Tag Archives: Mazda Road Trip

Mazda MX-5: 2,000+ Mile Miata Road Trip and Foodie Tour from NJ to Florida in the Winter

2,355 miles to be exact.

It’s been a mild winter so far, and I had this genius idea to drive my Miata from New Jersey to Florida to volunteer the Roar before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway this January. The plan was to drive during the day so I minimize the possibility of hitting black ice in the Northern States and arrive Daytona Beach in time to have dinner with some friends there. It almost worked.

I got to meet with some folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville along the way which I already wrote about. That was awesome, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about the drive part of the road trip and the foodie tour I got to do in different states along the way.

This trip was completely and totally BBQ based when it comes to food. I divided my driving in two stints. Home to Rock Hill, SC on the first day which covered about 680 miles and the rest on second day for the first trip. And Daytona Beach to Christiansburg, Virginia on the first day which again was about 640 miles and the rest on the second day which was around 500 miles. The Rock Hill stop was convenient because there was quite a few restaurants in town, I tried Cook Out chain for the first time since I was starving when I arrived. But since it was still early in the day I researched something more substantive to try. The Dixie Pig came highly recommended online and through the front desk at my hotel, so I went to give them a try and boy am I glad I did. The food was absolutely delicious. Their ribs kept on repeating on me for several days after I had them, but my favorite menu item was their “Pig Wings” which was on the appetizer list just below Chicken Wings. What are Pig Wings? Apparently they are baby pig (under 250 lbs) upper legs, succulent and juicy and served smothered in a variety of sauces. I tried the garlic sauce option first time. But liked them so much I made sure to stop by Dixie Pig on the drive home too and tried BBQ sauce option. Mmmmm mmm! I highly recommend both this restaurant and especially the “pig wings” menu item. Well worth the $10 bux price!

On the drive home the stopover in Virginia was near to another barbecue joint called Due South BBQ. I had googled it in advance and wanted to go there after I check in at my hotel, but since I missed my exit I ended up going directly to the restaurant. It too was amazing, especially all their sauce varieties! I got a pulled pork sandwich and another brisket sandwich which seemed like a good idea at the moment when I arrived hungry… but turned out to be way too much meat for the night. The sign outside the restaurant did say “Come Pig Out With Us” and I certainly did. My favorite feature of the restaurant was a display stand near the counter full of bones that were neatly sealed in individual bags with a sign: “Take One, FREE” for your dog. Which I made sure to do… and my fake beagle Maxi Max really enjoyed chewing on them for a few days now.

With the Jacksonville Miata club we hit up Metro Diner which is apparently known for their Chicken and Waffles… a typical southern dish. Several of the Miata guys ordered the fried chicken option, while I went with a New Orleans Shrimp and Grits dish where the grits were prepared differently (they were in solid block not running like they typically are). Great stuff!

While in Daytona I was limited to the track food which the Central Florida Region SCCA didn’t skimp out on. We were offered delicious sandwiches every day and had a tasty pizza party one of the nights. They had so much pizza we were asked to take a  bunch of it home, which I did… so we had pizza for a few days that weekend.

The race weekend (without any actual real racing, it was all practice sessions) went by super quickly. And I departed Daytona Beach bright and early Monday morning. No sooner did I settle onto the highway at a comfortable cruising speed when all of a sudden I heard and felt a massive rock smashing into my windshield. It was weird because there were absolutely no cars in front of me other than a pick up truck in the right lane some distance away putzing along, and another car that had passed me like half a minute earlier in the left lane at a high rate of speed. That rock put a tiny chip in my windshield, right in line of sight on the driver’s side of the glass. Boo!

I was a bit concerned driving through the Carolinas because on my way down the Charlotte news was in panic mode… they were predicting 2 to 6 inches of snow over the weekend (& actually got 8). I knew it wouldn’t be snowing on my drive home but I also knew that ice was a possibility… a little side note: while in the hotel room listening to the news freak out about winter weather (which apparently the Carolinas don’t normally get) I quickly researched and booked a flight for my second trip to Florida at the end of the month to volunteer the actual race – Daytona 24 hours. But back to the drive, there was a lot of snow on the ground as soon as I crossed into North Carolina. The roads were nicely salted and fairly clear. The snow however started melting which meant my car got absolutely sprayed with that salty slush. But I made it through OK. The scary part was actually about an hour closer to home in Pennsylvania. All the road sings were lit up with “Warning, Winter Weather” and there was very fine but dense snow making visibility limited. But what worried me was the fact that about half an inch of that slush had formed on the travel lanes of the highway. It wasn’t enough to plough. And no snow trucks were out yet. So I backed off the accelerator and started following one of the many semi-trucks on the road who cleared a path for me. As soon as I arrived my home area in New Jersey I went right to the car wash to hose off all that salt off the car.

