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.
All of these cars you have already seen before on this blog… a few weeks ago at VIR, but now Canadian Tire Motorsports Park is in the background and since I left home at the crack of dawn to make sure I can’t them on the track for their Thursday test session, I’m going to share the pix separately from the general Paddock post card I wrote about in another blog post… so here it goes, lots and lots of Miata pix
Only a handful of teams ran the MX-5 cup car in the Pirelli World Challenge TC and TCA class. The TC cars of the past were NC Miata’s running a 2.5L engine and a big wing, which didn’t come standard on the car. The TCA class ran a standard 2.0L and a Mazdaspeed lip spoiler which carried over from the Playboy MX-5 Cup of the past. The cars literally came from Playboy Miata Cup once NC cars were phased out for ND Miatas. Now this year is a transition year as ND MX-5 Cup cars are eligible to run PWC. Unlike last week at VIRginia International Raceway, all the cars had their hard tops in place, and some teams like SAC above even wrapped them to match the livery. The SAC example above is especially interesting as they did the same thing at VIR, running both the NC and ND #74 car with identical liveries, transferring their knowledge gathered from data from one car to the other. Very cool!
Same same… but different!
The reflective wrap on this Winding Road car always makes my phone camera go haywire…
I have to say that the new ND lid looks so much better than NC lid.
The new Mazda CX-5 posing in the Victory Circle
Spectating from Turn 2
Parking near my station at Turn 9
Notice the Sunoco Race Gas Pump near Ultra 94 Petro-Canada pump
UPDATE May 7th: After three days of light/moderate/heavy rain with the new beltline on the passenger door, I’m still having the same issue of water retention. Not a damn thing has changed, except of course I’m out $50 bux…. not thrilled about this! Maybe it’s part of the design to open the door so the water flushes out but it doesn’t sound too reassuring. Certainly wouldn’t want it to start rusting if the car sits around for extended periods of time in all types of weather. Argh!
Ever since I bought my Miata there was a peculiar phenomena happening. After heavy rain or even just washing the car, a bunch of water would pool in the passenger side door that would gush out when the door was opened (otherwise didn’t drain on it’s own).
I shared this video in April of 2015 showing the issue after it rained:
The solution was quite simple, but pricey!
I bought the new beltline molding from Avondale Mazda in Arizona through eBay using one of their $15 off $75 purchase coupons. The part was listed for $65+ and I added another $14 item that I was missing, a battery brace to help secure my DieHard battery (some schmuck that installed the battery for the previous owner didn’t put the brace back on)…. and now the battery is held on only by cables.
Anyway, it wasn’t easy to find instructions on how to remove the old beltline molding. The instructional videos from NA Miata, and the Miata.net how-to for the NB Miata are different. Luckily I had an NC Miata maintenance manual that showed a graphic how to do it. And in the process of attempting to release one of the plastic clips, I promptly broke it. I assume the plastic was brittle and didn’t take much effort to break.
Removal was easy. Re-install was a bit of a pain in the ass because of alignment. But eventually everything fell back in place. And I’m happy that there’s no more gap between the molding and the window. This week it will rain a lot so I’m going to test how the new molding is working out. But I think I’m happy with it!
As usual I took a million pix:
The new and the old molding… clearly the old one at 10 years of age is very much worn and lots of dust around it including some rust on the triangle part of the window to the front of the car.
So the last two weeks were spend exploring the Southeast again… I used the opportunity to volunteer two fantastic events in Alabama and Virginia to be a little bit of a tourist, a foodie, Miata Fiata fan, and of course a road tripper.
The trip included stopovers in Knoxville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Danville, Virginia (Milton, North Carolina really).
I volunteered two massive events: working as a flagger for the Alabama Grand Prix at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park and as fire rescue crew for PWC Grand Prix of VIR at the awesome VIRginia International Raceway.
Along the way I did a bunch of Miata Fiata stuff about which I wrote some previous posts, read about it here:
But in this post I’d like to wrap up and talk about the actual road trip part… after all I put nearly 2,500 miles on my Miata. Burned more than 60 gallons of fuel and spent over $160 bux doing it. I was lucky to average in the high 36mpg’s at one point hitting over 38mpg’s which is fantastic! And it was all trouble free… which is the best part!
I sampled a lot of good food along the way. Some fairly average food, and some I tried to skimp out on… like Chick-fil-a for breakfast many times… or the Steak ‘n Shake visits thanks to a discounted gift card I bought… $50 card for like $20 bux!
