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Mazda2 Confidential • The Secret Lives of Automotive Journalists

Last modified on 2010-08-16 09:44:16 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

or The Mazda2 Lifestyle Drive Experience • Release Your Inner Driver!

A review of the 2011 Mazda2
By John Kimball

This is the 2011 Mazda2. It’s a nimble little rascal that slots in below the best-selling Mazda3 in Mazda’s 2011 U.S. lineup. It’s the first “B-Segment” vehicle that Mazda has been audacious enough to bring to the States. However, it’s no stranger to our friends overseas where it has been winning awards for quality, value, and performance since its introduction in 2008. The big question is, will it gain traction in the U.S. market?

Full Disclosure: Mazda flew us to Montreal so we could experience the Mazda2 Lifestyle Drive.. umm, Experience. While there, we were treated with a breed of hospitality that only a 17th century French-founded colony can offer.

What exactly is the Mazda2 lifestyle you ask? In my experience, it consists of 9 course meals, wine glasses that never empty, and a steady stream of über-chic vodka bars and incredible French bistros.

Automotive Journalists and PR Managers are among the most hedonistic creatures on the planet. I’m not sure what I expected on my virginal first press tour, but drunkenly waxing philosophical making new friends, staggering to bed at 3 a.m. strolling the promenade, and sweating off a couple bottles of wine diligently preparing for my journalistic duties, would not have been among my first guesses.

But that’s another story; you’re interested in the Mazda2.

If you read my previous post you’ll know that I have a deep affinity for Mazda and the core principles that guide them as a car maker. You’ll also know that I’ve placed some fairly high expectations on the Mazda2. This leaves us with some questions:

Is it a good car? Has it fulfilled my every desire? And finally: Should you buy one?

The answers to which are: Absolutely, No, and, that depends.

I’ll tell you this much, it did release my inner driver:

Let’s start with the most important aspect, the ergonomics of the Mazda2. I take the ergonomics of a vehicle very seriously. The more comfortable you are when operating a vehicle, the more attention and energy you can devote to driving. The overall seating position in the Mazda2 is surprisingly good, I’m 6′ 3″ and my faux hawk remained blissfully intact.

The pedal placement and offset is excellent, perfect for drivers that take advantage of heel-and-toe downshifting. Drivers with feet of all shapes and sizes should feel right at home (my weapons of choice come in size 13). However, the brake pedal is a bit too soft for my taste. But my daily driver is a halfway-built Spec Miata, so I might be used to an extra firm pedal. In any case the ABS is fantastic, so even if you get a little enthusiastic under braking, you’ll be taken care of.

The shifter is quite enjoyable as well. Adam Berrera (@highmileage) says: “the shifter is precise, and you can definitely tell it comes from the same company that made the Miata.” I wholeheartedly agree. It has a short throw, gives great feedback, and has a counterweight that rivals Mjölnir in size and proficiency. It rewards you with brisk, effortless shifts, which have the lovely side effect of inflating ones driving-ego (I’m a driving God!!!! …of thunder).

The automatic version is much more sedate. We changed cars after another spectacular lunch and it was a polar switch from the manual transmission. Maybe it was the heavy food, but I found myself cruising instead of hooning. If you’re looking for optimal fuel economy, get the automatic. The manual will have you rapping it out at every stoplight.

Luggage goes here!

The rear seat and cargo room? Adequate. I found enough room to be comfortable on a short trip, and in a pinch you could squeeze a couple of guys my size back there. Hauling luggage and not people? You’ll be able to shoehorn 4 carry-ons and some other personal items in the hatch. According to the Mazda2’s Line Manager Chris Hill, the Mazda2 was designed to primarily carry one or two people at a time, which is most common when commuting or doing short trips around town. It makes logical sense to me, as I’ve only used the back seat of my 2001 Volkswagen Golf maybe 10 times in the four years I’ve owned it (for hauling people ;) ).

“Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”
~Colin Chapman

This car is light, ridiculously light. Weighing in at just 2306 pounds, it’s a featherweight by modern standards. Let’s briefly compare it to a similar car in its segment, the new Ford Fiesta. The new Fiesta weighs in at around 2462 pounds, which is pretty darn light. But the Mazda2 weighs 156 pounds less. That’s 156 pounds that it doesn’t have to accelerate, brake, or turn. Did you ever play crack the whip as a kid? It’s just like snapping off the unfortunate kid on the end.

The handling is surprising, but in a good way. It’s not on par with the Miata by any means, but it turns in and bites hard. Insert joke here. Light-weight is a huge advantage in this arena and the suspension takes good advantage of it. It’s relatively lightly sprung, so a stiffer set of springs and dampers could really turn it into a corner gobbling machine. In a lot of ways, the Mazda2 reminds me of the original Volkswagen Rabbit GTI.

Some good news for enthusiasts: the Mazda2 uses the same size wheels as the NB Miata & Integra Type-R (a 15″ by 6″), so lightweight wheels and sticky tire sizing shouldn’t be an issue. Also, it’s equipped with TCS that is (cue dramatic music) FULLY DEFEATABLE! Hit the off switch and it actually stays off! That was just about the best news I heard all day. I wish I’d had the opportunity to test it further, but in lieu of that I can say this: the few freeway on-ramps I chucked it into put a smile on my face. Whoever sets this car up for H-Stock Auto-X competition will probably be wearing a new jacket by the end of 2011.

So, is it a good car?

Yes. I’m most impressed with the Mazda2’s low weight, because it makes the car playful. You’ll find yourself revving out the engine and grabbing another gear. You’ll feel it most of all in the corners, where the handling is exciting, and also in the pocketbook, where it’s low cost and fuel economy will pay you back. The 2 is also quite good looking, I caught quite a few stares and fingers directed at me while driving around Montreal, and I’m choosing to attribute them to the car, not my personal hygiene.

Has it fulfilled my every desire?

No. Sadly, it’s relatively underpowered. The 1.5L 16-valve 4-cylinder motor produces 100-hp and 98 lb-ft of torque, and unfortunately it doesn’t feel faster than it sounds. I would say that it’s acceptable at best. Also, the rev limiter is inaudible and the brake pedal is too soft. And despite all of its tricks, I would have expected a bit better fuel economy or at least a little more power.

So, should you buy one?

That’s up to you, but I think it’s a good value. The first thing my wife said when she hopped in our ‘01 VW Golf was that she missed the 2. I’m in the same boat, because the Mazda2 was simply much more fun. That’s what this car is all about really: getting you from A to B with a splash of excitement.

Overall it’s agile, has enough room, looks good, and makes sense in a no-frills transportation sort of way. If you’re considering any of the B-cars now available in the U.S., you should definitely give the Mazda2 a good look over. However, if you’re a sports car enthusiast who wants a fun and fast daily driver, then you might want to wait for the MazdaSpeed2 (or in my case, the next RX-7), should the great folks at Mazda ever decide to make one.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Mazda of North America, I’m sincerely grateful that you chose me and my wife to come and see what the Mazda lifestyle Is all about. Mazda continually succeeds at building cars for people that like to drive, and it’s not hard to understand why. They employ enthusiasts. Patrick Dempsey, notable actor and driver, races their cars. His fee? Voice-over work on their commercials. Jeremy Barnes, PR manager for Mazda, races in a popular road race series called Spec-Miata, a series which I’m hoping to join quite soon. (I’ll see you out there next year! Take that as you will—veiled threat, warning, or enthusiastic greeting) Chris Bretschger, Social Media Manager for Mazda North America, races sailboats up and down the west coast and sometimes goes as far as Hawaii (how cool is that!).

On any given weekend there are more Mazdas on the road race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle.

