Tag Archives: MX5

Caffeine & Carburetors in New Canaan, Connecticut Sept 2017: Lotus Elan

The one car I’ve wanted to see more than any other recently is a Lotus Elan… the car that a Mazda Cosmo and later the Mazda MX5 Miata were based on.

Look how pretty it looks:

Compare and contrast with the first generation Mazda Miata (NA):

Check out the other posts from Caffeine & Carburetors here:

Track Day Bro! Hooked on Driving MX5 Miata at NJMP Lightning Raceway

It was a great weekend spent at New Jersey Motorsport Park not just because of MotoAmerica bikes I  volunteered for on Thunderbolt but also because of cars I got to check out on Lightning. Camping at the track I was looking for things to do to kill time before calling it a night. Went into town to pick up some Chinese, ate it at the Tempest circuit watching kids race go karts. As I was about to leave I see an NC Miata being trailered into Lightning for next day’s event there… Hmm… what have we got here? I went over to take a look and the owner of the Miata was as excited as I was to see another NC MX-5 (he thought I’d race there too). We had a chat and the next day I stopped by during lunch time to take some better shots of his great looking Limited Edition (that metallic paint looked awesome!) with better light conditions.

Anyway… here’s the pix:

My shitty cell phone camera barely captured the metallic paint job…

The car sounded amazing. Very nice tone to the exhaust. And the owner was kicking ass on track, blowing past other cars including Camaro’s and Porsche’s… (at least the passes I got to see)

Oh look a Heinlein tuned Moostang Shelby!

Is it a rental?

Watching the Miata kick ass in the Carousel.

If I had the money I would totally do a track day… although instead of using my own car I would probably rent one. There were plenty of rentals all over the parking lot… great variety to choose from.

Oh yeah, back at Thunderbolt spotted this gem… the only Miata in attendance for the MotoAmerica SBK race, and must be a member judging by the license plate frame:

Grid Walk Post Card from Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR

There was one car that caught my eye this race weekend at VIR: the burgundy red Acura NSX GT3 of Michael Shank Racing. I’m not a huge Honda fan or an NSX fan in general, I liked their patriotic Fourth of July liveries too, but this red wrap really stood out… and I found myself always checking up on that car… checking it out. I was lucky that since I got to work as pit fire marshal one of my responsibilities was the Acura pit box, and their hauler was parked directly across from their pit box in the paddock… so there were many glimpses of that car. But of course other cars shined bright, and while the Mazda Miata’s are showing their age, I was very happy to see them race and do fairly well over the weekend.

Lots of pix of course:

I love when they send out the ice cream lady up and down pit lane, all the crews from each pit box run to her to get cooled down lol

For a little while there exotica had taken over the GS class of IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… now with both Mustang and Camaro in GT4 form however, they are back to dominating… beating Porsche’s, McLaren’s, et al.

My other favorite car of the weekend…. sadly it didn’t do so well either, just like the NSX

and a few uniform pix working with VIR Fire Rescue:

more to come soon…

Post Card from IMSA at VIR Michelin GT Challenge and Formula 4

Greetings from beautiful VIRginia International Raceway where IMSA has brought some of it’s best classes with support from US Formula 4 open wheelers. I’m excited to say I finally got to see F4 after a number of failed attempts in the past, and it was very exciting to see a field of 30+ cars do three races over two days. IMSA brought everything except for the Prototypes which was awesome as well as I love GT3 and GT4 machinery and all the spec-racers like Lambo’s and Porsche’s.  All in all it was fantastic!

I’ll write in more detail about my role for the weekend in another post, but here are some photos from Day 1, walking around the paddock…

So my plan was to sleep during the day and drive to VIR overnight. The sleeping part didn’t happen, and foolishly I departed for the 8 hour trip around 9pm. Twelve hours later I arrived in Danville, VA

I felt like a zombie even after stopping a few times along the way for a snooze. But first order of business after collecting my credentials and setting up my tent was to get some food at Biscuitville. I saw them on my last trip but they close at 2pm which was way earlier than I could get there in the past. This year Biscuitville actually sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The food was delicious, I ordered a bunch of biscuit sandwiches to last me through Friday…

The others I ate in the car while watching the cars practice on track.

stay tuned for more…

Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix Spotter Guides by Andy Blackmore for IMSA at VIR

Great news!