In many ways this Road Trip was a continuation of my drive to Texas in Wes’s Crown Vic… in fact I used that drive as a dry run to see what I should expect taking my own car to Alabama. I knew I would have a great time in Knoxville, TN because I stopped for lunch there before. This time I had booked a hotel in the Knox to stay overnight after a 700+ mile journey there from New Jersey. I googled some BBQ places to eat, went to pick up my order at Archer’s which came highly rated… and wasn’t all that impressed with the ambiance of the facility when I got my box to go. On the way to the gas station to fill up before returning to the hotel, I noticed a much more happening BBQ joint just a block away called Full Service BBQ… and there I was faced with a dilemma… do I stop by there and buy another dish? I had already picked up a fairly large box that was more than enough for me to have for dinner… or do I keep going and regret not visiting this busy place? I decided to come and visit… and to my surprise not only did they have everything I wanted (a mix plate of their ribs, pulled pork, sausage and brisket) but it was also smelling and tasting really good. So as usual I got way too much food. But boy was it fantastic! I left the box of Archers to bring with me the next day to Alabama, and had it for dinner there the next day instead.
Excellent food… Archer’s was great too in it’s own right, but Full Service had them beat with the ambiance of the place, and the big crowd of people eating there when I stopped by.
After a nice rest, I was off again for another 400 miles or so to my final destination. And I don’t know why but Alabama sure feels like “Sweet Home” even though I don’t consider myself Southern at all.
So of course the first order of business upon arrival in Birmingham was to go register at the track and take some pix of all those IndyCar sanctioned Global MX-5 Cup car Miata’s.
And straight after I went into town to meet up with my wonderful CouchSurfing hosts that welcomed me with great Southern hospitality going above and beyond what hosts typically do.
Perhaps my favorite activity with my generous hosts was sharing some amazing food with them. They fed me every night I stayed there, but one night I treated everyone to some Soul Food from Niki’s West… including two types of Catfish with all the fixins’
After a truly wonderful time in ‘Bama it was time to work my way back North to the next weekend’s events in Virginia. But since I had a few days to kill I visited Sakshik (my fellow Miata Fiata buddy) who now lives in Decatur, Georgia where he’s off to Law School.
The few days we spend there could be accurately characterized as a foodie tour! We had a somewhat disappointing experience getting Fried Chicken and Waffles on my first day there… unfortunately the place I went to last year closed (without telling Google, we arrived to find windows boarded up)… plan B turned out to be very snooty with a long wait time… and place C butchered the Waffle by making dough out of some cheddar mix that tasted awful. But our luck changed the next day when we went for BBQ and the following day when we did Indian food.
Probably the highlight of my visit… besides hanging out with Sakshik, checking out Mazmart parts store, visiting both Mazda and Fiat dealerships and recording an episode with Daniel on our podcast; was visiting World of Coca Cola which I had been planning to do for the longest time but never had a chance (until now!)
My favorite part of the whole visit to the World of Coke was the “Tasting” room featuring soda pop from around the world… divided by continents and featuring some drinks I’ve tried in their home countries like Fanta, Crush, Inca Cola, etc.
Funny part is, I actually own some Coca Cola clothing, my favorites though were t-shirts from around the world with Coke in cyrillic for the Russian market or in Mandarin for the Chinese market.
After spending several hours in downtown Atlanta and almost getting sick on all the drinks I sampled at the Coke museum, we hit up a cool Indian place to sample something different. Sakshik lives in a part of town where lots of Emory University students live so it by definition is very diverse. And the Indian restaurant we went to was a good representation of this diversity. The food was excellent!
And of course Sakshik coming from India meant he knew what to order and how to eat the food properly. I enjoyed that experience!
And finally the time flew by super quick, and the rest of the road trip to Virginia came bright and early on Thursday morning.
The food I had in Danville, VA just outside of the track I tried before. Unfortunately most of the time I ordered late and got way too much, so I didn’t enjoy it as I really should have. I went to Mayflower for some seafood on the first night. And Checkered Pig BBQ on my last night at VIR. Of the two the BBQ was best… though having worked with a fella from Roxboro, NC he recommended a much better option on the North Carolina side of the border for my next trip.
VIRginia International Raceway is extremely impressive, I think one of the best race tracks there are in the United States!
And so the trip came to a close way too fast. But to slow it down a little I took a rather scenic drive back to the Interstate through Virgnia… at one point going parallel to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway… US 501 was excellent zig zagging along a mountain on a rainy morning… reminded me a lot of Skyline Drive or what I remember of it from my last visit to Shenandoah.
