Tag Archives: md

Mazda MX-5: 2,000+ Mile Miata Road Trip and Foodie Tour from NJ to Florida in the Winter

2,355 miles to be exact.

It’s been a mild winter so far, and I had this genius idea to drive my Miata from New Jersey to Florida to volunteer the Roar before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway this January. The plan was to drive during the day so I minimize the possibility of hitting black ice in the Northern States and arrive Daytona Beach in time to have dinner with some friends there. It almost worked.

I got to meet with some folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville along the way which I already wrote about. That was awesome, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about the drive part of the road trip and the foodie tour I got to do in different states along the way.

This trip was completely and totally BBQ based when it comes to food. I divided my driving in two stints. Home to Rock Hill, SC on the first day which covered about 680 miles and the rest on second day for the first trip. And Daytona Beach to Christiansburg, Virginia on the first day which again was about 640 miles and the rest on the second day which was around 500 miles. The Rock Hill stop was convenient because there was quite a few restaurants in town, I tried Cook Out chain for the first time since I was starving when I arrived. But since it was still early in the day I researched something more substantive to try. The Dixie Pig came highly recommended online and through the front desk at my hotel, so I went to give them a try and boy am I glad I did. The food was absolutely delicious. Their ribs kept on repeating on me for several days after I had them, but my favorite menu item was their “Pig Wings” which was on the appetizer list just below Chicken Wings. What are Pig Wings? Apparently they are baby pig (under 250 lbs) upper legs, succulent and juicy and served smothered in a variety of sauces. I tried the garlic sauce option first time. But liked them so much I made sure to stop by Dixie Pig on the drive home too and tried BBQ sauce option. Mmmmm mmm! I highly recommend both this restaurant and especially the “pig wings” menu item. Well worth the $10 bux price!

On the drive home the stopover in Virginia was near to another barbecue joint called Due South BBQ. I had googled it in advance and wanted to go there after I check in at my hotel, but since I missed my exit I ended up going directly to the restaurant. It too was amazing, especially all their sauce varieties! I got a pulled pork sandwich and another brisket sandwich which seemed like a good idea at the moment when I arrived hungry… but turned out to be way too much meat for the night. The sign outside the restaurant did say “Come Pig Out With Us” and I certainly did. My favorite feature of the restaurant was a display stand near the counter full of bones that were neatly sealed in individual bags with a sign: “Take One, FREE” for your dog. Which I made sure to do… and my fake beagle Maxi Max really enjoyed chewing on them for a few days now.

With the Jacksonville Miata club we hit up Metro Diner which is apparently known for their Chicken and Waffles… a typical southern dish. Several of the Miata guys ordered the fried chicken option, while I went with a New Orleans Shrimp and Grits dish where the grits were prepared differently (they were in solid block not running like they typically are). Great stuff!

While in Daytona I was limited to the track food which the Central Florida Region SCCA didn’t skimp out on. We were offered delicious sandwiches every day and had a tasty pizza party one of the nights. They had so much pizza we were asked to take a  bunch of it home, which I did… so we had pizza for a few days that weekend.

The race weekend (without any actual real racing, it was all practice sessions) went by super quickly. And I departed Daytona Beach bright and early Monday morning. No sooner did I settle onto the highway at a comfortable cruising speed when all of a sudden I heard and felt a massive rock smashing into my windshield. It was weird because there were absolutely no cars in front of me other than a pick up truck in the right lane some distance away putzing along, and another car that had passed me like half a minute earlier in the left lane at a high rate of speed. That rock put a tiny chip in my windshield, right in line of sight on the driver’s side of the glass. Boo!

