Tag Archives: Mazda Roadster

Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona + Trans Am Season Finale the debrief

I remember coming across a picture of a Tic Tac livery Porsche 962 Group C car advertising an event at Daytona… didn’t take me long to decide I must participate. The event: Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona presented by IMSA. Reading about it I thought there would be a million people there… after all everywhere I go people say that Historic events are the best, at Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca or even international events like Spa-Fracorchamps.

Reality though was a bit more low key. But lucky for me not only did I get to see the aforementioned Tic Tac livery Porsche 962. I got to see four of them altogether. I figured they’d do a few parade laps and take it easy for display purposes. In reality though each car was pushing their limits. Some I clocked at nearly 180mph from my post at Pit Out during the race. Wow!

I was always of the opinion that prototypes resembling production cars made the best race cars. The more recent Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR or CLK LM I got to see a few times now is one of my favorites. Similarly Porsche 911 GT1 and the McLaren F1 GTR are amazing. But the cars that preceded that era of racing were the Porsche 956 and 962 respectively and for me seeing them race was a true highlight of the visit to Daytona.

Even though this Rothmans livery Porsche didn’t actually race, it was neat to watch it during practice keep up with the competition. I was convinced this was the car I got to see sitting at Bruce Canepa museum in California a few weeks back, but it was actually a different chassis altogether.

I knew the Dyson team was a competitive Mazda prototype racers in American Le Mans Series, but it was neat to learn they had a history with Porsche Racing in IMSA GTP

The Hawaiian Tropic Fabcar didn’t roll out until race day and after seeing it I really took a liking to it. Compared to the Tic Tac livery car this was like comparing IndyCar to F1, but still it looked beautiful.

I was happy to see other interesting sports cars I haven’t seen before like the Sunoco livery Camaro and the Oldsmobile Aurora IMSA GT.

Overall it was an incredible week… Five days on track at Daytona and most of the time all by myself in Pit Out. What an amazing experience.

It’s ironic that I’m going to mention Trans Am almost as an afterthought, but that’s what it felt like they were at this event. Even though it was their season finale they definitely played a support role for the HSR. That didn’t stop them from having some aggressive racing on display and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Anyway…  race day especially was a real enduro. We only had three SCCA people on Pit Lane (possibly four but he was on the HSR radio) and those three were basically there for the full 30 hours of the race. Starting 7am Saturday for the morning meeting, and finishing Sunday 1pm’ish after that last race got totally mangled with incidents. I attempted to work the full race through for two of my previous Daytona 24 hours (modern IMSA races) but the closest I came was working 22 hours in 2013… somehow this time around I managed to do all 30! It did help that there were 45 minute races with 15 minutes between sessions that I could sit down, but still.

Getting to the event was a real enduro also. I elected to drive down because flights weren’t all that cheap, and a one-way Hertz rental from one of NYC’s airports was just $4.99 per day. I decided to book a car for two days so I could do a more leisurely drive. And my total came out to just over $13 dollars. As cheap as it seems though the fuel killed the deal. It cost me $71 in fuel for the little Nissan Versa I got. Plus another $49 for a hotel in South Carolina to get some rest. I picked my usual stop on the North/South Carolina border to get some fresh pig wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill… my favorite!

Spending the night in Charlotte area was neat because I got to see a ton of Miata’s driving around. There was one sitting by my motel at a gas station when I pulled in. And another must have been dining at a fast food place near the motel when I went to pick up my food. So I quickly posted on facebook to see if anyone would want to meet up. Obviously it was too late to do something that evening, but next day I headed out to a Miata specialist shop in Columbia, South Carolina to check out their NC Miata race cars and the garage. And while there got a message from a Miata owner in Savannah, Georgia to meet up for lunch there. Perfect!

The Savannah Miata mini-meet was kind of funny… I neglected to mention to my new friend that I’m driving a rental car, and he almost showed up in his minivan that is used for car pooling… but I’m glad he stopped home to swap into his gorgeous Miata. Love that color blue!

Great opportunity to meet a fellow Miata owner and to try a new place… never been to Zaxby’s before, and it wasn’t bad.

The rental car though was a solid piece of shit, the only saving grace was the fact I squeezed out over 40mpg out of it on the 1,100 mile road trip.

Wish I could bring a little palm tree home one day… or move to a state with palm trees… like say: Florida?

I think one of these days I’ll just move down there!