It was an excellent trip, even when my car sustained some minor damage with the chip in the windshield. I ordered a repair kit on eBay for about $10 bux and will seal the chip so that it doesn’t spread and form a bigger crack.

Some photos from the drive:

The cheapest gas I found was in South Carolina shortly after I got on i95 from i26. The prices did swing wildly for 93 octane premium gas with $2.43/gal price at this location and $3.25/gal at another Sunoco just a few miles down the highway (same state and probably same county, just different town). It was interesting to say the least and I used the GasBuddy app to check prices ahead of time when I was running low on fuel.

And some foodie tour pix:

The sandwiches from Due South BBQ in Virginia.

Pig Wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina with an old Mazda pick up parked outside.

Chicken and Waffles and Chicken and Mashed Potatoes from Metro.

I think I will repeat this road trip again come March to volunteer the St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour… it’s a lot of fun!

MX-5 Miata Road Trip: My Wish List

It’s important to have goals…

My biggest goal right now should be finding a job. I’ve totally failed in that department and the unemployment is really kicking my ass. However this has been a year to remember with all of my MX-5 adventures and I’d like to pen a few “wishes” for the future to see if they’ll ever come true. I find that writing things down helps me focus on things I want to accomplish, which gives me something to look forward to. A target. A goal. A reason to pursue things.

So what am I looking forward to in my MX-5 Miata Road Tripping future? Well, a few places come to mind (in no particular order):

f-japan Japan Roadster Road Trip

f-hongkong Hong Kong MX-5 Road Trip

f-philippinesPhilippines MX-5 Road Trip

f-southafrica South Africa MX-5 Road Trip

f-brazil Brazil MX-5 Road Trip

f-greatbritain UK MX-5 Road Trip

f-spain Spain MX-5 Road Trip

f-italy Italy MX-5 Road Trip

f-mexico Mexico Miata Road Trip

f-uae UAE MX-5 Road Trip

f-russia Russia MX-5 Road Trip

 

Why did I pick these places?

The cheesy reason: Why not? But the more meaningful reason is to visit the communities of Miata owners that exist in each country. Based on my previous trips which I’ll mention a bit later in this post I have come across Miata.net forum posts that suggest massive communities in at least a few European countries. UK is definitely at the top of the list, and countries that see a lot of British tourism especially in Southern Europe will have communities of locals and expats there as well… I think Spain is a logical choice but also Italy is a good candidate. After my visit to Southeast Asia and the very successful meets there I discovered a huge community in Hong Kong, which I’m dying to visit again. Similarly Japan has a huge “Roadster” following for obvious reasons. South Africa does seem to have at least a moderately large community based on Miata.net posts, and a few posts from Brazil suggest a similar phenomena. Russia seems to have a huge community there which is surprising to me but all the posts I found both on forums and facebook suggest a large community which I’d love to visit even if after a bunch of my #FuckPutin posts I doubt I’d be welcome, be able to get a tourist visa or even if I did… I doubt I’d return with all of my teeth in their natural place at the end of the visit, lol

Of all the places I got to visit this past year I really can’t wait to return to every single one of them for another awesome experience. Do click through on the left side of the blog’s menu to read the write ups and check out the pictures from each of these visits:

f-thailand Thailand Miata Road Trip

f-singapore Singapore Miata Road Trip

f-malaysia Malaysia Miata Road Trip

f-australia Australia MX-5 Road Trip

f-newzealand New Zealand MX-5 Road Trip

f-netherlands The Netherlands MX-5 Road Trip

f-germany Germany MX-5 Road Trip

f-belgium Belgium MX-5 Road Trip

f-france France MX-5 Road Trip

f-usa USA Miata Road Trip

 

