Tag Archives: mazdaspeed

Skip Barber Racing School Bankruptcy Liquidation Buy Your MX-5 Race Car!

One man’s misery is another man’s blessing…. or however that saying goes. I should point out that Skip Barber the man is no longer affiliated with the Racing School he started and one that bears his name. He’s doing fine and happy owning Lime Rock. The school on the other hand has gone bancrupt. And there are a lot of unhappy people who haven’t gotten paid looking for some of their hard earned money.

This weekend a facebook post popped up about a Liquidation Sale of all of Skip Barber Racing School’s assets. Someone may be very interested in this. The press release is below.

I’m just going to go out on a limb and speculate here that soon there will be a ton of NC Miata’s hitting the track in club and amateur racing scene that were once Skippy cars. In fact I always said that the reason I bought my Miata was because one had crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during the Playboy MX-5 Miata Cup race… well there were two classes in those races, with the slower field being Skip Barber Racing School cars/drivers. Looking at the pictures the Skip Barber Miata’s even use the same BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp tires I use on my car!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Liquid Asset Partners to Acquire Skip Barber Racing School

New York, NY – Skip Barber Racing School has received U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval in New York to sell all their assets and intellectual property to Liquid Asset Partners. The school is one of the largest racing institutions in the world. It has a 40+ year history providing racing instruction, defensive and high-performance driving classes, amateur and professional racing championships, and corporate entertainment experiences. Their list of Alumni includes top racers, business professionals, and world famous actors.

While most of the physical assets will be sold in a three month liquidation sale starting August 29, the iconic brand is available for outright purchase offers or potentially for licensing to regional race schools or tracks that want to grow their race programs. Liquid Asset Partners utilizes a unique approach to Intellectual Property and values the enormous brand recognition of the Skip Barber Racing School. Other schools and race tracks with instructional programs could add quality and demand to their race programs from the Skip Barber Racing School association.

A three-month liquidation sale will be held in Braselton, GA starting August 29. The sale will include hundreds of race cars and high-performance engines, transmissions, and components for Barber formula race cars, Mazda Miata, Porsche 911, Mustang GT, semi-trailers, trucks, fleet equipment, race equipment, memorabilia, and historical vehicles.

“Skip Barber Racing School has built a great track record for over 40 years as the leading race and performance driving school. We feel honored to have this opportunity and are starting to talk to different parties about options for its future,” said Bill Melvin, owner of Liquid Asset Partners. “The demand for Skip Barber Racing School training is very high, and it’s amazing how most men know the Skip Barber Racing School as the best of the best. It just needs the right structure for it to grow for another 40+ years. Licensing to numerous tracks could be an option. Adding the Skip Barber Racing School to any track curriculum would be a huge draw for any local race community, or a national player may emerge to acquire the brand for a national program already in place.”

Press contacts or interested parties should contact Liquid Asset Partners at 616-719-5917 to discuss.

About Skip Barber Racing School:
Since 1975, Skip Barber Racing School, based outside Atlanta, GA, has operated a fully integrated system of racing schools, driving schools, racing championships, corporate events and special projects across North America. The organization delivers a combination of high quality instruction, equipment, facilities, and memorable experiences. Their history includes associations & ventures with Mazda, Dodge, Porsche, Ford, and more. Some of their best know alumni include Michael Andretti, Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo-Montoya, Bill Elliot, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Petty, Al Pacino, Charlie Sheen, Jerry Seinfeld and more.
www.SkipBarber.com

About Liquid Asset Partners:
Since 1974, Liquid Asset Partners, based in Grand Rapids, MI, is an acquisition and disposition leader in motorsports, retail and wholesale industries across North America. Liquid Asset Partners specializes in creative ways to assist companies in unlocking value from underperforming assets. Some notable projects include Erik Buell Racing (motorcycles), BarcLounger, Circuit City, the Indian Motorcycle Company, and more.
www.LiquidAP.com

And of course the pix:

photo credit: Liquid Asset Partners facebook page

So if you’re in a market for new or used parts, tires, engines, transmissions, complete and incomplete cars, haulers, vans and trucks do reach out to this company and get a little piece of the action probably at greatly reduced price…

 

Liquidation Sale! Skip Barber Racing School liquidation starts Aug. 29th & will run 3 months until everything is sold! 5489 Technology Parkway Braselton GA. Call for info 616.719.5917

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Big day  working on my friend Bill’s Miata today.