Speaking of Florida two of my First Coast Miata buddies came out to watch the races on Friday… but because our schedule was so hectic I didn’t get a chance to say Hello… luckily I did get an opportunity to take a shot of their cars coming back from lunch:

Some great folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville, FL

And so in closing it was a super incredible weekend. Got a chance to see some awesome machinery going really fast. And some stuff you don’t normally see out and about…. like the Ferrari F40

…which looked almost common parked next to this amazing thing:

So yeah, can’t say enough good things about this trip!

Visiting Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

For my last event of 2017 Racing Season I signed up to volunteer the HSR Classic 24 Hours of Daytona “presented by IMSA”… cheapest way to get to Florida it seemed was to drive down on one of the Hertz one-way rentals for $4.99 per day and fly back. So I did, and of course the goal along the way was to stop at Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina for their amazing pig wings, but after seeing all the Miata’s driving around the area I figured there’s got to be a shop somewhere locally specializing in these little cars.

So I paid a visit to Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

Very interesting place with a lot of cool projects going on. And since people always post on facebook looking for Miata car parts, I snuck a few shots of their Miata graveyard for the bone pickers out there… Need parts? Call Panic Motorsports… some pix:

This Mazdaspeed is for sale!

Miata knock-offs…

Thanks for the license plate cover!

See you at the races…

New Jersey Miatas and Modern Fiat 124 Spider End of Season Meet

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.

Should be fun!

Come join us…

Global MX-5 Cup Post-Season Global Challenge @ MRLS the debrief

Welcome to the Playoffs! Who says Motorsports doesn’t have a post-season? Well, the Global MX-5 Cup had finished it’s American racing season in September joining IMSA on track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to determine the championship winner. But Mazda Global MX-5 Cup is literally a Global Series now… There’s a British MX-5 Cup Championship, another elsewhere in Europe, there’s a Japanese MX-5 Cup… and several people from each one of those joined a bunch of Americans at Laguna Seca during the PWC event for another race… the Global Challenge @ MRLS to crown a world winner if you will in the MX-5 world. (he happens to be an American… and he won a bag full of cash for his efforts to win).

The Japanese contingent raced in Winding Road Racing machinery… I wish I could have taken a nice pic of the other car you can barely see in their tent but it was always closely guarded inside… and I missed my chance. The second car actually had some Japanese advertising on it’s sides and front which was very distinctive.

Speaking of Winding Road Racing and several other established American teams, the cars seemed to have changed hands for this event… Slick Sideways racing raced the car above… all the Winding Road stickers got peeled off before it hit the track… along with the PWC TCA stickers it was wearing in the photo above taken on Wednesday during set up.

The fella behind the wheel of this car won the IndyLights championship… and as a Mazda Road to Indy participant found his way into a seat of a Miata… but winning a championship in open wheelers didn’t exactly give him advantage in an MX-5… he seemed to struggle during this event.

The driver o this car nearly ended up in my flat point at Turn 11… I’ll write a separate post about his roll over as there’s a nice video of it happening. He walked away OK but that was a bonehead move that landed him there.

I loved the sticker on the back of this TCB Mazda2 race car… the whole PWC B-spec series are going away, so I’m hoping this fella will find himself behind a wheel of a Miata at a future event next season.

What a fantastic experience this event was!

Day 3: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Driving the Circuit

The final day of Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was perhaps my best day in California yet because I got a chance (second year in a row) to drive a NC Miata around the circuit! WOO HOO! My buddy Peter with a beautiful NC2 Silver Soft Top allowed me the opportunity to drive his car after we lined everyone else up for the lunch time parade laps. We were the last car on track in the tail as the head of the parade lead by Moss Miata people caught up behind us. Apparently it takes 350 cars going somewhat swiftly to safely populate Laguna Seca two-wide.

I love this track… I really do love Laguna Seca, what a fantastic place!

I stand corrected on my previous claim of where Miata owners came from… turns out there were MX-5’s from as far as ALASKA!

this is another gorgeous NC in dark green… emerald?

Oh look… my Miata!

Great view of the gorgeous AMG GT’s from the track experience…

My beautiful ride for the drive around the Circuit… this NC2 Sport

Shortly before our parade laps… all lined up!

Let’s go… oh wait more cars on the way!

A Playboy MX-5 Cup car, much like this inspired me to buy mine…

Fewer cars for the parade laps on Sunday compared to Saturday, which was great for going around the track a little quicker…

A gorgeous day for a drive around Laguna Seca!

