opinion has grown bigger this year compared to last. I made sure to show up early and lend a hand with shopping for supplies and setting up the dining area out in the parking lot… boy am I glad I did because in the process I got an opportunity to pilot the brand new Mazda CX-9 SUV probably/most likely supplied by Mazda North American Operations for the event on a couple of supermarket runs.

It was a pretty early start to the day… arriving at the Embassy Suites where the BBQ was to be held around 7:30am

The CX-9 fits 36 cases of Shasta and 12 cases of spring water along with three occupants comfortably.

Several trips to the supermarket later we were ready to start prepping all the ingredients for a delicious BBQ

This part of the event was presented by Moss Miata and their crew did a fantastic job doing much of the prep work

and slowly but surely cars started filling in the empty spots in a busy hotel parking lot (which ironically had a conference going on in the morning so the parking lot was especially full when we started)

This fellow volunteer’s NC1 was especially meaningful to me because of the custom license plate… Sea to shining Sea!

Hey it’s a Suzuki Capuccino… err Brapuccino crashing the event!

During the course of the day being in Seaside, California some ten miles or so from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which is located between the cities of Monterey and Salinoas, we found an excuse to head to the track to pick up some supplies there… to my surprise there was a track day already in progress there! Open to the Miata’s that showed up for our event but also some other cool machinery…

Love the paint job on this 911… and the ND Miata too:

Mazda had a display for the event, and the CX-9 we had at our disposal was clearly showroom condition like the display cars

I did enjoy driving it around very much!

Always wanted to see the off-road Miata in flesh… and voila!

Volunteers working hard cutting Tri Tip as the food line started forming with hungry Miata folk

…so hungry I had to run out and buy some more meat at the local supermarket clearing out their entire shelf of Tri Tip.

Such a great variety of cars some travelling as far as Vancouver, Canada… New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and my buddy from Atlanta, Georgia of course!

Huge thanks to the Moss Miata folks for sponsoring the feed!

Flying’ Miata a huge hit with all of their engine power adder options

One of the many Exocet’s in attendance… this one just arrived from a long trip out of Washington State probably didn’t enjoy the cold windy weather on the drive down… but glad he made it!

That’s a wrap for Day 1

Huge thanks to Rick Weldon first and foremost for organizing this event for so many years… and especially big thanks to my buddy Peter who thought it was worthwhile inviting me to help out with a few things here and there during the event as a volunteer. I loved it!

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.

Mazda5: 1,000+ mile California Road Trip along the Pacific Coast

Another incredible road trip in the books, this time driving a Mazda5 rental along the Pacific Coast of California (cue in the theme song from the OC).

I have such incredible admiration for this state and feel truly blessed and fortunate to have had this opportunity to explore one of my favorite places in the world… The main reason for the road trip of which there were several actually, was to kill some time between events at Laguna Seca. So Monday after Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca I headed south for a few hour and several hundred mile drive to San Luis Obispo along California 1 Freeway which zig zags along the Pacific Coast… Tuesday I headed north to Half Moon Bay in the opposite direction, and Monday of the trip home I took that road again all the way to San Francisco instead of taking the more direct route along Highway 101.

The first trip south to SLO was awesome. I got to drive along the Monterey Peninsula past Pebble Beach, through Big Sur and along some amazingly scenic overlooks… visited the elephant seal beach. Had some tasty food in San Luis Obispo and also visited the dealership where my MX-5 Miata was originally sold. It was great! The only snag was realizing there’s absolutely no bathrooms along the coastal route, so I nearly exploded by the time I reached a souvenir shop/restaurant and started waiting in line behind ten antsy people like me, eager to Go!

The second trip was a bit quicker in nature, the road towards San Francisco is better and higher speed, with fewer twisties. But there’s still a lot to see especially when the waves are big and there’s surfers all along the coast doing their thing.

These trips also doubled as Foodie Tours because I used every opportunity to stuff my face with local cuisine. And I don’t just mean In-n-Out Burger which I visited a whole bunch of times on this trip. But also Phil’s seafood in Moss Landing, the Giant Artichoke in Castroville, and Sam’s Chowder Store in Half Moon Bay among others. What a pleasant experience that was.

I could go on and on babbling how awesome it was but instead I’ll just share some pix:

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Most of my trips started at In-n-Out in Seaside, CA with a double-double:

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The In-n-Out is revered in California and for good reasons, I’d say it’s far more loved than McDonalds… and McDee’s knows it!

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The beauty of the Road Trip was the fact that you got spectacular views along the entire trip… there wasn’t much waiting to see things while driving, you just saw amazing stuff

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And I took full advantage of the pull off areas to take some pix of the Mazda… Zoom Zooming along…

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Oh yeah, and plenty of Selfies too…

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Luckily I didn’t get stuck in traffic most of the time I was driving, and when I was following someone it usually was cool cars instead of slow poke RV’s chugging along

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I did check out the local wildlife also, it was so cool

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Lunch stops were the best… and I tried to go for sampler platters to taste more things on the menu

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Everything was super fresh… albeit a big pricey

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Love the Bears Crossing sign on the highway

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This place was pretty spectacular and I was very surprised to see a Hostel situated just outside of a historic lighthouse, there were several of these along the coast driving north from Monterey

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Sometimes I ordered food to go, pulled over in a scenic area and ate

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I have to say that the New England clam chowder in New Jersey is better than what I typically find, in California they seem to love adding sour dough bread to the meal, which tastes a bit weird for me

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I keep forgetting how exotic San Francisco is with all of their beautiful palm trees everywhere. This time I explored a part of SF I hadn’t visited before, mainly along the Pacific Coast, under the Golden Gate Bridge and eventually returned to one of my favorite spots: to drive down the crooked Lombard Street.

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Lunch in SF was delicious too, although I wish I had gone for some Asian food instead…

Can’t wait to come back soon!