Tag Archives: Convertible

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change at Almost 5,000 Miles with Castrol EDGE 5W20 and K&N HP-1002 Filter

Finally! Took advantage of a 59F winter day to do some oil changes in the household. First the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan which just hit 3,500 miles since the last oil change in August and the Mobil 1 synthetic I put into it looked awfully black. Happy I didn’t wait longer to say 5,000 miles because it would have been unnecessarily dark. The van is only used for short trips and the start/stop engine wear probably contributed to the condition of the oil (as opposed to say higher highway mileage). The Miata too got an oil change earlier than what I planned. It was about 724 miles short of the 5,000 mile interval I have determined to be ideal for my Mazda. Like the van the oil was dark. I used Pennzoil Platinum 0W20 on the last oil change so I’m going to speculate that my car doesn’t  like this oil. It doesn’t burn it as in oil disappearing between oil changes, I never had to top off oil. But it certainly burns to change color from brown to very dark brown. It wasn’t all that black, but it was terribly dark.

Anyway, I’m excited about this oil change because finally I am using Castrol EDGE synthetic motor oil. I mentioned this oil several years ago when I first tried Mobil 1 and prior the time I started using Pennzoil Platinum in order to make an apples to apples comparison between the top readily available oils for my Miata. Sure there are other oils out there that some may consider “better” like Red Line or Royal Purple, but the premium trio: Mobil 1 / Pennzoil Platinum / Castrol EDGE are the most readily available and affordable options on the market here in New Jersey. So finally… Castrol EDGE is in!

My opinion about this oil will realistically be made about 5,000 miles from now when it’s time to replace the oil I just put in, but first impressions are good. There’s no difference in engine sound or feel since changing from Pennzoil Platinum to Castrol EDGE, so I’d say so far so good.

Here’s some pix:

It’s worth noting that I followed Chris’s advice and only hand tightened the K&N HP-1002 filter. Unlike in the past when I turned the 1 inch wrench to tighten it and noticed oil seepage on the top of the filter where it bolts up to the engine, there was none of that this time where Chris did the last oil change for me. So I looked at the way the filter say after he did it, and tried to match the same with my oil change. Looking up at the filter you see just the white side, none of the K&N stickers are visible. That seems to work best. It’s nice and tight by hand-tightening, and that seems to work well.

I also took the time to adjust my front license plate Cravenspeed mount. Lately after driving on the highway it seems the wind was moving the plate out of position (it was askew) so I lowered it about half an inch down to also match the way Chris has it on his car. I think it does look great. Hopefully it sits in place as it should.

Mazda MX-5: Join Russ on his Miata Road Trips, Foodie Adventures & Fun!

A few years ago Russ bought a Miata.

A big chunk of this blog is dedicated to this new hobby.

Russ likes the little Roadster. Russ travels the world meeting other MX-5 owners and shares his stories and pictures on this blog.

If you’d like to meet up, get in touch with Russ!

 

 

 

some shortcuts:

MiataFiata.com

MX-5 Road Trips & Meet Ups

Miata Maintenance & Mods

Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2016 is a GO!

Happy to report that I’ll be attending the Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this October (10/1 and 10/2). I won’t have my NC with me but the flights have been booked and hopefully my rental car is something cool… as much as I can’t afford this trip I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see this event first hand, check out the big MX-5 car show, and watch a bunch of owners take to the famous track with their Miata’s. I also missed the opportunity to sign the Millionth Miata when it was in Germany at TidM or closer to home at Wayne Mazda on their NYC stop of the tour or the Easton Mazda on the Philly stop. Hopefully I’ll get to autograph it myself.

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I’ll also be staying for the week after until Pirelli World Challenge takes to the same race track for their season finale. I can’t wait to marshal at Laguna Seca again… I’ve done the Corkscrew corner before from several different stations and different points of view, hopefully this time I’ll get to experience another vantage point.

Either way it’ll be extremely exciting.

So far I’ve used some frequent flyer miles to fly JetBlue from JFK to Oakland and Virgin America from San Francisco to Newark. The flights weren’t as cheap as I would hope to find them, but about $129 going and $159 back if converted to cash. The car rental from Hertz was similar amount, though I’ll keep checking to get a lower rate. I’ll also try to rely on CouchSurfing to keep my accommodation costs down.

