Tag Archives: nd mx-5

Why Is Everyone Ditching SCCA Pro Racing? First Global MX-5 Cup in Favor of IndyCar and Now Pirelli World Challenge to USAC

For those of you reading this blog post looking for some in-depth analysis or insider information as to why everyone is ditching SCCA Pro racing, go look elsewhere. This post will express my opinion on the matter which is just that, an opinion. It is based on my personal experience of a mere marshal volunteering for both series mentioned in the title and the three sanctioning bodies involved. My treatment as a volunteer could and definitely may be different than that of other volunteers so take the opinion at face value.

That said… and the many frustrating posts I’ve made over the past few years, I can’t say I am surprised that SCCA is being ditched. I have had plenty of personal experience of maltreatment by assholes within the club to which I pay/paid a hefty membership fee for all these years. Perhaps I’m not the only one that thinks this sort of treatment isn’t acceptable and there are other options.

What am I talking about?

Today PWC leadership made an announcement at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, Indiana that after 27 years of being sanctioned by SCCA Pro (a body that created the PWC series) it will now be sanctioned by USAC – the arch-rival of Sports Car Club of America from way back in the day. USAC is United States Auto Club which I’m sure people reading this blog would be familiar with because I’ve had many kind things to say about them from my experience marshaling at Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is staffed by USAC volunteers (not SCCA).  For more info about this story check out this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/more/viewpoints/item/137087-insight-the-state-of-pirelli-world-challenge

Speaking of Indy, about a month ago the leadership of Global MX-5 Cup, which also had been sanctioned by SCCA Pro for the past 11 years, announced their move to IndyCar sanctioning. Read all about that story here in this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/scca-home/mazda-mx-5-cup/item/136029-pruett-indycar-s-new-mazda-matrix

IndyCar of course is the famous American dumbed-down version of Formula 1. IndyCar, like NASCAR has in recent years build up a ladder system to feature various lower support series at their events. They call it the Mazda Road to Indy or MRTI for short. Even though Mazda doesn’t actually race in the big leagues with IndyCar where Chevy and Honda engine powered Dallara chasis compete. Instead Mazda provides pretty much all the engines for the lower series including Indy Lights, the Formula 2000 and 1600 series and Pro Mazda series. Not quite sure exactly how those series differ from similar SCCA club F1600 and F2000 series, but they are very similar save for the sanctioning bodies. The Mazda connection made sense for IndyCar’s sanctioning of the Global MX-5 Cup, even though that is the only non-open wheel series they sanction (I think). USAC sanctioning something as big-time as PWC though is a stretch, especially since the only thing I’m aware of USAC sanctioning previously are dirt racers throughout the MidWest.

But I guess we’ll see how that will go.

Good news is that PWC will open TCA class to the Global MX-5 Cup, which already features previous gen NC MX-5 Cup cars. Now we’ll get a mix of NC’s and ND’s… good variety!

I was getting excited this year volunteering for Pirelli World Challenge because of Stefan Ratel’s involvement with this American series. He is famous for the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance Series in Europe as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge which he was going to bring to America after big success in Asia (Sepang 12h) and Australia (Bathurst 12h) and of course their crown jewel event, the Spa 24h in Belgium (at one of my favorite circuits: Spa-Francorchamps). Maybe with PWC moving to USAC the SRO will have more say in the way things are done in US, which I assume would have created tensions with SCCA… (because of course everything creates tensions with SCCA, speaking from personal experience here). I hope to see the series succeed under USAC.

Besides the IndyCar and USAC sanctioning bodies, the two series are actually run by WC Vision for PWC and Andersen Promotions for the Global MX-5 Cup… so I’m not sure how much input either IndyCar or USAC will have on either. But I’m sure at the very least both MX-5 Cup and PWC will probably continue to prop up IndyCar events in the future (as they have already done in the past)… which is a good thing! The only thing different for me volunteering will be the fact that I will not earn SCCA worker credit for volunteering those big weekend events now. Oh well!