That’s quite a statistic, but here’s what I think: Mazda has always had racing in its blood and the infection is spreading.

The Mazda 2 Lifestyle Drive Experience • Prologue

Last modified on 2010-07-28 05:16:58 GMT. 3 comments. Top.

Mazda 2
As I sit here on the runway waiting to fly to Chicago, where I’ll have to run to catch my connection, a short hop over the pond to Montreal, I reflect on the reason I was chosen by Mazda for this trip. Why I have the dubious honor of driving the new Mazda 2, before even the press has a chance to get their slavering mitts on it.

According to Mazda I am a key influencer. But what is a key influencer? Is it a fan? A outspoken proponent? A blogger with tens upon tens of loyal readers? A sweaty, tall guy with a megaphone and 5 or 6 people who will grudgingly listen? I’m not sure really, as all of the above descriptions could apply.

If you were to ask me, I guess I would sort myself into the fan group. I have always had a lot of respect for Mazda as a company and a brand. My first car was a Mazda GLC afterall, and I did everything in that car. Ask anyone what the greatest car in the world is; they may say Bugatti, Lamborghini, or Ferrari, but deep down they all know which one it really is–it’s the car that gave them their first taste of freedom, the ability to go where they wanted, when they wanted. First cars have a huge impact on everyone, just ask my writing partner and wife.

Also, Mazda has always done a great job of taking care of the people who race their cars. A fantastic contingency program with discounted parts and support. It’s a great thing for someone like me, who owns two dedicated Mazda race cars and drives a further two in various series.

(Update: In the air now, had to take a short break for takeoff.)

I’m also a big fan of Mazda’s ingenuity and innovation. From their new engine stop and start technology, to their experimentation with the hybrid rotary engine.

But the biggest reason I’m a Mazda fan is that I know they have my best interests in mind. Because I’m not an appliance car buyer, I’m a person who likes cars. I’m a driver. That’s the reason I like the rotary engine, not because it’s different (no pistons) or powerful (or even particularily fuel efficient), but because it exemplafies Mazda’s pursuit of the optimal weight balance and enhancment of the driving experience. (The 4 rotor 787B was pretty cool too.)

Drivers, not consumers, are Mazda’s market. If you want an inexpensive, small, and practical car there are plenty of options out there. But Mazda didn’t get where it is today by selling toasters, they offered something unique, something different, something more. So I’m hoping that the Mazda 2 will do just that, offer more than just meager transportation from point A to B.

One of the concepts from Mazda that I bring up often is the concept of Jinba Ittai – or “the horse and rider as one.” (This concept was used when they designed the original Miata.) It is the connection between car and driver that is so integrated, so seamless that you cease to notice it. When you stop noticing the feel of the wheel in your hand and just turn, when you stop thinking about how hard to step on the brake pedal, and simply stop. When you stop thinking about the connections between your body and the vehicle and just drive.

To paraphrase Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels: Say your lesson gunslinger! “I do not aim with my hand, I aim with my eye.” “I do not kill with my gun, I kill with my mind.” In my case: I do not drive with my hands and feet, but with my intentions. That’s the connection that I have with my race cars. And that’s what I want and expect from the Mazda 2. A reason to step on that gas pedal, to turn that wheel, to apex that corner, and for it to involve me enough that I stop noticing that I’m driving. Because cars are more than just metal boxes we travel from place to place in, more than just tools that we operate and control. They facilitate an experience, or lifestyle if you will, where driving is something you enjoy, because it’s fun, and because it’s something you want to do, not something you have to do.

(Steps down from soapbox) I think I’m beginning to understand why they chose me. Not because I’ve sold my soul or my opinion to them, but because I understand them and they understand me. I get the zoom-zoom philosophy, even though I think it’s a somewhat tacky catch phrase.

Full disclosure: Mazda USA is providing my travel, accommodations, and meals for this trip: The Mazda Lifestyle Drive Experience.

