A beautiful Saturday to spend the day cruising with fellow Miata owners around Northern New Jersey. Mark from the New Jersey Miatas facebook group organized a meetup in Livingston with a destination in Hewitt in mind, to do lunch at Utopia Grill and Suzie’s Pizzaria. We met at the Livingston Mall in Morris County and zoom zoomed our way up to Passaic County.
A good turnout for a winter event with four NC Miata’s in attendance, three NA’s and one NB along with three miscellaneous cars. The lunch was great too!
Greetings from the New Jersey Miatas end of the season meet at the Cheesequake Service Area exit 123 on Garden State Parkway.
The usual spot for the twice annual Miata meet that’s somewhat central to most New Jersey Miata owners and visitors from both Pennsylvania and New York. The event got rained out last week and our make up date was almost rained out as well… luckily the precipitation was limited to a mist mostly. Though that was enough to keep a bunch of fair weather Miata owners away. Nevertheless, there was quite a few cars in attendance… somewhere around 50 to 60 cars by my guestimate. And I’m happy to say many more NC Miata’s this time than any of the previous times I’ve attended. Sadly no Fiatas to be seen… Boo!
Here’s the pix:
Happy to see my buddy DollarBill!
Oooh… another Copper Red from Pennsylvania… an NC2
Aren’t all Miatas Powered by Unicorns?
Love how bright this Torch Red is
A very pretty shade of Blue too
Hey Chris showed up!
Best license plate of the event:
Hey Mickie showed up!
The profile of this vintage of modern Thunderbird reminds me a lot of the original Mazda Cosmo 110S
No meet would be complete without people swapping stuff, fixing stuff, etc… pedal covers do look cool, but are sometimes a pain to put on… especially on the small Miata brake pedal.
By the time Bill and I went to get a warm drink at the service area, most of the people from the Miata group left… it must have started raining while we were inside. So we decided to do lunch of our own… and some spicy Malaysian food was just what the doctor ordered:
Love this place! We had one in Lodi across from the Mazda of Lodi dealership on Route 46 but unfortunately the restaurant close. Their Edison, NJ location on Route 1 though was delicious!
Looking forward to my drive to Florida starting tonight…!
First, forgive me for being a selfish prick and not sharing the news of the event sooner. I forgot to remember until… and of course the actual date (today) got rained out! So see you all next week…
The peeps behind this event seem to focus on two major events per year… the season opening meet and end of season meet like this one. Not sure if anything happens during the summer but I’m really glad they organize these ones. Often with prizes given away from vendors that support Miata events around the country like Moss Miata and Flyin’ Miata. (possibly others)
Anyway, I’m especially happy to see Modern Fiata’s invited to attend, and really hope to see one at the next one.
For me it’s going to be a crazy day next Sunday. I was scheduled to pick up a rental car at LaGuardia Airport in NYC and drive down to Florida for the Historics (HSR) races at Daytona International. But I don’t want to miss out on this little gathering. So I’ve re-booked my rental car for 8pm… which should give me enough time to chill down the shore, go home to park my Miata. Take public transport to the city, a shuttle bus to Hertz, and bring the rental home before leaving for the thousand mile journey first thing Monday morning.
…been contemplating registering MiataFiata.com since last year when Chris, Sakshik and I launched the Miata Fiata Talk podcast. Today I finally pulled the trigger so to speak. MiataFiata.com is the new home of the Miata Fiata Radio podcast… I’m using the Radio and the Talk and the Podcast labels interchangeably but eventually we’ll pick something that sticks. Either way with my NC1 GT PRHT, Sakshik’s NB and Chris’s NC1 GT PRHT with appearance package and the oldie Fiat 124 Spider we have all the boxes covered… (even though yes, I realize the 1970’s Fiat has nothing to do with the current Fiata made by Mazda).
This domain will be a great way to separate my marshaling, my foodie road trips and my general BS from my Miata stuff, although everything is still hosted and lives on MyRoadTrip.net
I am excited with this project!
Got a good deal too taking advantage of 99 cent first year registration and $9.99 each subsequent year. I chose the 5 year option plus some generous % discount from Ebates. Now I have the domain until March 30, 2022
The last order of business on this two week trip down to Florida was another Miata Meet with Orlando Roadsters.
What a great coincidence? Much like last year post-Sebring 12 hour the Orlando Roadsters group once again organized a Monday night meet at a local Tijuana Flats tex-mex restaurant in Winter Park, FL.