Fin! The end to a wonderful experience…

Some more photos from the day in the paddock

Sad to see this beautiful NC from north of the border crash on Saturday… apparently the owner would have some explaining to do at immigration before crossing back into Canada

We adjusted the office set up to deal with the strong sun…

Maybe one of these days in the future I’ll get a ride around the track at speed in this official Pace Car (that was actually used next weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge/California 8 hour race)

More shots of the crashie:

Ouch!

…even the glass cracked 🙁

Safety first!

And that’s a wrap. What a fantastic event. So proud to be a part of it. Thanks again to Rick Weldon and the whole crew for welcoming into the volunteer fold. I am super thankful! I highly recommend this event to everyone that would listen. And would love an opportunity to come back and participate again in the future… if I can.

Day 2: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – The Ride Along

This year’s event was considerably smaller than last year’s… but the quality in my opinion was outstanding. It was cozier. I think people got their money’s worth for those that paid for track time. I got to work the merchandise area again like last year… showing up bright and early around 7:30am but the highlight of my day was around noon when I helped with aligning the cars for a big group parade lap around the famous Laguna Seca circuit. And best of all I caught a ride around the track with my buddy Daniel from Atlanta, Georgia

Cobra eh?

My office for the weekend… sold a ton of poster sets, most of the previous year’s t-shirts and we absolutely ran out of all of the current year t-shirts. Great sales day I would say!

I think my favorite car of the weekend…

The Playboy MX-5 Cup cars were literally the reason why I started my interest in Miata’s… and after one crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during Petit Le Mans I knew I wanted to buy one.

Checking out the vendor’s wears on display in the paddock

A Miata celebrity autograph session…

My buddy Daniel’s car sprung a leak after the first session on track, pissing coolant all over the place… I’m amazed he was able to drive it 2,500 miles back to Georgia after racing on track. Craziness!!!

Daniel is running meaty 245 size tires all around… wow! And I thought going to 215 was going wide, lol

Moving off the paddock to the staging area… first customer was from Las Vegas, Nevada

And while I waited for cars to show up to populate our “pre-grid” there was a parking lot of AMG Track Experience cars for me to oogle at… they were parked 11 across and 10 deep… over 100 cars!

That’s a lot of Miata’s… about 350 to be exact

My chariot for the parade laps… a 2008 MX-5 track car I first met in Duluth, Georgia on my trip to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and VIR in Virginia.

Here we goooo…

We were supposed to do maybe 2 or 3 laps, but that was turned into a full 30 minute session with many more laps than just a few.

The Corkscrew!

Thanks Daniel!

The famous starter stand…

One of my favorite flag points at Laguna Seca, Flag Point #8

Love the way Daniel has his car set up. Great noise from the exhaust. Comfortable racing seats and a good roll cage which I hope he’ll never have to use at his track days.

Love seeing a Miata with diplomatic plates… I’m guessing a child of a Consul to the USA?

Doing some quick shopping at the Laguna Seca Souvenir shop

Wonder why no Fiata’s showed up for this event…

And the day ended with a delicious dinner with a bunch of Miata owners… HUGE thanks to Rick Weldon for letting me be part of this event… I am forever grateful!

Gnarly California Trip 2017

Another radical trip in the books… this time I spent nearly two weeks on Monterey Peninsula in Northern California enjoying myself at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This post will act as a glossary of all of my activities and adventures, which included:

I’ll be writing the individual posts over the next few days so please stay tuned…

The trip went absolutely wonderfully. It’s been a while since the last event so I was well rested and enjoyed the experience very much. Instead of paying for a cheap flight I broke down and burned some frequent flyer miles to get to California. Which meant I could do some crazy routing to finally fly directly into Monterey. On the way over I used my Alaska miles that I got by converting Virgin America points (which Alaska bought out)… luckily two out of the three legs of the trip were actually on VX which was super enjoyable. I love their Airbus A320’s. I flew New York to San Francisco. Instead of getting off the plane and driving two hours, I spent the next four hours in the air over California. First taking another VX flight to San Diego where I connected to an Alaska Air operated by Horizon prop-plane Bombardier Q400 to fly back up to Monterey. My goal was to fly over Laguna Seca and take some shots, but 7:30pm this time of year meant complete darkness… so the only visual I have of the track is what I saw… it’ll stay in my mind instead of captured on a cell phone camera.

Car rentals at MRY weren’t cheap… as expected. But instead of paying $400-500’s for convenience I instead booked a car from Hertz Local Edition in Seaside (and Salinas as a backup)… it was only $162 which is a great deal for a two week rental. Got a Hyundai Accent which got a solid 33mpg! And because I’m so broke I tried not to do too many California road trips… ironically when I returned the car I had put 805 miles on it, which surprised me!

