Miata

Today’s all about tires, tires, tires. Taking six wheels and two old Corvette tires off to the tire shop. I’ve got a new pair of whitewalls for the Mustang to replace the tires I burned up on the front axle going up and down the Pacific Coast Highway two years ago, and a new set of street tires for the Miata. I’ll burn off the old Rivals on one set of Miata wheels and replace those with 245s for the SCCA Time Trials at Gingerman. The past week was the first time that my old tire shop saw my face around for over a year — but we’re back to business as usual now.

Michigan weather — go figure. Start the day with the Fiesta ST and a set of snow tires, finish the day with the Miata and the top down. With it being so warm — 41 degrees! — there was no need to switch on the heater for drive about town running errands. I’m optimistic that I can keep driving the Miata all of next week…

I just submitted an order for $400 worth of underbody plastics and associated plastic clips for the Miata. It occurred to me that for all the bellyaching I did this morning when looking at tire prices, I’m spending close to three grand on non-essential things like bumper covers, wheel well liners, trunk plastics, and tail lights. I could put money into the best tires if I don’t instead spend that money on new interior carpet. It makes no sense, as I can make the car look nice again and that state won’t last long for the simple reason that I’m its driver, but for some reason I’m willing to fight the Second Law of Thermodynamics for this car when I wasn’t willing to do the same for, say, my old Corvette Z06…

Now that it’s warm and nice and autocrosses are just three weeks away, I’m ordering parts and whatnot for the Miata. I was browsing Tire Rack to see how much money it costs to equip the Miata with the latest and greatest STR tires, and was blown away at the price difference — 40 dollars!! — between a 245 and a 255 width 17″ tire. Well, since my ambitions for National level competition have fallen off a cliff, maybe I’ll make do with 245 width tires. Or maybe save as many pennies as possible and go straight to the Hankook RS4s…

Nice weather all of this week, and the forecast currently calls for nice weather next week too. Sure, it probably doesn’t bode well for the planet now that convertible weather in Michigan begins in February, but I’ll take sunshine on my commute to and from work whenever I can. I figure I’ve got two weeks with the Miata before Michigan decides to be Michigan. If I really wanted to tempt fate, I should install my summer tires back on the Fiesta ST…

With the Morgan temporarily sidelined, I decided that the weather was too nice to be without a sports car and pulled the Miata out of storage and put road insurance back onto it. I figured it was close enough to March, and probably time to get the car ready for the March autocrosses. Besides, with temps in the mid-50s for next week, what’s the chance that we get another snowstorm before April? (Now watch as fate dooms Southeast Michigan to another foot of snow in two weeks…)

I have, sitting on top of and around the car, a whole bunch of stuff that I plan on installing in the spring to make the Miata look perhaps just a little less beat up. I have front and rear bumper covers, another pair of rocker mouldings, trunk plastics to replace the stuff that got scratched up after years of tools and jacks bouncing around in the back, and a rear tail light to replace the cracked one. I still have to buy the plastic undertray panels; that’ll eventually arrive from Mazdaspeed Motorsports, where I have a requisition list saved because that stuff gets replaced more or less every other year…

Photo by Perry Bennet

After a two year hiatus from the fleet, I bought the car back in October 2017. When I sold the car to Shane, I insisted that I have first right of refusal on the car. After taking the car to 5th place in Street Touring Roadsters last year, a fiercely competitive autocross class where the competition included ND Miatas and AP2 S2000s, (and probably the best finish the car will ever have at Nationals,) Shane decided to move on to a different car for next season, and I swooped down and claimed my car back.

My car? Why, yes. I bought this car brand new back in 2009, and it was mine for all these years save for the two years Shane owned and competed in it. The car started off stock as a C Stock autocross car, turning into a Street Touring Roadster autocross car once I moved to Michigan. The car is prepped nearly to the limit of the rules, with two sets of tires mounted on 17×9″ wheels, full exhaust with a tune, an aftermarket OS Giken clutch limited slip differential, full suspension running 500/400 pound/inch springs front/rear, adjustable sway bars on both ends, a lightweight battery, and a race seat.

In its current state, the Miata is a hoot to drive. But I do have “grander” plans for the future. I plan on installing a roll bar and taking the car to more open track days with the eventual goal of competing in time trials competition with the car.