Tag Archives: Mazda

NER SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock on Father’s Day Weekend

Thanks to¬†Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.

For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.

Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.

As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.

Love the Brasil colors on this E46 M3

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

This father’s day my friend Bill and I decided to fix another issue both of our NC Miata’s were having… my rear stabilizer links were making a clicking sound ever since we installed the Bilstein shocks. His Miata seemed to have aftermarket end links where one of them was ripped out of it’s socket because of possible incorrect install to his massive Flyin’ Miata rear stabilizer bar. So Bill ordered the parts online, came over and as soon as we got the car up on the RhinoRamps it started raining… so we went to the Diner for breakfast. On the way we also stopped by at CarQuest to pick up some more new end link nuts because the old ones on my car were showing signs of wear and I didn’t want them to get stripped. He paid $3.30 apiece at the Mazda dealer… I paid $3.30 for a box of 4 Dorman aftermarket pieces. They looked the same.

Fast forward to some better weather and replacing the end links turned out to be a rather quick job. We did Bill’s car first. Taking them off was easy. But placing new ones on seemed to look weird because they went in on an angle when attached to the stabilizer bar… I was worried if we fastened them in this condition, it was possible that they might fail again.

Luckily we had my car nearby to see exactly what they were meant to look like in correct condition, as installed from factory.

So another idea was to take mine off. Replace them with new ones. And use my old ones as guinea pigs on Bills car to see if they would last. If no failure happens after a few weeks of driving we’ll go ahead and replace them with the new ones. So that’s what we did.

Ironically though, the clicking didn’t stop once we installed new end links on my car. Turns out they were not the problem I was experiencing. Instead it appears that the actual stabilizer bar was bending in such a manner that it was making noise when the chasis of the car twisted on various road conditions, particularly when going onto uneven surfaces, like up a driveway or into parking lots, or hitting pot holes.

I was disappointed that the problem didn’t get fixed, but as we were tinkering under my car I discovered that my differential was covered in fluid and grime. It turns out that the last time I did Castrol Syntrax flush to replace the Mobil 1 75W90, I did something wrong. It’s possible I didn’t tighten the bolts enough. Or that I overfilled the differential. Or that my car didn’t like the Castrol product. I was so concerned about it, I ordered another jug of Mobil 1 since it was proven to work well for a good 20k miles, and did the flush later on in the day. So far after the test drive the car feels smooth. There’s no whine at cruising speeds. And all is well. What I’m concerned about now looking at the old Castrol that I drained from the diff, is a bunch of small aluminum shavings. That doesn’t seem normal to me.

But I guess time will tell if there’s a bigger issue.

Today was a very productive Sunday!

Sunday Fun Day Part 3! BBQ with Car People in Edison New Jersey

Today was an awesome day!

And the rain held off long enough for me to enjoy a delicious BBQ with a bunch of cool car people. They weren’t necessarily Mazda enthusiasts, many of course were. But there were also plenty of Subi fans. Evo fans. Toyobaru fans. Dodge Viper fans… Jaguar F-type fans. You get the idea.

The BBQ was delicious also because of the diversity of the people. Lots of Asian folks making delicious Pinoy food. Korean burgers. Ribs, hot dogs, etc. I was planning on bringing some hot dogs but since I wasn’t sure if I end up really going after the visit to the Meadowlands I didn’t want them sitting in my car. Glad I didn’t because there was food left over at the end. But my six pack of soda went to a good use. Enough about the food. The cars were so awesome and I am especially looking forward to the drone footage that one fella recorded (after almost crashing the thing into a tree).

Thanks to everyone that helped make this day awesome for me!

I really enjoyed myself…

Sunday Fun Day Part 1! AutoX Motorsport NE at the Meadownlands

Today was a good day!

The threat of rain didn’t dampen my automotive adventures… I slept in pretty late, woke up 9’ish which was a good change from last year when I volunteered Detroit Grand Prix and had to be up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Belle Isle. So that was a plus. I did get to see some racing today, if you could call Autocross racing… all 50+ seconds of it at a time where various Miata’s, Porsche’s, Vette’s, Rotary RX-7’s and RX-8’s and a shitton of other cars took to the track… err parking lot at the Meadownalds.

I was surprised to see two concurrent AutoX events happening at the Met Life Stadium (the former Giants Stadium) one at Lot L and another at Lot E. I’ll share my observations below, knowing full well that many will not agree with my opinions… and since I took a hell of a lot of pictures I’ll break them up into three parts, the Sunday Fun Day series if you will.

So first stop was at Lot L where Motorsports North East were running their Autocross… I learned about it at Miata.net where several owners posted a plan to “race” and hang out, spectate and proceed to lunch at a famous hot dog joint nearby.

I came. I saw. I took some pix. And I got bored rather quickly. Now I understand why I prefer circuit racing to solo. Especially if I could be a part of it as a volunteer.