Who’s left to ditch next? Will Trans Am jump ship too?

2017 will be quite interesting.

Hopefully there will be enough change in the future that won’t require me to pay $60 to Topeka for SCCA membership. Then again USAC charges $30 per event at Indy, or a discounted rate for multiple events. This business of shaking down volunteers for the privilege of volunteering is just wrong to me. I still think that it should be like the rest of the world, a small nominal fee to cover supplies like plastic membership cards and postage to mail them to the members every year. Anything more is a rip off. Maybe after losing a few more series they’ll come to their senses. Or maybe they’ll become even more greedy… who knows?

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UPDATE December 12, 2016; Formula Race Promotions (FRP) whom run Formula Atlantic, Formula 2000 and Formula 1600 have announced that they’ve ditched SCCA as well in favor of USAC.  atlanticchampionshipseries.com/news/972-usac-to-sanction-atlantic-f2000-f1600-championships.html

Seems like only Formula 4 remains under SCCA Pro sanctioning body, which makes absolutely no sense considering F4 is a European FIA rules/spec series (which had a real hard time starting up in the US this year). We’ll see if they stick around…

2017 MX-5 Cup Cars Already Being Built at Long Road Racing in North Carolina

Huge props to the Long Road Racing social media team… I checked in with a silly comment on facebook: “drive-by wave to the best MX-5 shop on the East Coast” or some such statement, and someone replied: “Come Visit!”

So visit I did… I was making good progress on my Florida Road Trip, with about 20 minutes to kill before the restaurant opened – my designated foodie pit stop before continuing on to Jacksonville. And what better excuse to kill time than checking out some MX-5 race cars being built…? the actual process of it!

Some may remember my earlier visit to Long Road Racing in March while returning from another Florida Road Trip where I volunteered at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hours. It was a neat tour then… but this was a great follow up. Considering the racing season just wrapped up at Road Atlanta with MX-5 Cup playing a support role to Petit Le Mans, there were plenty of banged up MX-5 cup cars being re-built… some with body panel damage others with blown engines, where new ones were being put in. And then there were the shiny new 2017 models being ready to go through the configuration process, roll cage install, suspension and braking components upgraded, etc.

I had such a fun time being a tourist. And I wasn’t the only one… apparently some journalist from Racer magazine was getting a private tour also, look for an upcoming write up about the Long Road Racing prepped street-version of the Cup car to hit the streets soon… This time around I took a ton of pix:

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Oh and it’s worth mentioning that Long Road has plenty of OEM new take offs from all the standard cars before they’re configured. You can buy wheels/tires combos… complete seats, or even Long Road Racing designed office chairs that utilize the stock ND Miata seat. There’s a whole pile of brand new air bags for sale. Soft tops… exhaust systems. And I’m sure plenty more. So if anyone is looking for some brand new stock take-off parts, I’d give Long Road Racing a shout. I’d be the first to say that facebook gets a real quick response.

I’m looking forward to flagging some MX-5 Cup races next season, they are sure a lot of fun especially with the huge fields!

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PS. Thanks for the freebie Long Road Racing t-shirt… I already have a ton of Mazda swag, but it’s my first MX-5 Cup factory souvenir, I’ll wear it proudly!

Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2016 is a GO!

Happy to report that I’ll be attending the Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this October (10/1 and 10/2). I won’t have my NC with me but the flights have been booked and hopefully my rental car is something cool… as much as I can’t afford this trip I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see this event first hand, check out the big MX-5 car show, and watch a bunch of owners take to the famous track with their Miata’s. I also missed the opportunity to sign the Millionth Miata when it was in Germany at TidM or closer to home at Wayne Mazda on their NYC stop of the tour or the Easton Mazda on the Philly stop. Hopefully I’ll get to autograph it myself.

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I’ll also be staying for the week after until Pirelli World Challenge takes to the same race track for their season finale. I can’t wait to marshal at Laguna Seca again… I’ve done the Corkscrew corner before from several different stations and different points of view, hopefully this time I’ll get to experience another vantage point.

