Tag Archives: Detroit GP

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!


Post Card from Belle Isle Detroit, Pre-Grand Prix Paddock Tour

Knowing full well how stringent the organizers get giving us (volunteers) paddock and pit access during the event, I went a day early to walk around and get some shots of the unpacking in progress.

I had to sneak onto the island. Our credentials were not to be distributed until later on in the afternoon and since dinner was provided by Detroit Region SCCA it was unlikely that I’d return to Belle Isle Park or even more unlikely that I’d actually see anything there. So having arrived for the event a day early and getting some much needed rest at my friend’s house I ventured down to Detroit downtown bright and early. First stop was visiting the GM Renaissance Center, something I always wanted to do… there on the second floor I found the Detroit Grand Prix offices, with big glass windows showing you what’s going on behind the scenes with all the maps and track plans on display to anyone that walks by.

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I also spotted a cool looking Chevy Caprice Detroit PD car… on the way back to my car I managed to snap a few shots… turns out these cars (about 100 of them) were donated to the city of Detroit, and therefore sport a cool wrap of the city skyline.

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It was a very beautiful day and an awesome chance to walk along the waterfront of the Detroit River, checking out the views of Windsor, Ontario on the other side. Next Stop: Belle Isle Park.

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I managed to get into the parking lot that I obviously had no legitimate access to, but as security was slack, I got away with it.

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I’ve always been fascinated by the old-school look of Michigan statie’s cars, like this Ford Explorer Police Interceptor.

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And then I spotted a Miata a fellow marshal owns it from Canada eh?

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Lots of Chevy’s everywhere…

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And then my favorite… the SpeedSource Mazda Prototype Team:

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More from the event soon…

Detroit Grand Prix Spotter Guide by Andy Blackmore

With a few days left to go until the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Andy Blackmore Designed has released another amazing spotter guide for the IMSA events of the weekend.

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Download your copy from: www.facebook.com/SpotterGuides/ or pick up a printed version at the gates during the event, which is what I typically try to do. As a huge fan of Andy I have a whole collection of his spotter guides from various events that I’ve volunteered.

Be sure to pick up an official IndyCar spotter guide too… and as the TransAm fields are growing HUGE! I hope they come up with a spotter guide also… only recently I’ve noticed Pirelli World Challenge has started offering spotter guides for their events, I was lucky to pick one up at Lime Rock (and I’m talking about an actual spotter guide and not the magazine program that they printed at the beginning of the season and distribute throughout the year).

See you in Detroit… a lovely city!

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.

Media from Detroit Belle Isle GP 2013

Paul Kania is a photographer from Michigan that for few years now has captured some great memories at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. I’m a big fan of the guy because, well you guessed it, he took some awesome shots of me 🙂 Check out Paul’s web site for more beautiful racing pictures: http://www.pointepics.com/Sports/Detroit-Grand-Prix-2013

Check them out:

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See also the photos from Detroit Belle Isle GP 2012: http://myroadtrip.net/?p=317

Detroit Grand Prix debrief

From the spectator point of view the 2013 Detroit Grand Prix did not disappoint. Every race started with a full-course yellow on the very first lap. Some crashes were more spectacular than others, including a ten car pile up during the Indycar race… what was even more spectacular was the fact that a number of those cars that crashed out actually came back and finished the race after a quick repair in the pits. I had two crashes on the turn past me at 8, which I completely missed flagging having only glanced at those cars as they went by to focus on what I thought was a higher priority, watching as the cars were coming at me, often sideways from turn 7. But even then I missed a piece of debris fly off one car that found its way creeping closer and closer to my station as the cars drove over it.

I wasn’t too impressed with my flagging because it seemed nothing went my way on race day, it would have really been nice to have another set of eyes next to me to at least watch my back. But I had an exciting time, especially when we changed stations between 7 and 7a. Mainly because there was a significant change in temperatures at each. 7a was completely exposed and therefore very warm in direct sunlight, while 7 was in the shade under some trees on the banks of Detroit River, so it was very windy and cold.

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All in all, a great time. Got to visit a good friend in Michigan who has recently had the same operation as my mother which is a very unfortunate thing. Also unfortunate was my decision to go on this trip both via NYC and Chicago. First it cost me a small fortune just to get to LaGuardia Airport, giving me a shock when George Washington Bridge was closed as I was driving, already late, on my way to the early morning flight. Similarly, driving from Chicago to Detroit took much longer than I had imagined it to be, and therefore way too costly, especially since its one of the few parts of the country where fuel is over $4/gallon. Once again though I had a little Ford Fiesta so I felt very Ken Block’ish throwing that thing around the corners.

On the flight home via Nashville, it turns out I sat next to a Firestone Racing exec who also went to the race. And when I responded to her question with “I volunteered” for the race, she had no idea who the corner workers/marshals were. Go figure!

Lets do this all over again this weekend in Canada!

Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit

I’ve been blessed with good luck the past few months because even after realizing I had missed registration by several weeks I was graciously accepted to participate in the Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix. It was a great deal of fun not just for the racing, but specifically because of the type of series represented in the races as well as an opportunity for me to do some flying which I absolutely love.

The pieces slowly fell into place after I got my acceptance e-mail. As luck would have it an email from Southwest Airways followed with a neat 35% discount coupon and the dates of travel I selected were actually the cheapest in that week! A quick e-mail to a Michigan buddy that I haven’t seen since Woodward Dream Cruise many years ago took care of the accommodation and some hocus pocus with Hertz allowed me to have a rental for the duration of my stay in Detroit for a fraction of what it normally costs. I love when things just happen right.

Upon arrival things continued smoothly, got a nice Chevy Sonic to test drive for a few days, collected my credentials, got some new SCCA patches, etc. Friday’s practice was wet but with my New Zealand wet weather gear I was fully prepared. Saturday was perhaps the best day, sunny and warm and Grand Am kicked ass. It was the main attraction for me and as far as I was concerned that was the feature race, though I realized later that IndyCar was meant to trump it. But it didn’t. On race day Sunday track started falling apart especially after the World Challenger cars had their way with it (and boy did they rip it apart, I and my fellow flaggies were pelted with tiny rocks from the asphalt all weekend) that wasn’t much fun getting hit in the face all the time.

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Meeting some new marshals was one of the highlights of my trip, especially the internationals from Canada. But hanging out with my friends was even better. The day after the races I had an opportunity to finally visit the Henry Ford museum, it was neat. Shortly after I drove across the tunnel into Canada to take a closer look at Windsor, Ontario and had an excellent time. Quick flight home, had my father do a tune up on the Impala and now I’m all ready for Montreal. Here we go!

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It rained a lot, so here’s the obligatory wet weather gear pic.

Travel plans for the Detroit Belle Isle GP

I love when pieces fall into place. On my few recent road trips I noticed that trusty Impala has been running a bit warm, so naturally the 1,300 mile round trip to Detroit was a bit of a worry. Well not any more.

Thanks to a nice 35% off select last minute flights from Southwest Airlines and a generous $30 discount on weekend rentals from Hertz, I’ve made alternate plans that should take the worry out of this 12 hour each way journey. Plus as an airline enthusiast I get to put two more dots on a map with visits to Chicago’s Midway and Baltimore airports enroute.

A good source for travel deals that I often rely on is FlyerTalk.com