So here’s some pix:

As you can see people run what they brung… I had a hard time choosing a cover photo for this post because it was definitely a hard choice between the beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia which I was delighted to go flat out for the first time, or that cobbled together Mazda MX-5 Miata NA with a turbo and a big wang in the back.

But this event was definitely the “budget” version of the next stop on my automotive adventures today… the Sunday Fun Day series continues…

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Today was a good day!

After the post maintenance test drive my toddler nephew exclaimed: “Oh look it’s Mia and Tia!”

Last week at the Woodcliff Lake Cars & Coffee my buddy Bill with the NC1 Copper Red Soft Top said he needed an oil change, so I volunteered to do it for him. Great! Today was the day to do it, perfect weather… lots of time since it’s the weekend, and besides the oil change we flushed the rear diff too.

Bill’s NC is pushing 104k miles, so it’s got a few more than mine. The area where the trans pairs to the engine was a bit covered with oil, which I guess may be normal for that age. It certainly looks similar as my high mileage Ford Explorer that my mom drives. There was also a lot of grime on the engine cover so I spend much of the time cleaning as the actual oil change took very little time. Actually, it took us the longest to figure out where to jack the car up correctly since his has an Appearance Package with side skirts that stick out beyond the pinch welds that I normally jack my car by.

Here’s some pix:

(first shot with my new Samsung Galaxy J3 6 “budget” smart phone)

Bill’s Miata:

The dreaded Sports Appearance package side skirts… look good from a distance, make the car seem lower to the ground, but a bit tough to work with especially when jacking the car up (and having to remove the jack leaving jack stands in place to lift the other side).

I don’t know if these openings are supposed to look like that or the previous shops/mechanics cut a piece out to get to the jacking point

The wet spot at the joint of transmission and engine

Bill lowered his car 1 inch with Flyin’ Miata Stage 2 kit, so we definitely had to use 2×4’s to get the front high enough for my jack to slide under

All done, first test drive to Advance Auto to recycle old oil and to buy gear lube to flush the rear differential.

Thanks to the great deal at Advance Auto I posted about earlier I got a chance to use both Castrol EDGE and Castrol EDGE Extended Performance + K&N HP-1002 filters on Bill’s oil change and mine…

Back in the air and leveled for the diff flush.

I was hoping that the Castrol Syntrax I used in my car’s last diff flush was going to work out but it seems to me that the quality of Mobil 1 is better so I recommended Bill get Mobil 1 instead.

Discovered one of Bill’s end links had broken off it’s mounting point to the sway bar, so he is going to order some new ones. These are the same pieces that make the clunking sound on my car ever since we replaced my stock shocks with OEM Bilstein’s.

Off on another test drive to get a feel for the rear end of the car… all Good!

Thansk for stopping by Bill!

My car is next, this time I tried the Castrol EDGE Extended Performance to see how it compares to Castrol EDGE I used for the past two oil changes. I’m assuming there will be no difference because I really don’t intend on running the car for 15k miles before the next oil change. In fact I was about 500 miles short of 5k on this one and I have no regrets, I’d rather change it more frequently then less…

This is my 3rd oil change this year, not sure if one more will be necessary before winter time… depends how many races I volunteer.

Memorial Day Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park (PWC) the debrief

To say I had a blast at this weekend’s (Memorial Day weekend) PWC event at LRP would be an understatement… I really, truly, genuinely had an amazing time. And the people I got a chance to work with totally contributed to that experience.

It absolutely makes a difference who you work with and this time I was super lucky. You know someone else is comfortable with you when she refers to you as “dipshit” to her colleague. That happened. Both of my series starters from PWC were amazing, and it was my honor to be working with them as a backup starter at the Start/Finish stand.

I thought the weekend went especially well. The racing was better than usual. We didn’t have too many bullshit crashes that tend to ruin other PWC events. The recoveries were smooth and quick, and there were awesome battles for positions throughout the field in all the classes. That was awesome.

I got to make a lot of calls on the radio. Which was good. I’m happy I didn’t make too many mistakes with that aspect. I was even able to do a debris run picking up a large chunk of debris from the race winning Turner BMW in the TC race. But I also made some rookie mistakes and they were to be blamed on me squarely. There were three instances where I was meant to point out a car to the series starters and I pointed out the wrong car. We did track it correctly, but for whatever reason I pointed at a different car that was similar in appearance. In the TCA/TCB race I pointed to the SAC racing 080 car instead of the race winning 70 car. Both were black with Green accents, but one was Teal and another bright Green… One was ND and another NC. And yet somehow I mucked it up. With the other starter I had real trouble with the Porsche Cayman GT4’s… we were supposed to track 018 car and I (for some weird reason) confused it with it’s sister car 017… luckily the series starter was better than me at identifying cars but it tripped her up too, unnecessarily. Maybe the dipshit comment was right on the money.

