Tag Archives: MX-5 Miata

How about a Road Trip to the South: Volunteering MX-5 Cup at Barber in Alabama and PWC at VIR?

I would really love to plan a Southern Road Trip to Alabama and Virginia for some awesome car racing. The trip would be approximately 2,000 miles long and last two weeks with a weekend at Barber Motorsports Park volunteering for the Global MX-5 Cup and it’s parent sanctioning body IndyCar. Followed by a fantastic weekend at Virginia International Raceway volunteering for some classes of the Pirelli World Challenge which would include Sprint X, GTS and the TC/TCA/TCB support series which all feature Miata’s.

How cool would that be?

I think it would be fantastic! But how do I make it work?

Challenge #1: Money!

My concern isn’t just driving down 1,000 miles to Birmingham, Alabama… that’s actually an easy part, and I could make it happen relatively cheaply. There’s only $1 in tolls crossing the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and then smooth sailing all the way down i81 which is my preferred route to travel to Florida. The problem is if I plan this now when I’m still unemployed it would be super tough requesting time off from an employer if I do find a job which obviously presents a predicament… should I make contacts now hoping to be accepted or wait until later time when I know for sure I am not committed to actual paying work… I don’t know.

Both the Barber event and VIR event pay for participation. At Barber Motorsports Park, Flagging by Faynisha organizes marshals. They pay some money which would certainly offset the fuel and some of the accommodation costs involved in getting there. Similarly, VIR pays employees for participation at non-club events. And even though last year both the Global MX-5 Cup and Pirelli World Challenge were under the SCCA Pro umbrella, this year neither one is. The MX-5 Cup went with IndyCar as it’s sanctioning body while Pirelli World Challenge switched to USAC for the same reasons. And that will be interesting to see how and what, if any, will the differences be within the series. I suspect little to none, but I am curious to say the least.

There would be a few days to kill between the event in Alabama and the next event in Southern Virginia on the North Carolina border, which is about 500 miles drive from Barber. I would imagine instead of heading directly to VIR I’d make a few day stop in Georgia and maybe spend some time exploring Atlanta. It’s a nice city with nice food and I would love to have a few delicious meals there, like the amazing Fried Chicken and Waffles I sampled on my last visit to Barber where I flew via Atlanta and spend the night before flying back through Philadelphia (hey, the flight was cheap… $35 bux cheap). Anyway, it would be pretty amazing.

And I think I’ll put this high up on the list of events I’d like to participate in this year.

Since neither event is SCCA sanctioned and neither of the marshal bodies are run by SCCA people, I wonder if I should even renew my SCCA membership this year?

Stay tuned…

Cars & Coffee Paramus New Jersey November 2016

Autumn is winding down. Fall foliage has been reduced to leaves waiting in piles on the side of suburban streets, to be sucked up by the DPW trucks… things are about to get pretty gray for a couple of months over the winter. Let a little color cheer you up this weekend. I went to a local Cars & Coffee in Paramus to see some awesome cars on display for everyone’s enjoyment!

I spent a whole of five minutes running around taking pictures, but I’m quite happy I got out of bed early this Sunday morning for this amazing opportunity, enjoy:

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Surprised my car looks so good even when it definitely needs a wash.

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The one thing that stood out at me was the amount of Lotus Espirit’s that showed up for this event.

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Lots of SRT-8 Challengers and colorful Hellcats in attendance too…

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That’s all folks… I think there’s one more of these next week. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it!

Lone Star Le Mans 2016 WEC & IMSA at COTA debrief

This weekend’s Lone Star Le Mans was outstanding!

My third trip to COTA this year and one of the best experiences yet following PWC in the spring and MotoGP in the summer. Ironically the September trip was the hottest temperature wise, but I’m super happy it didn’t rain at all on this trip.

For this event I got teased with my station assignments a little bit. I got the awesome Alpha station for the first day on Thursday which got me very excited but then Station 4 in the Esses brought the mood down a bit on Friday and Saturday because I could not make a much desired trip to pit lane from across the track, even though technically it was pretty close distance wise (if only we could cross the track). I wasn’t too thrilled with Station 4 until I got to do a whole bunch of Blue flag there and cars started bouncing off the curbs and orange turtles which send them flying off the racing line. During the WEC race one of the Ford GT’s got punted into our gravel trap so we got all sorts of action and my view of Turn 4 changed dramatically. I’m very thankful I got a chance to work this station now.