Andy Blackmore Design has released the latest spotter guides for the Michelin GT Challenge and Biscuitville Grand Prix racing this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.

This is the event I’ll be working as a pit fire marshal and am very much looking forward to spending some quality time in hot pits.

So a few observations looking at this guide compared to the last IMSA event I worked… there’s a change for the #50 WeatherTech car… it used to be a Mercedes-AMG GT3 and now is a Porsche 911. In the Conti Series, a bunch of McLaren 720 GT4’s have been replaced by Mustang GT4’s… interesting!

I’m sure there are other changes also. I’m glad to see the same Mazda MX-5 Miata’s in the ST class.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Prestige Lamborghini’s doing well. I’ll be driving past their dealership on my way to Virginia here in Paramus, New Jersey.

2017 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/17_imsa/

Thanks to Andy Blackmore for these awesome little keepsakes I get to collect at every IMSA event I participate in.

Sunday Fun Day: Ice Cream down the Jersey Shore

Perfect weather today for a little trip down the Jersey Shore for some ice cream! Of course besides my friend Bill and I, everyone else in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York had the same idea… the traffic was atrocious. Everywhere, all the time. But we followed through with it and had a great time hanging out and sampling some delicious ice cream from Charlie’s Creamery in Seaside Park, New Jersey

Originally my plans for this weekend were to volunteer with Team Pocono for the Indycar race at the tricky triangle. Unfortunately for me they did not invite me back. So I had the weekend free to have other fun in the Miata.

We met up at Cheesequake Service Area on the Garden State Parkway. I expected some traffic along the way, and there was some… lots of volume of cars on the road heading south. But when it came time to cross the bridge in Perth Amboy it was just bumper to bumper, it took me half an hour to cover 95% of my trip, and another twenty minutes to go the last two miles to the service area.

Bill was already waiting…

My plan was to continue south on the Parkway until Seaside Heights, visit one creamery and then work our way back up Ocean Avenue to the second creamery in Asbury Park before heading home. But because of traffic that plan was scrapped. So instead of getting back on the GPS, we took the local route, 35 in South Amboy towards Hazlet and Atlantic Highlands.

First stop was at the Navesink Twin Lighthouse park where the skies were so clear you could really see Manhattan and Brooklyn in the distance… no haze or humidity at all.

Part of the big backup on Route 35 before hitting the Ocean was the fact that Sandy Hook had filled up to max capacity. Everyone was waiting in line just to find out the park was closed and then sat around weighing in their other beach options.

The traffic further down the shore wasn’t any better. With pedestrian crossings every few hundred feet, most of the way we were going less than 20mph.

Hey I spotted a Holden Commodore!

The famous Windmill hot dog place…

Lots of cool cars out and about today… the weirdest thing about this Ferrari was a strong smell of burning plastic. We only followed it for a few miles at relatively low speed, but the bad smell coming off this thing was scary!

Gas prices down the shore were all over the board. It varied almost 50 cents between stations for the same grade of fuel. For whatever reason this Mobil was only $2.77 for 93 premium. Surprising!

The further south we went the less the bad the traffic got. As soon as we cleared all the towns with Boardwalks along the way, the pedestrians were less and less of an issue. And the traffic sped up. Obviously! It was a good opportunity to scout beaches to take the family to in the future.

Tons of people at the beach!

And we finally arrived… 2pm ice cream breakfast! Got a parking spot right in front of the joint…. one NJ.com highly recommended as one of the best ice cream parlors down the Jersey Shore!

Luckily the ice cream was very tasty! But since we lost a ton of time driving down here we scrapped the idea of following Ocean Ave back up… instead opting to go directly back to the Parkway and fighting the traffic there. The road was busy but not as much as it would be a few hours later when all the beach goers packed up and headed home.

It was an awesome, nearly 200 mile and $30 in fuel trip, just to get a $5.25 ice cream…

Mazda MX-5: Miata Horn Upgrade to Something a Little Louder

When I first bought my Miata it became painfully clear that most other bigger cars on the road are on the mission to kill me. Multiple times I found myself taking defensive action to avoid a pick up truck or an SUV veering into my lane, completely oblivious that I was there. My solution was to buy a dash cam so at least I would have evidence when someone runs me off the road. My buddy Bill instead opted to get a louder horn.