We were planning on changing his spark plugs to NGK Laser Iridium plugs as well as put in his new rear end links and replace the license plate light bulbs to the new LED ones I ordered online from Taiwan. The day started early for Bill with a trip to Ramsey Mazda to help diagnose an air conditioning leak… which they spent many hours looking for but couldn’t find.

It was a very wet start to the day. I had to run some errands before meeting Bill at the dealership (to also pick up my rear sway bar bushings) and it was tough to get around with multiple highways flooded. But we managed to meet up, went to have delicious Korean BBQ for lunch and the day suddenly cleared up and became sunny!

So here we go…

I first vacuumed and then blasted the top of the engine with compressed air to clear any debris from the area we were going to work on…

and there was some debris, especially from the underside of the engine cover that left a fine sand-like crap over the wiring

I’ve done the spark plugs on my car at around 50k miles so it was interesting to tackle Bill’s car which has over 100k miles on his and presumably these were his original spark plugs…

Getting to them was easy, instead of unplugging the coil packs I just moved them upwards and out of the way

Most of the holes were clean except for the one next to last, which had a visible amount of oil in it

Shiny new plugs… while undoing the old ones we quickly were faced with them being stubborn and not turning as freely as you’d want them to… so Bill went ahead and sprayed them with PB Blaster… and while they soaked we moved on to doing some other repairs

So we proceeded to changing Bill’s rear end links. I had him using my old take offs as a temporary solution to see if there would be any issue. The shop that did his suspension install used some cheapo aftermarket ones and we quickly discovered that one of the end links had it’s ball ripped out of the housing. So it was nice to see that the OEM pieces held up and we replaced them with new ones.

After this we took another crack at turning the spark plugs and all were loose except for the very first one closest to the front of the car, so we blasted it again and moved on to installing rear sway bar bushings on my car hoping that would stop the clunking… spoiler alert… it didn’t! But now I have new bushings in the back. Oh well!

My old bushings looked fine. We lubed them up with Mobil 1 grease not that long ago. But I was hoping against hope that they were the culprit of my clunking noises. Now I’m not sure what it is. We put on new end links, new bushings…  what could it be? Bad shocks? But bad shocks would surely show wear. I am stumped!

Back to finish the spark plug change:

With enough lube all came out effortlessly. In fact they came out with much less effort that I did on my car doing the dry swap.

The hole that had oil in it was showing clear debris left when the spark plug was removed, so I cleaned it out nicely before installing the new one

All done! Started up no problem. No engine noise. No vibrations. Perfect!

After a short test drive we proceeded to the last job of the day… changing the pesky license plate bulbs on the trunk lid… one of Bill’s burned out and that was the reason I ordered a bunch of them from Taiwan to replace mine as well

I already knew how to approach this change. Pulled out a bunch of fish line and started working my way along the backing of the light unit. The rubber piece that touches the metal trunk lid was very much stuck to it. So the reason for using the fishing line was to break it loose and then the light unit slides to the left and pops out by pulling on the right side of it. And so that’s exactly what I did.

All the plastic tips in tact, nothing snapped or broken. Nothing brittle

Interesting observation the soft top Mazdaspeed spoiler has a little area cut out for the Mazda logo… who would have thunk?

I asked Bill to bring his new ramps so we could change the rear end links, and they fit very nicely into his trunk. Taking up all the space!

The LED’s look perfect!

What a difference a couple of hours make. It was a perfectly sunny day for Bill’s drive home… I had an awesome time working on this car looking forward to another excuse to do something else in the near future. Thanks Bill!