Some 30’ish cars showed up, mostly NA’s and NB’s but also a single NC and a few ND’s. Ironically the exact same NC that parked next to me last year was there today, parked right next to me. And it featured the same eBay spoiler I bought for my car, which was really neat. So glad I put it on two weeks ago when I got down to Daytona.
Anyway, here’s some pix:
Two 10th anniversary Miata’s showed up!
Besides the 30+ Miatas that showed up there were some other 2 and 4 wheel vehicles. Including a cool bike, a right hand drive Nissan Skyline GT-R and a right hand drive Suzuki Jimmy mini-jeep.
I’m so happy to have had this opportunity to meet up with the Orlando Roadsters group… I’m sure when I move down here I’ll be meeting with them more frequently…
While the Northeast is under Blizzard warning and my home town in New Jersey is under at least half a foot of snow I’m really enjoying all that the Sunshine State has to offer. In the past I complained: “Where have all the Miata’s gone?” while in Miami, it turns out they are all hiding in Northern Florida. Specifically in the Jacksonville area where I’ve joined the First Coast Miata Club for their official monthly meetup at a nice seafood place in the Mandarin area of Jax.
It was a cool experience, I was there to see all the cars, so without further delay here are all the pix:
Several Copper Red Mica NC1’s in attendance…
Not a Miata.
Not a BMW.
Hey! It’s an /M edition X-5.
Not a Corvette.
Everyone was ranting and raving about the seafood. Since I had been on a day-long Foodie Tour of the Minorcan Clam Chowder… I decided to eat light… and ordered two appetizers: Conch Fritters and Gator Tails. I’m not sure which was which, both tasted kind of like batter, so I’m not really certain what it is that I ate…
My buddy Arved showed me the $38 dollar eBay spoiler which inspired me to buy one also. His had straight edges while mine are rounded. It was cool to see them side-by-side now.
Seems like everyone went down the Jersey Shore today!
Hard to believe the weather was so nice I actually put the top down while cruising to a familiar spot on the Garden State Parkway to join a bunch of Millenials Miata owners for one of their mid-winter get-togethers and a cruise to the beach for some barbecue. I may be exaggerating a little. Not everyone was a young millenial, and we didn’t quite make it to the sandy beach, more like a town that has “beach” in it’s name… or close enough anyway, but you get the picture. It was a whole bunch of young Miata owners hanging out and having fun. Many of them I’ve met before at the New Jersey Miata’s events held at the same Chesapeake Cheesequake rest area on the GSP (I previously posted Chesapeake which is actually in Virginia, I meant Cheesequake which is in New Jersey). But this impromptu event felt different. I felt like an old fart and it was kind of cool to hang out with the kids. Trying to see if we still have something in common… cringing at the sight of some of the car mods. Hoping the cops don’t show up when some started doing burn outs and donuts. But obviously connected through the common denominator of our car choice: the Miata. And agreeable foodie tastes: a BBQ joint for lunch! It was refreshing especially since it’s still February and many car events are months away.
Naturally I took a ton of pix:
The turnout was impressive… I was hoping a few cars would show up, but they just kept on coming and coming. I think I counted 28 Miata’s in total and about half a dozen other cars that came along. For the longest while mine was the only NC that wasn’t like all the other NA’s & NB’s, but after a while a beautiful ND showed up, so we had at least one of each models represented (though no RF yet and no 124 Spider or Abarth… yet).
A very appropriately labelled loud piece.
Not quite sure what Miatagang is but they came out in numbers!
This was one of those non-Miata guest vehicles… a beautiful Ford-powered Jag replica/kit car. Looked, sounded and drove great!
Don’t remember if I’ve commented about this before, but truck-nutz type toys hanging off lowered cars is definitely a “thing” nowadays… like this pink colored “poop” emoji plush toy.
Oh yeah… and no rear bumper is definitely a “thing” too now… this was one of three or four without the rear bumper.
If this is a true drift car, it is by far one of the cleanest I’ve ever seen (no dings, dents or scrapes to be found!)
And away we go…
Do all Millenials skateboard? I think so…
After lunch the majority of the kids headed to another car show a few towns over while I convinced a few North Jersey owners to detour our way home via Ocean Avenue… somehow I was elected leader and I fucked up several times trying to reach the correct Ocean Avenue, getting lost in places I got lost as a leader at previous events last year. You’d think I would have learned, but no! I know exactly why I made the same mistakes now I did last time. I convinced myself I knew where I was going, and instead of firing up the GPS and not looking like a fool, I totally embarrassed myself.