STS Miata • Auto-X On the edge!

Last modified on 2010-06-18 01:06:49 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Hello savvy internet type fellows! This is footage from the third event of the 2010 NWR SCCA Regional Solo Series. This was an epic event (at least for me) because I finally learned one of the great secrets of winning: Drive faster than everyone else. …and that’s what I did.

The course was wet as a dolphins dining room saturated from the morning rains when our run group started, but had dried almost completely by the time this video was recorded. Though you can see (on the inset view) that things could turn around unexpectedly at any moment (quite literally in my case). Nevertheless the Miata handled like a needle balanced on a razor blade flawlessly and my sudden streak of Irish luck superb driving won out the day.

This run was clocked at 46.033 seconds (or for those who are PAX Index savvy: Top Pax Baby!)

Here’s a link to the results (look for me under NS4, or you can just proceed to the top of the Index List)

Check out the rest of my vids at youtube.com/johnkimballracing

STS Miata + Cones FTW!? or The 2010 Auto-x Season Begins!

Last modified on 2010-03-15 05:37:40 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

This is footage from the second event of the 2010 WWSCC Slush Series, sort of a preseason series to the normal WWSCC season. The event took place at Sanderson Field in Shelton, WA.

I’m driving a 1993 STS Miata, owned by Peter Umino. This was my first event in the car this year and I feel I was still knocking the rust off per se. There were many places on course where I could have gone faster, but just didn’t trust the car. A few more events should solidify our relationship.


Overall the car feels fantastic, it has been very well set up and should be quite the contender. Peter and I still have to decide who’s going to be faster ;)

Right now, I feel a bit like Rubens Barrichello to his Jenson Button. I know I have the skills to compete, but will I be able to string together a whole season? Whatever happens, things are going to get very interesting…

Here’s a link to the results, and more video!

How to dress like a Pro Racer in 10 easy steps.

Last modified on 2010-03-14 02:38:48 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Step One: Of course, is to have a helmet. :)

Step Two: Make a paper template.

I use transfer tape as it's easy to manipulate and comes off clean.

Step Three: Scan the template into a computer.

BRUMUMUMUMUMUMUM....

Step Four: Illustrator Magic. ;)

Shhhhh, it's a secret

Step Five: Cut and plot.

Snikt! Snikt!

Step Six: Remove the visor.

Step Seven: Weed vinyl.

Step Eight: Apply.

I find a leg to be a handy work surface :)

Make sure to get out all the air bubbles!

Step Nine: Clean and reassemble.

Step Ten: Walk the walk.

Did I mention that I have a vinyl cutting business? It definitely helps with this kind of project.

I do all sorts of custom design and vinyl work. You can see an example of my work for Autosport Labs on the Lab Rat. Shoot me an email if you’re interested in knowing more.

FT-86 …Holy S&%T

Last modified on 2010-03-14 02:45:45 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Toyota and Subaru have announced a joint venture. It’s called the FT-86, and is billed as a new breed of lightweight, rear-wheel drive, 2+2 coupe.

Ooooh Sexy!

Like the original AE-86 from Toyota, the FT-86 should emphasis balanced handling, and the Japanese concept of Jinba ittai or “Horse and rider as one”. (Thank you Mazda for bringing that one to my attention :) ). This concept of Jinba ittai really strikes a cord with me, and I don’t think modern car manufacturers give it enough credence.