Today we went ahead and installed his Thompson Engineering sourced horn. The Tornado/Marco labelled model (Made in Italy) it says… looks a lot more bulkier than the puny stock horn. It was a quick and easy bolt on once we go to it by unbolting a whole bunch of plastic that packages the bumper area of the Miata nicely. At one point I was excited and a little bit worried we will have to take the whole front bumper off. But apparently there are 80+ fastening points one must remove, and I’m glad we didn’t have to resort to that. Nevertheless there were quite a few 8mm screws, 10mm screws and a bunch of plastic fasteners that had to be loosened to get to the horn.

Here’s some pix:

Bill bought the louder horn from Thompson Engineering. The kit came complete with the horn, several fuses, and all the mounting brackets, which was very easy to assemble. We made a trip to Lowe’s to pick up about 5 feet of quarter inch hose in order to route the air intake for the horn under the hood. Lots of zip ties were used to package everything nicely and it looked very factory in the end.

Beep beep!

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Trip Booked in October 2017

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

It’s exciting!

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

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

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

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

Can’t wait!

 

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

Skip Barber Racing School Bankruptcy Liquidation Buy Your MX-5 Race Car!

One man’s misery is another man’s blessing…. or however that saying goes. I should point out that Skip Barber the man is no longer affiliated with the Racing School he started and one that bears his name. He’s doing fine and happy owning Lime Rock. The school on the other hand has gone bancrupt. And there are a lot of unhappy people who haven’t gotten paid looking for some of their hard earned money.

This weekend a facebook post popped up about a Liquidation Sale of all of Skip Barber Racing School’s assets. Someone may be very interested in this. The press release is below.

I’m just going to go out on a limb and speculate here that soon there will be a ton of NC Miata’s hitting the track in club and amateur racing scene that were once Skippy cars. In fact I always said that the reason I bought my Miata was because one had crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during the Playboy MX-5 Miata Cup race… well there were two classes in those races, with the slower field being Skip Barber Racing School cars/drivers. Looking at the pictures the Skip Barber Miata’s even use the same BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp tires I use on my car!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Liquid Asset Partners to Acquire Skip Barber Racing School

New York, NY – Skip Barber Racing School has received U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval in New York to sell all their assets and intellectual property to Liquid Asset Partners. The school is one of the largest racing institutions in the world. It has a 40+ year history providing racing instruction, defensive and high-performance driving classes, amateur and professional racing championships, and corporate entertainment experiences. Their list of Alumni includes top racers, business professionals, and world famous actors.

While most of the physical assets will be sold in a three month liquidation sale starting August 29, the iconic brand is available for outright purchase offers or potentially for licensing to regional race schools or tracks that want to grow their race programs. Liquid Asset Partners utilizes a unique approach to Intellectual Property and values the enormous brand recognition of the Skip Barber Racing School. Other schools and race tracks with instructional programs could add quality and demand to their race programs from the Skip Barber Racing School association.

A three-month liquidation sale will be held in Braselton, GA starting August 29. The sale will include hundreds of race cars and high-performance engines, transmissions, and components for Barber formula race cars, Mazda Miata, Porsche 911, Mustang GT, semi-trailers, trucks, fleet equipment, race equipment, memorabilia, and historical vehicles.

“Skip Barber Racing School has built a great track record for over 40 years as the leading race and performance driving school. We feel honored to have this opportunity and are starting to talk to different parties about options for its future,” said Bill Melvin, owner of Liquid Asset Partners. “The demand for Skip Barber Racing School training is very high, and it’s amazing how most men know the Skip Barber Racing School as the best of the best. It just needs the right structure for it to grow for another 40+ years. Licensing to numerous tracks could be an option. Adding the Skip Barber Racing School to any track curriculum would be a huge draw for any local race community, or a national player may emerge to acquire the brand for a national program already in place.”

Press contacts or interested parties should contact Liquid Asset Partners at 616-719-5917 to discuss.

