Tag Archives: waikato

Postcard from Auckland Car Club Racing at Hampton Downs

You can’t volunteer an event in Australia without coming over and marshaling in New Zealand. So since I was in the neighborhood I decided to pop up for one of the Kiwi racedays at Hampton Downs.

I have been planning to come back to New Zealand for ages, and I’m really glad this opportunity presented itself. Anna Scott the flag chief for the Motorsport Club of NZ invited me to spend the weekend with her family and I couldn’t be in better hands on my visit. It was a bit sad to see fewer marshals at the track than the last time I was there. Even the race day itself was shorter than usual, instead of the full weekend of racing Auckland Car Club crammed all of their practices and races into one Saturday. But the action was still there and thanks to an awesome post assignment I was having a hell of a good time.

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I was paired to work with Peter for the weekend who was really great and welcoming to a “newbie” which made my day. We were pretty lucky to have a few incidents including minor spins, cars coming to a stop suffering mechanical failures as well as a side to side metal to metal impact resulting in a spin which I had to write a report on. All in all we were kept busy the whole day.

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I asked Tom and Anna to make a pit stop on the way to the track so I can get some of my favorite track food to go: the Kiwi Meat Pies, which were especially delicious once I worked up some appetite working trackside.

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Once lunch came around, Peter and I were picked up by the Porsche Cheyenne Course Car and brought into the paddock area where I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the race cars and all the improvements done to the track since my last visit. The garages have really been build up, adding a second level. Race control was completed. And one of the most visible additions was the actual expansion of the track adding quite a few more corners for Anna to staff once the track is fully finished.

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I was really happy to see a few MX-5’s racing with the other Japanese cars in their class. Mazda’s are very popular in New Zealand although in the past it was the RX-7’s and RX-8’s that dominated the car scene. Still nice to see Miatas race everywhere I go to marshal.

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Happy to also be served L&P – my favorite Kiwi drink at the end of day party for the marshals.

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After lunch it was back to the office at Post 2. My favorite tool to use was the Hampton Downs lighting system. A very simple controller tethered to the Light Panel via a cable. The functionality is simple and intuitive. You push and hold the switch into the direction of the flag you wish to display and it stays on while you’re holding the switch. Upon release the light turns off. Yellow flag up, Double yellow down. Blue flag up and White flag down. Using Yellow forces a Green at the next post automatically. Debris flag can be switched on and left to display, though the way it shows on the pane is by alternating flashing lights of Yellow and Red which some drivers apparently found rather confusing. For a few incidents where the track was more than 50% blocked I found it a bit clumsy to try to wave a both yellow flags and hold the double yellow button simultaneously. But I would imagine as simple as this system is it would cost a fraction of what the F1 light system cost, and I have a feeling this one is far more efficient.

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One of the coolest things I saw on this visit was during a recovery. The tow truck driver that had already freed one car from the gravel trap, pulled up to the second disabled car by our post and hooked it to the bumper of the first car. He then proceeded to drive the train of stricken cars back to the paddock. I thought that was rather efficient making due with what they have and not wasting time waiting for another tow truck to free up to do the recovery.

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As the day was getting hotter and marshals were getting tired, the Motorsport Club did an ice cream run to cool us off. And it really worked wonders. Tip Top the kiwi ice cream brand is actually quite creamy and milky, much better than the water based ice creams we typically get in the US.

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And so another wonderful weekend spend at a race track was in the books. I was super happy to have had this opportunity to marshal even if just for one day. It totally made my visit to NZ worthwhile!

My next trip to New Zealand will hopefully involve a visit to a new circuit down on the South Island – Highlands Motorsport Park.

Mazda MX-5: Fish & Chips Run with MX-5 Club of New Zealand Members from Auckland CBD towards Coromandel

back to: South Pacific MX-5 Miata Road Trip Overview

f-australiaMX-5 Shopping in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

f-australiaMX-5 Road Trip from Kirribilli to Balmoral, NSW, Australia

MX-5 Road Trip from Papakura towards Coromandel, NZ

MX-5 Hire Cars on Holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands


No sooner was one MX-5 Fish & Chips run over in Aussie another one was underway with the Kiwi Roadster owners in New Zealand.

I got incredibly lucky once again finding a local NZ MX-5 owner willing to show me around on a weekday upon my arrival. Lloyd offered to take me on a 300+ km Road Trip around the North Island. We were hoping a few other MX-5 Club of New Zealand owners would chime in but it was the middle of the week  and many were busy with everyday life. The initial plan was to go around the Coromandel Peninsula, a trip that could have taken all day based on the Auckland traffic, so instead we compromised a little and Lloyd surprised me with an awesome end to the trip: a sunset dinner cruise on a fellow MX-5 owner’s boat. It was pretty incredible!

