Tag Archives: Maryland

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ mile Road Trip to Virginia (Southern Part accessible from North Carolina)

I’ve been looking for an excuse to take a longer road trip and the opportunity presented itself with a marshaling stint at VIR in Alton  Southern Virginia (so far south it’s mainly accessible from Milton, North Carolina… yep!)

The fastest route per Google Maps was down the I95 corridor through all the major cities until Richmond, VA and then across with just over 485 miles each way. But I elected to avoid the tolls (which are absurd pushing $100 bux) and the unpredictable rush hour traffic patters to take the more leisurely drive through I81 in Pennsylvania increasing the distance to 530 miles and about another hour to tack onto the drive.

The goal for my trip was also to test the performance of the new Timken RX-8 wheel bearing hubs and see if they would increase my fuel mileage which has recently dropped down to 31mpg average, based on my last two trips to Watkins Glen. I discovered that indeed the hubs did make a difference. My gas mileage increased to 34mpg on the open highway, while in town it dropped to 28mpg, which is normal. So all was good. I was hoping to match my all time best of 36mpg’s but the roads were too hilly to accomplish that, and I had the A/C on blast which didn’t help either.

Overall i was really happy with the car and how it handled the road. The 8 hour journey took a little bit more on the way down, and a lot more on the way back up. But I did make several stops along the way to use the restroom and buy some food. Generally I tried to stop every two to three hours to let the car cool down for a few minutes. It worked very well, but it did slow me down. The ride home took almost 12 hours but that included two 1 hour stops for food.

And a few pics from the trip:

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Good morning Maryland!

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Howdy West Virginia!

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The new Virginia welcome sign… I kind of liked the old one better with the Bird on it instead of this Lovers campaign… why is Virginia for Lovers anyway?

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Well, at least you know you’re in the south when you see more Confederate flags flying than American stars and stripes… hmm

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Hello VIR… what a beautiful facility!

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Yep, I’m in the right place!

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So you gotta drive down into North Carolina for a few miles, just to turn around and head right back into the track…

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Prior to coming to the track I figured I’d stay put and have everything I need at VIR… but it turned out that the best place to get food was back in town, which is a good 15 miles away. So I went out for dinner every night in Danville, VA and during the half an hour journey used the opportunity to charge up my phone for the night. This added another 120+ miles to the overall journey.

Looking forward to the next Road Trip soon…

Baltimore Grand Prix ALMS & Indycar

Another “Balmore” Grand Prix is in the books… and I quickly went to re-read last year’s debrief to make sure I don’t repeat the same sentiment. This year the tale of Baltimore GP consists of two experiences. First Couch Surfing. Like last year I got very lucky with the hosts even though it wasn’t through traditional channels of requesting a place to stay. Instead I posted on Facebook in the CS Baltimore forum and got invited. Sweet! Second, the race itself. It was a crashfest! No nicer way to put it… a bunch of ‘amateurs’ it seems, as people were wrecking almost on purpose in both ALMS and Indycar feature racing that had more yellow flag / caution time than green / race time.

But it was good!

I was stationed at turn 3, the amazing hair pin that didn’t get nowhere near as much action as it did last year which seemed to have shifted mostly to turn 1, 4 and 9. But we did have a number of spins, debris, and even a car on fire during the Indycar race for which I waived our fire bottle at the driver through the hole in the fence we were behind, and he promptly stopped in front of us. Of course, he stopped on the other side of the track, and after another Indycar went between him and us at speed, he proceeded to watch the smoke billow out of the car instead of attempting to run for the fire extinguisher. Luckily the safety team were quick to respond, and all ended well.

I was not terribly impressed with the level of professionalism of the drivers this weekend. In the ALMS race, the Dyson car seemed to false start repeatedly which caused the first big wreck and contributed greatly to more full course caution the second time. Similarly, turn one shinanigans for Indycar saw four consecutive full course yellows after each attempted restart. What a joke!

On Sunday night I left Baltimore for Summit Point, and the final racing of the Labor Day weekend with the DC region SCCA. Absolutely nothing happened there, completely uneventful day… though since I was stationed at turn 3, I had to run to cars that pulled off in our shortcut area to see what the issue was… both cars lost power, which was OK… the exercise I got sprinting about 300 meters in each direction was great too. I enjoyed the leisurely road trip back to New Jersey and am looking forward to fly out for the Grand-Am weekend at Laguna Seca tomorrow.

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