The two events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were fantastic!

I got a chance to get a ride in all versions of the NC Miata… the early years NC1 – my buddy Daniel from Gerogia who drove his 2008 all the way cross-country for this event. Then hopped into the same NC2 I drove around the track last year (the owner let me drive it again which was awesome!) And finally my host in Prunedale owns an awesome looking NC3 which I was lucky to ride in again. We met at the Miata’s at Laguna Seca event last year and him hosting me for the duration of the trip was probably the only thing that made this all possible.

I can’t say enough positive things about my Cali visit this year. It’ll probably be a while before I get a chance to go again, so I’m going to savor the memories and share them on this blog along with many pictures.

NASCAR Trucks at CTMP Canadian Tire Motorsport Park debrief

For the second time this year I took my little red roadster on another thousand mile road trip north of the border to Ontario, Canada. Much like the trip in the beginning of the season for Victoria Day, Ontario was freezing cold. It didn’t help that I decided to camp… at least for the first few days where I got pretty well cold but with prospect of rain on the schedule I decided to ditch this camping thing and evacuate to Bowmanville where my CouchSurfing friend was kind enough to host me. Warm bed, hot shower, my fortunes turned around really quickly.

I had a hard time deciding whether to go to Watkins Glen for IndyCar or travel twice the distance to Mosport for NASCAR trucks and I’m glad I did… the series was all they were cracked up to be, although on a much lower scale… a budget version of the Monster Energy Cup and the Xfinity Series if you will. Nevertheless this event over Labour Day weekend is the biggest event Mosport gets right now… even though I’m sure IMSA feels bigger.

The Motorsport Marshaling Services club went above and beyond at making me feel welcome back… and so did all of the locals. I had fantastic station assignments. Some I haven’t worked in a while, like Turn 8… and some I never worked before like Turn 3 and Turn 1. Ironically I couldn’t even find my way to Turn 3 on the morning of that assignment because I didn’t realize it was on the other side of the track… I had worked 2A many times before and saw the marshals on our side of the track, but it was a surprise to me to discover the hard station across track and nicely elevated for a perfect view of that turn with all of it’s elevation changes.

We didn’t have many incidents to flag this weekend. The biggest being probably from the feature event… as the series direction refers to it… the Nissan Micra Cup. With the new suspension the cars were less prone to roll over, but they were still very prone to incidents. On Race Day in Turn 1 one had a tank slapper and smashed the wall losing a wheel in the process which continued onwards to Turn 2. I was on comms for that incidents and may have fumbled the call a little bit. It was neat to witness though.

My buddy from Montreal came over to marshal in pit lane. And several more people I worked with at Formula E were working directly for Canadian Touring Car Championship. So it was an awesome weekend to catch up with friends. The boss of CTCC even gave me a few series hats and a lanyard to take home as a souvenir. And for that I’m very grateful.

Would love to go back to Canada again for another event.

Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR the debrief

People often ask what’s my favorite race track, and it’s a hard question to answer because I frequent some of the best of them in the world. VIR though is one of the very best in my book! I can say that with confidence and I would encourage people to come and check it out for themselves.

The IMSA at VIR event was my second trip to Danville, Virginia/Milton, North Carolina this year. Of the two this was arguably the bigger event and it showed with amazing crowds of spectators that showed up in force. For the third time now I failed to read the instructions given to volunteers to camp in the South Paddock and instead did what I did before and set up my spot in the North where the usual spectators camp. I say the usual, because most of my neighbors were there for PWC weekend earlier this year, and they were there last year for IMSA as well. One of the spectators made a comment complimenting my Miata saying he remembers it from before… COOL! I even got a visit from a “Mazda Santa” this time who mysteriously dropped off a few new Mazda lanyards by my tent. ALSO COOL!

My first accomplishment of the trip was finally getting to try out Biscuitville… I’ve seen their restaurants before in this area but they were always closed by the time I had free time to visit.

To my surprise Biscuitville sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, which is nice to see. Local businesses supporting the Motorsport activity in their region.

We were extremely fortunate this weekend to be blessed with perfect weather. It wasn’t too hot or too cool. It didn’t rain. It was perfect. Our pit fire team consisted of a bunch of visiting marshals from Daytona which was very neat. Some very experienced firefighters that follow the NASCAR circuit around.

And then there was me in their midst. Good educational experience.