The Debut of MX-5 Cup Cars (Hardtops) in PWC Pirelli World Challenge

My goal signing up to volunteer the Nissan Grand Prix of VIR was to see the Global MX-5 Cup cars make their debut in the Touring Car class of Pirelli World Challenge series. This series, unlike the Global MX-5 Cup which I got an opportunity to volunteer for under the IndyCar sanction at Alabama Grand Prix a week prior run with hard tops (instead of open top convertibles). I figured it would be great to check out the new hard tops in person… funny enough, most of the tops didn’t arrive until the very last day and the final race. Most of the practices and the first race for some cars was run open top. I’m sure many teams had a nail biting experience waiting for the big box shipment to arrive.

Naturally I took a million pix of both the new ND MX-5 Cup cars and the established NC MX-5 Cup cars that have run and win PWC TC / TCA class for years now.

The Skittles Team:

And the Long Road Racing trailer:

On Saturday big wooden boxes started arriving… and that’s when you started to see hard tops on ND’s being installed… At last!

At first it seems like each team got one hard top allocation, but by race day on Sunday all teams were wearing theirs.

They do look pretty good!

Congrats to the Miata teams that took the top step on the podium this weekend. It was great to watch!

Visiting MAZMART in Atlanta, Georgia on my Southern Road Trip

First order of business upon visiting Atlanta was a quick trip down to MAZMART!

Two weeks ago I didn’t even know anything about Mazmart, luckily (or really unluckily) my car broke down… I went to test my battery and as I was cleaning under the hood and reinstalling everything in it’s place I must have leaned onto one of the power steering hoses, which moved the attachment on the side of the pump causing a ten year old O-ring to start seeping in air creating a fucking mess around the power steering reservoir.

The problem was solved using locally sourced parts in New Jersey but while I was doing my research (frantically since I knew I had a 1,000 mile road trip south coming up) I did reach out to Mazmart upon Sakshik’s recommendation to see how much they would charge for Mazda OEM O-rings… they were a good $10 cheaper than the dealer, luckily my problem was solved with a $2 part from NAPA Auto.

But that didn’t stop me from wanting to check out this place once I arrived in Atlanta, and I’m so glad we did!

Mazmart specializes in Mazda parts. They got a ton of parts cars on the property willing to sell you parts of them cheap. And if there’s something new you’re looking for they have a dealership hook-up with discounted rates compared to the actual dealerships.

I took a ton of pix in the store, especially of their rotary stuff:

Mazda MX-5: 600 Mile Miata Road Trip to Watkins Glen for some NASCAR Training

I’m so glad I drove up to Watkins Glen for some much needed NASCAR training during their Motorsport Safety Seminar this April. Last time I went was two years ago. Last year I almost went, but with snow on the forecast I chickened out, panicked and booked a flight to Texas instead to volunteer MotoGP where it didn’t snow. This year I was committed to go, but kept on checking the weather app because the Miata is not an optimal snow vehicle upstate New York.

Things were looking good… and then I saw snowflakes on the forecast. I don’t know if it was that… the five cups of coffee I had on Friday, or the excitement of planning a Texas Road Trip… I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before leaving for my 4 hour drive north. Went to bed early at 9PM by 1AM I was still tossing and turning, so I decided to shower and hit the road. And the road was miserable. It was raining the whole time, most of the way heavy. And closer to the destination it started snowing with big snow flakes zooming past reflecting in the headlights playing tricks on my sleepy mind, resembling time travel in some cosmic galaxy. It was fucked up!

I took my time, and the otherwise 4 hour trip turned into a 6 hour trip. I stopped for food at Sheetz, my usual spot in Scranton, PA. I stopped at Tim Hortons but they didn’t seem to be open even when there was an employee cleaning the place up… I had to pull over at a Rest Area near Tioga Downs to close my eyes for a minute because I found myself dozing off a little. But I made it to MSS training with time to spare but not too early.