Oh well… ironically we didn’t really get to see much of the beaches driving up to Sandy Hook as the main road was a few blocks off the Boardwalk and heavy with traffic. So that was kind of a fail. My apologies to the folks that followed me. I should really improve on this considering how much I’d like to make this sort of thing a business one day with my International Motorsports and Miataland-like tourism ideas…
Fun fact: I bought my MX-5 Miata thanks to Playboy…
Disclaimer – this is a clean post, no nudity will be shared.
Although I have to say I ended up with a car I can go topless in… well, not me, the car can… ugh nevermind!
What better time than Valentine’s Day to share the story of how I fell in love with the Miata. I was single then, I’m still single now, so this is not a real romantic story but since I’ve been spending a ton of money on this damn car it might as well be shared. (the story that is)
All the way back in October of 2014… I was volunteering Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It was my turn to work as cross-track safety at Turn 2 (the corner with a big Mazda billboard, since the brand sponsored both the track and the event: officially Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda) when a car went off track at Turn 1, skipped over the gravel trap and fucking nailed the wall. The incident occurred down hill from me, and as soon as I saw the smash occur I started running down towards the crash hoping I could potentially help. The race car was a white NC Miata and the series was the Playboy MX-5 Cup that ran huge fields of cars that were split in two classes with the newer/faster class being Playboy Miata and slower class Skip Barber School Miata.
When I got closer to the scene the driver had gotten out of the mangled vehicle unhurt. But the car was in a sorry state. The driver’s side front wheel got ripped off in the incident and lay about ten feet from the car. I looked over the concrete barrier that the car hit and there was a large piece of broken rotor stuck in the concrete smoldering, with steam/smoke still coming off of it. It was nuts!
I think at this moment I realized I wanted a Miata of my own.
I’m pretty sure I had decided then and there because by the time it came around to the big worker dinner party and swag giveaway I had my eye set on Mazda gear and picked up several items including a t-shirt and a few hats to help start my collection.
As previously mentioned Mazda was the title sponsor of the race, Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda. So I took a shot with my swag and the Andy Blackmore Spotter Guide:
It took me several months to finally find a Miata of my own but at this point I was determined!
Over the next few years I kept coming back to Road Atlanta to volunteer one of my favorite endurance events, featuring the Mazda LMP2 Lola’s cruising along…
This was the place I got to see the brand new ND Global MX-5 Cup debut (or at least several of their test vehicles, before the debut).
I discovered the Skippy Racing School Miata grave yard which was a very sad sight to see. But this place and the Playboy series was still the main reason I think behind me falling in love with the little convertible. And I’m thankful for that.
Now if only my little red race car would help me find a real Girlfriend
The “Miataland” post inspired me to wonder about the logistics behind building an MX-5 Miata / Roadster vacation experience.
So I’m going to write a few ideas down below, just spitballing, thinking out loud about what it would take to launch and make it successful. It’s worth noting that at this time I do not consider myself a successful person. I have not worked since January of last year, more than a year without a job makes me feel like a total loser. But in that time, and over the past few years I have traveled extensively around the world following various Motorsport events and volunteering there. I also have more than ten years experience working for a luxury ground transportation company providing limousine and black car service in the busiest metropolitan area in the world: NYC. So take my words with a grain of salt…
What would it take to build a Miata Experience business?
I think the first and most important step is to identify what it is that one is trying to accomplish. I made numerous trips to South Florida over the past few years, multiple times per year, and it is obvious that your run of the mill rental car companies do not generally rent MX-5’s. There’s plenty of Roadsters and Convertibles being rented, mainly Ford Mustang’s and Chevy Camaro’s, as well as more luxurious options from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and others, but not Mazda Miata’s or Fiat 124 Spiders.
Probably because the Mazda Roadster is not a practical car as a rental. The trunk is too small to fit even one normal size piece of luggage. For a family of two there’s no place to put luggage, other than small carry-ons. That’s no good. So that kind of explains why Hertz and Avis don’t have it, while Europcar may have a few in certain markets. It’s a very specialized vehicle. I think it’s best suited for places like Miami Beach where it could be rented alongside the many Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Maserati’s, Bentley’s and other exotics on an hourly basis to cruise Ocean Drive.
That brings me to the main point of renting a Miata. People would rent it specifically for what it is: a Miata. It means of all the options out there, the convertible Mustangs, Camaros, Bentleys, Maseratis. They want the MX-5! This idea is good and bad. Good because there are plenty of Miata enthusiasts around the world. We just celebrated the Millionth Miata rolling off the assembly line in 2016. So there are plenty of owners that may want to rent a Miata on vacation, and plenty more enthusiasts that may not necessarily be owners that want to try one out. Those numbers may be large. Unfortunately, most rental car companies care about masses, and there are far more general public, Joe Blow, than Miata enthusiasts.