To be perfectly honest, I am surprised myself that I was able to accomplish so many MX-5 Miata meet ups in so many places so far. It has been a blessing and a real adventure in every single spot. Many of the visits were a total surprise like Thailand. I had no idea that MX-5/Roadster community was so huge there and more importantly what surprised me even more was how tight they are and how frequently they get to meet up. Not just Thailand… Singapore and Malaysia which make up the Tri-Country MX-5 community of Southeast Asia were tremendously welcoming to me and I really want to return there frequently just to hang out with them in the future. The Australian and Kiwi communities had similar numbers and level of enthusiasm and it was really refreshing to get a different perspective on both of those countries where I had lived before but never experienced for myself. The MX-5 community in Sydney and Auckland rolled out the red carpet for me, so to speak, and I’m forever grateful, and wouldn’t just want to come back there fore more but highly recommend other Miata enthusiasts to experience this hospitality for themselves. Similarly Europe took me by surprise with just how many MX-5’s roam the streets and autobahns there. Germany was probably the most visible place to go MX-5 spotting for me and I had several small and cozy but very enjoyable meetups there. The Dutch, Belgians and French too impressed me greatly with their hospitality. I was most surprised by my meetup in Paris where so many people showed up just to meet me… silly it seems but I certainly appreciated the opportunity to share their enthusiasm. I want to go back to all of these places and hopefully spend more time, preferably behind a wheel of an MX-5 participating in one of the club’s activities like a road trip somewhere or a sightseeing tour, or a foodie tour… I know I’d enjoy it and I recommend it highly for others to consider also when visiting these countries as a tourist.

Now, not all of my trips were a complete success. I’ve had my share of failures. Some were fairly predictable like my hope to bump into MX-5 owners in Rarotonga the capital of the Cook Islands… while I saw several Roadsters driving around, I failed to actually meet with anyone who owns one. Even going to a rental car place didn’t result in a positive sighting of an NC I was keeping my fingers crossed for. Canada was also surprising. With so many Canadians on the forums especially in Ontario I was really surprised and bummed out that I failed to create a meetup during my trip to Mosport for a race there. Booo! But even in the US creating meet up opportunities is difficult. I just returned from my biggest and most amazing US meet up in California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was brilliant in so many ways and I highly recommend others to put it on their calendar for next year and the year after that. I was lucky enough to meet folks in Orlando when on a Road Trip to Florida to volunteer at Sebring and St. Pete but other places were a total bust, including New Jersey where I live. I find it super difficult to organize something close to home. I have failed to organize events during my travels to South Florida, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale area. Didn’t have any luck in Michigan during the Detroit Grand Prix, etc. I’ll keep trying of course in the future, but its a bit sad that things don’t always go as planned. Or that nobody wants to participate in some of my plans.

So after all that, I’m really hopeful that expressing my interest in Japan, Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil, UK and others, something will actually materialize and I’ll get a chance to share the stories about it here on the blog… and during future meet-ups as well!

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!

Mazda MX-5: Düsseldorf from Köln (Cologne), via I.L. Motorsport German Miata Tuner and Dinner with MX-5.de Forum Guys

My most epic Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trip took place this July in conjunction with my Motorsport Euro Trip to volunteer a few races in Western Europe. Second stop was in Germany.

European MX-5 Miata Road Trip Overview:

f-netherlandsPost Card from the Dutch MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-netherlandsAmsterdam to IJmuiden Miata Road Trip

f-germanyPost Card from the German MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-germanyCologne to Dusseldorf Miata Road Trip

f-germanyNordschleife, Nurburgring Miata Road Trip 

f-belgiumPost Card from the Belgian MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-belgiumLiege MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-francePost Card from the French MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-franceParis by Night Miata Road Trip

 

The plan for this stop over was to meet with at least one local MX-5 owner in Cologne before heading to Nürburgring for WEC 6 hour. Lucky for me not one but two owners showed up! David from Cologne and Andre from Dusseldorf who works in Cologne. David was kind enough to drive me to I.L. Motorsport in Hürth, a world famous Miata tuner based in just outside of Cologne. (the other business we didn’t get a chance to check out was Mazda Deutschland which is also just outside of Cologne).

I met David in Deutz across the river Rhine and we proceeded on a short drive to IL, which turned out to be a very impressive facility.

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After IL Motorsport we decided to head to Dusseldorf for dinner, the alternative was American BBQ near to Cologne, and that just didn’t fit my foodie plans at all… so off we went on a road trip.

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While looking for a parking in a parking garage we came across this gorgeous Niseko MX-5.

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The garage was full of other little gems… like this Abarth Punto and the Peugeot RCZ.

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PS. the food was delicious!

