It’s been half a year since Miata Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Miata and going out with a bang. The last and final Miata Reunion held at the famous Laguna Seca which is now known as Weathertech Raceway. Moving forward, Miata Reunion will most likely be held in various places throughout the United States as I have heard. Which I am looking forward to driving cross country with my Miata which has always been a bucket list and dream of mine.
The journey leading up to MRLS 2019 was a crazy one. I sit here, thinking really hard, trying to recall what went down. After all it has been over half a year now. Working on last minute mods and changes which included unveiling my “Mille Miglia” three piece wheels I designed in collaboration with Pine Engineering in New Zealand. And prepping my NA Miata to better showcase and share the Elan front and rear bumper kit produced in partnership with Zoom Engineering Japan, along with a custom Zoom Engineering single center exit exhaust (muffler was replaced with a Vibrant Performance one because the original was old, corroded and packing was goners ) and the new Kanspo hardtop.
On top of all this, I was building an NC Miata to demonstrate the Tomei USA Titanium Expreme midpipe and muffler. I call this car the “5 Day Build”. Because literally this car was built in 5 days before driving it up to MRLS. I had only bought this Miata just a week before. Literally 3 days before the drive up to MRLS, I was installing the Tomei Titanium midpipe and muffler inside Vu’s garage @normalguymx5. For the wheels, I called several shops and connects and no one had wheels in the specs I was looking for. I was lucky to find a set of used Volk Racing RE30 wheels in a 17×9, +35 offset squared fitment on Craigslist for a heck of a good price. This set of wheels was at my powdercoater Mike’s shop the Friday before, and he was also rushing to help me strip, prep and repowdercoat the wheels to a Diamond Black color. On Thursday, I was rushing to install a set of used Feal coilovers I purchased from Frankie @phrankieh. Nico @nicomx5 came in the afternoon to help me finish the rest of the install. That same evening I picked up my wheels on the eleventh hour, and there were no shops opened to help me mount and balance a set of Falken Azenis RT615 tires I picked up directly from Falken in that afternoon. In a last minute effort I called one of my clients Jose whom owns Tires And Wheels Unlimited in Whittier at 7pm and although he was closing his shop, he did a huge favor for me and kindly asked 2 of his guys to wait and help me out. I appreciate this kind of love. When I got back, Nico was already done helping me wrap up the install. It was around 9 pm when I was mounting the wheels and dialing in the ride height. And by midnight I was burnt out and had to call it a night.
Next morning, Nico came by early so we could make some more adjustments to the height before the drive up to MRLS. We had wanted to join the caravan with the Kinod crew, but there was no way in hell it was going to happen because of the time and what was left to do. Although I had rolled the fenders, it still wasn’t flat enough to clear the fat tires of the Falkens. We made a stop at a local Starbucks before the drive up. And as soon as Nico pulled in to the parking lot, the rear tires snagged the rear fenders and pulled it down and shred a bit of the tires. In the Starbucks parking lot it was mad rush morning hour, so cars were driving in and out. It was chaos, and in the middle of all this is Nico and I using the pipe handle off my jack (which I had in the trunk) to try and do an old school roll on the rear fenders. Banged it up a bit, but at least no more tire pulling. And after all this, the maiden voyage for MRLS began.
During that time, there were also huge brush fires along the 5 freeway and Mulholland areas. There were smoke in the air, and the air itself was not breathable at all. Nico and I were driving along the 5 freeway near Sylmar exit before we saw cars up ahead coming to a full stop. We managed to pull a quick one and exit and took side streets up towards the PCH 1 freeway. The AC in my NA was not working properly, and I had to put my windows up. Some of that nasty air was able to find it’s way in to my cabin. I was choking, coughing time to time with itchy and watery eyes. After I think a good hour of driving, we stopped for gas. And I think after this point, this is when everything started going south. I pulled out of the gas station and waiting at a red light. As soon as it turned green I hit the gas and my engine shut off. I couldn’t get my car fired up and was holding traffic. After a series of cranking, eventually it fired up. If I don’t keep the revs up the engine would just shut off and I would experience the same nightmares all over again. As long as I am at speed, the engine would not shut off.
The drive on the PCH freeway going up was a long and arduous one. The temperatures continue to rise up and it got warmer and warmer. Both Nico and I were burnt out with lack of sleep. The whole week of this journey I had anywhere from 3-5 hours of sleep per day only. Juggling 3 jobs and trying to work on 2 cars. We made one more stop before we continued straight ahead to MRLS. As soon as we got in to the area, you can see Miatas left and right. It was starting to get really exciting. We pulled in to MRLS and while lining up to check in, my car ran out of gas. I had to keep firing it up and move little by little. As we make our way down and through the parking area, I saw a lot of my friends from Kinod and others whom recognize my car, wave, scream out my name “Kevin” and “Spirit Road” and folks running up to say hello and to shake my hand. There are no words to describe the experience and how humbling it is. Nico and I continue towards the gas pump inside MRLS. I pumped a few gallons just so I could get around. Then I pulled up to a parking spot next to some Miatas. And I don’t know if I was just exhausted or overly excited, but I ended up locking my keys inside my car. Had to call AAA, and it took them an hour and a half to come out. All while my friends from near and far were entertaining me and keeping me updated on what has happened so far, along with their own journey up to MRLS, etc. After I got my door unlocked, it was getting super late. Nico and I didn’t even get to eat lunch. So we checked in to our hotel room and called the boys and grabbed dinner at Outback. It was a heck of a good time, chilling with the boys over dinner, drinks, talk about cars, life and everything in between.
