Tag Archives: MX5

Visiting Hawai’i

I often rant and rave about how much I love South Florida. After spending more than a week in Honolulu however, I’m afraid I’ve found my new favorite domestic destination.

O’ahu, Hawai’i is da business!

Sure it’s far. And it’s quite expensive. But man is it amazing!!!

My trip wasn’t exactly a fairytale vacation, as much as I tried, but I’m happy how the things I planned out actually worked. And therefore I’m excited to share the experience with others. If you are travelling with small children like I was this is some advice you may be interested in (I know when I searched it wasn’t terribly straightforward to figure out, but here it goes from my point of view).

First things first… to pay for the flight I burned some airline miles. The cost: 20,000 each way, per person with American Airlines. Kids younger than two may fly free as a lap child. Older than 2 pay the full adult rate. It’s a long freaking flight, and in my case we had a connection in Dallas which was frustratingly tight. For some reason on our Dallas – Honolulu flight AA served sandwiches in addition to typical domestic freebies like chips and soda.

Upon arrival we were determined to take a taxi to the hotel because it was cheaper than renting a car or booking some kind of shuttle. However, once we got our luggage I noticed the 10 mile ride to the city was to take over an hour because of rush-hour traffic, we ended up taking the $16/person shuttle bus. The last time I visited Honolulu and took a shuttle to my hostel I remember it costing more, but for whatever reason things have changed and now there are full size Roberts Hawaii buses running every 15 minutes serving the airport. As an aside there was a $7/person shuttle can stationed outside Aston Waikiki Hotel but I wasn’t quite sure how they operated. Our bus was super convenient.

Another aside, we did rent a car. Twice! But I chose to do individual one day rentals. Once in the middle of the trip to take a ride around O’ahu (North Shore) and another on our last day, to sightsee and drive back to the airport for our late night flight. The car rentals were expensive. First I booked a $50 van from Thrifty on Saturday (and a $60 SUV from Hertz on same day as a backup which I cancelled), and then a large SUV for $123 bux from Hertz which included two car seats on Friday the day of departure.

More about sightseeing later. But more importantly about our hotel choice. As mentioned previously Hawaii is expensive, very expensive! I’m 2016 when I overnighted in Honolulu on my flight to the Pacific I paid over  $30 for a bed in a hostel. The hotel we chose for this trip was almost ten times as much! We chose Hyatt Place for three reasons: 1. Location was perfect, a block from Kuhio Beach and Honolulu Zoo, 2. Free breakfast which was delicious for the first three days but then it was repeated over and over which lost its appeal and 3. No $25/daily resort fee which most other hotels charged… which is very expensive!

Best part of the Hyatt Place it was convenient in many ways and I would highly recommend it. If the 10 day vacation we only had 1 full day of rain which happened the day before we left so we got extremely lucky. But everything was walking distance from where we stayed and that was super convenient. The Zoo was close and we did it on a cloudy day until it cleared up and then kids went back to the beach. In fact most days we went to the beach twice a day. Kuhio beach is amazing with perfectly still clear water because of a man made breaker, it was so awesome for me and the kids to go swimming in.

Food was amazing outside of the free hotel breakfast. Lots of Asian options. Plenty of American fast food too. Lots of different price points for food. I preferred the cheaper truck good options which were between $10 to $15 a plate. While the restaurants, like one of the Sushi places, or the traditional Hawaiian place Da Ono dishes were over $20 for anything bigger than pu pu’s  (small tapas like plates). I’ll add some restaurant and food truck recommendations later on to this post.

Sightseeing wise, Waikiki Beach is totally walkable and we tried to walk a lot. For lunches and dinners and for shopping. There’s lots of luxurious stores and malls, much like a long Orchard Road in Singapore. But also some good hole in a wall places too. We walked as far as Ala Moana mall for its court, but also to get discounted supplies at Walgreens because closer supermarkets were not cheap for stuff like diapers.

Long distance sightseeing, I quite enjoyed our Saturday single day car rental to go the long way around to the North Shore. I took the cheap city bus to the airport, it was  $2.75/each way or $5.50/day pass.. it took about an hour. Best part I didn’t have to worry about parking overnight, which again wasn’t cheap. The route we followed was simple, counter-clockwise around the island going east, northeast and then back the same way when we ran out of daylight. We saw the blowhole, the lighthouse, the Chinamans hat, macadamia nut farm, horse farm, green turtle beach, etc. Only the Dole plantation was missed out so we left it and the waterfall to the last day. Traffic was bad around rush-hour because of single lane traffic when not on the highway, but overall it was manageable. Speed limits are quite low around the island. Most highway speeds are limited to 45mph and I almost got speeding by motorcycle cops near the airport on our way back to catch the flight, that took me by surprise (the bike cops) so be careful.

