This father’s day my friend Bill and I decided to fix another issue both of our NC Miata’s were having… my rear stabilizer links were making a clicking sound ever since we installed the Bilstein shocks. His Miata seemed to have aftermarket end links where one of them was ripped out of it’s socket because of possible incorrect install to his massive Flyin’ Miata rear stabilizer bar. So Bill ordered the parts online, came over and as soon as we got the car up on the RhinoRamps it started raining… so we went to the Diner for breakfast. On the way we also stopped by at CarQuest to pick up some more new end link nuts because the old ones on my car were showing signs of wear and I didn’t want them to get stripped. He paid $3.30 apiece at the Mazda dealer… I paid $3.30 for a box of 4 Dorman aftermarket pieces. They looked the same.
Fast forward to some better weather and replacing the end links turned out to be a rather quick job. We did Bill’s car first. Taking them off was easy. But placing new ones on seemed to look weird because they went in on an angle when attached to the stabilizer bar… I was worried if we fastened them in this condition, it was possible that they might fail again.
Luckily we had my car nearby to see exactly what they were meant to look like in correct condition, as installed from factory.
So another idea was to take mine off. Replace them with new ones. And use my old ones as guinea pigs on Bills car to see if they would last. If no failure happens after a few weeks of driving we’ll go ahead and replace them with the new ones. So that’s what we did.
Ironically though, the clicking didn’t stop once we installed new end links on my car. Turns out they were not the problem I was experiencing. Instead it appears that the actual stabilizer bar was bending in such a manner that it was making noise when the chasis of the car twisted on various road conditions, particularly when going onto uneven surfaces, like up a driveway or into parking lots, or hitting pot holes.
I was disappointed that the problem didn’t get fixed, but as we were tinkering under my car I discovered that my differential was covered in fluid and grime. It turns out that the last time I did Castrol Syntrax flush to replace the Mobil 1 75W90, I did something wrong. It’s possible I didn’t tighten the bolts enough. Or that I overfilled the differential. Or that my car didn’t like the Castrol product. I was so concerned about it, I ordered another jug of Mobil 1 since it was proven to work well for a good 20k miles, and did the flush later on in the day. So far after the test drive the car feels smooth. There’s no whine at cruising speeds. And all is well. What I’m concerned about now looking at the old Castrol that I drained from the diff, is a bunch of small aluminum shavings. That doesn’t seem normal to me.
But I guess time will tell if there’s a bigger issue.
Sunday Fun Day! A heatwave is hitting Northern New Jersey, and a ton of people came out for this month’s Cars & Coffee event at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ
I overslept… didn’t wash my car but wanted to hang out with a few people at the event. So I rushed over… and as soon as I pulled in around 10am everyone else started leaving… all the McLaren P1’s, the Porsche 911’s, the Lamborghinis and Ferrari’s of very recent vintage, but the few cars that remained still caught my eye. So I wanted to share some pix of them…. I realize a lot of the cars are classic and vintage, which you’re likely to see at your neighborhood’s weekly cruise night. But I don’t care. It was a great mix of new and old and for me these oldies stood out….
especially the Figaro:
It’s also important to remember that this area of Jersey is still very European… there’s BMW North American headquarters just across the street. There’s lots of Italians still living here. The real Mafialand… you know where Soprano’s are from. So it’s nice to see all these Alfa Romeo’s, Lancia’s and Fiat’s around. The classic type, the ones that you don’t normally see here. That was nice to see!
Oh and I also really loved the Geländewagen:
Haven’t seen these in a while… but I have seen them before… in Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand. It was nice to see them again!
How is this car a “Historic”?
It is registered as one… look at the Trianglular inspection sticker.
Seeing the Mercedes-Benz 300SL in both convertible and gullwing was awesome… seen both of them before but they sure stood out.
The threat of rain didn’t dampen my automotive adventures… I slept in pretty late, woke up 9’ish which was a good change from last year when I volunteered Detroit Grand Prix and had to be up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Belle Isle. So that was a plus. I did get to see some racing today, if you could call Autocross racing… all 50+ seconds of it at a time where various Miata’s, Porsche’s, Vette’s, Rotary RX-7’s and RX-8’s and a shitton of other cars took to the track… err parking lot at the Meadownalds.
I was surprised to see two concurrent AutoX events happening at the Met Life Stadium (the former Giants Stadium) one at Lot L and another at Lot E. I’ll share my observations below, knowing full well that many will not agree with my opinions… and since I took a hell of a lot of pictures I’ll break them up into three parts, the Sunday Fun Day series if you will.
So first stop was at Lot L where Motorsports North East were running their Autocross… I learned about it at Miata.net where several owners posted a plan to “race” and hang out, spectate and proceed to lunch at a famous hot dog joint nearby.
I came. I saw. I took some pix. And I got bored rather quickly. Now I understand why I prefer circuit racing to solo. Especially if I could be a part of it as a volunteer.
So here’s some pix:
As you can see people run what they brung… I had a hard time choosing a cover photo for this post because it was definitely a hard choice between the beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia which I was delighted to go flat out for the first time, or that cobbled together Mazda MX-5 Miata NA with a turbo and a big wang in the back.