This is going to be a blast and a fine way to end my marshaling season… what an adventure it has been so far!

A Very Mazda-Centric Visit to Watkins Glen Int’l for IMSA 6 Hour Enduro Race

I just had one of my most Mazda-centric weekends at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hour and all the support races.

To start an internet friend was visiting from California and I was determined to show him a good time. Ron is a fellow marshal from the San Francisco Region of SCCA. He’s also a fellow Miata owner with a beautiful 2007 Winning Blue that he autocrosses and uses as a marshaling rig to go to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I figured Ron would get a kick out of going to the Seneca Lodge, but the roles reversed and he showed me something about Watkins Glen I had not experienced before… he took me around the original 6.6 mile Watkins Glen Grand Prix Circuit:

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In fact we drove that course several times. Basically every time we decided to go into town for dinner, we’d take the course… and enjoy these beautiful views:

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Turns out I had driven over the Start/Finish line a million times, ever since I started coming to volunteer at Watkins Glen in 2012, but I never realized what it was!

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No sooner as we pulled into Seneca Lodge we spotted a Miata there. This theme would continue throughout my trip last weekend.

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Ron had forgotten his RSI hat at the bar so we went back, and the Miata was still parked there… some hard core fan!

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Back at the “new” circuit, things weren’t much different. There were Miata’s everywhere you looked. My favorite ones were at Turn 1:

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This gorgeous Niseko Edition Miata was really something to look at.

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As well as Canadian Mazdaspeed Body Kit NC in speeding ticket red.

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I went over to chat with the owners during lunch break, awesome guys! Saw them posting on Miata.net / MX-5.net about this event. Then one of them came over and hung a goodie bag off my mirror.

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Besides being an active place to work at Turn 1 (Station 1A) I was able to see up close and personal the car I came there to see… the 1991 winning livery Le Mans 24h heritage edition Mazda Lola’s.

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Huge thanks to Andy Blackmore for his awesome spotter guides.

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Notice how close my parking spot was to these cars exiting track…

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As far as racing went, the Miata’s didn’t do terribly well. Freedom Autosport #25 was leading the race for the longest time until it was punted off, which is a common practice in Continental Tire Sports Cars Challenge… the others were involved in first lap incident too I think, so no Miata took a podium, and almost all suffered damage.

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But again the spectators that showed up in their MX-5’s had a blast:

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I only got to drive a sliver of the track getting to my station on Thursday and Friday… working Turn 6 in the Boot and Turn 5A in the Bus Stop… but that was OK with me. I got lucky on race day to work Turn 1, which allowed me to hit the pit lane to do my grid pix.

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That place was super crowded. I did manage however to visit the Mazda Owner’s Lounge which was very generous with me this time, and even contemplated visiting the Mazda test drive center near Turn 1 to see if I could take an ND for a spin around the original 6.6 mile Grand Prix Circuit (currently village streets).

Our station at Turn 1 was peculiar, it was manned by Mazda owners. The corner captain drove a Mazda 3 and was sporting a Mazda hat and a lanyard, and our other coworker, the most experienced one on station, drove a first gen red NA Miata.

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We parked ours right in front of the Grand Stand at Turn 1.

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Another fantastic weekend in the books and more than ever now I’ve become a total Mazda fan boy… Mazda advertises that there are more Mazdas raced on any given weekend than any other brand. And I totally believe that. Besides the Prototypes and Miatas in their respective series, there was a spec series formally called Prototype Lites and currently renamed to Mazda Lites (because they paid more said the voice on the radio from Race Control)… so definitely, when it comes to Motorsport Mazda is knee deep in this business.

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We found this Zebra livery car thinking it was piloted by the same girl from last weekend’s SCCA Majors (who had a blow up Zebra in her Miata) but it turned out to be another Zebra enthusiast/racer.

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I bought my Miata as a result of watching Playboy MX-5 Cup race…

Mazda MX-5: 1,500+ Mile Road Trip from New Jersey to Detroit, Michigan

1,758 mile Road Trip to be exact in my 2007 MX-5 Miata GT PRHT.