So from the perspective of catering to the general public, as a company renting Miata’s you have a lot of challenges to deal with. People will try to cram luggage that obviously doesn’t fit into small spaces of the Miata potentially damaging things. And complain about the fact that things don’t fit. That creates a problem. People treat rental cars like shit. It’s a fact. I find that Miata is a fairly fragile car with relatively high cost of maintenance. Therefore to keep up with maintenance may be quite costly. How do you ensure that people don’t smoke in cars, since most renters would obviously prefer a clean smelling car? It’s tough. I know car rental companies charge extra cleaning fees for smokers, but it’s a concern for a small business to manage. How do you make sure renters don’t leave the car with the top down in bad weather? Again charging high cleaning fees if the car returns wet or moldy… And then take into consideration the low profile tires, the low bumpers that scrape easily on curbs. The fact the car will bottom out on many speed bumps, etc. It’s tough for an enthusiast to keep a small business going just by managing costs from potential damage that customers could cause.
So possible solution for many of the above concerns would be opportunity for offering value added services, something one could charge extra money for. For example: a meet-and-greet service. Pick up your customers in a bigger vehicle, a mini van to bring them from/to the airport with all their luggage and personal effects, extended family, etc. And deliver the car when it is going to be used by up to two people with minimal luggage. The appeal of Miataland to me is the group factor. The idea that multiple customers are in the same boat, all interested in Miatas, and all wanting to do things together on vacation like going on road trips, sightseeing, and dining out. So again, with a larger group there could be a chase vehicle that would do two things. Act as a support system, helping with local knowledge, directions, recommendations, advice, language services. And provide help when things go wrong. Like changing a flat tire, or making sure everyone keeps the tops up in a rain storm. Weather happens, and people act differently when they’re alone vs. being under some kind of supervision. So the chase vehicle idea is a must.
With the things mentioned above, not all locations around the US are suitable for a Miata rental business. Places like New York, New England or just about anywhere else other than California or Florida have seasons. And as such there are times where it’s too cold or too hot to drive a Miata. Northern states have cold and snow. Southern states have super hot days, flash flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Similarly, places in the Northeast and the West have twisty mountains which would be excellent for a Miata experience. From all my Bear Mountain runs in New York, or the Tail of the Dragon down the Blue Mountain range down in the Carolinas/Tennessee, or the Rockies in Colorado. Or the canyon carving opportunities in California. Those are all fun things to do, which Florida may not necessarily offer because it’s so flat. But Florida has beaches. Florida has the awesome drive along Route 1 down to the keys to Key West. There are places along the coast of the Carolinas, Louisiana, Texas that are exciting because of the beautiful coastline, beaches and ocean views. California is ideal for it’s coastline and the Pacific Coast Highway that stretches along most of the state from Mexico to Oregon with many beautiful charming little towns and massive metropolises along the way. What’s the ideal place to have this business?
To consider location, I would consider something other than good weather, beautiful beaches, scenic drives, etc. A race track! Motorsports parks exist around the US, their numbers rise in better weather states like Florida or Texas. Having a business near a race track presents great opportunities for a value-added service of offering track time to the person or group that rents your Miata. Perhaps even having race-prepped or track-prepped Miatas specifically for track use, since equipment may be different from the street version, tires, roll cages, etc. Plus insurance. Insurance for street and track use is key. So having a business in Southeast Florida, Palm Beach/Broward/Miami-Dade county area would be perfect. You have the traffic of vacationers, domestic and international, arriving en-masse year round. There are accommodation and activities galore in Miami, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, the Florida Keys, etc. There are interesting drives to take along A1A or Route 1 down to Key West. Exploring the Everglades. Longer road trips to Tampa/St. Petersburg or up to Daytona Beach which could be day trips or multi-day or even event trips. There are plenty of race tracks that could be rented for events. Like Homestead-Miami Speedway, Palm Beach International Raceway or even Daytona International Speedway which is a reasonable distance from South Florida. Except for the occasional hurricane threat, the weather is good year round. Alternatively California is also ideal. Whether Southern around Orange County, San Diego or even the Bay Area up North with San Francisco or Monterey Peninsula are wonderful. There are race tracks: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Button Willows, Thunderhill, Sonoma Raceway, etc. The weather may be even better than Florida. Except for the earthquake threat there isn’t much to worry about. Drought is a big deal but there are ways to deal with it (cleaning cars). Traffic is a big deal, but there’s a lot of activities to distract themselves with once they arrive there. It’s great!
