Mazda had a great display in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Miata, and brought along some cool show cars, like this NA Miata coupe prototype:
My car was a hit - it was the only Flyin' Miata-built V8 car at the event, though there were a couple of other V8 cars there, they were more track-focused, like this Monster Miata from Woodstock Motorsports:
Truly a monster with an ITB intake setup on a wild Ford small block. He broke a LF suspension joint on Sunday while giving a ride and was super lucky it happened in a slower speed section of the track; there wasn't even any body damage I could see.
On Saturday my main focus was getting a ride with a pro driver in order to learn track lines and relative limits before taking my car on track Sunday. I struck gold and was ready to go when Ryan Passey had an open seat available in Good-Win Racing's "Budget NC" project car. Ryan's home town is Monterey, so he has logged thousands of laps on Laguna Seca. In fact, he had just set a new lap record the day before in this car:
Ours was only a two-lap run, but I was able to learn much about the track in that time. First impressions were that there was a tremendous amount of grip available in most corners - the elevation changes and cambering make the track flow through the lap, and there are no super high speed sections like the back stretch at Road Atlanta. It was also exceptionally smooth, with excellent curbing and transitions - and fun! I haven't had as much pure driving fun *ever* as I have on Laguna Seca.
I've been to enough track days to know that patience and planning make for the best on-track experience. Below is the best session of the five I had on Sunday. I was finally able to pass a few cars towards the end, so skip forward to around 20:00 for some action:
Miata Reunion hired a good track photographer to record the event and I have a few favorites...
The trailer performed flawlessly, and never scraped the pavement during the trip; anywhere the Miata could go, the trailer had no problems with ground clearance. I was also able to back it into parking spots if needed. While in Monterey I stayed at the Motel 6 on Fremont (very nice for less than $100/night in Monterey) and they let me lock the trailer to a tree in the corner Friday and Saturday:
The car ran perfectly for the entire 5,150 mile trip, averaging 22.7 MPG, and burning one quart of oil. The exhaust took a beating on some sections of Route 40 crossing Oklahoma and Texas, but it had already been dinged up from prior run-ins with rough pavement. The cats take the brunt of it, as they are the lowest point of the exhaust system.
Now that I'm back in the saddle at work it's onto the next set of challenges, but I will be looking back on this vacation with fond memories for a long time to come, I'm sure!