On the way in I drove past Montour Falls which compared to the last time I saw them (when they were dry) it was the complete opposite. They were gushing with water. A massive amount of water. All the rivers leading to Watkins Glen were overflowing. Lots of fishermen along the creeks down the main road were getting ready to catch something early in the morning.

The first day flew by quick. I went into town to crash at my host’s house. She was away so I figured I’d take a nap and hang out in the evening. But the nap didn’t work. So we hung out ordering pizza and wings and watching a movie. Went to visit the neighbor and check out their awesome back yard bar. It was so cool!

That night though my mind was still racing, and come 10PM I just couldn’t seem to go to sleep. But I forced myself and eventually slept like a baby all the way until 8AM the next morning. Staying downtown Watkins Glen was super convenient. I could wake up late. Shower. And casually drive to the track for our 8:45AM meeting. I discovered my car was the victim of some unkind birds, since I parked under a tree. So before heading to the track I stopped at a self-serve car wash and gave it a nice hose-down.

Second day flew by even quicker.

The highlights for me were the hands-on fire extinguisher training. Followed by track familiarization laps around the circuit, both with the Boot and without (NASCAR configuration).

It was amazing, and ticked all the boxes for me coming out to this event. I totally got my money’s worth!

Besides the track activities I spent half an hour at the Watkins Glen Walmart the night before rummaging through the Hot Wheels display. To my surprise all the Miata’s were at the bottom of the box, and I ended up buying all of them! This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been on the hunt for these little toys for a while. I must have visited a dozen Walgreens, Walmarts, Dollar stores, Kmarts, and other supermarkets in New York, New Jersey, and Florida… and these little fuckers were really hard to come by!

They will be especially useful next time I travel for a Miata event (overseas).

And the cherry on top moment on this trip came from a Foodie Experience… I was telling my host about the wonderful “pig wings” I stumbled across in South Carolina… and she casually told me that they totally have the same food upstate New York… they just call them “Hog Wings” here… so on the drive home I stopped by Mooney’s on Main Street in Corning to pick up a box of them to take home…

The place was packed with diners. And I was happy to see the girl sitting closest to me at the bar getting her order of hog wings on Mac’n Cheese (apparently that’s their thing up there). I chose mine with french fries and they were especially tasty as I reach in a few times for a snack during my long drive home.

What an awesome adventure this trip turned into. I’m so glad I went! Luckily I am at almost 5,000 miles since the last oil change in February, so I’ll be doing one soon after I return from Texas…

I love Watkins Glen, I really do! Ya’ll should come and visit…

Registered Another Domain Before Someone Snatched it: MiataFiata.com

…been contemplating registering MiataFiata.com since last year when Chris, Sakshik and I launched the Miata Fiata Talk podcast. Today I finally pulled the trigger so to speak. MiataFiata.com is the new home of the Miata Fiata Radio podcast… I’m using the Radio and the Talk and the Podcast labels interchangeably but eventually we’ll pick something that sticks. Either way with my NC1 GT PRHT, Sakshik’s NB and Chris’s NC1 GT PRHT with appearance package and the oldie Fiat 124 Spider we have all the boxes covered… (even though yes, I realize the 1970’s Fiat has nothing to do with the current Fiata made by Mazda).

This domain will be a great way to separate my marshaling, my foodie road trips and my general BS from my Miata stuff, although everything is still hosted and lives on MyRoadTrip.net

I am excited with this project!

Got a good deal too taking advantage of 99 cent first year registration and $9.99 each subsequent year. I chose the 5 year option plus some generous % discount from Ebates. Now I have the domain until March 30, 2022

Orlando Roadsters Monthly Miata Meet at Tijuana Flats Winter Park

The last order of business on this two week trip down to Florida was another Miata Meet with Orlando Roadsters.

What a great coincidence? Much like last year post-Sebring 12 hour the Orlando Roadsters group once again organized a Monday night meet at a local Tijuana Flats tex-mex restaurant in Winter Park, FL.