There are also smaller vacation places that may see less tourists but more enjoyable “get-away” destinations. I think Texas is famous for that. Alabama would be my new pick after checking out Birmingham and Barber Motorsports Park. Gerogia is super cool with Atlanta being a massive airport and busiest in the nation, but Savannah has the charm everyone should experience in their lifetime… still low key enough but very unique. And there’s Roebling Road track which would be ideal for small rentals. There are definitely options.
So having a business like this creates an opportunity to both support the local Miata community by sponsorship and hosting events. But also encouraging the community to participate in the business events by inviting actual owners locally to join the customers on various road trips, cruises, track events, dinner parties, etc.
What would something like this cost?
I think the costs vary based on location. California and Florida may be a pretty expensive place to start a business like this. Not just the costs of buying cars, and a garage, and insurance, and maintenance. But places like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama or Georgia may be much cheaper and flexible. This would allow the opportunity to offer a similar collection like Andrea at Miataland. Buying cheap NA Miatas and turning them into rental cars. NB’s both naturally aspirated and the Turbo Mazdaspeed version. My favorite NC’s or the brand new ND’s and the RF models. I would definitely include the brand new Fiata in this too. I’m sure people would love to compare driving a Miata next to a Fiat 124 Spider or the Abarth version.
I think this would be an awesome business opportunity for someone to pick up and replicate around the world.
I’m going to add more thoughts as I think of them…. stay tuned!
There’s a place in Italy I would love to visit on my next Euro Trip: Miataland. Located smack in the middle of Italy if you look on the map and only a few hours drive north of Rome heading in the direction of Florence and San Marino.
Although I’ve been to Italy twice in recent years neither of my trips lasted for more than a few hours. I did a quickie look-see around Milan while transiting between two flights between Madrid, Spain and Stockholm, Sweden and more recently a flight to Brussels, Belgium from New York via Rome. I literally took the opportunity of a layover to rush to city center, do a quick sightseeing and foodie tour and haul ass back to the airport to make my onward connection. However, knowing about Miataland and having already experienced warm European hospitality on my Miata-centric visits to Amsterdam, Netherlands; Cologne, Germany; Liege, Belgium and Paris, France I would put this pilgrimage at the top of my list now.
From the reviews I read online, the videos I watched on YouTube and Miata.net personal member experiences (with photos) I think this is a fantastic concept and one I know could be replicated (and totally should be) around the world. There were Miata collectors I met in Thailand that could certainly pull this off as well as several folks in Australia and definitely here in the US as well. So my hope is to see Andrea’s concept spread and as someone who would love to work in the tourism industry especially from the side of personally leading groups on various international adventures, I would love to market the hell out of this concept to get Miata enthusiasts to support these sort of businesses wherever they spring up.
But back to the topic of Miataland Italy. Andrea is a new friend on facebook that I would hope to interview soon, whether via Skype or in real life (if I get a chance to volunteer at one of the circuits in Italy for one of their amazing Motorsport events) to share his story and promote his business and passion to everyone reading this. I am personally interested in visiting Miataland even when I know I can’t afford the Five Star accommodation on site, but the garage visit and maybe a joy ride in one of the beautiful NC’s would be awesome. This is a very exciting opportunity I want to share on this blog so that other MX-5 and Mazda fans in general could read up on and research for their own trips to Italy. Something new to consider….
and some pix… with my favorite NC with Italian flag livery:
The more I read about Miataland the more I find out how this concept has grown… the car count in Andrea’s collection has increased from 32 to 36 cars more recently featuring everything from NA’s to ND’s and a whole slew of special editions and rare specimens. There are right hand drive cars also for those that desire it. Supercharged and Turbocharged options including a Mazdaspeed.
I haven’t really talked much about the exclusive property and picturesque scenery of the region. That I guess should be experienced first hand. But having met Dutch, German, Belgian and French owners on the previous trip, and knowing about the existence of the “Friends of MX-5” initiative from Mazda Europe, I think this is a fantastic opportunity to go to a new place. Get a unique chance to check out the countryside behind a wheel of a Miata (of a whatever vintage you prefer) and at the same time get a chance to meet with fellow Miata owners that live in Italy or elsewhere in Europe that may be able to organize an event while you are there. I think that’s the coolest part of this whole endeavor, at least for me.
So to sum things up, I haven’t been there but I would highly recommend the place to anyone I know. Not only that I’m seriously dying to go and check it out for myself so I could promote it even more to the readers of this blog and the people I meet on my own Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trips & Adventures!
Motorsport Marshal, Miata Driver, Hot Wheels Collector