Miatas at the Gap almost never happened for me. If you recall during my previous post in Lime Rock, I mentioned having my exhaust hanger fail after the touge event. I was on my way to New Jersey to catch a screening of Fast and the Furious and the unfortunate failure occurred. When this transpired, I decided to do all the major maintenance on a car that is a decade in age. Parts that are old or soon going to fail will be replaced to prevent any future failure. The NC platform is 15 years old. I want to continue to be the custodian of this vehicle making sure it runs the same if not better since the day I made the purchase. The NC platform has treated me very well and it was only right to maintain the upkeep. I started to order the parts in the last week of June to get the process started. I thought this would give me more than enough time with the delays of shipping and parts being in backorder due to our supply chain being disrupted by COVID. I cut it close but a special thanks go to my friend Joe C., aka Licelsior for the help. Joe made sure I was making it to the event. He did so much work and I cannot thank him enough.
Keep in mind the car needs to be in excellent condition to make the long drive from NYC to Calhoun, Tennessee and back. I would also be driving this in a spirited manner in the Tail of the Dragon. Thursday was spent having me rest and prep any final items that need to be loaded and brought with me mainly my camera equipment, tools, cooler, GPS, and clothes. I left NYC at 3 a.m. and began my road trip of 815 miles. The first three hours were rough since I felt fatigued from the road being pitch black. I knew I would be okay once the sun rises, which occurred by the border of PA and VA.
The drive was scenic. I felt at peace with the open road and warm summer sun in all its stages shining the asphalt from Virginia to Tennessee. Having the speed limit at 70 mph made highway driving pleasant. I quickly got accustomed to having a high-speed limit. Outside of the tri-state area, I wish more people obeyed the traffic rules, one being that the left-most lane is used strictly for passing. This made the driving experience and flow of traffic easier for all drivers.
This road trip would mark the first time I finally get to drive. I had a lot of excitement built up because I did not drive the car for a month and I was going to be experiencing the car in its new setup for a long three-day driving weekend. This new setup consists of the car being on 16-inch wheels rather than 17-inch wheels. I did this because I seen the Japanese NC owners all run 16-inch wheels in the 205 cup. I raised the car and upgraded the previous suspension setup I had along with new front and rear sways, end links, brake rotors, and pads. I love how much tighter the steering response is on cornering. The brakes I broke in during the trip. They stop on a dime. I got to drive them in wet conditions in the Tail of the Dragon and I’ll get to that experience in Part I of the story. That’s one thing I love about the Miata introducing me to the immediate cause and effect of putting one component on your vehicle whether it is positive or negative. I believe this has to do with Mazda’s philosophy of building this car “Jinba Ittai” which means in Japanese the horse and the rider being one. With such a small light-weight car, you can feel the weight and energy of the car much more than a heavy car that is weighted and mutes the performance driving experience.
I made it to Calhoun, Tennessee around 4:50 p.m. The total time it took was 13 hours and 45 minutes. The drive was 815 miles. I was exhausted that first day and had no energy to make it to the Tail of the Dragon which was about two hours from Fontana Dam where the check-in is for Miatas at the Gap. I thought I would eat dinner early and call it a night since I have to wake up early at 5 a.m. the next day to get ready for why I came down here.