It’s always kind of cool exploring rural areas of various states along with suburbia to see what’s it like… spotted plenty of Miata’s along my way!
Can’t wait for my next Road Trip… and if I’m lucky it will be another Grand Prix Road Trip like this two week trip I just did. Stay tuned…
Thanks to VIRginia International Raceway Fire Rescue folks who gave me VIP treatment at this year’s Pirelli World Challenge debut at their amazing track with paddock parking, I managed to sneak into the SAC racing area as the team was packing up to take some close up shots of my car with their winning race cars:
I don’t think the SAC crew was too thrilled with me getting in their way of packing shit up, but after passing a similar opportunity to take some side-by-side shots at PWC Mosport Grand Prix last year, I didn’t want to blow this moment.
Love the way these pix came out. Just goes to show how similar the MX-5 Cup cars are to production Miatas.
Thanks SAC Racing for the reluctant opportunity. And good luck!
First order of business upon visiting Atlanta was a quick trip down to MAZMART!
Two weeks ago I didn’t even know anything about Mazmart, luckily (or really unluckily) my car broke down… I went to test my battery and as I was cleaning under the hood and reinstalling everything in it’s place I must have leaned onto one of the power steering hoses, which moved the attachment on the side of the pump causing a ten year old O-ring to start seeping in air creating a fucking mess around the power steering reservoir.
The problem was solved using locally sourced parts in New Jersey but while I was doing my research (frantically since I knew I had a 1,000 mile road trip south coming up) I did reach out to Mazmart upon Sakshik’s recommendation to see how much they would charge for Mazda OEM O-rings… they were a good $10 cheaper than the dealer, luckily my problem was solved with a $2 part from NAPA Auto.
But that didn’t stop me from wanting to check out this place once I arrived in Atlanta, and I’m so glad we did!
Mazmart specializes in Mazda parts. They got a ton of parts cars on the property willing to sell you parts of them cheap. And if there’s something new you’re looking for they have a dealership hook-up with discounted rates compared to the actual dealerships.
I took a ton of pix in the store, especially of their rotary stuff:
Great news, Sakshik is back on the Miata Fiata Podcast!
He was kind enough to let me crash at his new place in Atlanta on my Southern Road Trip, travelling from Birmingham, Alabama today to Atlanta Georgia and continuing onto Virginia International Raceway later on this week.
While in Atlanta, Sakshik and I hit up some Mazda related places like his favorite parts place: MAZMART. And then off we went to sample true southern food at a fried chicken and waffles restaurant. I highly recommended a place I went to last year on my Alabama Grand Prix road trip, we got there and the windows on the restaurant were shuttered… apparently it closed. We went to the next place Google recommended a mile away and instead of soul food it was very snooty looking… so we went to recommendation #3 which turned out to be pretty crappy. But oh well…
Check out the episode where Sakshik and I catch up on our Miata hobby and be sure to tune in later in the week as we interview another Miata fan/enthusiast/racer in the Atlanta area.
Greetings from one of the prettiest racetracks in the United Sates!
I took advantage of an amazing opportunity again to work with Flagging by Faynisha crew for the Honda INDY Grand Prix of Alabama where the Global MX-5 Cup is making it’s season debut under a brand new sanctioning body: IndyCar…
Why the fuck would MX-5 Cup switch to IndyCar is beyond me. I don’t see any connection whatsoever other than playing a support role during events like these. But MX-5 Cup had already played a support role under it’s previous sanctioning body: SCCA Pro… so I don’t see what justified this move. Similarly, I am dumbfounded why IndyCar out of all the other “sports car” sanctioning bodies like IMSA which would have been a more natural choice, or even USAC.
But anyway, 2017 season is underway. The cars haven’t really changed. Most of the liveries are exactly the same as last year’s, the only thing different is the IndyCar sticker on the front and rear bumpers.
I arrived Barber on Thursday knowing there would be a promoter’s day in full swing, so I quickly registered and rushed to the paddock to take some shots of the Miatas:
Lovely statues adorn most of the circuit!
And there’s those IndyCar stickers…
And a few shots of my NC after two day and over a thousand mile road trip to get down here from New Jersey:
I really can’t recommend this facility enough to anyone I meat. Well worth the visit and especially for a race weekend like this one!
I had such an awesome drive to Texas, in someone else’s car, I guess my Miata felt all neglected back home. It sat unused for about a week… I popped the hood to check the oil level before using it and saw a pile of shit on the battery! Yep… actual pile of shit surrounded by various shells and half eaten nuts. Fucking squirrel! I never had this happen before, in the decade I lived at my current home, this never happened with any of my cars. Even in the three years of my Miata ownership it never happened.
