Tag Archives: miatas at mazda raceway laguna seca

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!

Gnarly California Trip 2017

Another radical trip in the books… this time I spent nearly two weeks on Monterey Peninsula in Northern California enjoying myself at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This post will act as a glossary of all of my activities and adventures, which included:

I’ll be writing the individual posts over the next few days so please stay tuned…

The trip went absolutely wonderfully. It’s been a while since the last event so I was well rested and enjoyed the experience very much. Instead of paying for a cheap flight I broke down and burned some frequent flyer miles to get to California. Which meant I could do some crazy routing to finally fly directly into Monterey. On the way over I used my Alaska miles that I got by converting Virgin America points (which Alaska bought out)… luckily two out of the three legs of the trip were actually on VX which was super enjoyable. I love their Airbus A320’s. I flew New York to San Francisco. Instead of getting off the plane and driving two hours, I spent the next four hours in the air over California. First taking another VX flight to San Diego where I connected to an Alaska Air operated by Horizon prop-plane Bombardier Q400 to fly back up to Monterey. My goal was to fly over Laguna Seca and take some shots, but 7:30pm this time of year meant complete darkness… so the only visual I have of the track is what I saw… it’ll stay in my mind instead of captured on a cell phone camera.

Car rentals at MRY weren’t cheap… as expected. But instead of paying $400-500’s for convenience I instead booked a car from Hertz Local Edition in Seaside (and Salinas as a backup)… it was only $162 which is a great deal for a two week rental. Got a Hyundai Accent which got a solid 33mpg! And because I’m so broke I tried not to do too many California road trips… ironically when I returned the car I had put 805 miles on it, which surprised me!

The two events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were fantastic!

I got a chance to get a ride in all versions of the NC Miata… the early years NC1 – my buddy Daniel from Gerogia who drove his 2008 all the way cross-country for this event. Then hopped into the same NC2 I drove around the track last year (the owner let me drive it again which was awesome!) And finally my host in Prunedale owns an awesome looking NC3 which I was lucky to ride in again. We met at the Miata’s at Laguna Seca event last year and him hosting me for the duration of the trip was probably the only thing that made this all possible.

I can’t say enough positive things about my Cali visit this year. It’ll probably be a while before I get a chance to go again, so I’m going to savor the memories and share them on this blog along with many pictures.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Trip Booked in October 2017

I’m really happy to say that the West Coast trip of 2017 has been booked. I had the privilege of participating in my first Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event last year followed by an exciting weekend of Pirelli World Challenge at the same facility, and this year I’m going to repeat the trip. Flights have been booked. Events registered for, the only thing left to do is find cheap accommodation.

It’s exciting!

First, I cashed in some airline miles to actually fly into Monterey (MRY) this time. No more flying to the Bay Area (SFO, OAK, SJC) and driving two hours. Instead I wanted to see the track from the air and there’s no better way than to fly into the Monterey Regional Airport which takes the final approach right over the circuit.

Second, I can’t wait to volunteer again with the organizers of Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event. It was such an amazing opportunity last year I couldn’t pass it up this year:  https://www.miatasatmazdaraceway.com/

Third, PWC is going to be a blast because of a potential race that may actually take place this year. I may sound a little skeptical because the SRO advertised a US round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge a year ago at COTA with a proposed 6 hour race, which never happened, and now the California 8 hour enduro is on schedule but suspiciously very little information is available about it. At the very least I think the PWC event will take place, and last year it was great fun to volunteer it. But as a fan of endurance racing I want to see this California 8 hour race happen. More importantly I love the concept of teams flying in their talent… race car drivers, engineers, crew and renting local vehicles to compete instead of flying all that machinery in with them (from Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) The concept is cool, there are certainly plenty of PWC and IMSA teams that wouldn’t mind making some money from rentals in this way, but will it actually happen? We’ll wait and see.

I will have a few days of downtime between events, so my goal (besides finding cheap accommodation) is to find something to do from Monday to Wednesday in early October. I’ve done road trips up to San Francisco and down to Saint Luis Obispo last year. This time I’d like to do something different.

Can’t wait!