In all I burned 53.445 gallons and spent $157.81 dollars doing it. Average fuel price turned out to be $2.93/gal for 93 Premium gas which I bought from several brand name stations including Exxon, Mobil, Shell, BP and Sunoco. I used the GasBuddy app to hunt for cheaper prices which typically worked, except in Detroit, and was also inaccurate for Sunoco stations because Premium there is 91 and I was looking for Ultra 93 which is about 10 cents/gal pricier. The situation in Detroit pissed me off because fuel prices went up by 60 cents/gal the day I arrived. The price hike was so sudden that I was the first person reporting the prices on GasBuddy and even the app was asking me if I was correct because it seemed high to them. I estimate that I spent between $10 and $13 more on fuel in Michigan than I had planned to based on my research. Prices went up from $2.69 – $2.89 which I thought was normal to $3.09 – $3.29 which is what I actually paid there. In all, the cheapest gas on the trip was in New Jersey at $2.459/gal for Sunoco Ulta 93 and the most expensive was in Michigan at $3.299/gal at Mobil for Supreme+ 93.

Sadly after I had put about $20 in the tank at Mobil because the low fuel light was already on, I noticed the Speedway across the street was still at $2.89/gal for premium. Unfortunately I had already used up all of my Speedway gas cards and only had Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP and Sunoco at my disposal. Because I bought the gas cards at a 10% discount I wanted to use them up instead of paying for cash out of pocket… thinking back at this point I should have gone to Speedway.

I did not bother calculating individual gas mileages when I filled up because I tended not to top off the tank (especially at the Detroit prices) so instead I am calculating the total to be 33MPG or 1,758.6 miles traveled divided by 53.445 gallons burned = 32.90. I was really happy that several times I got way more than I typically get out of a full tank of gas because the trip meter went well past the 300 mile mark. For example arriving in Detroit I was at 350 miles on the trip when the low fuel light came on. Similarly I was at 330 miles heading back home in Pennsylvania when I got the low fuel light… Ironically when I arrived at the Du Bois, PA Exxon where gas was 25 cents/gal cheaper than everywhere else in the area, they had run out of their Premium fuel, the only thing available was Regular, so I left.

I noticed on this trip that the car felt peppier with Sunoco Ultra 93 than any other fuel, so I think I’ll be using that option when available from now on. I also noticed that where the roads were flatter like Ohio and Michigan, the mileage was stretched out beyond what I normally experience. On the trip back the mileage dropped significantly once I hit the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania.

That’s all I’m going to say about the gas mileage.

My next and biggest complaint of the whole trip is with the state of the roads, especially in Michigan. Holly Fucking Batman are the roads bad. As soon as you drive into Michigan from Ohio on Interstate 75 you better brace yourself for impact. The concrete road had multiple cracks, uneven levels and massive pot holes that as much as I tried I couldn’t avoid. Worst were the ones that I didn’t see until it was too late and hit so hard my teeth clinched. Driving around suburban Detroit was even worse. My GPS had sent me up Mound Road onto Metropolitan Parkway and both of those roads are absolute SHIT! Its such a shame that Chrysler, GM and Ford all have plants or offices and numerous suppliers in that general area and neither one of them give two fucks about the condition of the roads they drive on. Why bother with proving grounds when you can send cars around the neighborhood and destroy the shit out of them? I was so grossly disappointed and upset with this situation I can’t express it in words. Clearly some work is being done. The construction along Van Dyke / Michigan Rt 53 has improved that road tremendously, but it doesn’t matter when 90% of the roads are great, that last 10% that does damage to your car leaves a big impression. I have to say I’ll never drive my Miata to Michigan again, that state is best experienced in a rental car where you don’t really care what condition you leave the vehicle in when  you return it.

And yet on this trip I managed to spot a few MX-5 Miata’s around. Most notably a marshal friend of mine from Ontario with her NC3 PRHT:

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That car is a beaut. And knowing how roads are in Ontario from my visit to Mosport earlier in the month I’d say she’s very lucky living on the other side of the Detroit River.

While I was on the hunt for the Fiata I burned a full tank of gas driving around (very much pointlessly as my search didn’t amount to much in the end). But I was successful at spotting one so at least it wasn’t a total failure.

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On the same Fiata trip I did a foodie tour of the D… and while I’m not the biggest fan of hot dogs, I did like the idea of checking out what is considered popular in Detroit… they call them coney islands there.

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I drove the entire length of the famous Woodward Avenue from Pontiac to Downtown and then back, eating coney’s along the way.