But this event was definitely the “budget” version of the next stop on my automotive adventures today… the Sunday Fun Day series continues…
After the post maintenance test drive my toddler nephew exclaimed: “Oh look it’s Mia and Tia!”
Last week at the Woodcliff Lake Cars & Coffee my buddy Bill with the NC1 Copper Red Soft Top said he needed an oil change, so I volunteered to do it for him. Great! Today was the day to do it, perfect weather… lots of time since it’s the weekend, and besides the oil change we flushed the rear diff too.
Bill’s NC is pushing 104k miles, so it’s got a few more than mine. The area where the trans pairs to the engine was a bit covered with oil, which I guess may be normal for that age. It certainly looks similar as my high mileage Ford Explorer that my mom drives. There was also a lot of grime on the engine cover so I spend much of the time cleaning as the actual oil change took very little time. Actually, it took us the longest to figure out where to jack the car up correctly since his has an Appearance Package with side skirts that stick out beyond the pinch welds that I normally jack my car by.
Here’s some pix:
(first shot with my new Samsung Galaxy J3 6 “budget” smart phone)
The dreaded Sports Appearance package side skirts… look good from a distance, make the car seem lower to the ground, but a bit tough to work with especially when jacking the car up (and having to remove the jack leaving jack stands in place to lift the other side).
I don’t know if these openings are supposed to look like that or the previous shops/mechanics cut a piece out to get to the jacking point
The wet spot at the joint of transmission and engine
Bill lowered his car 1 inch with Flyin’ Miata Stage 2 kit, so we definitely had to use 2×4’s to get the front high enough for my jack to slide under
All done, first test drive to Advance Auto to recycle old oil and to buy gear lube to flush the rear differential.
Thanks to the great deal at Advance Auto I posted about earlier I got a chance to use both Castrol EDGE and Castrol EDGE Extended Performance + K&N HP-1002 filters on Bill’s oil change and mine…
Back in the air and leveled for the diff flush.
I was hoping that the Castrol Syntrax I used in my car’s last diff flush was going to work out but it seems to me that the quality of Mobil 1 is better so I recommended Bill get Mobil 1 instead.
Discovered one of Bill’s end links had broken off it’s mounting point to the sway bar, so he is going to order some new ones. These are the same pieces that make the clunking sound on my car ever since we replaced my stock shocks with OEM Bilstein’s.
Off on another test drive to get a feel for the rear end of the car… all Good!
Thansk for stopping by Bill!
My car is next, this time I tried the Castrol EDGE Extended Performance to see how it compares to Castrol EDGE I used for the past two oil changes. I’m assuming there will be no difference because I really don’t intend on running the car for 15k miles before the next oil change. In fact I was about 500 miles short of 5k on this one and I have no regrets, I’d rather change it more frequently then less…
This is my 3rd oil change this year, not sure if one more will be necessary before winter time… depends how many races I volunteer.
To say I had a blast at this weekend’s (Memorial Day weekend) PWC event at LRP would be an understatement… I really, truly, genuinely had an amazing time. And the people I got a chance to work with totally contributed to that experience.
It absolutely makes a difference who you work with and this time I was super lucky. You know someone else is comfortable with you when she refers to you as “dipshit” to her colleague. That happened. Both of my series starters from PWC were amazing, and it was my honor to be working with them as a backup starter at the Start/Finish stand.
I thought the weekend went especially well. The racing was better than usual. We didn’t have too many bullshit crashes that tend to ruin other PWC events. The recoveries were smooth and quick, and there were awesome battles for positions throughout the field in all the classes. That was awesome.
I got to make a lot of calls on the radio. Which was good. I’m happy I didn’t make too many mistakes with that aspect. I was even able to do a debris run picking up a large chunk of debris from the race winning Turner BMW in the TC race. But I also made some rookie mistakes and they were to be blamed on me squarely. There were three instances where I was meant to point out a car to the series starters and I pointed out the wrong car. We did track it correctly, but for whatever reason I pointed at a different car that was similar in appearance. In the TCA/TCB race I pointed to the SAC racing 080 car instead of the race winning 70 car. Both were black with Green accents, but one was Teal and another bright Green… One was ND and another NC. And yet somehow I mucked it up. With the other starter I had real trouble with the Porsche Cayman GT4’s… we were supposed to track 018 car and I (for some weird reason) confused it with it’s sister car 017… luckily the series starter was better than me at identifying cars but it tripped her up too, unnecessarily. Maybe the dipshit comment was right on the money.
I must have not been too terrible, because unlike the series starter last year she greeted me with a hug in the morning, which was an AWWWW moment. She must not hate me. And on race day she gave me a little gift, a pin of a Guardian Angel that one of her colleagues designed. AWWWW again! She doesn’t want me to die. That’s nice. I really enjoyed the weekend and I really hope I get another opportunity to work with these folks again… somewhere!