 

PS. as an avgeek I used some of my recently converted Virgin America miles to book a flight with Alaska Airways whom have absorbed VX… lucky for me, I’ll still get to fly Virgin’s A320’s.. and the routing I booked is a little crazy. I’ll do JFK-SFO on a VX A320, connecting to SFO-SAN on a VX A320, my first flight into San Diego, for absolutely no other reason than to connect to a puddle jumper Bombardier Q400 on Horizon Air to do SAN-MRY. It’s going to be fun arriving Monterey on a little propeller plane. On the way back I’ll fly United Express Canadair CRJ-200 MRY-LAX, connecting to a red-eye transcon Boeing 757 on LAX-EWR route. So many dots and lines for my flight map thanks to frequent flyer miles.

Miata Fiata Radio Meeting Daniel Cooper in Atlanta and Talking NC Miata’s, Track Builds, Experiences

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.


Miata Fiata Radio – Chat with Daniel Cooper in Duluth, Georgia… about NC Miata’s, Track Builds, Road Trips and Stuff

We recorded in Daniel’s garage looking out on our two cars parked outside… here’s some pix:

And the recording set up, a table we made with NC wheels:

And the best part of the podcast… dinner after at a local BBQ joint:

MX-5 Miata Road Trip: My Wish List

It’s important to have goals…

My biggest goal right now should be finding a job. I’ve totally failed in that department and the unemployment is really kicking my ass. However this has been a year to remember with all of my MX-5 adventures and I’d like to pen a few “wishes” for the future to see if they’ll ever come true. I find that writing things down helps me focus on things I want to accomplish, which gives me something to look forward to. A target. A goal. A reason to pursue things.

So what am I looking forward to in my MX-5 Miata Road Tripping future? Well, a few places come to mind (in no particular order):

f-japan Japan Roadster Road Trip

f-hongkong Hong Kong MX-5 Road Trip

f-philippinesPhilippines MX-5 Road Trip

f-southafrica South Africa MX-5 Road Trip

f-brazil Brazil MX-5 Road Trip

f-greatbritain UK MX-5 Road Trip

f-spain Spain MX-5 Road Trip

f-italy Italy MX-5 Road Trip

f-mexico Mexico Miata Road Trip

f-uae UAE MX-5 Road Trip

f-russia Russia MX-5 Road Trip

 

Why did I pick these places?

The cheesy reason: Why not? But the more meaningful reason is to visit the communities of Miata owners that exist in each country. Based on my previous trips which I’ll mention a bit later in this post I have come across Miata.net forum posts that suggest massive communities in at least a few European countries. UK is definitely at the top of the list, and countries that see a lot of British tourism especially in Southern Europe will have communities of locals and expats there as well… I think Spain is a logical choice but also Italy is a good candidate. After my visit to Southeast Asia and the very successful meets there I discovered a huge community in Hong Kong, which I’m dying to visit again. Similarly Japan has a huge “Roadster” following for obvious reasons. South Africa does seem to have at least a moderately large community based on Miata.net posts, and a few posts from Brazil suggest a similar phenomena. Russia seems to have a huge community there which is surprising to me but all the posts I found both on forums and facebook suggest a large community which I’d love to visit even if after a bunch of my #FuckPutin posts I doubt I’d be welcome, be able to get a tourist visa or even if I did… I doubt I’d return with all of my teeth in their natural place at the end of the visit, lol

Of all the places I got to visit this past year I really can’t wait to return to every single one of them for another awesome experience. Do click through on the left side of the blog’s menu to read the write ups and check out the pictures from each of these visits:

f-thailand Thailand Miata Road Trip

f-singapore Singapore Miata Road Trip

f-malaysia Malaysia Miata Road Trip

f-australia Australia MX-5 Road Trip

f-newzealand New Zealand MX-5 Road Trip

f-netherlands The Netherlands MX-5 Road Trip

f-germany Germany MX-5 Road Trip

f-belgium Belgium MX-5 Road Trip

f-france France MX-5 Road Trip

f-usa USA Miata Road Trip

 