Some 30’ish cars showed up, mostly NA’s and NB’s but also a single NC and a few ND’s. Ironically the exact same NC that parked next to me last year was there today, parked right next to me. And it featured the same eBay spoiler I bought for my car, which was really neat. So glad I put it on two weeks ago when I got down to Daytona.

Anyway, here’s some pix:

Two 10th anniversary Miata’s showed up!

Besides the 30+ Miatas that showed up there were some other 2 and 4 wheel vehicles. Including a cool bike, a right hand drive Nissan Skyline GT-R and a right hand drive Suzuki Jimmy mini-jeep.

I’m so happy to have had this opportunity to meet up with the Orlando Roadsters group… I’m sure when I move down here I’ll be meeting with them more frequently…

Thanks Playboy!

Fun fact: I bought my MX-5 Miata thanks to Playboy…

Disclaimer – this is a clean post, no nudity will be shared. 

Although I have to say I ended up with a car I can go topless in… well, not me, the car can… ugh nevermind!

What better time than Valentine’s Day to share the story of how I fell in love with the Miata. I was single then, I’m still single now, so this is not a real romantic story but since I’ve been spending a ton of money on this damn car it might as well be shared. (the story that is)

All the way back in October of 2014… I was volunteering Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It was my turn to work as cross-track safety at Turn 2 (the corner with a big Mazda billboard, since the brand sponsored both the track and the event: officially Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda) when a car went off track at Turn 1, skipped over the gravel trap and fucking nailed the wall. The incident occurred down hill from me, and as soon as I saw the smash occur I started running down towards the crash hoping I could potentially help. The race car was a white NC Miata and the series was the Playboy MX-5 Cup that ran huge fields of cars that were split in two classes with the newer/faster class being Playboy Miata and slower class Skip Barber School Miata.

When I got closer to the scene the driver had gotten out of the mangled vehicle unhurt. But the car was in a sorry state. The driver’s side front wheel got ripped off in the incident and lay about ten feet from the car. I looked over the concrete barrier that the car hit and there was a large piece of broken rotor stuck in the concrete smoldering, with steam/smoke still coming off of it. It was nuts!

I think at this moment I realized I wanted a Miata of my own.

I’m pretty sure I had decided then and there because by the time it came around to the big worker dinner party and swag giveaway I had my eye set on Mazda gear and picked up several items including a t-shirt and a few hats to help start my collection.

As previously mentioned Mazda was the title sponsor of the race, Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda. So I took a shot with my swag and the Andy Blackmore Spotter Guide:

It took me several months to finally find a Miata of my own but at this point I was determined!

Over the next few years I kept coming back to Road Atlanta to volunteer one of my favorite endurance events, featuring the Mazda LMP2 Lola’s cruising along…

This was the place I got to see the brand new ND Global MX-5 Cup debut (or at least several of their test vehicles, before the debut).

I discovered the Skippy Racing School Miata grave yard which was a very sad sight to see. But this place and the Playboy series was still the main reason I think behind me falling in love with the little convertible. And I’m thankful for that.

Now if only my little red race car would help me find a real Girlfriend

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mazda DPi looks like a real production Mazda the 1st Gen Mazda RX-8

I made a post a while back wishing prototypes looked more like production cars (e.g. Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, Porsche 911 GT1, McLaren F1 GTR). I think this year’s Mazda DPi platform came fairly close at resembling a production Mazda… though you have to squint just right to see that resemblance.

I think, and I could be wrong, but to me the current SpeedSource Mazda RT24-P looks a lot like the 1st Generation Mazda RX-8 especially the very early models of 2003-2008 vintage.

Just look at it:

And compare it to this picachu yellow RX-8:

To me, the narrow grille, the almond shaped headlights, the big wheel arches and even the fog light openings all resemble one another on the new prototype and the old street car.

