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.
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…
…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
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?
The goal was to talk about the logistics of the road trip. The route I took was the longer of two options, instead of the more direct i95 along the Eastern Seaboard I took i81 instead. It added about 40 miles more to the trip, but I saved $40 or so in tolls (and a lot of frustration of sitting in traffic along all the major cities on that route, like Philly, Washington DC, Richmond, etc.)
Discounted gas cards are discussed. I purchased Sunoco, BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil cards to save on fuel and used the GasBuddy app’s map feature to see the cheaper stations ahead on my route. I played a game to calculate how far I could go and arrive at the station with the Low Fuel light lit up.
Foodie tour was mentioned. I said this trip was fueled by BBQ. I tried an amazing place in Rock Hill, SC called Dixie Pig and fell in love with their Pig Wings. And Due South BBQ in Christianburg, VA who had an amazing selection of BBQ sauces and some freebie bone bags for my fake beagle back home.
Things to watch out for. Checking tire pressure to avoid getting a flat or a blowout. Being careful with window chips, which I got… caught a rock to the windshield. Getting plenty of rest along the way so you don’t crash.
I completely forgot to talk about my Miata meet up in Jacksonville where a few First Coast Miata club folks came out to have dinner with me. Sorry about that.
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):
Japan Roadster Road Trip
Hong Kong MX-5 Road Trip
Philippines MX-5 Road Trip
South Africa MX-5 Road Trip
Brazil MX-5 Road Trip
UK MX-5 Road Trip
Spain MX-5 Road Trip
Italy MX-5 Road Trip
Mexico Miata Road Trip
UAE MX-5 Road Trip
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:
Thailand Miata Road Trip
Singapore Miata Road Trip
Malaysia Miata Road Trip
Australia MX-5 Road Trip
New Zealand MX-5 Road Trip
The Netherlands MX-5 Road Trip
Germany MX-5 Road Trip
Belgium MX-5 Road Trip
France MX-5 Road Trip
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!
My most epic Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trip took place this July in conjunction with my Motorsport Euro Trip to volunteer a few races in Western Europe. Stop 2.5 was also in Germany, and right at the race track. Maggie came directly to my post at Nürburgring.
I have to admit that trying to organize this Euro Trip was quite a frustrating experience. Right up to my departure day I wasn’t sure whether or not I would actually meet someone. Germany is a country that embraces the MX-5 Roadster. For a place that has other fantastic convertibles like the Mercedes-Benz SLK or the BMW Z4 (Z1, Z3 and Z9 before it) as well as Opel Roadsters and a number of other European options, the Japanese Roadster is king! Well, one of the people that was very vocal in my posts about meeting up was Maggie who lives somewhere outside of Hamburg and wanted to meet up with me at the N-ring… but where could we meet? I generally didn’t think I would find WiFi while there, or have a phone number, etc.
Maggie found me at the track! How? She spotted my American flag hanging on station, so after watching the practice on Saturday, she came right to the post to say hello. How awesome?!
From the N-ring we went for a little spirited drive around (not on track but literally around, using small country roads) the Nordschleife to have dinner in Adenau. It was fantastic! It was also my first time in an NB and I got to make a brand new friend in Germany who has a very nice web site: mx5-roadsterfun.de/
The drive around the Nordschleife was amazing!
The dinner was at what was my favorite restaurant Giulia’s… unfortunately she’s moved on to other things and her son changed the place completely… and now it sucks! But the view was great from our table… I didn’t even realize that the garage just outside near my old post for the Nurburgring 24 hour is a Mazda service center!
The plan for this stop over was to meet with at least one local MX-5 owner in Cologne before heading to Nürburgring for WEC 6 hour. Lucky for me not one but two owners showed up! David from Cologne and Andre from Dusseldorf who works in Cologne. David was kind enough to drive me to I.L. Motorsport in Hürth, a world famous Miata tuner based in just outside of Cologne. (the other business we didn’t get a chance to check out was Mazda Deutschland which is also just outside of Cologne).
I met David in Deutz across the river Rhine and we proceeded on a short drive to IL, which turned out to be a very impressive facility.
After IL Motorsport we decided to head to Dusseldorf for dinner, the alternative was American BBQ near to Cologne, and that just didn’t fit my foodie plans at all… so off we went on a road trip.
While looking for a parking in a parking garage we came across this gorgeous Niseko MX-5.
The garage was full of other little gems… like this Abarth Punto and the Peugeot RCZ.
PS. the food was delicious!
Huge thanks to both David and Andre for an awesome time. David was super cool to pick me up and drop me off back in Cologne. And then on the walk back to the hotel, I stumble upon a nice ND!
What an incredibly fantastic Mazda MX-5 Miata Euro Trip I had over the past month visiting a few countries and meeting owners in almost every city I went to. I can’t rave and rant enough about it. Incredible experience that I would highly recommend to anyone!
This post will highlight a few post cards I shared from the road and will be followed by a more detailed write up after I return from NASCAR at Watkins Glen this weekend.
Huge thanks to Mike in France for organizing an amazing dinner with a dozen of his fellow MX-5 France Club members and for giving me an incredible tour of Paris by night showing all the big sights like the Eifel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triumphe and Notre Dam!
A super trip all around paired with incredible racing at Zandvoort for DTM, the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit for WEC 6 hour and Spa 24 at Spa-Francorchamp. I loved every minute of it!