I must have not been too terrible, because unlike the series starter last year she greeted me with a hug in the morning, which was an AWWWW moment. She must not hate me. And on race day she gave me a little gift, a pin of a Guardian Angel that one of her colleagues designed. AWWWW again! She doesn’t want me to die. That’s nice. I really enjoyed the weekend and I really hope I get another opportunity to work with these folks again… somewhere!

Pirelli World Challenge was a standalone feature of this Memorial Day weekend. So we only had the GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS and TC/TCA/TCB cars at the track. What was different was the fact that the field of TC cars grew so large in size that they got to run a race on their own without the usual TCA/TCB addition. This meant that the TCA/TCB ran a race of their own too… and it was clear as day to see how well the Global MX-5 Cup cars performed on their own in this series. I knew they won at VIR and Mosport (both races I volunteered) but since there was a different overall winner in TC class, it wasn’t so obvious who won TCA. The older Miata’s in TC class though qualified super well, they were in row 2 and 3 on the grid, but as soon as the race started they faltered. Many DNF’d. Which sucks! But the cars are getting old, and the newest addition to the field this year, the BMW 235M blew up in size, it seems like they are completely dominating this series. In the GT race there were quite a few incidences, but overall it was super enjoyable to watch and especially neat to be a part of in such an amazing position on the start stand. I’m incredibly grateful!

Best of all I didn’t have to choose between having lunch or taking pictures during our downtime. I was smack in the middle of all the action. I could just walk over to the dummy grid and take a few snaps before heading back on duty and the series starters were happy to help me out with a few selfie style shots to capture the moment of this experience. It was tremendous!

I would love to do it again!

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change Deal Castrol EDGE + K&N Wrench-Off Filter $22.99

Memorial Day oil change deal alert at your local Advance Auto Parts store… while I’m not due for an oil change and I still have a perfectly good jug of Castrol EDGE 5W20 from a previous purchase, along with a bunch K&N HP-1002 and PS-1002 filters for my Miata, at this price I decided to stock up on a few more.

The deal is $22.99+ tax for a 5QT Jug or 5x 1QT bottles of Castrol EDGE full synthetic oil plus a K&N Wrench-Off high performance oil filter… which at Advance Auto typically sells for $36.99 just the oil and $16.99 just the filter. Of course I like to shop around and have purchased oil and filters cheaper individually but in this case the combination of the two work really well, I’ll explain why.

Advance Auto is currently running a promo through American Express also, where you get $10 rebate on your AMEX card for a $50 purchase. Similarly, Advance Auto SpeedPerks rewards program allows you to earn $5 (coupon you can apply to a future $20 purcahse) for each $30 you spend. Naturally the $22.99 deal is after rebate, so the $32.99 you shell out upfront qualifies for this deal.

The Castrol EDGE Extended Performance oil is also on sale, a 5QT jug of that is $24.99 after rebate with the K&N filter included. So what I did was purchase both, sending my total with tax to $70… I quickly got an e-mail confirming my AMEX rebate. I’m hoping SpeedPerks comes through for at least $5 maybe even $10 since I spent over $60 (2x – $30) and in the end it will be a fantastic deal.

Almost as good as those end of fiscal year clearance sales where Advance Auto or AutoZone clear out their oil supply and sell 5QT Jugs of various oils for like $5 bux. But alas those deals are hit or miss and sometimes only apply for specific oils. For example two years ago I managed to buy Mobil 1 for $5 a jug, except it was only the 0W20 weight. I read about Pennzoil Platinum going on sale for a similar price but out of the three oils I have used in the Miata, the Castrol EDGE goes on sale least. And I found out it’s the oil that performs best in my car, yielding the best gas mileage!

So I’ll stick with it for a while.

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner Woodcliff Lake New Jersey May 2017

No better way to spend Memorial Day weekend than at my local Cars & Coffee. This meetup at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ is always a treat, check out the pix:

I arrived a bit late, after 10am which meant may cool cars were either leaving or had already left… like the Enzo Ferrari and McLaren P1… but the Miata’s were still there, and after parking lot clearing a bit we decided to get them together for a photo op:

At this point it was around noon and everyone was hungry so we headed down to Hackensack to my favorite BBQ joint… Cubby’s!

This place is so awesome… there’s nothing “bad” on the menu, everything is “great!”

Looking forward to the next one!

Post Card from the Dummy Grid at Memorial Day PWC LRP Grand Prix

Fantastic Memorial Day weekend at the races… Lime Rock Park was fantastic to me. I have grown to absolutely love the Pirelli World Challenge series. And best part I got to work as a backup starter… so there was a lot of downtime. I was in the prime spot to see the cars up close, and as a result there was ample opportunity to take some pix. So this is my Saturday Race Day mega gallery… enough talking here’s the pix:

Free breakfast for the marshals how thoughtful! Thanks Skip Barber

Miata Racing is the main reason I signed up to do this event!

