Tag Archives: Mazda Roadster

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…

Mazda MX-5: Miata Horn Upgrade to Something a Little Louder

When I first bought my Miata it became painfully clear that most other bigger cars on the road are on the mission to kill me. Multiple times I found myself taking defensive action to avoid a pick up truck or an SUV veering into my lane, completely oblivious that I was there. My solution was to buy a dash cam so at least I would have evidence when someone runs me off the road. My buddy Bill instead opted to get a louder horn.

Today we went ahead and installed his Thompson Engineering sourced horn. The Tornado/Marco labelled model (Made in Italy) it says… looks a lot more bulkier than the puny stock horn. It was a quick and easy bolt on once we go to it by unbolting a whole bunch of plastic that packages the bumper area of the Miata nicely. At one point I was excited and a little bit worried we will have to take the whole front bumper off. But apparently there are 80+ fastening points one must remove, and I’m glad we didn’t have to resort to that. Nevertheless there were quite a few 8mm screws, 10mm screws and a bunch of plastic fasteners that had to be loosened to get to the horn.

Here’s some pix:

Bill bought the louder horn from Thompson Engineering. The kit came complete with the horn, several fuses, and all the mounting brackets, which was very easy to assemble. We made a trip to Lowe’s to pick up about 5 feet of quarter inch hose in order to route the air intake for the horn under the hood. Lots of zip ties were used to package everything nicely and it looked very factory in the end.

Beep beep!

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Canada: Montréal, Québec

I failed once again to meet any local Miata owners in QuĂ©bec on my visit to Canada for the Formula E events on the streets of MontrĂ©al. Can’t say I was surprised. After all I had failed to meet any Miata owners on my previous trips to Mosport, Ontario as well. Just like on the last trip to Bowmanville I also failed to see a Canadian-spec Miata at the local dealership in Montreal as well.

However, I was very much impressed with the Amount of Mazda dealers in the greater Montreal metropolitan area and there surely are plenty of Mazda’s on the streets of the city… they just aren’t the little Roadsters. So here are some pix from my experience.

The closest dealer with easy public transport system access was Mazda Gabriel St-Jacques… I took the Metro, walked over to where it should have been, didn’t see it and walked around the block lost between a highway and a hospital. But on the second pass I found it! Lots of construction on the streets of Montreal, the orange flowers (orange cones) are in full bloom this summer!

At first… no Miata’s to be seen on the lot!

Oh putain…

But that’s no different from the Mazda dealer I visited in Ontario. So I went in to have a chat with the staff and see if I can get a Canadian-spec Miata brochure at least… surprise! they didn’t have any. The receptionist managed to find a 2016 spec sheet, and sent me on my way. I also visited their parts department to inquire about the Canadian-spec window washer fluid bottle, which is a different design, and much bigger than the American-spec. They didn’t have any in stock… no surprise there. But they could order one for $137 bux… YIKES! However, a stripped down version without a motor (which could be transferred over from the original on the car) was only $66 CAD… phew!

The staff were super helpful it’s just a shame there wasn’t any Miata’s on the lot I could sit in and look around.

I remember reading a Miata.net post that complained: Do they want to sell cars or not? It appears if you want to buy a Miata in Canada it’s a long term process with possible multiple visits to the dealership, ordering and waiting for the car to arrive.

I was so focused on looking for a new ND on the lot that somehow I missed this colorful combination of used-Mazda’s a yellow RX-8 which is probably my favorite color for this rotary car and a red NB… How do you miss something so bright? Glad I spotted them on the way out of the dealership.

Initially I didn’t even see any Miata’s on the streets of Montreal… but then I was proven wrong Thursday night where I spotted half-a-dozen, mostly NB’s in all different colors roaming around downtown Montreal… I suspect they drove in from the suburbs to get a front row view of the fireworks that were scheduled to start after dark on that night. The next day I saw a beautiful NC3 PRHT in white with the top down that came up behind me and left too quick for me to snap a shot of it. Here’s a few Miata’s I did spot on the streets of Old Montreal:

Ironically there were far more Porsche’s on the streets of Montreal than Miata’s.

I even spotted a right-hand-drive Nissan Figaro… twice!

Anyway… while the Miata community of Quebec is very hard to spot, other Mazda’s are all over the place. Tons of CX-5’s and Mazda3’s roaming around. Even used for official city business:

The older Mazda’s make it seem obvious why people hide their precious Roadsters… the rust isn’t kind in this part of the world:

I suspect the salt use in the winter eats right through the metal.

Anyway, I had such a blast in Montreal for the Formula E event even though I completely failed to make any contact with the local Miata community… and I even researched several Quebec MX-5 Clubs and sent them facebook messages asking for help.

Maybe I’ll get more lucky in the future…

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

I have tried and once again failed with another attempt to fix the metal to metal clanking sound coming from the rear of the car. It has appeared out of the blue once we swapped my OEM shocks to a set of Bilsteins from a newer Miata. Since then I have greased the rear sway bar bushings. Replaced the rear sway bar end links. Replaced the bushings on the rear sway bar that I had greased before with OEM parts and still the noise persists. So after much research it was suggested that the exhaust hangers may be faulty. They are rubber and after 10 years of use I’m sure they would have lost some of their rigidity.

So I researched the ones to buy. OEM ones on eBay are nearly $20 bux apiece. There are two different kind and a total of five of them in use on our system. One on the pipe under the car, and four holding the exhaust manifold in place. Part # LF46-40-061 of which you use three of, goes under the car and on the back of the muffler closest to the rear of the car (tail pipes). Part # N3H2-40-061A are nearly twice the width of the other hangers and go on the front of the muffler closest to the differential.

But I was not going to spend $100+ bux on OEM hangers, they’re just cheap rubber, I don’t get why they cost so much. Even online part stores like Quirk or Tasca wanted over $10 apiece and something like $13 for the fat ones. No thanks!

The aftermarket hangers from Flyin’ Miata were $8-$9 apiece. The same ones on eBay could be had even cheaper from Kartboy and COBB with various offers for around $40 for a set of 5 with free shipping. But it still seemed excessive for what they really are.

So I started doing more research and found Advance Auto Parts sells Walker Insulators Part # 35119 for just $3 bux and with their generous 20%-30% discounts, it was just $11.55 with tax for the five I bought initially and $5.28 for two more that I bought to double up one of the muffler hangers to replicate the fat design of the OEM.

Everything looked so great, but after a test drive the noise is still there… Fuck me!

Here’s some pix:

A set of five from Advance Auto cost less than one OEM hanger!

The fat OEM hanger on the front of the muffler closest to the diff.

I used a lot of soapy water in a spray bottle to loosen the rubber, for whatever reason the 12mm holes on the OEM hangers were so loose that most of them just popped out with little effort.

new one on the right and old one on the left

the new hangers are 10mm so it took effort to put them on.

but with soapy water sprayed on both rubber and hangers it worked.

and then I had an idea to double up the rubber on the back hanger, it fit just right and introduced more rigidity I believe.

Although the brand name on Advance Auto web site and what I picked up in the store didn’t match, these seem to be good quality product, Made in India.

While inspecting the bottom of the car I noticed my X-brace was bent upwards in a place closest to where the exhaust pipe goes. So I took it off and straightened it out in a vice grip.

Oh how I wished this would have solved my clunky problem… it would have been so awesome especially how cheap the parts were compared to the new OEM end links and even OEM bushings. But fuck it didn’t work… the problem persists and it’s going to drive me crazy until I find the culprit!