Tag Archives: Sheetz

Mazda MX-5: 600 Mile Miata Road Trip to Watkins Glen for some NASCAR Training

I’m so glad I drove up to Watkins Glen for some much needed NASCAR training during their Motorsport Safety Seminar this April. Last time I went was two years ago. Last year I almost went, but with snow on the forecast I chickened out, panicked and booked a flight to Texas instead to volunteer MotoGP where it didn’t snow. This year I was committed to go, but kept on checking the weather app because the Miata is not an optimal snow vehicle upstate New York.

Things were looking good… and then I saw snowflakes on the forecast. I don’t know if it was that… the five cups of coffee I had on Friday, or the excitement of planning a Texas Road Trip… I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before leaving for my 4 hour drive north. Went to bed early at 9PM by 1AM I was still tossing and turning, so I decided to shower and hit the road. And the road was miserable. It was raining the whole time, most of the way heavy. And closer to the destination it started snowing with big snow flakes zooming past reflecting in the headlights playing tricks on my sleepy mind, resembling time travel in some cosmic galaxy. It was fucked up!

I took my time, and the otherwise 4 hour trip turned into a 6 hour trip. I stopped for food at Sheetz, my usual spot in Scranton, PA. I stopped at Tim Hortons but they didn’t seem to be open even when there was an employee cleaning the place up… I had to pull over at a Rest Area near Tioga Downs to close my eyes for a minute because I found myself dozing off a little. But I made it to MSS training with time to spare but not too early.

On the way in I drove past Montour Falls which compared to the last time I saw them (when they were dry) it was the complete opposite. They were gushing with water. A massive amount of water. All the rivers leading to Watkins Glen were overflowing. Lots of fishermen along the creeks down the main road were getting ready to catch something early in the morning.

The first day flew by quick. I went into town to crash at my host’s house. She was away so I figured I’d take a nap and hang out in the evening. But the nap didn’t work. So we hung out ordering pizza and wings and watching a movie. Went to visit the neighbor and check out their awesome back yard bar. It was so cool!

That night though my mind was still racing, and come 10PM I just couldn’t seem to go to sleep. But I forced myself and eventually slept like a baby all the way until 8AM the next morning. Staying downtown Watkins Glen was super convenient. I could wake up late. Shower. And casually drive to the track for our 8:45AM meeting. I discovered my car was the victim of some unkind birds, since I parked under a tree. So before heading to the track I stopped at a self-serve car wash and gave it a nice hose-down.

Second day flew by even quicker.

The highlights for me were the hands-on fire extinguisher training. Followed by track familiarization laps around the circuit, both with the Boot and without (NASCAR configuration).

It was amazing, and ticked all the boxes for me coming out to this event. I totally got my money’s worth!

Besides the track activities I spent half an hour at the Watkins Glen Walmart the night before rummaging through the Hot Wheels display. To my surprise all the Miata’s were at the bottom of the box, and I ended up buying all of them! This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been on the hunt for these little toys for a while. I must have visited a dozen Walgreens, Walmarts, Dollar stores, Kmarts, and other supermarkets in New York, New Jersey, and Florida… and these little fuckers were really hard to come by!

They will be especially useful next time I travel for a Miata event (overseas).

And the cherry on top moment on this trip came from a Foodie Experience… I was telling my host about the wonderful “pig wings” I stumbled across in South Carolina… and she casually told me that they totally have the same food upstate New York… they just call them “Hog Wings” here… so on the drive home I stopped by Mooney’s on Main Street in Corning to pick up a box of them to take home…

The place was packed with diners. And I was happy to see the girl sitting closest to me at the bar getting her order of hog wings on Mac’n Cheese (apparently that’s their thing up there). I chose mine with french fries and they were especially tasty as I reach in a few times for a snack during my long drive home.

What an awesome adventure this trip turned into. I’m so glad I went! Luckily I am at almost 5,000 miles since the last oil change in February, so I’ll be doing one soon after I return from Texas…

I love Watkins Glen, I really do! Ya’ll should come and visit…

Mazda MX-5: First 500+ Mile Road Trip

Since I bought the car in December I’ve only put 1,000 miles on the odometer… until my Road Trip to Watkins Glen, NY where I did 500+ miles in a just one weekend.

I was thoroughly impressed with the car. It was very comfortable at highway speeds and during a trip that lasted about five hours because I made a few stops along the way that I normally do, one of them to pick up some sliders for lunch at a Scranton Sheetz gas station (yep, gas station food!)

Before doing the thermostat replacement I was averaging about 23 mpg sometimes less, hardly ever more. But on this trip I got a solid 33 mpg with 95% highway driving, but a good 5% driving in first gear from the RSI campground to the WGI conference building along pit lane. Mainly because the road was really muddy, and I coated the whole bottom of the car with it. It was the first time I’ve been to a race track where I went to a car wash first before heading back home. And I’m glad I did, because on my way to the self-serve car wash I stopped by the International Motor Racing Research Center in downtown Watkins Glen, and took some pictures there. My favorite was the little red sports cars atop the street sign posts that act as the numeric street signs:

watkins glen new york
I didn’t realize how little my little red sports car was compared to the street sign post, which is topped with a little sports car and a 15 encircled on the door, signifying 15th Street
watkins glen international motor racing research center
maybe next time I will actually pay them a visit, the International Motor Racing Research Center in downtown Watkins Glen, NY about a mile from beautiful Seneca Lake


But back to the track. I’m happy the car didn’t get stuck in the mud anywhere or bottom out on any of the pot holes. I took it nice and slow and it served it’s purpose well.

miata watkins glen 1
I should have turned the nose into the other direction to light up the side of the car, but didn’t really think of it while taking this picture

watkins glen mazda miata mx-5 rsi

watkins glen mazda miata mx-5

The only complaint, if I should call it that, was the massive pot holes along the 250 mile stretch between my home in New Jersey and the track Upstate New York. Especially Upstate and most of Pennsylvania had these big craters where the asphalt meets the concrete of the overpass, or along the joints of two otherwise perfectly smooth lanes, there just had to be these stupid pot holes. I’m going to speculate because I’m not entirely sure this is the case, but I have a feeling that I got some new curb rash from hitting some pot holes I couldn’t avoid especially along the lip of the front rims. And let me tell you, this was the most attentive I have ever been driving this route going the speed limit and trying to dodge the bigger pot holes in my path at all costs. A few times I didn’t realize just how big the pot hole was until I was on top of it…. Ugh!

All in all I am very happy with this first big Road Trip in the Miata. I had a great time and will definitely do it again, especially going back to Watkins Glen to work one of their events, IMSA and/or NASCAR. The RSI hospitality was really warm and welcoming, as usual. I genuinely felt I was wanted there, which is a good feeling. Best of all the heater worked really well in Lynne & Tate’s guest camper… so even though the car outside was covered in frost, I was nice and toasty at night. Thank you Lynne & Tate, Patrick and the rest of the RSI for being awesome!

watkins glen rsi campground

PS. on the way home I stopped to refuel across the street from a peculiar site, a mobile BBQ truck… of course I had to have a sample:

upstate new york bbq pit