I even went to the FIAT dealership to see maybe I’d spy a Fiata there, but except for the one I saw leaving FCA, Auburn Hills I had no luck.

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A visit to the GM Renaissance Center was about the coolest thing I did while in Detroit. That and a visit to the Detroit Historical Museum on Woodward which was really neat!

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Of course the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was a blast this year!

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Luckily, and thank GOD for that, I didn’t experience any troubles along the way there or back. No blowouts like I was afraid of, no bubbles in the tires, etc. My plan now that I’m back in NJ is to rotate the tires and have a better inspection of the wheels in general and various suspension components, brakes, etc. This trip was a hell of a workout for the car and I’m hoping not too damaging. I’ll also check the oil now that I’m at 5,000 miles to see how Pennzoil Platinum compares to Mobil 1. If it’s dark I’ll replace it and if not, I’ll use it for a few more thousand miles.

Looking forward to the next road trip!

 

Mark Your Calendars! 200 MX-5 Miata Rendezvous in Normandy June 2017

Dear MX-5 Miata Owners of Europe (and the world for that matter),

Please mark your calendars for June of 2017 for one of the biggest MX-5 Miata get togethers in the world… taking place in Normandy, France.

Details are here in English:  sites.google.com/site/mx5mondrian/home/rendez-vous and here in French: www.mx5france.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=25255 and here in Dutch: forum.mx-5owners.nl/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=24160 I’m sure there will be posts in many other languages as MX-5 owners from around Europe and Asia (Eurasia) are planning to attend! So far the list includes MX-5 Miata owners from France, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Russia.

Man do I want to be a part of this too…   perhaps!?

I’ll be sure to organize something on my next visit to Europe this July where I’m planning to meet up with MX-5 owners in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France.

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Fiat 124 Spider: Fiata Sighting at Auburn Hills, Michigan (FCA HQ)

Taking advantage of the opportunity of being in Detroit for the Grand Prix I figured it would be a good chance to spy the pre-release Miata-based Fiat 124 Spider in the wild… friends I talked to claimed they were roaming around and you could spot them everywhere, so when I failed to see one within the first few days of being in Michigan I started obsessing about it, making it my mission to see the Fiata in the flesh before I leave Detroit to go home.

I succeeded!

Although at a cost. The cost of fuel that is… trying to spy a Fiata on Detroit suburbs streets was nothing more than a fuel burning exercise with very limited success.

The most obvious place to look for the new Fiata that I could think of was driving through the FCA HQ at Auburn Hills. Being a big SRT fan I’ve visited the place before and knew it was possible to visit as “general public” driving around Chrysler Dr. I did this heading out to Detroit to register for the Grand Prix with SCCA but failed to see one on the first day. Getting a little antsy I reached out to a few Chrysler people I knew, including my host for the weekend, to pick their brain on where would be the most likely place to spy a Fiata without getting into trouble. And both said that since the embargo has been lifted as the car was presented at various auto shows, it shouldn’t be an issue… hell one of the guys said they should be hitting dealer lots in the next month or so, so I’m sure they’re stamped by huge quantities already in production form.

But I haven’t seen one yet, so I was eager for a chance. The most likely scenario of spying one at the HQ was being at the right place and at the right time… so to optimize I chances I did a drive-by right around lunch time and then once again at quiting time, at the end of the day…. the success came just after 11am… I saw a beautiful red model that I caught just out of the corner of my eye leaving the parking lot as I drove past… I had to slow way down for that car to catch up to me and took a few snaps:

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FCA HQ has it’s own Interstate 75 exit/entrance ramps, and the gray haired big wig driving this thing hopped on and took off. I thought it would be weird following him, so I went the other way hoping I would spot a parked version of this car so I could take some much better still shots. But I failed in locating one.

First impressions of the car: I feel like I’ve seen it before! I realize it’s a new model and all, but it has a familiar look to it, something ordinary something that’s already on the market. I realize people would say: well, it’s based on the Miata and that’s already out. But that’s now what I mean. It looks nothing like a Miata. The ND MX-5 is unique with it’s looks, it looks like nothing else on the market. While the Fiat 124 Spider that has yet to hit the dealer lots already looks like a slightly squared NB Miata that’s been sold for a decade.

I don’t know how I feel about it yet…. I guess it’ll grow on me.