To get to the event I booked a cheapo flight to Dallas. This time on Southwest into Dallas Love Field, my first time flying there, and for $39 one way, a pretty reasonable way to do it. The flight home was a bit more expensive but the costs were offset by my buddy offering to drive me from Dallas to Austin and back. We had a few nice dinners together sampling some of Austin’s finest BBQ joints and some delicious Tex Mex too with a big bowl of Margarita’s.

Next year apparently IMSA and WEC will run COTA on separate weekends which sucks, but it is what it is. There has been an announcement that Creventic will run a 24 hour race in November which I’m really looking forward to participate in, so hopefully things will pan out nicely.

I love Texas and can’t wait to come back again and again.

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The highlight of the COTA experience this year was my finally test driving the new Mazda MX-5 Miata ND model on an autocross circuit. The car didn’t feel much different from my NC miata, and if anything more sluggish but that could have been the result of 95+F temps and the thick humidity. I enjoyed the experience, although it’s a bit of a shame the Petty Driving Experience dude that went on the ride with me didn’t let me do another lap… no other people were waiting in line, we were having a good chat about my previous Petty Experiences with the SRT model like from Chrysler, but after the five minute ride around he told me to park it and that was that. Maybe I’ll get another opportunity at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next month. Or elsewhere for that matter.

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See you next time Austin!

SCCA Majors Super Tour at the Glen the debrief

This is weekend 8 out of 9 in a row (second month straight) volunteering for a Motorsport event around the US where I’ve driven to the circuit. Watkins Glen International was playing host to Majors Super Tour for SCCA Club Racing. On paper it was supposed to be a spectacular event, but in reality things were brought down a few pegs real quick. I’ll share the good the bad and the ugly in this post.

First the good. And there was a lot of good happening. The weather was good! That’s always a plus. The car turn out was good, there were tons of cars in each field, and by tons I mean high twenties were the smallest field. I counted upwards of forty cars in some fields. The station assignments were good. I got to work some of the best stations there are at WGI and it was really enjoyable. The food was good. SCCA Glen Region offered tasty lunches and some finger foods at dinner time which was very much appreciated. My car got good gas mileage using Sunoco Ultra 93, that was good.

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Next, the bad. While I enjoyed my assignments very much it wasn’t really what I requested. I was hoping to practice working Start a bit more and it didn’t seem like that request was even up for consideration. But I guess it pays to be persistent. Another bad thing was the fact that despite advertising (pictures included) some amazing cars that were supposed to be at the track this weekend, they didn’t actually show up. That’s not good at all. But both of these bad things I could live with.

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And finally, the ugly! Some of the racing was pretty ugly. I don’t know what it was that made so many people have so many avoidable incidents. In fact for club racing it was very much uncharacteristic to have so many bad wrecks, but I think people were encouraged a bit too much to set new track records on the newly re-paved racing surface so they pushed their cars way beyond their driving abilities. We had multiple incidents where cars were destroyed badly, whether in single car incidents or multi car incidents. The crashes started happening on Test day Thursday long before any official racing could take place on Friday. It was so unnecessary. At one point a piece of ARMCO had to be replaced delaying one race group for a whole day because of the severity of the impact. There were several cars going airborne. One flipped over, another flew over second car. The racing was dirty, and at some points dangerous… especially when drivers involved ran on the track to scold the other driver. Luckily nobody got seriously hurt but a lot of private cars will have to undergo major reconstruction to be in a position to race again.

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I’m sure people would think that crashes are good for spectators and to make time fly faster for the marshals because something exciting is happening. But in reality all that contributed to was shorter racing, way too much downtime and reduced fields of cars per group. The attrition rate was atrocious. And that’s no fun.

But anyway. Both Glen Region SCCA and RSI folks did an awesome job of making me feel welcome. We had a visitor from San Fran Region in California that felt very welcome too. I got to use my tent to camp at the RSI compound which was very convenient.

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I also got to drive on track to get to my station assignment on Saturday, that is always enjoyable!

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Got to see a ton of Miata’s though I’m most interested in the NC – 3rd Gen model, and there were only a few of those, including this car with PA plates that must have belonged to one of the SCCA Stewards. (NC3 Club Edition)

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The last time I saw this NC racer it was a decomissioned IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge car, now it has gone some serious upgrades:

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All in all an awesome weekend, and I was definitely missing out by not volunteering Club events in the past. Though I wish there would be a little more consistency in the future. The only thing that was consistent this weekend, was the great food!

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After 500 miles put on my car this weekend I’ll be repeating the trip again next weekend to do the IMSA Six Hour at the Glen.

Post Card from SCCA Majors at the Glen

This weekend had the potential to go to shit but I’m so glad it didn’t and everything went as smoothly as possible turning into quite an enjoyable few days at an iconic track flagging awesome race cars.