Granted there are plenty of differences, like the fact the RX-8 was Rotary powered being the most obvious. And the fact that few things about the MRT24-P (besides the sponsorship money of course) actually come from Mazda Motors, the car was built by Multimatic in Canada, the same company that builds both the race and the street versions of the Ford GT for Ford Motor Company, engines are AER, etc. Still I would say they did a great job creating a vehicle that at first look does resemble a real Mazda! This is obviously not the case with the Cadillac DPi’s for example, or even the Tequila Patron Nissans (although they did a great job modifying a nose of the Ligier to look very Nissan-like).

Way to go Mazda!

Miataland

There’s a place in Italy I would love to visit on my next Euro Trip: Miataland. Located smack in the middle of Italy if you look on the map and only a few hours drive north of Rome heading in the direction of Florence and San Marino.

Although I’ve been to Italy twice in recent years neither of my trips lasted for more than a few hours. I did a quickie look-see around Milan while transiting between two flights between Madrid, Spain and Stockholm, Sweden and more recently a flight to Brussels, Belgium from New York via Rome. I literally took the opportunity of a layover to rush to city center, do a quick sightseeing and foodie tour and haul ass back to the airport to make my onward connection. However, knowing about Miataland and having already experienced warm European hospitality on my Miata-centric visits to Amsterdam, Netherlands; Cologne, Germany; Liege, Belgium and Paris, France I would put this pilgrimage at the top of my list now.

From the reviews I read online, the videos I watched on YouTube and Miata.net personal member experiences (with photos) I think this is a fantastic concept and one I know could be replicated (and totally should be) around the world. There were Miata collectors I met in Thailand that could certainly pull this off as well as several folks in Australia and definitely here in the US as well. So my hope is to see Andrea’s concept spread and as someone who would love to work in the tourism industry especially from the side of personally leading groups on various international adventures, I would love to market the hell out of this concept to get Miata enthusiasts to support these sort of businesses wherever they spring up.

But back to the topic of Miataland Italy. Andrea is a new friend on facebook that I would hope to interview soon, whether via Skype or in real life (if I get a chance to volunteer at one of the circuits in Italy for one of their amazing Motorsport events) to share his story and promote his business and passion to everyone reading this. I am personally interested in visiting Miataland even when I know I can’t afford the Five Star accommodation on site, but the garage visit and maybe a joy ride in one of the beautiful NC’s would be awesome. This is a very exciting opportunity I want to share on this blog so that other MX-5 and Mazda fans in general could read up on and research for their own trips to Italy. Something new to consider….

I think it would be totally worth it!

Check out the web site: miataland.com/

Check out the facebook page: facebook.com/pg/miataland/

Here’s some videos of the concept:

and in Italian:

and some pix… with my favorite NC with Italian flag livery:

photo courtesy of Miataland Italy
photo courtesy of Miataland Italy

photo courtesy of Miataland Italy

The more I read about Miataland the more I find out how this concept has grown… the car count in Andrea’s collection has increased from 32 to 36 cars more recently featuring everything from NA’s to ND’s and a whole slew of special editions and rare specimens. There are right hand drive cars also for those that desire it. Supercharged and Turbocharged options including a Mazdaspeed.

I haven’t really talked much about the exclusive property and picturesque scenery of the region. That I guess should be experienced first hand. But having met Dutch, German, Belgian and French owners on the previous trip, and knowing about the existence of the “Friends of MX-5” initiative from Mazda Europe, I think this is a fantastic opportunity to go to a new place. Get a unique chance to check out the countryside behind a wheel of a Miata (of a whatever vintage you prefer) and at the same time get a chance to meet with fellow Miata owners that live in Italy or elsewhere in Europe that may be able to organize an event while you are there. I think that’s the coolest part of this whole endeavor, at least for me.

Check out Friends of MX-5 on facebook:  facebook.com/MazdaFriendsofMX5/

So to sum things up, I haven’t been there but I would highly recommend the place to anyone I know. Not only that I’m seriously dying to go and check it out for myself so I could promote it even more to the readers of this blog and the people I meet on my own Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trips & Adventures!

….stay tuned!