I’ll fill this post in with details over time with more recommendations, but I definitely want to encourage others to consider Hawaii as a destination because it really is such an amazing place. I want to go back for sure…

PS. It snowed 6+ inches the day after we got home, so yeah… I wish we stayed longer.

Hawaii Monthly Miata Meet at Pearlridge Center

The stars aligned just right to allow me to check out the monthly Thursday night meet-up of Hawaii Miata owners on O’ahu on my Waikiki vacation…

It’s my young nephews first Hawaii vacation, and for a moment I was thinking of bringing the older boy along, but if I did I wouldn’t have gotten a lift back to the hotel in a gorgeous low mileage Miata driven by a kind Aussie fellow who was recently posted to the islands and clearly missed his own NA back home in Australia

The fellow that sold him the American Miata – Avery, has a fleet of Miatas in Hawaii… is one of the original members of the Hawaii club and a very active SCCA solo and Rallycross member, and for me was the person that invited me to this meet up. For which I’m really grateful.

The meet happens the second Thursday of the month at Pearlridge mall not too far from Pearl Harbor… And if you’re like me trying to get there by public transport from Waikiki Beach, it’s an hour long ride on the bus, that is well worth it.

Here’s some pics from the Hawaii Miata car scene:

That wang…

Very happy to have seen the NC show up… that was sort of my goal for the night.

Also thrilled to experience this altogether, the Japanese car culture is strong in Hawaii. Besides the Miatas there were a bunch of Subies present, and a Trueno-esque Toyota… not sure if real but cool nonetheless.

Mazda MX-5 Miata: Pennsylvania Road Trip Yuengling Brewery Visit + PA Dutch Foodie Tour

Every time I’ve taken a trip down i78 through Pennsylvania whether my last road trip to Florida or the trips to Alabama and Virginia before it, I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool to organize a Yuengling Brewery Tour Miata Cruise?” Yes! Yes, it would… Today we made it happen.  My buddy Bill and I headed out first thing in the morning, on this freezing cold day where my whole car was covered in frost. But the weather warmed up, and we had a blast.

I wanted to invite as many Miata people as would come, but realizing that this is potentially a “Drinking & Driving” event, I didn’t want to open the door for any irresponsible behavior. So neither Bill nor I really drink alcohol, it was reasonable to have a small sampling of beer paired with fine Pennsylvania Dutch food before and after the brewery visit.

First stop was Dutch Kitchen in Frackville, PA off of I81 for some Gingerbread Hotcakes… Mmmm yummm!

It was soooo delicious! Now we were ready for the tour. I’ve done the Yuengling Brewery visit before a couple of years ago, and since then there’s been some changes. For one, the building across the street has been turned into the Gift Shop and the starting point of the tour. It’s the old Yuengling Ice Cream building, which looks really neat. But the actual brewery place rocks. Very educational experience and I enjoyed it very much. Could really appreciate how such a small operation can have such a big reach along the Eastern Seaboard.

Of course the sampling of beer on tap was outstanding.

I asked for the medicinal option since I am once again fighting the flu. Not sure if it worked, but it was delicious.

My favorite experience was the photo op with the Miatas.

After this sobering photo shoot in the freezing cold, it was time to warm up driving some twisty roads to Hawk Mountain and checking out the bird sanctuary there…

From there we were hungry enough for the final stop of the day: lunch at Deitsch Eck – Dutch Corner in Lenhartsville, PA

Not sure what part of the day was my favorite… everything we did had it’s awesome highlights! We actually planned on doing much more but unfortunately ran out of day light. Next time perhaps we’ll incorporate a visit to the Pocono’s on this trip, checking out Jim Thorpe Twp called the Switzerland of the US, or maybe checking out Amish country and sampling some of their delicious hoke-cooked food. Not sure but I definitely want to do this trip again! Summer time would be ideal, but Fall Foliage season would be even better.

Stay tuned…

Thanks to Bill for this awesome Pennsylvania Road Trip…

New Jersey Miatas Cruise to Utopia in Hewitt, NJ

A beautiful Saturday to spend the day cruising with fellow Miata owners around Northern New Jersey. Mark from the New Jersey Miatas facebook group organized a meetup in Livingston with a destination in Hewitt in mind, to do lunch at Utopia Grill and Suzie’s Pizzaria. We met at the Livingston Mall in Morris County and zoom zoomed our way up to Passaic County.

A good turnout for a winter event with four NC Miata’s in attendance, three NA’s and one NB along with three miscellaneous cars. The lunch was great too!

Some pix:

Good times!