The reason I signed up for this event was because I was anticipating a few interesting Miata’s to be racing this weekend. Cars that actually didn’t turn up. Specifically, I saw on the MotorsportReg registration page several NC (third generation) MX-5 race cars, ones without a front windshield and a huge roll cage sticking out over the area where the driver sits. None of the NC’s of this type showed up. There were however several NA’s and NB’s racing in this spec so I got to see at least some Miata’s as well as BMW Z3 and a few other cars, but not what I was hoping for.

Having worked Start for an SCCA event at Lime Rock the weekend before I figured I’d be slick about it, and since the Glen Region SCCA was recruiting marshals through MotorsportReg, I signed up that way (instead of going through RSI like I normally would to work at WGI) ticking off Start as my desired role. But I don’t think anyone at the Glen Region paid any attention to what I actually signed up for, because I didn’t make it anywhere near the Starter stand.

Luckily for me though the assignments I got were kick-ass! Jim Wheeler the new flag chief of the Glen Region did an awesome job. I was very satisfied with what I got considering there were at least 6 starters on the starter stand this weekend. So competing with all of them would have been far less fun… plus at least all of my station assignments had shade over the gazebo we worked from, so it worked out in my favor. I got to work Station 7B (which is in the boot and is a black flag station) for Friday, Station 6 which is at the entry to the Book on Saturday and Station 3 which is at the top of the Esses for Race Day on Sunday.

I’m as happy as could be!  (got good station assignments, had awesome coworkers for the weekend, enjoyed the company off track, and there was great variety of cars in huge fields racing).

Here’s some pix:

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View from the Top of the Esses, new Turn #3

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The Spec Miata Post-Race:

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More to come later…

Mazda MX-5: Philadelphia Miata Meet & Cruise, Philly Cheesesteaks and Twisties

How to scrub brand new tires? Take the car on a little road trip… today’s excuse for a drive was a “local” Philly Miatas meet and cruise… I called it cheesesteaks and twisties… 2 hours each way and a total of just under 300 miles on new tires which are nicely broken into now and ready for  daily use.

Big thanks to the guys that organized the event today!

We had a total of 6 cars… 4 or 5 of them at a time. There were 2 NA’s, 3 NB’s and my NC. Only two of the guys were from Pennsylvania while three of us were from across the river in New Jersey. The other two Jersey guys were from South Jersey living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

One car broke down shortly after we started the cruise, which was a bit sad. It was a Supercharged NB that kept on blowing a fuse which we kind of thought was a result of hitting a pot hole large enough to cause a short in one of the wires. We left the fella behind on the side of the road waiting for AAA… and while we were eating our cheesesteaks before heading off for some spirited driving around PA’s twisties, he showed up with his second NB… How cool!?!

After giving the new tires a bit of a workout driving in suburban Philadelphia along the banks of the river, I broke off from the group and went to visit my buddy Brian whose wedding I attended in Bangkok, it was a great opportunity to catch up although way too brief.

Fantastic spring day spend driving the Miata with the top down with a new group of friends in Philadelphia… looking forward to more of these in the near future!

Some pix:

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Turns out there are two styles of Philly Cheesesteaks: sliced and diced. The sliced type is like the famous Pat’s or Geno’s… or better yet like Tony Luke’s which I had for breakfast on my way to the meet. During the cruise we stopped at Dalessandro’s which serves diced steaks and the line for food was way out the door! You know it’s good when you look across the street at Chubby’s hoggies and steaks and there’s no line out the door there. Delicious stuff!

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Mazda MX-5: Back-Up Camera Installed

Today’s project was to install a back-up camera in my little red sports car… and I almost finished it. Almost!

I know I said I was going to put off the back-up camera install until warmer weather, but I had nothing better to do. So today I tore up the passenger side of the interior and pulled out all the panels from the trunk to get access to the wiring, so I could connect my camera.

The interior was easy and so was the trunk. I managed to route the wire perfectly from under the dash all the way to the trunk. The most difficult part was going from behind the passenger seat to the actual trunk. I found the best way was to raise the PRHT top as if I were to retract it, and then it exposed the area where the car wiring goes. I gently zip tied the backup video camera wire to it, and finally dropped the camera wire down into the trunk. I soldered the power source for the camera to the back-up light. Tested it by taping the camera to the spot I wanted to mount it, and everything worked.

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Looks perfect!

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Now I did run into a few problems.

When testing the camera I noticed that when I put the car in reverse, nothing happens!  That was unexpected… I was hoping the back-up image would come up. It doesn’t. Something is off with the settings, or I plugged the yellow RCA jack into the wrong slot on the back of the radio. It’s something I still need to figure out.

