For sports car fans, perhaps the most significant presence at this year’s New York Auto Show was Mazda’s display commemorating the 25th anniversary of the worlds most faithful roadster. A collection of significant models was on hand that included some of the little car’s history.
At the front of the line were production numbers 14 and 15, cars that were on the show stand at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. Who could have guessed what an impact the tiny machine would have on motoring history.
In the next row sat #17, the first Miata race car. With 6,500 racing miles on the odometer, this is the first of over 5,000 Miatas that have been raced over the years. More than any other model. It truly changed the face of auto racing.
Racing cars is about much more than just being able to drive fast. To be a real racer requires a mastery of what some of us call racecraft. A mixture of car control, aggression, vision and even networking along with more than a little bit of luck. Continental Tire Series driver Steven McAleer has all of the above in spades.
McAleer’s C.J. Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 had to start at the back of the grid in this year’s Sebring race due to a tech infraction. In the first lap alone, the driver passed a rather impressive 15 cars. How he does it is a combination of all of the qualities I listed above, not the least of which is vision and networking.
Watch how McAleer is constantly looking at all three mirrors to evaluate the threats and open spaces to the side and behind, while also looking ahead for breaks in traffic that haven’t even happened yet. While reading traffic, the driver is also communicating with other drivers, using hand signals to get them to help out in setting up a draft. This guy is a relationship manager of the first order!
Source YouTube via RACER
At this year’s Chicago Auto Show, Mazda celebrated a milestone in the life of their beloved MX-5 Miata-900,000 cars built to date-with a new Special Edition model. Only 750 cars will be built. Special Edition interior features will include grey door trim, heated leather seats with grey stitching, chrome accents, and aluminum pedals (manual tranny cars only). The Special Edition is available in two new colors, Sparkling Black Mica and Dolphin Grey Mica. 17″ alloys come standard.
The Special Edition is built off the top-spec Miata, and includes as standard equipment the power retractable hardtop and Suspension Package, which includes Bilstein shocks, limited slip differential, and more aggressive suspension tuning. No changes to the drivetrain, which means a 2.0L four rated ay 167hp when paired to the six-speed manual, and 158hp with the six-speed automatic. A manual MX-5 Special Edition will run you $30,925USD, while an automatic costs $$31,525.
I do find it peculiar that Mazda chooses to celebrate their sports car, which debuted with the looks of a Lotus Elan, the basic goodness of an MGB, and well, the reliability of a Mazda with a luxe version. Yet in Mazda’s press release, the emphasis was on the affluent buyer, the notion of a Miata being a third car. No one will ever call a Miata practical, but wasn’t part of the fun that this was a car you could use every day if you were so inclined? So, I ask you, dear reader-did Mazda lose the script in celebrating its sports car by going upscale? Did they contradict the Miata’s mission?
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The 2010 Grand Prix of Mosport was a weekend packed full of action and stories both on and off the track. The headliner for the weekend was the always exciting American Le Mans Series, with support from IMSA Lites, Star Mazda, Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup and the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship.
IMSA racing has played a big part in the history of Mosport, so it was fitting that the grand Prix was a key event in Mosport’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
The Grand Marshal of the weekend was the legendary Bobby Unser, who won his first IndyCar race at Mosport in 1967. I was fortunate to spend some time with him on Friday afternoon and found him to be an absolutely wonderful guy as we chatted about how the track has changed over the years. Joining Unser over the weekend were Canadian racing champions Bill Brack, Eppie Wietzes, Ludwig Heimrath Sr., Craig Hill, Horst Kroll and Ross de St. Croix who all signed autographs and mingled with the fans.
My greatest regret when winter rolls in is no more SCCA Solo. To the uninitiated that translates into autocross. My summers are spent running my MX-5 in various events throughout the northeast. I even won 1st place in GS class in a rented Mustang. Obviously no date or location is given to incriminate myself on that event.
All of this hyperbole though is a warm up to introduce my Ã¢â‚¬Å“Autocross Run of the Week.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Apparently, the driver gave the specs of his car and wheels to an auto parts store employee, but they gave him lugs that were SAE and should have been Metric. This resulted in lugs that felt as if they were torqued down, but loosened when a substantial amount of force was applied against them. The good news is there was very little structural damage to the car, mostly cosmetic. All the workers responded quickly to the incident and maintained the safety of everyone out there.