I’m particularly excited about this concept because it gets back to the essence of true sports cars. A small lightweight chassis, willing turbo motor, and (hopefully) predictable balanced handling that rewards the skilled driver. As each year passes new “sports” cars get heavier, more sluggish, and tamer than ever before. And car companies keep adding new gizmos (which are an insult to a purist like me) to help the cars produce better lap times. Think twin-clutch or auto rev-matching gear boxes and you’ll catch my drift. Yes, they do make cars faster for the majority of the public, but the car-control skills that are cast aside are more than I can stomach. Unless you drive an F1, GT, Rally, or similar dedicated racecar, then stick to a stick. You”ll find yourself more involved in the driving experience, and as a bonus you’ll get better! (But really that’s up to you.) /preachiness

The prospect of this car tickles my fancy. If it lives up to it’s namesake, and I know that’s asking a lot, it may be the first new car I buy. If it’s a flop, either through too much weight, too little power, or sloppy handling characteristics, then chalk it up to today’s stringent safety standards and environmental concerns. If it delivers, expect Toyota/Subaru’s stock index and street cred’ to go up by a few points.

~JK

For more pictures of this awesome looking car, please visit FT-86Club.com.

I’ve also found a few track test videos that I’ve favorited on my YouTube page. Check them out! Things are looking very promising. :)

…and now I fit!

Last modified on 2010-03-14 02:46:06 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Yeah, I am a bit smug :)

Yeah, I am a bit smug :)

Anyone over six feet tall can tell you that their seating position is almost always compromised in a sports car. And, as you’ve heard me mention before, my biggest issue is always headroom. To solve the problem I tilt the seat back enough to get my noggin below the headliner, and then scoot the seat forward as much as my legs can take. This solves the height problem, but has the side effect of putting the steering wheel too far away.

There are many body types in the world. I’m 6? 3”, 220 lbs, with short legs, and an exceptionally long torso (my inseam is only about 32”). I’m probably one of the hardest bodies to fold into sports cars, let alone a Miata.

For the seat I ended up going with an Ultra Shield “Spec Miata” model. It’s a fully tig-welded aluminum bucket, with an almost-superficial layer of fabric. Perfect for my needs. It comes sans mounting bosses, so I was left to work out how to install it on my own. After some test fitting to find my desired seating position, I made a small bracket that bridges the front of the seat to the stock seat rail mounts. In the back I planned to bolt directly through the bottom of the seat and through the floor.

Seat Bracket Bottom IMG_0168Two pieces of strap steel form the brackets. A bench vise and a ten-pound sledgehammer made quick work of the bending. Then, the tedious task of test fitting. The problem: the stock rear seat mounting bosses were right where the lowest part of the seat needed to be, and were adding an extra half-Inch to the height of the floor pan. I could have left them where they were, which would allow for a stock seat to be installed again someday…but that’s for sissies.

The two stock bosses are held in place with about a million spot-welds a piece. Simply find them (you’ll have to scrape away a bit of seam sealer and some nasty asphalt stuff) and drill them all out (they look like small round depressions, and yes, you missed one). Then pry each boss off with a crowbar. With the bosses removed, I took the liberty of “lowering” the floor using my new best friend, the sledgehammer. This gave me the extra half-inch of clearance that was desperately needed. With the front brackets attached I drilled through the seat and the floor in one pass, and then added a high quality fastener.

Seat Bolts interior DSCN5794

Seat Bolt undercarriage DSCN5795

The bolt I used is a bit too long, so I’ll replace it with a shorter version soon. For now, it holds the seat in place nicely. You can also see my floor pan “modifications”.

So there’s half of the solution, my headroom and legroom issues are solved. I now have a half-Inch of clearance between my helmet and the hardtop as opposed to none. Now to get the steering wheel back within reach. This is an easy problem to solve as almost any quick release hub will move the wheel closer to the driver. In my case I needed to move the wheel around three or four inches closer to have it back within comfortable reach. The wheel and quick release I used are available in a package from Miata Cage. Install is simple, just remove the stock wheel and thread on the adapter spline. Then drill a couple of depressions for the set screws that hold everything in place. Viola!