The other problem was, the way I wanted to mount the camera, resulted in a terrible image. So I had to re-design the bracket to mount it. At which point I ran out of day light, and didn’t finish the install. The bracket though will mount to the license plate, but unlike those license plate mounted cameras, mine will be hidden by the license plate and only the lip that holds the camera will show, but at the same time be hidden by the lip of the trunk lid. I chose not to mount the camera under the trunk lid lip because people on Miata.net said that the lip blocks the view from the camera, which kind of defeats the purpose of having that camera.

Will post an update when I’m done with the install. It’s easy peasy from here on out.

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UPDATE January 11:

Today was a good day to mount the DIY aluminum bracket my father and I made for the back-up camera. I found it easiest to access the grommet behind the bumper by removing the driver’s side tail light and having plenty of room to work with there.

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At this point everything was plug and play, I just insulated things, zip tied them so the wires don’t bounce around, and put some silicone into the grommet so the water doesn’t seep in from the outside.

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I like the way it looks a lot. The install feels factory from the outside, though you can see the camera once the trunk is open. But I can live with that. I plugged the video wire to the correct slot in the back of the Pioneer head unit and the picture comes on when car is in reverse but for some reason the screen doesn’t go back to whatever setting it was before shifting the car in reverse. Something I must still figure out.

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For the time being I’m quite happy with this!

MX-5 Miata Road Trip

I launched a new Facebook Page for my favorite pastime: MX-5 Miata Road Trip’s: www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

I’ve been blogging quite frequently about the trips I’ve taken in my NC Miata, mainly to get to a race track Upstate New York or up to New England. But that hobby is about to take me internationally, with a trip to Southeast Asia booked in early December 2015 and another to the Pacific in February 2016. I’m making it a priority to meet up with any and all MX-5 owners I can on the road. Hence the MX-5 International Road Trip.

I’m hoping that the facebook page would allow me to make new connections as well as to share some pictures from my meetups without mixing the content with my Motorsport hobby that I also blog about frequently: Marshal Cam (#MarshalCam) as well as the Foodie Tours that I enjoy very much and also blog about separately. I have a feeling people visit this site for each of the things that interest them most and perhaps not all of them want the Marshaling, Foodie Tours and Miata stuff mixed.

For the International trips, except of course for my future drive up to Canada, I won’t be taking my car. So my goal is to meet other owners and take as many pictures and videos of their cars as they would let me. I am also planning on perhaps renting a few MX-5’s and sharing those experiences in the blog and on the facebook page as well. I think it would be pretty awesome to read and based on a few searches I did thus far, there’s nothing like it out there (except one kiwi page from a few years ago that promoted MX5 Roadtrip’s – it was hard to find perhaps because of “roadtrip” used as one word).

So hopefully this works!

Go ahead and like the page to have all that content pop up on your Facebook feed automatically. www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

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Mazda MX-5: Hello Stevie!

I think the prospect of meeting Stevie was the deciding factor in going to volunteer at Thompson Speedway for the New England Region SCCA thing… sure meeting Jessie was cool, going to another new track was nice, eating lobster along the way was delicious, but seeing another MX-5 Miata up close to compare with mine was really neat. I don’t think I could explain it, so I’m not going to. Instead here is just a small fraction of the bazillion pictures I took of the cars:

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I think George the Basset Hound was thoroughly confused seeing another Miata in his driveway.

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First comparison: Oh look! the 2009 looks exactly the same as my 2007. Except that it doesn’t. The front bumper was changed from a happy oval mouth to a more pronounced one. The headlights were different, bigger slightly. I know the engine internals were improved. I was a little surprised to see the base model not have fog lights, I thought those came standard pretty much on all NC Miatas but not so. The steering wheel looked a little bare without all the controls there. Even the roll hoops didn’t come chromed, and instead were painted gray, but not the same color as the car, or the dash piece, just gray like the plastic. That was a little weird.

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Next thing you know we’re at Thompson Speedway, going around the oval for a little photo shoot on the embankment:

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And so that was that… now any normal person would be happy they got their pix and be done with it. But with me, nope… I took more:

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In the paddock area by the garages.

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At our station, Turn 3.

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At the end of day party…

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It was just a cool thing to see, and do some more comparisons. Like the rear bumper that is quite different on the NC2 vs. NC1:

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Not only did they delete the reflector to integrate it into the tail lights, they also created a slightly more aerodynamic look to it making the car look wider and lower in the tail pipe area. The trunk lid was also different from a soft top to the hard top models:

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…alright

THE END