Track for days

I like to drive quickly. That interest manifested itself in my registering for two track days on consecutive weekends at Waterford Hills Road Racing. The weather forecast for the first one was nasty. I drove my Subaru instead instead of the Miata. The Subaru has Dunlop Direzzas, which are awesome in the rain, and I could absolutely flog the Ru without having to worry about much. Conversely, the Miata would have been a scary white-nuckle experience. That’s fun too, but not on a track that provides very little distance between you and concrete walls.

My Subaru had a serious power disadvantage. It’s a naturally aspirated, all wheel drive, station wagon from 2002. Everything is stock. That said, when the track was wet, I had no trouble hanging with the big guys, and even passed a C6 Vette. The most fun thing about the Subaru is I can push it extremely hard, giving it my all as a driver, and rarely ever get stuck behind people. Every time I see somebody in the distance, it’s a battle to see if I can gain ground. In the Miata, those same people become road blocks–people who I have to crawl behind until they move over for me to pass. Additionally, slow cars grant you plenty of time to focus on your lines and hone your technique. Oh, and the brake pads that I installed the previous night were totally gone by the end of the event. My passenger side rotor was severely gouged by the caliper.

Okay, onto the next weekend. To this event, I took the Miata. The weather stayed nice and I had an absolute blast. I was constantly stuck in traffic during the first part of the event, however as the day progressed, the slowest people in my group were moved to other groups so the average pace picked up. I still frequently got stuck in traffic, but I was at least able to put down the occasional uninterrupted lap before encountering someone new. The car performed well, was fast, and will be even faster once I install my smaller bore brake master cylinders and cooling ducts. I feel like my stopping distances will improve quite a bit once the pedal ceases to require monumental force as I couldn’t lock the brakes if I tried once the tires were making peak grip. I’m thrilled that the car performs as well as it does without much in the way of development, and the changes that I plan to make this winter should be transformational. I’m excited to see what happens next season!

Miata road trip

It all started on a Monday night, when I was hanging out with some friends after a bike ride. Somebody brought up a music festival that was taking place in Georgia that upcoming weekend. The conversation shifted from a mutual understanding of its existence, to “hey we should go to that”, and finally to “lets take the Miata”. Anyway, after talking to people and trolling Craigslist, we had tickets lined up and a loose plan. Friday came before we knew it, and after a morning job interview, I got the car packed up, met my friend, and we were on our way from Detroit to Atlanta.

Being strapped into fixed back racing seats via six-point harnesses for hours on end wasn’t particularly comfortable, but that’s not important. The same things that make this car so horribly unsuitable for road trips are the same things that make it perfect. Let me explain. Now that a few weeks have passed, my butt and back have fully recovered, however the memories of driving a race car to Georgia for a festival, and the shenanigans that took place along the way, will be with me forever.

Fun facts:
-The car averaged 27mpg on the highway. We were trying to make good time and packed the car in a manner which harmed aerodynamics. Not too shabby.
-Roll bars are practical. Mine served beautifully as a cargo rack.
-There were zero mechanical mishaps.
-A Miata with an engine and trans from an 04 GTO is much faster than an 04 GTO.
-This car can handle minor off-roading. The trail to the festival parking and camp site was severely rutted.

The aftermath:

And that there, is the appearance of a car that has been genuinely enjoyed. Would I do it again? Absolutely!