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Huge thanks to both David and Andre for an awesome time. David was super cool to pick me up and drop me off back in Cologne. And then on the walk back to the hotel, I stumble upon a nice ND!

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Friends of MX-5: Europe Where are you?

With just a few days left before my epic Euro Trip, the frustration is setting in. I had high hopes of organizing an MX-5 Mini-Meet-Up in every country I plan to visit on this trip and so far it’s shaping up to be a complete failure. I’ve posted all the invites, I’ve joined the local club forums and so far nothing has been concretely organized. Why?

Mazda has a “Friends of MX-5” marketing campaign for Europe that can be nicely summed up in this promo video:

So the fans are there… plenty of enthusiasts throughout Europe eager to meet up in a group and talk about their favorite roadster. But why am I having such a hard time organizing a small get together especially when things went exceptionally well in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.  I really don’t know what’s going on in Europe.

Second year attempt, and hopefully not a wasted opportunity.

So for anyone reading this and sensing the frustration in my tone, come out and join me on the trip if you can. My plans are as follows:

f-netherlands July 13 & 14: staying in Amsterdam

f-netherlands July 15 to 17: marshaling at Zandvoort for DTM

f-netherlands July 18 to 19:staying in Amsterdam

f-germany July 20 to 21: staying in Cologne

f-germany July 21 to 24: marshaling at Nurburgring for WEC

f-belgium July 25 to 27: staying in Brussels

f-belgium July 27 to 31: marshaling at Spa-Francorchamps for Spa 24h

f-belgium August 1: staying in Brussels

f-france August 2: staying in Paris, meet-up at Auto Passion Cafe

 

While in the Netherlands I’d like to visit an MX-5 tuner located very close to the Zandvoort circuit. And while in Cologne I wish to check out IL Motorsport another famous MX-5 tuner and aftermarket parts manufacturer. If anyone could help me out with these two quests I’d be forever grateful.

My other goal is to get a ride in a NC Miata with suspension work done to it. Suspension upgrades are next on my list of things to do for my personal MX-5 (2007 GT PRHT) and it would be very hepful to experience first hand what different options feel like on a similar car. So for anyone that can help me with a ride along I’d be more than willing to buy lunch or dinner.

Please reach out to me via facebook to organize a meet!

Thank you.

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:

mazda mx-5 miata road trip new jersey to michigan 3

mazda mx-5 miata road trip new jersey to michigan 4

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.

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 3

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.

detroit foodie tour coney island hot dogs with chili 10 american lafayette

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.

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 28

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!

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 23 belle isle park detroit

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

mazda mx-5 miata road trip new jersey to michigan 2

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!

 

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ Mile International Road Trip to Ontario, Canada

Question: “Is Mazda MX-5 Miata a good Road Trip car?”

Answer: Yes, absolutely!

I keep asking myself this question and always come up with the same enthusiastic answer… Yes! My MX-5 Miata is a great Road Trip vehicle and I’ve proven it once again on my latest 1,123 mile drive up to CTMP in Clarington, Ontario.

mazda mx-5 miata 1000 mile road trip new jersey to ontario canada via 1000 islands

The distance from my home to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is roughly 500 miles each way. I spend my nights in Bowmanville, which is closer to Lake Ontario and the 401 highway, some 17 miles south of the track, so that accumulated a few miles. Along the way I got awesome fuel mileage and generally enjoyed the drive… the only thing that really made me curse outloud were the massive pot holes I found myself diving into every now and again, as roads in both US and Canada were pretty awful.

This trip was my first International drive in my own Miata… while I’ve done other International MX-5 events all around the world including Southeast Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia) and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) this was the first time I was able to make a direct comparison with my car using different fuels… in US I was experimenting with Speedway gas while in Canada I tried both Shell 91 and Petro-Canada Ultra 94. What I found out is that Ultra 94 gave me a better fuel mileage than all the other fuel I used! That said, Speedway didn’t disappoint either and I got better fuel mileage than I normally get using BP fuel.

poutine at canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario from chip truck at race trac gas station

Since the Miata get together I was planning to have didn’t materialize, I focused on my other passion: food. And when it comes to Canada few things are more uniquely Canadian then Poutine (french fries with gravy and cheese curds). While I admit that I was in the wrong province for this dish, they are native to Quebec where they don’t even celebrate Victoria Day over this weekend. Poutine is delicious and the best I found is served out of a little food truck just a few miles up the road from CTMP on Durham Road 20 intersection with Route 35. Located conveniently at Race Trac gas station. The food is excellent, the portions are huge and the price is right… I managed to sneak out of the track during lunch on Saturday while working at Turn 10 to pick up their XL portion of this wonderful goodness… it was excellent!