Either way it’ll be extremely exciting.

So far I’ve used some frequent flyer miles to fly JetBlue from JFK to Oakland and Virgin America from San Francisco to Newark. The flights weren’t as cheap as I would hope to find them, but about $129 going and $159 back if converted to cash. The car rental from Hertz was similar amount, though I’ll keep checking to get a lower rate. I’ll also try to rely on CouchSurfing to keep my accommodation costs down.

This is going to be a blast and a fine way to end my marshaling season… what an adventure it has been so far!

Post Card from Global MX-5 Cup Round at VIR: Virginia Int’l Raceway

My plans for this weekend were to check out the Millionth Miata Tour visiting the East Coast… my options were to go to Wayne, NJ for the NYC stop of the tour where the car would visit Wayne Mazda dealership or if that failed I could go to the Philadelphia stop where the tour would visit Easton Mazda in Pennsylvania…. I blew my chance! But instead I go to marshal the Global MX-5 Cup round at VIR – Virginia International Raceway (my first visit there!)

I came across a facebook post from Mazda Motorsports inviting owners to come join the Mazda Corral at VIR for the MX-5 Cup weekend and I figured I’d sign up… then I learned this was in support of the IMSA weekend and suddenly I knew it would be an uphill battle to even consider this event… I was convinced I’d be signing the Millionth Miata instead. But the stars aligned just right and there I was both flagging and playing pit fire marshal for the races. Freaking amazing!

Here’s some pix from the paddock from the day I arrived at VIR:

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And some action shots:

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It was an excellent weekend to go MX-5 Racing!

Mazda North American Headquarters Visit in Southern California

So the highlight of my trip to Southern California wasn’t marshaling  Long Beach Grand Prix, it was instead a side trip further south to Irvine, Orange County to visit the North American HQ of Mazda.

I can’t say I planned the trip there in advance, it sort of just happened. I was hoping to meet up with some local SoCal MX-5 Miata owners during the event but for some reason that meetup never materialized, and since I had some time to kill on Monday before the flight home I decided to do a few Miata related things. After a quick Google search I had a list of three places to try to check out if the California traffic would allow it. Mazda HQ was stop #1 (a visit to Racing Beat and Roadster Tuner followed).

While I tried not to get my hopes up for the actual visit, I was excited. I kept my expectations low because having both Mercedes-Benz of North America and BMW of North America Headquarters just minutes away from me in New Jersey I knew there wasn’t much to see there for random visitors other than an office building. But what’s the worst that could happen? Right…? I figured at the very least I’ll get to check out the lobby. And so it went, the lady at reception confirmed my speculation that there wasn’t much to see and nothing to buy in a gift shop because there wasn’t one. So I mozzied on out, took a few shots of the building, many more shots of the countless MX-5’s in the parking lot and was ready to leave.

And then as if a God-sent, I see three pristine red MX-5’s of various vintage rolling into the parking lot and heading straight for the Visitor Center… I later found out that the NA Miata in the group was the original car unveiled at the Chicago? auto show when the car was first introduced in America in 1989. There was a gorgeous Mazdaspeed NB that followed it, not sure about it’s history. But the red NC in the group was the 25th Anniversary edition of which there were only 1,000 made. I started chatting with the Mazda guys driving the cars into the building and the fella tried to stress the importance of the rarity of the NC… while I countered that I saw three or four of them show up to my little Sydney MX-5 fish & chips run just a few months ago…. how rare could they be? Ha!

It was by dumb luck that I stumbled upon these cars and the guys working there. But boy did that make my day! I shamelessly asked for some Mazda swag referring to the Long Beach Grand Prix Mazda Owner’s Lounge running out of hats by the time I was able to make it there on Sunday as an excuse, and  the guy come through… big time!  I got a whole swag bag full of key chains, lanyards, a Zoom Zoom magazine and some other trinkets and knick-knacks. Not that I actually need more of that stuff, but bringing home souvenirs like that was pretty awesome. I’m really grateful for the opportunity!

