Tag Archives: mazdaspeed

Day 1: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – The BBQ

Last year I weaseled my way into the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event by offering to “volunteer” with the organizers. I really wanted to be a part of this event at the home of Mazda on the west coast of the US. They said “YES” and I had a blast… luckily for me they invited me back and I could hardly wait to participate. The Friday night BBQ leading up to the event has become quite an experience in it’s own right and in my opinion has grown bigger this year compared to last. I made sure to show up early and lend a hand with shopping for supplies and setting up the dining area out in the parking lot… boy am I glad I did because in the process I got an opportunity to pilot the brand new Mazda CX-9 SUV probably/most likely supplied by Mazda North American Operations for the event on a couple of supermarket runs.

It was a pretty early start to the day… arriving at the Embassy Suites where the BBQ was to be held around 7:30am

The CX-9 fits 36 cases of Shasta and 12 cases of spring water along with three occupants comfortably.

Several trips to the supermarket later we were ready to start prepping all the ingredients for a delicious BBQ

This part of the event was presented by Moss Miata and their crew did a fantastic job doing much of the prep work

and slowly but surely cars started filling in the empty spots in a busy hotel parking lot (which ironically had a conference going on in the morning so the parking lot was especially full when we started)

This fellow volunteer’s NC1 was especially meaningful to me because of the custom license plate… Sea to shining Sea!

Hey it’s a Suzuki Capuccino… err Brapuccino crashing the event!

During the course of the day being in Seaside, California some ten miles or so from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which is located between the cities of Monterey and Salinoas, we found an excuse to head to the track to pick up some supplies there… to my surprise there was a track day already in progress there! Open to the Miata’s that showed up for our event but also some other cool machinery…

Love the paint job on this 911… and the ND Miata too:

Mazda had a display for the event, and the CX-9 we had at our disposal was clearly showroom condition like the display cars

I did enjoy driving it around very much!

Always wanted to see the off-road Miata in flesh… and voila!

Volunteers working hard cutting Tri Tip as the food line started forming with hungry Miata folk

…so hungry I had to run out and buy some more meat at the local supermarket clearing out their entire shelf of Tri Tip.

Such a great variety of cars some travelling as far as Vancouver, Canada… New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and my buddy from Atlanta, Georgia of course!

Huge thanks to the Moss Miata folks for sponsoring the feed!

Flying’ Miata a huge hit with all of their engine power adder options

One of the many Exocet’s in attendance… this one just arrived from a long trip out of Washington State probably didn’t enjoy the cold windy weather on the drive down… but glad he made it!

That’s a wrap for Day 1

Huge thanks to Rick Weldon first and foremost for organizing this event for so many years… and especially big thanks to my buddy Peter who thought it was worthwhile inviting me to help out with a few things here and there during the event as a volunteer. I loved it!

Grid Walk Post Card from Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR

There was one car that caught my eye this race weekend at VIR: the burgundy red Acura NSX GT3 of Michael Shank Racing. I’m not a huge Honda fan or an NSX fan in general, I liked their patriotic Fourth of July liveries too, but this red wrap really stood out… and I found myself always checking up on that car… checking it out. I was lucky that since I got to work as pit fire marshal one of my responsibilities was the Acura pit box, and their hauler was parked directly across from their pit box in the paddock… so there were many glimpses of that car. But of course other cars shined bright, and while the Mazda Miata’s are showing their age, I was very happy to see them race and do fairly well over the weekend.

Lots of pix of course:

I love when they send out the ice cream lady up and down pit lane, all the crews from each pit box run to her to get cooled down lol

For a little while there exotica had taken over the GS class of IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… now with both Mustang and Camaro in GT4 form however, they are back to dominating… beating Porsche’s, McLaren’s, et al.

My other favorite car of the weekend…. sadly it didn’t do so well either, just like the NSX

and a few uniform pix working with VIR Fire Rescue:

more to come soon…

Post Card from IMSA at VIR Michelin GT Challenge and Formula 4

Greetings from beautiful VIRginia International Raceway where IMSA has brought some of it’s best classes with support from US Formula 4 open wheelers. I’m excited to say I finally got to see F4 after a number of failed attempts in the past, and it was very exciting to see a field of 30+ cars do three races over two days. IMSA brought everything except for the Prototypes which was awesome as well as I love GT3 and GT4 machinery and all the spec-racers like Lambo’s and Porsche’s.  All in all it was fantastic!

I’ll write in more detail about my role for the weekend in another post, but here are some photos from Day 1, walking around the paddock…

So my plan was to sleep during the day and drive to VIR overnight. The sleeping part didn’t happen, and foolishly I departed for the 8 hour trip around 9pm. Twelve hours later I arrived in Danville, VA

I felt like a zombie even after stopping a few times along the way for a snooze. But first order of business after collecting my credentials and setting up my tent was to get some food at Biscuitville. I saw them on my last trip but they close at 2pm which was way earlier than I could get there in the past. This year Biscuitville actually sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The food was delicious, I ordered a bunch of biscuit sandwiches to last me through Friday…

The others I ate in the car while watching the cars practice on track.

stay tuned for more…

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…