Steering Wheel Spline shaft DSCN5792In the interest of keeping the car street legal (enough), I made a few discreet modifications to the stock parts. As you can see, the wiring and associated plastic slider for the airbag and horn have been removed. The turn signal and windshield wiper assembly also needed slight modification in the form of my friend, the sledgehammer. The plastic collar that surrounds the steering shaft extents just far enough to interfere with the spline adapter. The solution? ‘Hammer it out! …gently. I got a bit to aggressive with mine. I suppose you could use a hole saw, but where’s the fun in that? Anyways, after the center section is cleared, the adapter should thread on fully. (Note: There is still plenty of slack in the wiring to remove the assembly, if it should ever be needed). You make a compromise with this setup as you will lose your auto-canceling turn signals…so sad,

In the interest of safety I had Chase Race tack weld the spline adapter in place. The last thing I need is to have the wheel come loose in my hand during a hard corner. This setup moves the wheel about two inches closer to the driver, not quite enough for my taste. So, in order to find that last inch I chose the MOMO Mod07 wheel. This wheel has a deep dish design that brings the wheel almost an inch and a quarter closer to the driver, just about right for my needs.

Complete Package DSCN5801

(Insert John here)

After driving with this setup for a few thousand miles I’m quite pleased. The wheel feels great (absolutely zero slop in the adapter), and the seat is, well I can’t say comfortable, but it’s certainly better than the way I used to cram myself into the car…

Yeah baby DSCN5815

Yeah baby!

Tadaa! I feel like a normal person in a Miata!

Late Braking Update!

Last modified on 2010-03-14 02:46:42 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Brakes area very misunderstood system. In fact Mario Andretti has this to say on the subject: “It is amazing how many drivers, even on the Formula One level, think that the brakes are for slowing the car down.”

Oooh, sparks!

Oooh, sparks!

Brakes do a lot of things on a racecar: they slow your speed, manage the weight, change the balance on corner entry, allow you to out-brake the local hot-shoe at the end of a long straight, or perhaps fade and leave you out to dry on the last lap of the race. Ahem… needless to say brakes have a very important job on a racecar, and if you want to be competitive they must be at their absolute best.

The existing brakes on my car were leaking badly and I was quite suspicious about their ability to stop me reliably. Given that this is going to be a dedicated race car, and will have to routinely brake from 130mph down to 30mph, I decided that replacement was the best route. Mazdaspeed has a pretty good deal on remanufactured calipers and SS brake lines, so I ordered up a set.

While we were in there replacing the calipers and brake lines we thought that a little bit of optional work would pay off. Here you can see Brent, my sponsor and owner of Autosport Labs, cutting off one of the front brake dust shields. Removing them allows better airflow across the rotor, which results in better cooling, and saves just enough weight that I’ll be able to wear socks and still meet the minimums. Normally these are pressed on and off, but as they aren’t reusable or even resalable we took the easy fun route.

Just a little cut with the die grinder and liberal application of brute force results in this:

Brent displays the evidence.

Brent displays the evidence.

Those bits of metal are off to the big scrap heap in the sky. The rest of the project was pretty routine: hook up brake line, connect to caliper, insert pads, done! Here’s a look at the results, ooh shiny bits:

Sorry for the crappy photo...

Sorry for the crappy photo...

To finish off the project we bled the entire system with ATE Super Blue, then called it a day. BBQ anyone?

Did I mention that I’m tall?

Last modified on 2010-03-14 02:47:20 GMT. 3 comments. Top.

To the tune of 6′ 3″. That might not sound like a big problem, but when you’re trying to fit in a Miata it becomes very important, very fast. But John! If it’s so hard to even sit in a Miata, why do you drive one? Heck, why do you own two?!! There are so many obvious reasons; The top goes down, they are cheap and easy to maintain, they can out handle almost anything out there, and did I mention Mazda Team Support? However, all of that is just the icing on the cake. The primary reason I chose the Miata for my first racecar is driver development.