How do I know it was a squirrel and not rats, mice or other rodents? Because the fucker came back to the scene of the crime the next day, and I saw him jumping around next to where the Miata is parked. Oh, the balls on that thing!
I quickly cleaned the battery and the area surrounding it including the overflow tank and the air box. I also inspected the area for any chewed wires or damage to the plumbing, everything looked fine.
But being paranoid as I am sometimes, and having experienced hesitant starts in wet weather a few times. I decided to take the battery out and have it tested at AutoZone to make sure I don’t need a new one. Also started shopping around for a new one and found several deals from Sears that seemed really reasonable so I was ready to buy one.
Took it out of the car. Drove down to AutoZone who tested it. And they determined there’s 89% life left in it. Basically brand new. 12.55 volts, everything checked out. So I plopped it back in and went for a drive.
Didn’t get very far because soon after I left the driveway the steering was a bit harder to turn and it started vibrating, with some vibration noise coming out from under the hood. When I went to check it out the power steering fluid was hissing from under the cap and basically spilled all around the reservoir!
Of course the squirrel had nothing to do with this issue, I don’t think. Instead I must have leaned on the suction pipe that goes from the reservoir into the side of the power steering pump on the top of the engine. The design is such that one single bolt holds the pipe in place at the bottom. So any pressure applied at the top pushes the pipe down, and considering the O-ring there is 10 years old and plenty worn it starts sucking air in which creates bubbles in the system, making the fluid foam and overflow from the cap of the reservoir. Basically making a fucking mess.
I researched the solution to this problem. Called several places including two of the three Mazda dealers in my area. One was super rude (Mazda of Lodi, I don’t understand why they always have to be such Dick’s??!!) and Ramsey Mazda who were much nicer. And reached out to Mazmart in Atlanta, Georgia area to get a price from them. Despite people on the forums suggesting the new O-ring shouldn’t cost more than $1.50 Mazda quoted me $40’ish plus they don’t stock it so the rebuild seal kit has to be ordered. Mazmart said they could get it in one day and with their discount it would cost me $30’ish. Which seems like a lot. People on the forums suggested checking out local parts stores like NAPA Auto, etc. Which is what I did and picked up Dorman universal o-ring kit for like $3 bux. But alas none of the new o-rings looked identical to the OEM piece. The recommendation was to match one as close as possible and check for leaks… great!
In order to get to the suction pipe and the O-ring, you need to take the Throttle Body off. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to clean mine and see what effect if any the K&N air filter. To my surprise it looked exceptionally clean, the only carbon build up was around the rim which is perfectly normal. I used CRC Throttle Body Cleaner and it did a great job removing the carbon without even using cloth. I spend a while getting it as clean as I could. None of my local stores had CRC MAF cleaner in stock, so I left that part of the project till later.
Bolted everything back up. Jacked the car up to get the air out of the power steering system. And all was good and dry on my test drive.
But fucking squirrel!
I was so confident in my car for this upcoming 2k mile road trip south based on it’s performance on the two Florida trips earlier in the year, now the damn power steering O-ring is making me nervous. Hate to see the car spew fluid out with something that I potentially caused by being careless.
Used paper towels to try to stop the messy fluid from spreading.
This is the culprit of the air getting into the system.
No way to get to it except by taking the throttle body off.
I didn’t realize how dusty my engine has gotten from these road trips
Pretty straight forward removal of the Throttle Body, 4 bolts out.
Not as dirty as I expected it to be, frankly.
Although the grime on the gasket looked pretty awful.
The reason it’s so easy to mess up the O-ring is because of this single bolt holding the suction pipe in place. Lean on top and it bends.
As the O-ring started seeping air in, the fluid level rose in the reservoir going an inch above MAX and staying there!
Throttle body cleaner aspect, probably the easiest part of the job.
Again, not nearly as bad as I expected it to be based on all the horror stories people say about the oiled K&N air filter use.
Sucked the old fluid out of the reservoir.
Took out the old O-ring and brought it with me to NAPA to match.
$2.91 for a whole box of them, thought none were exact match.
This is the closest I got. The one on the left didn’t fit into the power steering pump. The one on the right took some effort but fit.
While at Ramsey Mazda I was greeted with a whole assortment of new ND Miata’s on the lot including a beautiful RF model.
Only time will tell if this solution holds up. Fingers crossed for the Road Trip next week.
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…
Motorsport Marshal, Miata Driver, Hot Wheels Collector