Of course I couldn’t help myself and took a million pictures:

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So for all you Mazda / Miata fans out there visiting Orange County, California thinking about a visit to the North American HQ… is it worth it? Hell yeah! Granted unless you luck out and stumble upon something similar to what I did, you’ll have a blast… on any other day though the visit may be slightly more mundane… but you never know until you go for it!

PS. after visiting Racing Beat the fella there suggested to check out the Mazda R&D facility where they store all kinds of goodies like the 787B race car…. that would have been nice to know about had I had more time to kill (and not rush for a flight!)

PPS. a few days after I got home pictures and videos surfaced on facebook from the same lobby I visited featuring a fourth vehicle… one I would have been really keen on seeing had I had the time (which I didn’t) the vehicle was the ND MX-5 RF targa prototype… D’oh!!!!

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Singapore while on Southeast Asia MX-5 Miata Road Trip

back to: Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


Normally my time spent in Singapore revolves around foodie experiences, but this time I did something completely new that I’ve never done while visiting the tiny island state: I went car shopping! Naturally I wasn’t actually going to buy a car while on my 24 hour visit, but since my friend and I had some time to kill between lunch and dinner, we decided to hit the dealerships to kick some tires of new and used ND Mazda MX-5’s and Roadsters.

I’ve passed a whole row of dealership a million times while in Singapore as the East-West MRT line goes directly above them, but never set foot inside until now. And it was a really neat experience.

We first went to check out a Mazda dealer with a new Singapore-spec ND MX-5 in stock:

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The dealership is like any other in the US, except that all the cars are locked including this gem that I went ahead and posed with. Why? Probably has something to do with the sticker price.

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Oh yeah! You read that right… $166k for a stick shift, and $169 for the auto. That’s not a mistake. Car ownership in Singapore is pricey. It’s important to understand that the majority of that price goes to the COE – or Certificate of Entitlement that you buy for a period of 10 years at which point you are expected to scrap the vehicle, unless of course you buy another COE and pay for annual inspections. Singapore is a crowded city and the high prices help with congestion, though you wouldn’t notice it after being stuck in many traffic jams. Of course after spending a small fortune on a car, many continue to dump more money into it by modifying and customizing the crap out of it to their liking.

The dealership also had some cars that not only we don’t have in the US but ones I didn’t know Mazda made… like these two minivans:

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Mazda 8 and a Mazda Biante… whatever that is.

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After we finished gawking at the new cars, my buddy Joey whom I was going to marshal with in Malaysia a few days later got in touch, he works for a dealership on the other side of town near Changi, and after a brief chat we decided to go and visit him at work to see more new and used cars for sale.

Unlike American or Australian dealerships, Singapore has to make due with the little space they have. So one dealership complex we visited was a five or six story parking lot, with various dealers sharing space on each floor. So we went hunting for a pre-owned Mazda Miata there.

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While living in Asia I was very fond of the futuristic looking minivans from Toyota called Alphard and Veilside. The Veilside was a sporty version of the Alphard if I were to describe the two. The latest models seem to resemble something from the Transformers movie.

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The Toyota Harrier was the Japanese domestic version of the Lexus RX until of course Toyota killed off the model and started selling Lexus directly to the Japanese market. The cheaper version was so popular they decided to reintroduce it, but now the two look quite different. The white sedan is a Toyota Mark X model, just like the one used in the Hangover 2 movie in the Bangkok scenes. Neat car!

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And then we stumbled upon this beauty… what looks to be a heavily modified Honda S2000 Type S… shame it’s going to be scrapped.

And finally, a JDM market ND Mazda Roadster:

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With a price tag north of $100k SGD… nice!

So happy to have had this opportunity to check out some cars for sale in Singapore. It was quite an experience to say the least. I can’t even imagine how the locals could justify paying prices that they do, but hey! when you make money you spend money… so it’s all good!

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