On Day 2, Nico and I got up early and ate breakfast at our hotel. Then Nico helped me make some adjustments on my Megasquirt ECU before the drive for the day. Hoping some changes would help with the idle and shut off issues. Prior to going inside MRLS, we stopped for a quick do-it-yourself car wash since we were going to be participating in the Parade Lap. Unfortunately the car wash had these crazy rails where our lowered cars can not drive through. So Nico and I used the water hose from the tire/air/water stations and did a mickey-mouse wash using microfiber towels and splash-rinse. Not the best, but it had to do. The plan for the day was to do the Parade Lap and find someone who can help me make some adjustments and tweaks to my Megasquirt in hopes to help with the idle and shutoff issues. Nico and I was running around and it was hot and humid. There was no one there that could help me that day. I finally met Adam @revlimiter and Ken @chikaramotorsports in person. I also met many new faces, friends from IG, Petrolicious, Mazda USA, and saw so many awesome Miatas built in every shape and form. My NA Miata had constant issues and stalled more times than I could count while inside MRLS just driving around, on the track during the Parade Lap, and including outside the vicinity of MRLS. I almost got rear ended and crashed head on at intersections a few times when my car would just stall unexpectedly. The journey to and while at MRLS is an experience I would never forget.
Later in the afternoon, I entered my NA in the car show. While at the show, Nico and I seeked out cars we wanted to do a quick photoshoot. We were able to connect with Brian @btotheszeto, Miguel @migyata, and Jesse @nostalgiahero. Time was limited and to coordinate and plan was crazy. While the car show was going on, Nico and I drove around MRLS and found some back roads with rolling hills and amazing views for photos. We quickly drove back down and informed the fellas. They followed us to the photo shoot area and Nico did his best to snap as much as he could before the sun was completely gone. Brian had to leave early and on our way out, Nico spotted a hidden path down the hill. So I suggested we drive down there for some shots. I lead the way, and while navigating through the brushes, I drove directly on to a narrow dirt road with nothing but sinking sand. I was stuck and there was no way I could move. I asked Nico and Miguel to take my NC and drive back up to seek help. While Jesse, his friend Eric and I tried to figure out how to back my car out. Day light was vanishing by the minute, and you can almost hear wild animals coming out, lurking, watching behind the brushes in the dark. The three of us decided only thing we could do was to dig by hand a trench behind each rear tire, first using a floor mat for traction and it didn’t work. Then we continued digging by hand (we were on our knees) and putting rocks and tree branches in hopes to give the rear tires traction. We tried twice and still no grip. Then on our third try, lo and behold we got traction and I was out of the sand! At this point in time, the sun was gone and darkness had consumed us. As we stood in joy and relief, Nico and Miguel come driving back down. I will never forget this experience, and never forget the boys that were there to help me. My utmost gratitude and appreciation for their help. I think if I was alone, probably would have been eaten by a mountain lion.
The least I could do was offer to buy the boys dinner. Miguel had to leave and Jesse, Eric, Nico and I went to a local restaurant called, “Tarpy’s Roadhouse”. The food and drinks were excellent. We were wearing t-shirts and jeans, while other patrons were dressed finely. But we were treated no different; absolutely awesome service. I was in good company and good spirits after this crazy journey and ordeal at MRLS. After that, Jesse and Eric jumped in to their awesome ITB white NA and headed back up North, while Nico and I made our journey home, heading South back to Los Angeles. Even the drive back was crazy. It was late and we were both exhausted. My fear level was still high, afraid my car might stall at any given point on our 5 hour, 270+ mile journey back to Los Angeles. But we managed to get back in one piece at around 3 am. And that was a wrap of the “The Journey To Miata Reunion And Back”.
Will I do this again you ask? This journey with my NA Miata has had many crazy long days and nights doing R&D, last minute delays, last minute surprises, last minute mods, last minute everything with almost no sleep and super exhausting recurring moments, but my answer is: yes. A hundred times yes, I would definitely do it all over again. The friends I’ve made because of this little car, the friends I’ve made around the world, near and far, from all walks of life, all ages, all gender, and folks with nothing but passion and love for these little Miatas. There are absolutely no words in the dictionary to describe the camaraderie, the atmosphere, the connection, the drives, the conversations, the experiences and the memories made. I want to thank everyone at Miata Reunion, all the boys that helped with the last minute parts, mods, installs, mishaps, breakdowns, and everything for this event. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
Now scroll down and enjoy the amazing shots by Nico @nico.mx5, Dito @gotbluemilk, and some basic snaps from yours truly.