poutine at canadian tire motorsport park in bowmanville ontario from chip truck at race trac gas station 3

At the track they fed is well also… including this excellent dinner on Saturday night with pulled pork, cross bun and cake!

marshal dinner at ctmp canadian tire motorsports park for victoria day weekend

I’ve had a few more delicious foodie experiences on this trip, both home cooked and at various restaurants. Probably the most delicious was a BBQ dinner at my CouchSurfing host’s house whom I’ve stayed with for a few times in the past but we weren’t sure if she’ll be around this time so I made plans to stay with a fellow marshal Craig. Nonetheless I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to go visit her after the last day of racing once I learned she was around, and the meal was fantastic…. we joked that everything on the menu was Canadian, and because it was home made, it was sooo good! The following day Craig and I went out for some Fish & Chips which I was craving. Halibut House was the only place open on Victoria Day and they didn’t disappoint.

fish and chips at halibut house in bowmanville clarington ontario canada

On the drive home I made it a point to visit Tim Horton’s… I realize the chain of stores now extends to New York (I made another stop in New York State as I felt I was falling asleep on my drive) but I had to visit the original place in Canada, and the French Vanilla drink they offer is incredible, it’s like sucking on a tit, sooo amazing!

timbits at timmy's tim hortons in ontario canada

Timbits at Timmy’s!

The border crossings both into Canada and back to the US were incredibly quick and painless and I’m very pleased with the folks that work at 1000 Islands crossing because they do a fantastic job. They were pleasant and courteous and I appreciate that kind of treatment. I found that roads in Canada were far smoother than ours in the US, especially at bridge joints on the highways, in Canada they were nice and smooth while in the US there’s a definite jolt every time you drive over them… I had to check tire pressures when I got home to make sure they still had enough air in them, because there were so many pot holes I hit on my drive. I’m cringing about the drive to Detroit in a few weeks, as Detroit and Michigan in general is the capital of pot holes in the US.

construction zone in ontario canada near 1000 islands crossing to usa

I like how the traffic signage in Canada gives you the penalties for speeding… there was another sign that said 40km/h over the limit and you get an instant license suspension and vehicle impound! They do not joke around, though I was the slowest car on the highway, everybody was speeding around me!

speeding fines in ontario canada

I’ll talk about my fuel mileage in greater detail in another post as I will also talk about the debrief from Vic Day at CTMP… as for this ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE MILE trip, I am delighted to report that it went super well!

Can’t wait to the next one.

Foodie Tour of Central Connecticut, Sampling Steamed CheeseBurgers

With the great success behind the last Foodie Tour of Connecticut sampling their delicious Lobster Rolls I am planning another trip to Thompson Speedway with a detour through Central Connecticut to sample their famous Steamed CheeseBurgers.

The idea for this foodie tour came from the research I did about the lobster rolls, and to be honest the concept of steamed burgers (and the cheese that they are smothered in) is very intriguing so I’m going to plan to visit a few spots to choose my favorite instead of going for the sure-thing that everyone recommends: Ted’s!

As always it’s the night before the trip that I’m planning all of this and so far based on my research I will be making the following stops on my 2+ hour journey… with the visits generally based on when the joint closes (some have short work hours) and where they are in relation to other joints. All of my stops will be in the town of Meredin, Connecticut.

So, First Stop:

The Lunchbox at 620 East Main Street

Middle Stop:

K. LaMays at 690 East Main Street

Final Stop:

Ted’s Restaurant at 1046 Broad Street

I was tempted to add O’Rourke’s in Middletown, CT to the list as they were on the way to Thompson Speedway, but the joint closes way early around 2:30pm which is probably the time I would arrive in Meriden for the other three joints. So off the list it went.

I’m really excited about this trip and the prospect of trying something different. I love food, I love burgers and don’t think I’ve ever had them steamed before. Can’t wait to try first hand and then share my opinion on which one was my favorite.

Check out this video from Ted’s:

Reading some of the Yelp reviews I’m going in with the full expectation that all of these joints will serve greasy food and that I may leave with a stomach ache… and I’m OK with it. Bring it on!