About Skip Barber Racing School:
Since 1975, Skip Barber Racing School, based outside Atlanta, GA, has operated a fully integrated system of racing schools, driving schools, racing championships, corporate events and special projects across North America. The organization delivers a combination of high quality instruction, equipment, facilities, and memorable experiences. Their history includes associations & ventures with Mazda, Dodge, Porsche, Ford, and more. Some of their best know alumni include Michael Andretti, Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo-Montoya, Bill Elliot, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Petty, Al Pacino, Charlie Sheen, Jerry Seinfeld and more.
www.SkipBarber.com

About Liquid Asset Partners:
Since 1974, Liquid Asset Partners, based in Grand Rapids, MI, is an acquisition and disposition leader in motorsports, retail and wholesale industries across North America. Liquid Asset Partners specializes in creative ways to assist companies in unlocking value from underperforming assets. Some notable projects include Erik Buell Racing (motorcycles), BarcLounger, Circuit City, the Indian Motorcycle Company, and more.
www.LiquidAP.com

And of course the pix:

photo credit: Liquid Asset Partners facebook page

So if you’re in a market for new or used parts, tires, engines, transmissions, complete and incomplete cars, haulers, vans and trucks do reach out to this company and get a little piece of the action probably at greatly reduced price…

 

Liquidation Sale! Skip Barber Racing School liquidation starts Aug. 29th & will run 3 months until everything is sold! 5489 Technology Parkway Braselton GA. Call for info 616.719.5917

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Canada: Montréal, Québec

I failed once again to meet any local Miata owners in Québec on my visit to Canada for the Formula E events on the streets of Montréal. Can’t say I was surprised. After all I had failed to meet any Miata owners on my previous trips to Mosport, Ontario as well. Just like on the last trip to Bowmanville I also failed to see a Canadian-spec Miata at the local dealership in Montreal as well.

However, I was very much impressed with the Amount of Mazda dealers in the greater Montreal metropolitan area and there surely are plenty of Mazda’s on the streets of the city… they just aren’t the little Roadsters. So here are some pix from my experience.

The closest dealer with easy public transport system access was Mazda Gabriel St-Jacques… I took the Metro, walked over to where it should have been, didn’t see it and walked around the block lost between a highway and a hospital. But on the second pass I found it! Lots of construction on the streets of Montreal, the orange flowers (orange cones) are in full bloom this summer!

At first… no Miata’s to be seen on the lot!

Oh putain…

But that’s no different from the Mazda dealer I visited in Ontario. So I went in to have a chat with the staff and see if I can get a Canadian-spec Miata brochure at least… surprise! they didn’t have any. The receptionist managed to find a 2016 spec sheet, and sent me on my way. I also visited their parts department to inquire about the Canadian-spec window washer fluid bottle, which is a different design, and much bigger than the American-spec. They didn’t have any in stock… no surprise there. But they could order one for $137 bux… YIKES! However, a stripped down version without a motor (which could be transferred over from the original on the car) was only $66 CAD… phew!

The staff were super helpful it’s just a shame there wasn’t any Miata’s on the lot I could sit in and look around.

I remember reading a Miata.net post that complained: Do they want to sell cars or not? It appears if you want to buy a Miata in Canada it’s a long term process with possible multiple visits to the dealership, ordering and waiting for the car to arrive.

I was so focused on looking for a new ND on the lot that somehow I missed this colorful combination of used-Mazda’s a yellow RX-8 which is probably my favorite color for this rotary car and a red NB… How do you miss something so bright? Glad I spotted them on the way out of the dealership.

Initially I didn’t even see any Miata’s on the streets of Montreal… but then I was proven wrong Thursday night where I spotted half-a-dozen, mostly NB’s in all different colors roaming around downtown Montreal… I suspect they drove in from the suburbs to get a front row view of the fireworks that were scheduled to start after dark on that night. The next day I saw a beautiful NC3 PRHT in white with the top down that came up behind me and left too quick for me to snap a shot of it. Here’s a few Miata’s I did spot on the streets of Old Montreal:

Ironically there were far more Porsche’s on the streets of Montreal than Miata’s.

I even spotted a right-hand-drive Nissan Figaro… twice!

Anyway… while the Miata community of Quebec is very hard to spot, other Mazda’s are all over the place. Tons of CX-5’s and Mazda3’s roaming around. Even used for official city business:

The older Mazda’s make it seem obvious why people hide their precious Roadsters… the rust isn’t kind in this part of the world:

I suspect the salt use in the winter eats right through the metal.

Anyway, I had such a blast in Montreal for the Formula E event even though I completely failed to make any contact with the local Miata community… and I even researched several Quebec MX-5 Clubs and sent them facebook messages asking for help.

Maybe I’ll get more lucky in the future…