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Mazda MX-5: 2,500 mile Road Trip Down South For Some Racing, Foodie Sampling and Exploring

So the last two weeks were spend exploring the Southeast again… I used the opportunity to volunteer two fantastic events in Alabama and Virginia to be a little bit of a tourist, a foodie, Miata Fiata fan, and of course a road tripper.

pre-trip inspection bright and early at WAWA… well actually I forgot to check my tire pressure, so I stopped by to get it all leveled out. For whatever reason the tire pressures were all over the place in each tire.

The trip included stopovers in Knoxville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Danville, Virginia (Milton, North Carolina really).

I volunteered two massive events: working as a flagger for the Alabama Grand Prix at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park and as fire rescue crew for PWC Grand Prix of VIR at the awesome VIRginia International Raceway.

Along the way I did a bunch of Miata Fiata stuff about which I wrote some previous posts, read about it here:

My Motorsport posts included:

But in this post I’d like to wrap up and talk about the actual road trip part… after all I put nearly 2,500 miles on my Miata. Burned more than 60 gallons of fuel and spent over $160 bux doing it. I was lucky to average in the high 36mpg’s at one point hitting over 38mpg’s which is fantastic! And it was all trouble free… which is the best part!

I sampled a lot of good food along the way. Some fairly average food, and some I tried to skimp out on… like Chick-fil-a for breakfast many times… or the Steak ‘n Shake visits thanks to a discounted gift card I bought… $50 card for like $20 bux!

In many ways this Road Trip was a continuation of my drive to Texas in Wes’s Crown Vic… in fact I used that drive as a dry run to see what I should expect taking my own car to Alabama. I knew I would have a great time in Knoxville, TN because I stopped for lunch there before. This time I had booked a hotel in the Knox to stay overnight after a 700+ mile journey there from New Jersey. I googled some BBQ places to eat, went to pick up my order at Archer’s which came highly rated… and wasn’t all that impressed with the ambiance of the facility when I got my box to go. On the way to the gas station to fill up before returning to the hotel, I noticed a much more happening BBQ joint just a block away called Full Service BBQ… and there I was faced with a dilemma… do I stop by there and buy another dish? I had already picked up a fairly large box that was more than enough for me to have for dinner… or do I keep going and regret not visiting this busy place? I decided to come and visit… and to my surprise not only did they have everything I wanted (a mix plate of their ribs, pulled pork, sausage and brisket) but it was also smelling and tasting really good. So as usual I got way too much food. But boy was it fantastic! I left the box of Archers to bring with me the next day to Alabama, and had it for dinner there the next day instead.

Nice Drive-Thru

Excellent food… Archer’s was great too in it’s own right, but Full Service had them beat with the ambiance of the place, and the big crowd of people eating there when I stopped by.

After a nice rest, I was off again for another 400 miles or so to my final destination. And I don’t know why but Alabama sure feels like “Sweet Home” even though I don’t consider myself Southern at all.

So of course the first order of business upon arrival in Birmingham was to go register at the track and take some pix of all those IndyCar sanctioned Global MX-5 Cup car Miata’s.

And straight after I went into town to meet up with my wonderful CouchSurfing hosts that welcomed me with great Southern hospitality going above and beyond what hosts typically do.

Perhaps my favorite activity with my generous hosts was sharing some amazing food with them. They fed me every night I stayed there, but one night I treated everyone to some Soul Food from Niki’s West… including two types of Catfish with all the fixins’

After a truly wonderful time in ‘Bama it was time to work my way back North to the next weekend’s events in Virginia. But since I had a few days to kill I visited Sakshik (my fellow Miata Fiata buddy) who now lives in Decatur, Georgia where he’s off to Law School.

The few days we spend there could be accurately characterized as a foodie tour! We had a somewhat disappointing experience getting Fried Chicken and Waffles on my first day there… unfortunately the place I went to last year closed (without telling Google, we arrived to find windows boarded up)… plan B turned out to be very snooty with a long wait time… and place C butchered the Waffle by making dough out of some cheddar mix that tasted awful. But our luck changed the next day when we went for BBQ and the following day when we did Indian food.

Probably the highlight of my visit… besides hanging out with Sakshik, checking out Mazmart parts store, visiting both Mazda and Fiat dealerships and recording an episode with Daniel on our podcast; was visiting World of Coca Cola which I had been planning to do for the longest time but never had a chance (until now!)

My favorite part of the whole visit to the World of Coke was the “Tasting” room featuring soda pop from around the world… divided by continents and featuring some drinks I’ve tried in their home countries like Fanta, Crush, Inca Cola, etc.

Funny part is, I actually own some Coca Cola clothing, my favorites though were t-shirts from around the world with Coke in cyrillic for the Russian market or in Mandarin for the Chinese market.

After spending several hours in downtown Atlanta and almost getting sick on all the drinks I sampled at the Coke museum, we hit up a cool Indian place to sample something different. Sakshik lives in a part of town where lots of Emory University students live so it by definition is very diverse. And the Indian restaurant we went to was a good representation of this diversity. The food was excellent!