Nothing noteworthy happened in the pit boxes I was responsible for. But I’m happy to say it was a lot to see right in front of me from the Weathertech Series down to SCCA Pro Formula 4. And specifically the ITM sponsored Kiwi Motorsport driver that hails from the part of the North Island in New Zealand where I got my start as a marshal. It was very cool to see them in action, and even though the guy didn’t win he certainly crashed enough… as the saying goes, if you’re not crashing you’re not going fast enough. He was fast!

I already mentioned this in a previous post but for some reason the burgundy Acura NSX really caught my eye this weekend. It was easily the nicest car on the grid. And it just so happens I was manning their pit box.

The blue one looked pretty neat too… neither did particularly well unfortunately.

Big thanks to IMSA for sending out an ice cream lady with free refreshments during the big race. They did this last year too, and it was a very nice gesture at a perfect time. This was neat!

My local New Jersey dealership sponsored Lamborghini team expanded again, with the paddock growing from 3 cars to 5 now. They didn’t do so well except for one. Which I guess was good.

All the usual NC Miatas had a great race too, but a NISSAN won, which was somewhat appropriate as VIR is NISSAN sponsored track. Nevertheless I enjoyed watching them race.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the infield with all the displays and such, but I did get a chance to walk past the local SCCA region tent which had this car on display…

Figures that the local club would feel this paint job was appropriate to attract new members. But whatever.

All in all a fantastic weekend. Car was covered by an inch of dust by the time the event was over. I would love to be back again at this track… what an amazing facility. As the Radio Le Mans commentators put it, “its a very old school track, no run off areas… you make a mistake and you’re off in the grass”

Happy I was a part of this race weekend!

Sunday Fun Day: Ice Cream down the Jersey Shore

Perfect weather today for a little trip down the Jersey Shore for some ice cream! Of course besides my friend Bill and I, everyone else in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York had the same idea… the traffic was atrocious. Everywhere, all the time. But we followed through with it and had a great time hanging out and sampling some delicious ice cream from Charlie’s Creamery in Seaside Park, New Jersey

Originally my plans for this weekend were to volunteer with Team Pocono for the Indycar race at the tricky triangle. Unfortunately for me they did not invite me back. So I had the weekend free to have other fun in the Miata.

We met up at Cheesequake Service Area on the Garden State Parkway. I expected some traffic along the way, and there was some… lots of volume of cars on the road heading south. But when it came time to cross the bridge in Perth Amboy it was just bumper to bumper, it took me half an hour to cover 95% of my trip, and another twenty minutes to go the last two miles to the service area.

Bill was already waiting…

My plan was to continue south on the Parkway until Seaside Heights, visit one creamery and then work our way back up Ocean Avenue to the second creamery in Asbury Park before heading home. But because of traffic that plan was scrapped. So instead of getting back on the GPS, we took the local route, 35 in South Amboy towards Hazlet and Atlantic Highlands.

First stop was at the Navesink Twin Lighthouse park where the skies were so clear you could really see Manhattan and Brooklyn in the distance… no haze or humidity at all.

Part of the big backup on Route 35 before hitting the Ocean was the fact that Sandy Hook had filled up to max capacity. Everyone was waiting in line just to find out the park was closed and then sat around weighing in their other beach options.

The traffic further down the shore wasn’t any better. With pedestrian crossings every few hundred feet, most of the way we were going less than 20mph.

Hey I spotted a Holden Commodore!

The famous Windmill hot dog place…

Lots of cool cars out and about today… the weirdest thing about this Ferrari was a strong smell of burning plastic. We only followed it for a few miles at relatively low speed, but the bad smell coming off this thing was scary!

Gas prices down the shore were all over the board. It varied almost 50 cents between stations for the same grade of fuel. For whatever reason this Mobil was only $2.77 for 93 premium. Surprising!

The further south we went the less the bad the traffic got. As soon as we cleared all the towns with Boardwalks along the way, the pedestrians were less and less of an issue. And the traffic sped up. Obviously! It was a good opportunity to scout beaches to take the family to in the future.

Tons of people at the beach!

And we finally arrived… 2pm ice cream breakfast! Got a parking spot right in front of the joint…. one NJ.com highly recommended as one of the best ice cream parlors down the Jersey Shore!

Luckily the ice cream was very tasty! But since we lost a ton of time driving down here we scrapped the idea of following Ocean Ave back up… instead opting to go directly back to the Parkway and fighting the traffic there. The road was busy but not as much as it would be a few hours later when all the beach goers packed up and headed home.

It was an awesome, nearly 200 mile and $30 in fuel trip, just to get a $5.25 ice cream…