Pirelli World Challenge was a standalone feature of this Memorial Day weekend. So we only had the GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS and TC/TCA/TCB cars at the track. What was different was the fact that the field of TC cars grew so large in size that they got to run a race on their own without the usual TCA/TCB addition. This meant that the TCA/TCB ran a race of their own too… and it was clear as day to see how well the Global MX-5 Cup cars performed on their own in this series. I knew they won at VIR and Mosport (both races I volunteered) but since there was a different overall winner in TC class, it wasn’t so obvious who won TCA. The older Miata’s in TC class though qualified super well, they were in row 2 and 3 on the grid, but as soon as the race started they faltered. Many DNF’d. Which sucks! But the cars are getting old, and the newest addition to the field this year, the BMW 235M blew up in size, it seems like they are completely dominating this series. In the GT race there were quite a few incidences, but overall it was super enjoyable to watch and especially neat to be a part of in such an amazing position on the start stand. I’m incredibly grateful!
Best of all I didn’t have to choose between having lunch or taking pictures during our downtime. I was smack in the middle of all the action. I could just walk over to the dummy grid and take a few snaps before heading back on duty and the series starters were happy to help me out with a few selfie style shots to capture the moment of this experience. It was tremendous!
Fantastic Memorial Day weekend at the races… Lime Rock Park was fantastic to me. I have grown to absolutely love the Pirelli World Challenge series. And best part I got to work as a backup starter… so there was a lot of downtime. I was in the prime spot to see the cars up close, and as a result there was ample opportunity to take some pix. So this is my Saturday Race Day mega gallery… enough talking here’s the pix:
Free breakfast for the marshals how thoughtful! Thanks Skip Barber
Miata Racing is the main reason I signed up to do this event!
They split TC from TCA/TCB races, so it was much easier to see the current MX-5 Cup cars winning a race…
New flavor of SAC racing skittles cars…
Hhhmm… I didn’t know Volvo and GM had a relationship… I knew about SAAB/Scania but Volvo GM – WHITEGMC is news to me… kind of cool though!
This is such a beautiful and completely appropriate paint job… for this event!
The driver of this #70 also raced (and won in) the TCA MX-5 Cup car
Thanks to Chris Booth for taking some pix of me with the cars in the paddock during lunch time.
He sells Miata parts apparently 🙂
…after doing donuts in Turn 1 and returning to pit lane counter race
The series starter gave me a small gift: A Guardian Angel… Awwww!
I am so grateful to everyone that made this weekend possible for me. Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock Park, to the series: Pirelli World Challenge and of course Chris Booth for taking some pix for me. Thank you all very much! See you at the next one.
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.
UPDATE May 7th: After three days of light/moderate/heavy rain with the new beltline on the passenger door, I’m still having the same issue of water retention. Not a damn thing has changed, except of course I’m out $50 bux…. not thrilled about this! Maybe it’s part of the design to open the door so the water flushes out but it doesn’t sound too reassuring. Certainly wouldn’t want it to start rusting if the car sits around for extended periods of time in all types of weather. Argh!
Ever since I bought my Miata there was a peculiar phenomena happening. After heavy rain or even just washing the car, a bunch of water would pool in the passenger side door that would gush out when the door was opened (otherwise didn’t drain on it’s own).
I shared this video in April of 2015 showing the issue after it rained:
The solution was quite simple, but pricey!
I bought the new beltline molding from Avondale Mazda in Arizona through eBay using one of their $15 off $75 purchase coupons. The part was listed for $65+ and I added another $14 item that I was missing, a battery brace to help secure my DieHard battery (some schmuck that installed the battery for the previous owner didn’t put the brace back on)…. and now the battery is held on only by cables.
Anyway, it wasn’t easy to find instructions on how to remove the old beltline molding. The instructional videos from NA Miata, and the Miata.net how-to for the NB Miata are different. Luckily I had an NC Miata maintenance manual that showed a graphic how to do it. And in the process of attempting to release one of the plastic clips, I promptly broke it. I assume the plastic was brittle and didn’t take much effort to break.
Removal was easy. Re-install was a bit of a pain in the ass because of alignment. But eventually everything fell back in place. And I’m happy that there’s no more gap between the molding and the window. This week it will rain a lot so I’m going to test how the new molding is working out. But I think I’m happy with it!
As usual I took a million pix:
The new and the old molding… clearly the old one at 10 years of age is very much worn and lots of dust around it including some rust on the triangle part of the window to the front of the car.
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…
Thanks to VIRginia International Raceway Fire Rescue folks who gave me VIP treatment at this year’s Pirelli World Challenge debut at their amazing track with paddock parking, I managed to sneak into the SAC racing area as the team was packing up to take some close up shots of my car with their winning race cars:
I don’t think the SAC crew was too thrilled with me getting in their way of packing shit up, but after passing a similar opportunity to take some side-by-side shots at PWC Mosport Grand Prix last year, I didn’t want to blow this moment.
Love the way these pix came out. Just goes to show how similar the MX-5 Cup cars are to production Miatas.
Thanks SAC Racing for the reluctant opportunity. And good luck!