They split TC from TCA/TCB races, so it was much easier to see the current MX-5 Cup cars winning a race…

New flavor of SAC racing skittles cars…

Hhhmm… I didn’t know Volvo and GM had a relationship… I knew about SAAB/Scania but Volvo GM – WHITEGMC is news to me… kind of cool though!

This is such a beautiful and completely appropriate paint job… for this event!

Selfies!

The driver of this #70 also raced (and won in) the TCA MX-5 Cup car

Thanks to Chris Booth for taking some pix of me with the cars in the paddock during lunch time.

He sells Miata parts apparently ūüôā

…after doing donuts in Turn 1 and returning to pit lane counter race

The series starter gave me a small gift: A Guardian Angel… Awwww!

I am so grateful to everyone that made this weekend possible for me. Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock Park, to the series: Pirelli World Challenge and of course Chris Booth for taking some pix for me. Thank you all very much! See you at the next one.

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ mile Road Trip from New Jersey to Ontario, Canada for Victoria Day Speedfest

Happy sesquicentennial anniversary Canada!

I had no idea Canada turns 150 until I saw all the colorful banners at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. My 500+ mile road trip north was for the same reason I went last year. Victoria Day Speedfest event is an excellent combination of racing series at an amazing facility that makes time fly because you’re having fun.

Unlike last year the weather went completely haywire. On the first day it was warm but super windy. In fact the first order of business upon arrival in Bowmanville was to head to my favorite Poutine place to pick up a big plate of fries with gravy (which I ate in the car, parked at Turn 2 watching cars on track)… driving there I thought there was a sand storm, the wind whipped up all this dust it was hard to see the road in places. Next day it was cold. The following day cold and sunny, so I was freezing and got sunburned. And race day it rained which meant one of the feature PWC series got cancelled. But nevertheless I had a blast!

As usual took lots of pix:

Gas station food… it’s different in Canada!

1st Place Fries at Race Track gas station… yep!

…off to the track we go!

Welcome to Mosport!

Watching the test day activities from Turn 2.

Ironically, throughout the weekend I had the most unexpected favorites. The Micra Cup certainly kicked ass… it almost killed us at Turn 9 on Saturday as two cars lunged at us rolling in the process hitting the tire wall pretty hard while we scattered away. Both drivers walked away but it was a scary incident. Pinty’s Series did an amazing job racing in the wet on Sunday. Who says NASCAR doesn’t do rain tires? They certainly do… while PWC cancelled their Sprint X event because the track started ponding in some areas. But then the rain let up and the final race of the weekend took place… Canadian Touring Car Championship ran, but with half the field chickening out.

I tried to organize a Miata meet-up during the weekend. I failed for the second year in a row. This time I posted on Miata.net but apparently in an inconvenient thread because some dickhead jumped on me for hijacking the thread. And a few more assholes joined in the chorus speculating I must have voted for Trump because I made such a massive mistake posting in a thread where Ontario Canadians responded what cities they live in. To me that was the most appropriate post, but needless to say my efforts were wasted. Nobody wanted to meet. I did see several Miata’s at Mosport. One NA even gave me the flip up headlight “Hello” as I flashed my lights at him driving down towards Mosport Road, but that was that.

I did get a chance to visit my favorite gas station in Canada again… and refuel using the grade of fuel that sponsors the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup series… Ultra 94. I suspect because of the rain and cold weather I never got better than 33mpg which kind of sucks. I wanted to match 36mpg’s from last year’s trip.

More pix:

Just like in the US, the gas prices differ station to station. So note-to-self for next trip… the Petro-Canada in Cobourg, Ontario has the cheapest price along the 401… also important to remember that just like Sunoco Ultra 93, not all stations carry that grade of fuel. I foolishly visited two gas stations ready to fill up, only to pull away from them because they didn’t sell Ultra 94.

Final fill up in Canada, $40 CAD for half a tank of gas. Oouch!

Similar fill up at Sunoco south of the border… but with a more favorable rate.

Ultra 94 is all over the place at Mosport though, so I’m happy to do my part and support Petro-Canada rather than other Canadian stations like Ultramar, Husky or even Esso in favor of those that support local Motorsport.

I think the highlight of the trip was when my Google Maps GPS welcomed me back to New Jersey! That took me by surprise…

I almost forgot to mention… a few miles before the Canadian border at the Thousand Islands crossing I hit quite the milestone in my Miata 66,666 miles!

That’s the second time this year I’ve rolled over all 6’s, last time being in Wes’s Crown Vic driving it from Pennsylvania to Texas.