To be perfectly honest, I am surprised myself that I was able to accomplish so many MX-5 Miata meet ups in so many places so far. It has been a blessing and a real adventure in every single spot. Many of the visits were a total surprise like Thailand. I had no idea that MX-5/Roadster community was so huge there and more importantly what surprised me even more was how tight they are and how frequently they get to meet up. Not just Thailand… Singapore and Malaysia which make up the Tri-Country MX-5 community of Southeast Asia were tremendously welcoming to me and I really want to return there frequently just to hang out with them in the future. The Australian and Kiwi communities had similar numbers and level of enthusiasm and it was really refreshing to get a different perspective on both of those countries where I had lived before but never experienced for myself. The MX-5 community in Sydney and Auckland rolled out the red carpet for me, so to speak, and I’m forever grateful, and wouldn’t just want to come back there fore more but highly recommend other Miata enthusiasts to experience this hospitality for themselves. Similarly Europe took me by surprise with just how many MX-5’s roam the streets and autobahns there. Germany was probably the most visible place to go MX-5 spotting for me and I had several small and cozy but very enjoyable meetups there. The Dutch, Belgians and French too impressed me greatly with their hospitality. I was most surprised by my meetup in Paris where so many people showed up just to meet me… silly it seems but I certainly appreciated the opportunity to share their enthusiasm. I want to go back to all of these places and hopefully spend more time, preferably behind a wheel of an MX-5 participating in one of the club’s activities like a road trip somewhere or a sightseeing tour, or a foodie tour… I know I’d enjoy it and I recommend it highly for others to consider also when visiting these countries as a tourist.

Now, not all of my trips were a complete success. I’ve had my share of failures. Some were fairly predictable like my hope to bump into MX-5 owners in Rarotonga the capital of the Cook Islands… while I saw several Roadsters driving around, I failed to actually meet with anyone who owns one. Even going to a rental car place didn’t result in a positive sighting of an NC I was keeping my fingers crossed for. Canada was also surprising. With so many Canadians on the forums especially in Ontario I was really surprised and bummed out that I failed to create a meetup during my trip to Mosport for a race there. Booo! But even in the US creating meet up opportunities is difficult. I just returned from my biggest and most amazing US meet up in California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was brilliant in so many ways and I highly recommend others to put it on their calendar for next year and the year after that. I was lucky enough to meet folks in Orlando when on a Road Trip to Florida to volunteer at Sebring and St. Pete but other places were a total bust, including New Jersey where I live. I find it super difficult to organize something close to home. I have failed to organize events during my travels to South Florida, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale area. Didn’t have any luck in Michigan during the Detroit Grand Prix, etc. I’ll keep trying of course in the future, but its a bit sad that things don’t always go as planned. Or that nobody wants to participate in some of my plans.

So after all that, I’m really hopeful that expressing my interest in Japan, Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil, UK and others, something will actually materialize and I’ll get a chance to share the stories about it here on the blog… and during future meet-ups as well!

Woo Hoo! Got to do a Parade Lap in NC2 MX-5 During Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Probably the most unexpected thing that happened the weekend of Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event was me ending up behind the wheel of a beautiful gray NC2 MX-5 doing a closing lap at the end of the parade lap session on Sunday… Yep, I got to freaking drive Laguna Seca and it was mighty awesome!

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For a weekend that will be remembered for it’s sensory overload, I think this is by far the highlight of the whole trip! Thanks to everyone that made this possible!

Mazda MX-5 RF: Finally Caught the Retractable Fastback in Person during Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

The Mazda MX-5 Miata RF has been as elusive for me as the Millionth Miata but I finally caught a glimpse of it in person at the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event in Monterey, Cali this weekend… What a pretty car!

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Somebody left it overnight at our Merchandise garage so I got some up close snaps of it before it was rolled out on display outside…

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I do like it!

Maybe this thing will replace my current NC1 GT PRHT… Hmm!

Woo Hoo! Signed the 1,000,000th MX-5 During Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Event

I missed my chance to sign the car in Germany… I missed it again when the Millionth Miata was on tour through New Jersey… but I’m proud to say I finally caught up with the car in California getting an opportunity to sign it during Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

What’s the big deal?

Bragging rights? Nope… A feeling of pride? Yep! Ever since I bought my Miata I’ve been gravitating towards MX-5 events around the world and Mazda has been very active in contributing with opportunities for owners to get more involved with the company and show their enthusiasm. The current Millionth Miata celebration is a perfect example. The car made it’s first appearance in Japan during an MX-5 get together… then it appeared in Germany at TidM show (which I missed even though I was in Germany two days later). Then it did a tour around the US where enthusiasts were able to drop by their local dealer and sign it… I had my plans made to do it at Wayne Mazda in NJ but that was the same weekend VIR finally approved my marshaling participation for the IMSA race… boo!

The Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was a perfect opportunity to do my signing and enjoy the company of hundreds of other Miata owners present at the facility and around the track. It was pretty awesome.

I liked it so much I signed the car twice… and before anyone complains, the Mazda people working the 1,000,000th Miata booth encouraged us to sign for family or friends so there’s one signature on the right side of the car with my family name… and another sig for me personally on the right front fender (driver’s side since the car is RHD)… pretty neat!

I took a million pictures (of course) of the whole process:

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So, signed the car… got a t-shirt and a little commemorative plaque to prove it… along with all the pix:

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Funny enough, on the first day they didn’t have the t-shirt in 2XL… I got a 3XL just so I fit into it… but next day went back to ask for another one since I saw a new pile of 2XL’s appear… and they encouraged me to sign the car again… And Bam… I did it again:

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Since we were one of the last to leave the track at the end of the event, I got a chance to see the car get prepped for transport… up to Canada or Australia… or wherever else it’s going before it’s final destination at a museum in Hiroshima, Japan

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Thanks for the opportunity Mazda!

Post Card from 2016 Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

For a last minute trip this one was a super exciting one and worth every penny I spent on it thus far. After reading about Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca taking place this October in Monterey, California… one of the biggest Miata get togethers in the US, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be a part of it. I’ll write in greater detail about my experience but for now I’ll share some pix:

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Picking up a rental car at Hertz San Francisco… what do  you know, it’s a Mazda… a Mazda5  (missing the MX obviously)

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First stop, Embassy Suites where they threw a big welcoming BBQ

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Oh, hello MX-5 RF… finally we meet:

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And just like that, they put me to work… love volunteering with these guys:

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Great atmosphere, tons of Miata people and even more food!

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First day at the track volunteering at the merchandise store first and then aligning the cars for the group photo and the parade lap:

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Lots of Miata Exocets in attendance

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Huge thanks to a new friend Adam for volunteering to give me a ride in the parade lap…turns out Adam is a scrutineer at various Pro events including WEC and F1 at COTA… methinks I’ll be seeing Adam again at various tracks volunteering races together. Thanks Adam!

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Mazda really had their logos everywhere on this track

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The first night ended with another amazing dinner that they invited me to just for volunteering…. Very awesome of them!

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The views from the Red Bull VIP lounge were amazing

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The entertainment and food were amazing also!

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Loved these scallops in bacon!

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Miatas everywhere you look at Laguna Seca

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All the vendors on one side of the paddock and then official Miatas at MRLS merchandise area where I volunteered on the other:

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We were right next to the Millionth Miata and MX-5 RF displays:

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Patriotic Canadians came from British Columbia and Alberta

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Oh look, it’s my car!

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And then the event came to a close… and I took my Mazda5 around for a little Laguna Seca photo shoot:

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Bye Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!  Hello to Pirelli World Challenge which I’ll volunteer for next week at Laguna Seca 🙂

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Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Bucket List

After compiling a list of all of my recent MX-5 Miata Road Trips I realized there’s one event I really must add to my bucket list: the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca happening this October.

Why is this an important event?

I could think of a bunch of reasons… for one, Laguna Seca is a fantastic facility and a home of Mazda Motorsports and Mazdaspeed activities. The Global MX-5 Cup championship opened at Laguna Seca last weekend. California is perhaps the best place to own a Miata or at the very least a very appropriate place to visit, cruising to Big Sur along the PCH with the top down. And the best part there would be hundreds if not thousands of fellow MX-5 nuts in attendance many of whom would drive their cars there while others like me would be able to fly in and possibly rent one.

I’m seriously considering doing this event one year!

Here’s the promo pitch:

Miatas at Mazda Raceway has established itself as one of the must-do events on the Miata calendar. Don’t miss out.
The event will take place on October 1-2, 2016.
Registration for the hot laps will open at 9 am PDT on May 21st.
We’re still working on details, but here’s what you can probably expect.
  • 2 days of track time at world famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
  • Hundreds of Miatas and Miata enthusiasts of all types
  • Parade laps on Saturday and Sunday
  • Vendors on hand with displays and demos and product specials
  • A BBQ and car show on Friday night
  • A party with live band on Saturday night

http://www.miatasatmazdaraceway.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MiatasatMRLS/

miatas at mazda raceway laguna seca october 2016