This post was originally published on October 11, 2016 on Grand Prix Road Trip blog at MyRoadTrip.net // under the title:
MIATAS AT MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA 2016
- Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2016
Huge Thanks to the organizers of the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this year (the seventh itiration of the event) and the very first opportunity to volunteer for me. I’m super grateful!
I have already shared a few exciting posts about the individual activities from the weekend, but have yet to write a debrief of sorts, so here it goes.
The whole purpose of the trip for me was to sign the Millionth Miata. I had missed my opportunity several times earlier this year so it was now or never. I had read up about previous Miatas at MRLS (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) on the Miata.net forums and the idea of participating there was very intriguing but I figured with the difficulty I have had organizing local events in New Jersey it was never going to happen. But I was wrong. After quickly reaching out to a few folks through M.net I got a positive response and much more. Rick Welden the MAN behind the operation outlined what my skill set would benefit their project and what my reward for participation would be. A very direct and no-BS approach to the scenario that presented itself that made me super excited to go and help out.
When I landed in San Francisco I was very pleased to see that my Hertz Local Edition hooked me up with a Mazda vehicle. How appropriate? It wasn’t quite a sporty MX-5 like the hundreds I’ll be seeing at the track later, but it had a Mazda and the #5 in it’s name, and frankly having a minivan was very convenient to haul things around, especially one that handled so well. I put over one thousand miles on it over the course of ten days, 1,141 to be precise. And the only issue I ran into the whole time was catching a nail in one of the tires, which was probably entirely my fault (or bad luck rather). The car handled great, was fantastic on gas mileage and I was very pleased overall. With the expensive California fuel prices I managed to fill it only a few times, paying roughly $120 for the whole road trip. But back to the event.
When I arrived at the hotel where many of the participants were staying Friday night, they fed me first and then put me to work helping out with the food line. I kept the soda’s cold and made sure everyone got what they were looking for. One of the event sponsors paid for the BBQ and that was really impressive to me because it seemed like there was an endless supply of food to be had.
The next morning bright and early I showed up to help with the merchandise store. We were set up in the next garage from registration which meant everyone that came to sign on at least took a sneak peak at what swag we were selling. Most people bought something which was a fantastic way to support this whole operation because the amount of clothing, hats and posters to buy (not only from the current year but also many left overs from previous years) was a solid investment on the part of the organizers to have this event properly stocked. I did my best selling what was there especially promoting the vintage stuff that was sold for a very reasonable $5 bux per t-shirt or $15 bux per sweatshirt and looked pretty awesome to boot. The posters were a hot seller and even Mazda North America chipped in with some freebies to give away so whenever folks bought something they got to draw a cars to see what they’ve won in addition to their purchase. That was awesome.
About mid-day on each day of the event I was whisked away to a different part of the track to help line up the cars for the big photo shoot as well as parade laps that followed. That was great! While at the merchandise garage I got to meet a lot of the Miata owners, now I could actually see what it is they were driving, and pretty much everybody had something really special they brought. (obviously I was most interested in NC’s because that’s what I got) but pretty much everything from other generations caught my eye and I took pix of the cars, from NA’s to Exocets. I even managed to catch a ride for the parade lap with one of the NC owners who turns out is also a Motorsport volunteer and lives in Salinas so we later met up for lunch to chat more about cars and racing. Another fella that ran the merchandise stand and was lining up cars for the parade actually gave me an opportunity to drive his NC around Laguna Seca and I will be forever grateful to him for that experience. Awesome! simply awesome!
It seemed to me the majority of people participating in the event, chose to do so on Saturday while Sunday was a bit more low key day with plenty more opportunity to drive on track whether during the various skill sessions or the parade laps. I think in total something like 700 cars showed up, with about 300 of them participating in the parade laps that I was involved in. I noticed a number of foreigners in attendance besides the Canadians that drove down, there were Aussies and several Europeans in attendance whom I believe rented Miatas to drive on track. That was really neat. I was also very happy to see so many sponsors participating and having a separate display and shop area set up to sell their wares. That was cool as hell. I just wish I wasn’t travelling with a carry on during this trip I would have definitely bought something.
Instead I got to do what I wanted. I got to sign the 1,000,000th Miata. I got to check out the Miata RF up close and personal. I got to get a parade lap as a passenger around Laguna Seca and even drive one lap by myself. And then I spend another weekend marshaling Pirelli World Challenge which had a ton of Miatas racing in the series which was simply a cherry on top moment for me.
Once again I’m super grateful to the organizers and my co-volunteers. I’m so happy I got to meet so many West Coast Miata owners whether they were locals from California or from the neighboring states. And since my car was originally sold in California not too far from Laguna Seca, I even went on a road trip to San Luis Obispo to check out the dealership that sold my NC new.
Freaking amazing trip!
I would highly encourage anyone that likes Mazda’s, Roadsters and specifically MX-5 Miata’s (or Fiata’s 124 Spiders) to add this event to their list in the future. The dates were already announced for next year and I pray that my situation is such that I could come back and do this fun event all over again. What a blast!
- Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 2016