More cruises to come before it starts snowing…

Wanna Buy a Fiata? Many New & Used Fiat 124 Spiders & Abarth Models at Fiat Alfa Romeo, Ramsey, NJ

On my way to the pre-Thanksgiving Cars & Caffe event at Jack Daniels Porsche I couldn’t help but notice a fleet of Fiata’s on the lot of the local Alfa Romeo Fiat dealer next door. So I stopped by to take a few shots:

The front car caught my eye for sure… what a gorgeous red! And funny enough while the Mazda dealer across the highway put all of their SUV’s upfront, it was nice to see the Fiata’s in addition to the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s in this lot!

And a really pretty Abarth model…

And since it’s got a competing dealership’s name plate on it I’m guessing this is a used 2017 model.

A more luxurious version of the red Fiata with the chrome window surround (like the NC Miata Limited Edition from 2006)

Similar but different… the Fiata actually looks bigger than an NC!

Brand spanking new 2017 model Fiata…

Brand spanking new 2018 model Fiata…

This was a great opportunity to check out the Alfa Romeo Stelvio up close and personal (short of test driving it)

I love how identical the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio look side-by-side to each other.

Can you tell the difference from a photo?

Can you?

Anyway… go buy a Fiata! There’s so many of them available and with the winter around the corner I bet you could get a great deal too!

I’m sure I’ll at least test drive a Fiat 124 Spider in my automotive future… fingers crossed!

 

PS. I just realized, in case you punch in Ramsey Alfa Romeo Fiat into your GPS the address is technically in Upper Saddle River, NJ the dealership is part of Ramsey Auto Group which does have dealerships in Ramsey, NJ like the aforementioned Mazda dealer.

Visiting Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

For my last event of 2017 Racing Season I signed up to volunteer the HSR Classic 24 Hours of Daytona “presented by IMSA”… cheapest way to get to Florida it seemed was to drive down on one of the Hertz one-way rentals for $4.99 per day and fly back. So I did, and of course the goal along the way was to stop at Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina for their amazing pig wings, but after seeing all the Miata’s driving around the area I figured there’s got to be a shop somewhere locally specializing in these little cars.

So I paid a visit to Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

Very interesting place with a lot of cool projects going on. And since people always post on facebook looking for Miata car parts, I snuck a few shots of their Miata graveyard for the bone pickers out there… Need parts? Call Panic Motorsports… some pix:

This Mazdaspeed is for sale!

Miata knock-offs…

Thanks for the license plate cover!

See you at the races…

New Jersey Miatas End of Season 2017 Meet at Cheesequake GSP

Greetings from the New Jersey Miatas end of the season meet at the Cheesequake Service Area exit 123 on Garden State Parkway.

The usual spot for the twice annual Miata meet that’s somewhat central to most New Jersey Miata owners and visitors from both Pennsylvania and New York. The event got rained out last week and our make up date was almost rained out as well… luckily the precipitation was limited to a mist mostly. Though that was enough to keep a bunch of fair weather Miata owners away. Nevertheless, there was quite a few cars in attendance… somewhere around 50 to 60 cars by my guestimate. And I’m happy to say many more NC Miata’s this time than any of the previous times I’ve attended. Sadly no Fiatas to be seen… Boo!

Here’s the pix:

Happy to see my buddy DollarBill!

Oooh… another Copper Red from Pennsylvania… an NC2

Aren’t all Miatas Powered by Unicorns?

Love how bright this Torch Red is

A very pretty shade of Blue too

Hey Chris showed up!

Best license plate of the event:

Soooooo British!

Hey Mickie showed up!

The profile of this vintage of modern Thunderbird reminds me a lot of the original Mazda Cosmo 110S

No meet would be complete without people swapping stuff, fixing stuff, etc… pedal covers do look cool, but are sometimes a pain to put on… especially on the small Miata brake pedal.

By the time Bill and I went to get a warm drink at the service area, most of the people from the Miata group left… it must have started raining while we were inside. So we decided to do lunch of our own… and some spicy Malaysian food was just what the doctor ordered:

Love this place! We had one in Lodi across from the Mazda of Lodi dealership on Route 46 but unfortunately the restaurant close. Their Edison, NJ location on Route 1 though was delicious!

Looking forward to my drive to Florida starting tonight…!

Until next time.

New Jersey Miatas and Modern Fiat 124 Spider End of Season Meet

First, forgive me for being a selfish prick and not sharing the news of the event sooner. I forgot to remember until… and of course the actual date (today) got rained out! So see you all next week…

The peeps behind this event seem to focus on two major events per year… the season opening meet and end of season meet like this one. Not sure if anything happens during the summer but I’m really glad they organize these ones. Often with prizes given away from vendors that support Miata events around the country like Moss Miata and Flyin’ Miata. (possibly others)

Anyway, I’m especially happy to see Modern Fiata’s invited to attend, and really hope to see one at the next one.