Mazda MX-5: Driving School in South Carolina Using Miata’s… Wish I got my Driver’s License in one!

One recurring theme at the Cars & Coffee events I go to, lots of kids! I keep saying it’s a great time to be growing up in America these days, so much Automotive perfection to look at… for those of you in High School just about ready to get your license, and if you happen to live in South Carolina… you can book a driving school for your road test that offers Miata’s!

Richard Zimmer runs Dutch Fork Driving School in Irmo, SC with two beautiful NC PRHT’s he’s using to train his students… a 2010 Copper Red and a 2012 Stormy Blue MX-5 Grand Touring models.

His students must be pretty lucky!

Interested in taking your road test in one of his driver training vehicles, get in touch: facebook.com/DutchForkDrivingSchool/

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PS. if anyone else finds companies doing this please share a link… I’m also interested in companies rent out Mazda MX-5’s globally.

Post Card from the Grand Prix of Lime Rock, Pirelli World Challenge Weekend Minus Formula 4

Today went by in a flash… I was fortunate enough to work my first Pro-weekend as a backup starter at Lime Rock Park for the Pirelli World Challenge event dubbed the Grand Prix of Lime Rock.

I didn’t even think it’d be possible, but sure enough Andy Smith the flag chief for this weekend granted my wishes to work closer to the paddock so I could sneak out for lunch to take some pictures of the cars without having to choose between doing that and eating lunch. It doesn’t get better than working start. From my previous experience at the Glen I figured there would be a team of Starters and I would have a very small role to play monitoring the radio while the “pro’s” do the work. I was wrong. It was me and only one other person: the official PWC Starter… a guy from California that does many of the official starts for PWC travelling around the country with the series. That was pretty cool… I didn’t expect it at all. Besides working comms on the backup net, the official starter had me put out the white flag for any vehicle leaving pit lane during the practice sessions. The reasoning being that cars flying at speed would know about a slower car entering Turn 1. For the races the starter handed me the while flag to wave on the final lap just before he threw the checker. That was really neat too. I got to call every Green flag that was thrown as well, first and last cars to take the checkered, and a variety of incidents along the front straight… so for someone who was going to just monitor the flagger net and relay messages to the official starter, I sure did have a lot of exciting work… I loved it!

Being on start also gave me the opportunity to wander the paddock before the event and during lunch… below I will share some photos:

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At the end of the day we got a good worker feed… nice warm food:

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A nice Lime Rock Park sweatshirt, although not suitable for today’s 90F weather, but very nice nonetheless:

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And I got to check out a whole lot of Mazda’s everywhere:

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It was such a brilliant experience I cannot wait to get back to the track tomorrow and do this all over again! So much Fun!

PS. This weekend was supposed to feature the US debut of FIA Formula 4 sanctioned by the SCCA Pro and to be raced around the US. Unfortunately that race series got bumped to another weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park and in their place we got all the amazing TC and TCA class Miata’s…. I felt really happy with that!

Planning another 1,500 mile Road Trip to Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

I’ve been on the fence about returning to marshal the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix for a while, and with only a day left to register and just a week before the actual event I have pulled the trigger… I will be heading on this 1,500+ mile Road Trip to marshal DGP again!

I love Detroit!

How many people can say that? I really do… it’s a nice city despite all of it’s problems. One thing that made me hesitant just a bit was all the damn pot holes I know I’m going to hit driving up there and driving around there… but what the hell, it’ll be an excuse to upgrade the Miata’s suspension once it’s shot.

The thing I’m looking forward to the most is checking out the cars on track… this year Pirelli World Challenge is out but another SCCA Pro group is taking it’s place: Trans Am racing. With the fields I saw at Watkins Glen International a few weeks ago, I know it’s going to be a blast to watch them race on a street circuit.

I’m looking forward to the food also… especially if I find the time to either sneak into Canada at Windsor, Ontario crossing or decide to drive to my destination through Canada to begin with… apparently I could shave 20 miles and avoid a lot of the crappy roads of Pennsylvania and Ohio by going via the 401 and 402 in Ontario. Would be my second trip to Canada in a month. Love it!

There’s only a day left to sign up, so if anyone else is interested in joining me in this adventure… hurry up and register on MotorsportReg.com

See ya Detroit!

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Oh yeah, among other groups we’ll see IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship big guns as well as IndyCar open wheelers.