As I was flying over from Australia Lloyd e-mailed me that another fella with an MX-5 would be picking me up in the morning: Ralph. Now we had two cars for our little adventure and every time we stopped to take pictures I’d swap cars, getting plenty of seat time in two JDM imported NC’s while chatting the ears off of their drivers.  These were the first two proper “Roadsters” I got to experience, Ralph’s was fairly stock while Lloyd’s had the Mazdaspeed treatment complete with a full body kit, exhaust and some other goodies hiding underneath… I call the cars Roadsters because they are in fact legitimate Japanese Domestic Market – JDM Roadsters that were imported to New Zealand second hand, as many often do. That was a little added caveat to my experience.

But enough talking, here’s some photos (of which I took a million):

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Based on the GPS geo-tagging function on my phone/photos I believe the route we took included the following coordinates: Auckland CBD > Papakura > Waiuku > Tuakau > Les Batkin Reserve > Waikato River > Pukekawa > Churchill > Lake Whangape > Rangiriri West > Rangiriri > Te Kauwhata  > Maramarua > Miranda > Kaiaua > Whakatiwai > Orere Point > Tapapakanga Regional Park > Kawakawa Bay > Kawakawa-Orere Road Reserve > Papakura

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Yes, it’s an actual Eunos Roadster when that was a thing in Japan.

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I’m so grateful to Lloyd and Ralph for hanging out with me for a day and putting so many k’s on their cars to show me a good time. Thanks guys!

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After posing for all these pictures and sorting stuff to upload to Facebook, Lloyd and Debbie loaded me up into their other car and headed back up towards Auckland for our 7pm launch. Where another MX-5 owner was waiting for us with his family to share a nice sunset dinner cruise out in the Auckland harbour. What a way to end an already awesome day? Really an amazing experience.

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Huge thanks to the always hospitable Kiwis for making my journey to New Zealand an incredible one. I am forever grateful!

Mazda MX-5: 500+ Photo Road Trip – South Pacific Visiting MX-5 Owners in Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands

Another year and another massive MX-5 Road Trip… this time to the South Pacific. I had the pleasure and privilege to visit the Mazda Roadster community  in Australia, New Zealand and kinda sorta in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.

In this post I will share my experience from this trip including the contact info for the local clubs in each country as well as a few rental facilities that have MX-5’s to rent (or hire) on your next trip to paradise that is the Cook Islands. As with my Southeast Asia MX-5 Road Trip last year I will break down this post into individual threads that cover each experience separately:

South Pacific Miata Road Trip Overview

f-australiaMX-5 Shopping in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

f-australiaMX-5 Road Trip from Kirribilli to Balmoral, NSW, Australia

MX-5 Road Trip from Papakura towards Coromandel, NZ

MX-5 Hire Cars on Holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands


 

There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this adventure but many of them are available for viewing on my facebook page. Some of the best shots are shared here with my commentary. I had such a blast on this trip I am extremely eager to start planning the next one.

So how did I go about arranging all the meets and events?

Simple. I researched the individual MX-5 groups and clubs through the Miata.net forum and Facebook.

In Australia I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New South Wales and specifically the Sydney Chapter which is a very active community of owners that meet up regularly for various club activities from dinners, cruises, racing and skidpads/drifting as well as major events like 50+ car meets and cruises around the country.

I met Jean Cook on my first day in Australia while traveling to Bathurst and just a few days later she embarked on a rather long journey down to Tasmania for a National MX-5 meet there that featured over 100 cars.

Special thanks to Jean Cook for giving me the opportunity to take some photos of her beautiful ND MX-5:

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The next thanks I want to give is to Cameron from Blue Mountains Mazda who sold Jean her ND. Cameron was nice enough to show me around the dealership on my way back to Sydney from Bathurst, I even brought an Aussie spec brochure back home from this visit:

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Huge thanks to Guy Cole for organizing the MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral where I got to meet the owners of at least 20 MX-5’s that showed up to this event. What a great experience that was. By the same token I would like to thank Chris Stacey for giving me a ride during the cruise in his beautiful red ND MX-5.

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In New Zealand I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New Zealand through the Miata.net forum and facebook. Their club also has major events around the North and South Islands. The last get together at the Auckland area Mazda dealer saw over 50 MX-5’s show up.

For my little event only two owners came along for the ride: Ralph and Lloyd, with Lloyd organizing the whole trip for me including a nice sunset dinner cruise with a fellow MX-5 owner from the Auckland harbour.

Thank you Ralph and Lloyd!

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In Rarotonga, Cook Islands I didn’t get a chance to actualy chat with any Miata owners. But I did source out a few places to rent one. Avis in Avarua apparently had a Green NC to rent but they wouldn’t let me see it before forking out $80/day to rent it. Too bad!

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This was definitely a trip of a lifetime and I’m totally looking forward to more trips like this in the future…