For the second time this year I took my little red roadster on another thousand mile road trip north of the border to Ontario, Canada. Much like the trip in the beginning of the season for Victoria Day, Ontario was freezing cold. It didn’t help that I decided to camp… at least for the first few days where I got pretty well cold but with prospect of rain on the schedule I decided to ditch this camping thing and evacuate to Bowmanville where my CouchSurfing friend was kind enough to host me. Warm bed, hot shower, my fortunes turned around really quickly.
I had a hard time deciding whether to go to Watkins Glen for IndyCar or travel twice the distance to Mosport for NASCAR trucks and I’m glad I did… the series was all they were cracked up to be, although on a much lower scale… a budget version of the Monster Energy Cup and the Xfinity Series if you will. Nevertheless this event over Labour Day weekend is the biggest event Mosport gets right now… even though I’m sure IMSA feels bigger.
The Motorsport Marshaling Services club went above and beyond at making me feel welcome back… and so did all of the locals. I had fantastic station assignments. Some I haven’t worked in a while, like Turn 8… and some I never worked before like Turn 3 and Turn 1. Ironically I couldn’t even find my way to Turn 3 on the morning of that assignment because I didn’t realize it was on the other side of the track… I had worked 2A many times before and saw the marshals on our side of the track, but it was a surprise to me to discover the hard station across track and nicely elevated for a perfect view of that turn with all of it’s elevation changes.
We didn’t have many incidents to flag this weekend. The biggest being probably from the feature event… as the series direction refers to it… the Nissan Micra Cup. With the new suspension the cars were less prone to roll over, but they were still very prone to incidents. On Race Day in Turn 1 one had a tank slapper and smashed the wall losing a wheel in the process which continued onwards to Turn 2. I was on comms for that incidents and may have fumbled the call a little bit. It was neat to witness though.
My buddy from Montreal came over to marshal in pit lane. And several more people I worked with at Formula E were working directly for Canadian Touring Car Championship. So it was an awesome weekend to catch up with friends. The boss of CTCC even gave me a few series hats and a lanyard to take home as a souvenir. And for that I’m very grateful.
Would love to go back to Canada again for another event.
Today was a fantastic day to go for a cruise… the weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too sunny… not too much traffic on the roads. So my friend Bill and I headed up Skyline Drive in Ringwood, New Jersey towards Wanaque Reservoir, up Greenwood Lake Tpk to Warwick Tpk to Clinton Road in West Milford, down to Route 23 and then up to the High Point State Park. From there we came back down to Route 94 in Hamburg, New Jersey and headed up to Orange County New York where we turned off on Route 17A and down Route 17 back into New Jersey.
Unlike the many trips to Bear Mountain New York this trip was far more laid back, slower speed and through much more residential areas. Bill and I joked we would do a Foodie Tour visiting the many Ice Cream parlors along the way. But the joke turned into a much tastier reality. Because instead of ice cream parlors we actually visited the source for the ice cream at the various Farms which featured proper Ice Cream Shacks and Barns where the fresh ice cream was Oh Sooo Creamy! We stopped for a root beer float in Orange County New York and then again in Sussex New Jersey for some Frozen Blueberry Yogurt. It was so amazing.
And of course I took a million pix:
Lots of cool cars out on the road today like this fat ass Porsche Cayman… obviously a ton of bikes too!
and some good looking British Midgets…
This ’69 was fully restored by the owner who was proud to point out he’s done a cross country road trip in it all the way to Reno, Nevada wow!
The 2007 Copper Red twins
At High Point State Park at the Northwestern tip of New Jersey
The ice cream in this place was amazing. I got a blueberry frozen yogurt and it was finger lickin’ good!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
Woo Hoo, we got our first real guest on the Miata Fiata Radio podcast: Daniel Cooper who moderates the NC Miata Group on facebook with over 1.3k members.
Daniel did a lot of work to his personal 2006 True Red Miata. The car looks absolutely amazing and very aggressive… it is primarily a track car at this point with plenty of laps around Road Atlanta and Atlanta Motor Speedway in this area of Georgia.
I thought the recent Power Steering O-ring or the fucking squirrel were going to be my biggest issue on this amazing 1,000+ mile trip I had planned in my Miata down to Birmingham, Alabama for the Alabama Grand Prix (and most importantly the Mazda MX-5 cup season opener there).
I was wrong. The squirrel or whatever the hell the rat bastard it is has been back visiting my car. No nuts left this time but there’s a small pile of shit on the battery like last time. Ugh! The moth balls didn’t work. Neither did the traps. I’ll have to adjust when I return.
But I had a different nut problem altogether that made me less than optimal for this trip bright and early in the morning… I had some kind of peanut allergy that completely knocked me out for three days straight and I still don’t know what the hell happened to me.