For me it’s going to be a crazy day next Sunday. I was scheduled to pick up a rental car at LaGuardia Airport in NYC and drive down to Florida for the Historics (HSR) races at Daytona International. But I don’t want to miss out on this little gathering. So I’ve re-booked my rental car for 8pm… which should give me enough time to chill down the shore, go home to park my Miata. Take public transport to the city, a shuttle bus to Hertz, and bring the rental home before leaving for the thousand mile journey first thing Monday morning.

Should be fun!

Come join us…

Global MX-5 Cup Car Rollover Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Video

I don’t usually post about incidents… for one because we’re not allowed to. Especially not to take any pictures. OR share stories on social media about how something happened. But I think this is an important post about what happened because the video is available online and anyone watching it can clearly see exactly what happened so I’d like to share a few comments and concerns that I have as a private citizen, taking my flag marshal hat off.

First I have to give praise to Long Road Racing for building a car that was able to handle such an incident and allowing the driver to walk away unscathed. The roll cage did it’s job and that’s what matters.

Second, I have to say that accidents like this will continue to happen. There’s no way to prevent rollovers or crashes for that matter in general. As long as there is racing, accidents and incidents will happen. What’s concerning though is that this rollover was the second one to happen under the IndyCar series as a sanctioning body of the series, the other video can be seen here:

…and it doesn’t seem that a solution has been created to allow the drivers to get out of the car unassisted.

I thought it was a requirement of most closed wheel (and probably open wheel) racing that a driver must be able to exit their vehicle unassisted in a certain period of time. (fast!) I understand that there are driver’s racing in various series, including in Miatas that may have physical limits (disabilities) but they too must be able to escape the vehicle if a need arises quickly.

That’s not what happened here, for the second time now in IndyCar Global MX-5 Cup series a driver was trapped. And I’m worried about that because that really shouldn’t happen.

I don’t have a solution for this problem.

But I hope and wish one becomes a reality in the near future.

The scariest part about this incident wasn’t so much the rollover. This was my second rollover of the season that came directly at me. The other wasn’t at Barber, even though I worked that race… I was too far to even see it from another station. But I had a twofer in Canada where a similar small car, the Nissan Micra Cup had two cars tumble towards me, spraying the three of us working the station with debris and dirt, and broken glass. One car hung up on the edge of the tire wall to the point that I had to balance it until a flat bed tow truck showed up and propped it up so the driver could get out with the help of medics. Long story short, the rollovers didn’t scare me at all. But I was ridiculously concerned for the driver. I could see the guy moving in the car… but I couldn’t see him getting out on his own. That’s really scary!

 

PS. here’s Micra Cup video from Mosport, Canada earlier this year:

Global MX-5 Cup Post-Season Global Challenge @ MRLS the debrief

Welcome to the Playoffs! Who says Motorsports doesn’t have a post-season? Well, the Global MX-5 Cup had finished it’s American racing season in September joining IMSA on track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to determine the championship winner. But Mazda Global MX-5 Cup is literally a Global Series now… There’s a British MX-5 Cup Championship, another elsewhere in Europe, there’s a Japanese MX-5 Cup… and several people from each one of those joined a bunch of Americans at Laguna Seca during the PWC event for another race… the Global Challenge @ MRLS to crown a world winner if you will in the MX-5 world. (he happens to be an American… and he won a bag full of cash for his efforts to win).

The Japanese contingent raced in Winding Road Racing machinery… I wish I could have taken a nice pic of the other car you can barely see in their tent but it was always closely guarded inside… and I missed my chance. The second car actually had some Japanese advertising on it’s sides and front which was very distinctive.

Speaking of Winding Road Racing and several other established American teams, the cars seemed to have changed hands for this event… Slick Sideways racing raced the car above… all the Winding Road stickers got peeled off before it hit the track… along with the PWC TCA stickers it was wearing in the photo above taken on Wednesday during set up.

The fella behind the wheel of this car won the IndyLights championship… and as a Mazda Road to Indy participant found his way into a seat of a Miata… but winning a championship in open wheelers didn’t exactly give him advantage in an MX-5… he seemed to struggle during this event.

The driver o this car nearly ended up in my flat point at Turn 11… I’ll write a separate post about his roll over as there’s a nice video of it happening. He walked away OK but that was a bonehead move that landed him there.

I loved the sticker on the back of this TCB Mazda2 race car… the whole PWC B-spec series are going away, so I’m hoping this fella will find himself behind a wheel of a Miata at a future event next season.

What a fantastic experience this event was!