I was a bit concerned driving through the Carolinas because on my way down the Charlotte news was in panic mode… they were predicting 2 to 6 inches of snow over the weekend (& actually got 8). I knew it wouldn’t be snowing on my drive home but I also knew that ice was a possibility… a little side note: while in the hotel room listening to the news freak out about winter weather (which apparently the Carolinas don’t normally get) I quickly researched and booked a flight for my second trip to Florida at the end of the month to volunteer the actual race – Daytona 24 hours. But back to the drive, there was a lot of snow on the ground as soon as I crossed into North Carolina. The roads were nicely salted and fairly clear. The snow however started melting which meant my car got absolutely sprayed with that salty slush. But I made it through OK. The scary part was actually about an hour closer to home in Pennsylvania. All the road sings were lit up with “Warning, Winter Weather” and there was very fine but dense snow making visibility limited. But what worried me was the fact that about half an inch of that slush had formed on the travel lanes of the highway. It wasn’t enough to plough. And no snow trucks were out yet. So I backed off the accelerator and started following one of the many semi-trucks on the road who cleared a path for me. As soon as I arrived my home area in New Jersey I went right to the car wash to hose off all that salt off the car.

It was an excellent trip, even when my car sustained some minor damage with the chip in the windshield. I ordered a repair kit on eBay for about $10 bux and will seal the chip so that it doesn’t spread and form a bigger crack.

Some photos from the drive:

The cheapest gas I found was in South Carolina shortly after I got on i95 from i26. The prices did swing wildly for 93 octane premium gas with $2.43/gal price at this location and $3.25/gal at another Sunoco just a few miles down the highway (same state and probably same county, just different town). It was interesting to say the least and I used the GasBuddy app to check prices ahead of time when I was running low on fuel.

And some foodie tour pix:

The sandwiches from Due South BBQ in Virginia.

Pig Wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina with an old Mazda pick up parked outside.

Chicken and Waffles and Chicken and Mashed Potatoes from Metro.

I think I will repeat this road trip again come March to volunteer the St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour… it’s a lot of fun!

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ mile Road Trip to Virginia (Southern Part accessible from North Carolina)

I’ve been looking for an excuse to take a longer road trip and the opportunity presented itself with a marshaling stint at VIR in Alton  Southern Virginia (so far south it’s mainly accessible from Milton, North Carolina… yep!)

The fastest route per Google Maps was down the I95 corridor through all the major cities until Richmond, VA and then across with just over 485 miles each way. But I elected to avoid the tolls (which are absurd pushing $100 bux) and the unpredictable rush hour traffic patters to take the more leisurely drive through I81 in Pennsylvania increasing the distance to 530 miles and about another hour to tack onto the drive.

The goal for my trip was also to test the performance of the new Timken RX-8 wheel bearing hubs and see if they would increase my fuel mileage which has recently dropped down to 31mpg average, based on my last two trips to Watkins Glen. I discovered that indeed the hubs did make a difference. My gas mileage increased to 34mpg on the open highway, while in town it dropped to 28mpg, which is normal. So all was good. I was hoping to match my all time best of 36mpg’s but the roads were too hilly to accomplish that, and I had the A/C on blast which didn’t help either.

Overall i was really happy with the car and how it handled the road. The 8 hour journey took a little bit more on the way down, and a lot more on the way back up. But I did make several stops along the way to use the restroom and buy some food. Generally I tried to stop every two to three hours to let the car cool down for a few minutes. It worked very well, but it did slow me down. The ride home took almost 12 hours but that included two 1 hour stops for food.

And a few pics from the trip:

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 2

Good morning Maryland!

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 3

Howdy West Virginia!

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 4

The new Virginia welcome sign… I kind of liked the old one better with the Bird on it instead of this Lovers campaign… why is Virginia for Lovers anyway?

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 1

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 8

Well, at least you know you’re in the south when you see more Confederate flags flying than American stars and stripes… hmm

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 6

Hello VIR… what a beautiful facility!

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 7

Yep, I’m in the right place!

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 5

So you gotta drive down into North Carolina for a few miles, just to turn around and head right back into the track…

mazda mx-5 miata road trip from new jersey to virginia 9

Prior to coming to the track I figured I’d stay put and have everything I need at VIR… but it turned out that the best place to get food was back in town, which is a good 15 miles away. So I went out for dinner every night in Danville, VA and during the half an hour journey used the opportunity to charge up my phone for the night. This added another 120+ miles to the overall journey.

Looking forward to the next Road Trip soon…