So the day I broke my power steering o-ring mentioned in the last article, I bought some Planters peanuts. They are delicious. I buy them all the time, especially when they go on sale. I had a bunch the same day. I had a bunch the next day. And by the third day when I felt I was developing flu-like symptoms I ordered spicy Indian food to self-medicate, and had some delicious peanuts for desert. By Saturday I was fucking dying! Fever through the roof. Throat hurting like a mutherfucker. Couldn’t swallow. Coughing up dollar coin size chunks of hardened flem. And there I am still eating peanuts… because why not?
Sunday I was completely bed ridden. And Monday… and Tuesday. I started researching what the fuck happened. And it turns out peanuts are a cunt of a thing… they trick your immune system to think they are bad for you. So your body starts fighting a problem that isn’t there. How? I have no fucking clue. But I know what hell I went through over the past few days and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies!
The flem bit was nasty, but something I could get over. I’m taking pills, and the next phase is caughing which will be annoying. But because of all those days of high fever my lips exploded with fever blisters. I didn’t think it was possible to get more than one at a time. But boy did they pop… First one, then second, then third, fourth and finally fifth all on the upper lip. I didn’t think it was physically possible. But now I look like some kind of a diseased mutherfucker.
Holly crap was this a bad experience!
And tomorrow 1,000 mile road trip to Birmingham commences.
I can’t wait! (even if I probably won’t be 100% until I get there).
Really looking forward to this event. And to the opportunity of visiting Barber Motorsports Park, in my opinion, America’s most beautiful race track. Can’t wait to see the Miata’s too! Fingers crossed my car doesn’t shit itself on the way there.
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…
…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
It’s been a loooooong time since Chris and I did a Miata Fiata podcast episode… at least since January. So now that we’re both back in New Jersey it was time to catch up and talk about our recent road trips down to Florida. Chris had a family emergency requiring him to drive the rental van down to Miami for a few months, while I drove my Miata down to Central Florida to volunteer St. Pete GP and Sebring 12 hour.
We met up in Union City, NJ which is a really cool area overlooking the New York City skyline where Chris’s family has a property. Chris keeps his awesome 1970’s Fiat in a garage there. I got a chance to snap a crappy photo of my Miata with it.
Funny story about that… my car refused to start before heading out to Chris’s house. Why? I don’t know but it would crank and not fire. I immediately assumed that my used ignition relay from eBay I had just installed the day before was faulty. So in the pouring rain I popped the hood and swapped it out for the old one. In the process I cracked the plastic cover on the eBay purchase which was the main reason for getting it in the first place, the plastic cover on my original fuse was broken off. That whole procedure did absolutely nothing, so I broke it for no good reason.
Asked my father for advice and he suggested that water was a factor, possibly creating a poor connection on the battery. So I kept on turning the key until it started and the problem hasn’t replicated since… shame I handled the situation the way I did. Now I’m going to shop around for a new replacement Ignition relay.
Anyway… have a listen to the new Miata Fiata Radio episode. We’ll be moving all our older episodes from Shout Cloud to Shout Engine to avoid storage limits. And in the process I’ll be amending the name from Miata Fiata Talk to “Radio”
Comments and opinions are welcome. We’d also love to have guests on future podcasts so reach out to get yourself on!
Every Road Trip presents an opportunity to try something new and delicious. My Motorsport Foodie Tours are a highlight of my volunteering career and this Spring Break trip to Florida was no exception… I discovered a new food I love: Watermelon Rind Pickles!
Ironically I was so busy stuffing my face with delicious seafood and the endless salad bar, I didn’t really take any close up shots of this tasty goodness…
The whole atmosphere of the dinner where this new food was sampled might have contributed to the pleasant experience. While staying in Daytona Beach my host John Gamble and I met up with our CFR flagging friend Captain Morgan who I had the privilege of working with the previous year both at St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour. He’s an amazing person and someone I really admire and truly respect. Even when our political views differ 😉
The restaurant, Aunt Catfish’s on the River is a really happening spot even on a weekly night for dinner. There was wait time to get a table. But we used the opportunity to get a mason jar or beer and shoot the breeze on the dock. It was pretty awesome and very relaxing.
Once inside, the main attraction is the unlimited salad bar. Both cold and hot versions, where you can help yourself to a serving of the Watermelon Rind Pickles… the first time I missed this altogether trying not to overload my plate with other delicious food. But at recommendation of Captain Morgan I went back and stocked up.
I didn’t take any close-up pix of the watermelon rind, but you can see the little green cubes in the picture above, all the way to the right of the plate… they are amazing!
I felt like licking the plate when dinner was done, it was so good!
But then Captain Morgan recommended desert:
I literally had to wobble out of the place… I was so full. But happy!
Thanks to Captain Morgan for introducing me to Watermelon Rind Pickles, so now I could promote the food to others. Do add it to your Foodie Tour experiences next time you visit Florida or South in general. You’ll probably love it too!