First lets talk about my goals as a driver; and I’ll go ahead and lay it on the table. I want to be the best there ever was. Period. Some would say thats a bit of a lofty goal, and I agree. But if it were easy then everyone would do it. The Miata was actually a tough choice, I almost went with an entirely different car, the AE86 Corolla. Keiichi Tsuchiya, one of my driving heroes, said that the AE86 “is a car that trains the driver”. He’s famous for a lot of things: Pioneering the drift movement, his many wins and championships in JGTC, and his role in the production of one of my favorite TV shows, Initial D. A rather impressive resume, and you can trace it all back to his grassroots days of driving his AE86 on the mountain passes of Japan. Look up Drift Bible if you curious about his driving prowess, its a very informative watch. The AE86 was a very tempting choice, but the relative high price of the vehicle, combined with a general lack of parts availability and support, all persuaded me to go with a Miata. Grassroots has this to say about the Miata: “They’re forgiving enough to be good beginner cars, but still rewarding for an expert.” As a car that trains the driver, I think the Miata is at least as good as the AE86, while maybe erring a bit on the soft side.

World class driving skills are more than enough reward for a little discomfort in my opinion, and as you can see by this picture, it’s a tight fit:

Who's that tall guy?

Hey! Who's that tall guy?

So now I have to figure out how to fit myself in this little beast (with a helmet this time). I’ve pretty much decided that the Ultra Shield Spec Miata seat is the way to go. Since this is going to be a single driver racecar I don’t need to worry about adjustability. I can mount it directly to the floor and even do a little massaging if necessary. Hmmm, maybe I should lower the floor like a touring car…

Autosport Lab Rats ahoy!

Last modified on 2009-09-12 22:44:32 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Recently, I was invited to join a very select team. A team of mad men? Perhaps… A team of troublemakers? Almost certainly. This team is called the Autosport Lab Rats. Our mission? To turn a $500 crapcan of a car in a 24 hour endurance racer. You’ll notice that I didn’t say anything about making it reliable, as this video shows…

We will be entering the car in the inaugural race of the ChumpCar World Series at Portland International Raceway on Halloween. The rules are “simple”: $500 car + Safety equipment + 24 hours = cheap, fun endurance racing. It’s similar in concept to the 24 hours of LeMons, but has more of a rules based competition slant. This should mean that we will see fewer theme cars than at a LeMons race. However, considering that the event is being held on Halloween, I’m hoping that some of the good natured fun will transfer over. It should still be fantastically fun, as well as my first real wheel to wheel experience.

As you can see we still have a long road and many more “work parties” ahead of us. We’ll be posting all of our updates at http://www.autosportlabs.org/blog/. Follow along!

Spec Miata • So it begins….

Last modified on 2009-09-12 22:45:25 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Spec Miata, the breeding ground for tomorrows racing champions. Why have I decided to build a car for such a class? Perhaps I think that I have a shot at competing… or maybe I don’t like having a saving account…. You decide!

This is the car I’ve picked up for the build:

My little red miata!

The car is a 1990 model with 130,000 miles on the clock. It’s an early car, which means that it could potentially suffer from the fatal short nose crankshaft of doom. However, I’m not particularly concerned as it doesn’t show any of the telltale signs of failure. In fact it pulls as strongly as my 1999 miata, and that car has another 25 horseys. All in all it’s actually a pretty nice car, but not so nice that I’ll feel bad cutting it up. It was pretty messed up from the second owner, who was a heavy smoker, and evidently a heavy french fry eater.

A little History: I’m this cars third owner. The car looks to have been relatively well cared for in its past lives… Well, for most of its lives. From what I gather from owner number 2 (Hereafter referred to as smokey) it was a California car for about 18 years. It was then sold on ebay to smokey who really f*&@ed it up. Seriously, I think this guy bought stock in Marlboro… and McDonalds. When I removed the seats to vacuum the carpets I found not only desiccated french fries, but cigarette butts and toenail clippings! Yuck!! Combined with the horrible musty smells coming from everything not made of metal I knew I had a proper donor car.

Now to collect some parts and empty that bank account!