And of course Sakshik coming from India meant he knew what to order and how to eat the food properly. I enjoyed that experience!

And finally the time flew by super quick, and the rest of the road trip to Virginia came bright and early on Thursday morning.

The food I had in Danville, VA just outside of the track I tried before. Unfortunately most of the time I ordered late and got way too much, so I didn’t enjoy it as I really should have. I went to Mayflower for some seafood on the first night. And Checkered Pig BBQ on my last night at VIR. Of the two the BBQ was best… though having worked with a fella from Roxboro, NC he recommended a much better option on the North Carolina side of the border for my next trip.

VIRginia International Raceway is extremely impressive, I think one of the best race tracks there are in the United States!

And so the trip came to a close way too fast. But to slow it down a little I took a rather scenic drive back to the Interstate through Virgnia… at one point going parallel to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway… US 501 was excellent zig zagging along a mountain on a rainy morning… reminded me a lot of Skyline Drive or what I remember of it from my last visit to Shenandoah.

It’s always kind of cool exploring rural areas of various states along with suburbia to see what’s it like… spotted plenty of Miata’s along my way!

Can’t wait for my next Road Trip… and if I’m lucky it will be another Grand Prix Road Trip like this two week trip I just did. Stay tuned…

A Year in Review: My 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Adventures Statistics

 

Woo Hoo! My first Miata Fiata Radio Episode is now Live! Listen:


Miata Fiata Radio – A Year in Review: 2016 Miata Fiata Adventures


 

There’s still a few days of 2016 left, but I wanted to jot down all the fun things I’ve done with my MX-5 Miata this year and share it with my readers (and soon to be listeners) in an upcoming Miata Fiata Radio thing I’m launching… yes we’ve already launched Miata Fiata talk the podcast, but I wanted to create a supplement where it’s just me talking about my car and my adventures.

So let’s talk numbers…

International MX-5 Events: 8

Domestic MX-5 Events: 18

Mileage done: 17k

Oil changes: 3

Repairs: 2

Modifications: 4

 

International Road Trips:

Pacific Trip:

  • Sydney, Australia [link][link]
  • Auckland, New Zealand [link]

Euro Trip:

Domestic Road Trips:

  • Polar Bear Cruise in Lehigh Valley, PA [link][link]
  • to St. Pete & Sebring, Florida via Orlando and Daytona Beach [link][link][link]
  • to VIR, Virginia [link]
  • to Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan [link]
  • Watkins Glen International (x5) [link][link]
  • Lime Rock Park (x3) [link]
  • Palmer Motorsports Park [link]
  • New Jersey Motorsports Park (x2) [link]
  • Philadelphia Miata Run [link]
  • Bear Mountain Cruise (x2) [link][link]

California Trips:

  • Mazda North American Operations [link]
  • Miatas as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca [link][link][link]

Maintenance:

  • Pennzoil Platinum 5w-20 and 0w-20 (x3) [link][link]
  • Pennzoil Platinum High Milage ATF JWS-3309 [link]
  • Mobil 1 ATF power steering fluid flush [link]
  • NGK Laser Iridium Spark Plugs [link]
  • Techron Fuel System Cleaner [link]

Repairs:

  • RX-8 Hubs (wheel bearings) [link]
  • MX-5 OEM Bilstein Shocks/Springs [link]

Modifications:

  • Touch Screen Pioneer Stereo [link][link]
  • Backup Camera [link]
  • Cravenspeed Stubby Antenna [link]
  • Black Aluminum Shift Knob [link]
  • WeatherTech Floor Mats [link]

 

(More will be added as I think of this stuff)

Miata Fiata Talk Podcast Field Trip to the Alfa/Fiat Dealer, Comparing Fiat 124 Spider to NB MX-5 Miata

Today the Miata Fiata Talk podcast crew took a little field trip to a local Fiat dealer to make a very unscientific comparison between Sakshik’s NB Miata and the new Fiata 124 Spider.

The similarities I think are pretty obvious. The cars are nearly identical in size and dimensions, but what stands out the most is how the lines of both cars look slightly similar to each other. Sure the headlights and tail lights are different, but if you squint just right you can totally see it…

We stopped by the Fiat dealer on the way back from the last Cars & Coffee of the 2016 season at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, I’ll post some pictures from that event separately. For now enjoy these pix;

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-8

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-7

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-9

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-5

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-6

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-4

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-3

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-2

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-1

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider

There’s very little similarity between the Fiata and the NC’s…

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-11

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-12

fiata-miata-field-trip-comparing-nb-mx-5-with-fiat-124-spider-10

Next, we’ll try to test-drive both the new Mazda MX-5 ND and the Fiat 124 Spider for our podcast… stay tuned. And check out: #MiataFiataTalk, @MiataFiataTalk, #MiataFiata, #FiataMiata