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Club Fall Picnic Wrap

Mmembers Attending: Bob & Pat Tarrant, Stacey Timmerman, Mike & Shirely Dyer, Dave & Sue Woomer, Brian & Donna Bogardus and Chip Cunnigham.
Guest Attending: Danty & Nita Busbee

I don’t know what the rest of you were doing on Saturday afternoon, but a dozen of your fellow members (& a couple of guests) enjoyed an afternoon of dining and chatting overlooking a peaceful lake tucked in a quiet little corner of Aiken. Some brought things to grill while others picked up a lunch from a local restaurants. There were chips for an appetizer and a couple of desserts that were worth their weight in calories.

Let me know what you did that might have topped that, in the comments below.

2017 Bug Splat Wrap Up

Members Attending: Don & Kay Boltz, Brian & Donna Bogardus, Jennie & Thomas Hodges, Doug Martins, Trudy & Hal Scott, and Bob & Pat Tarrant.

We had a group of six cars (about half of last year’s attendees) gathered at Greg’s Gas Plus in diminishing light of Saturday’s dusk. While the dozen of us (actually 11) stood a waiting for the 8:00 PM start time we did the usual chatting and standing around, all the while wondering who else was going to show. Turned out this was it, so our little caravan of insect assassins headed north in search of prey.

This year’s weather was a lot nicer than last, no rain for one, but both the temperature and humidity were below there usual high levels for this time of the year, making for a very pleasant evening drive in the country. Another thing nicer this year was while driving you could occasionally see bugs illuminated in your headlights. The 40 miles loop passed quickly and uneventfully for our little group.

Judging took place under the lighted canopy of the North Augusta Sonic Drive In while the group feasted on sundaes, shakes and even hot dogs and onion rings. Below is the rouges gallery of this year’s winners.

Participants, don’t forget to remove that green Avery dot off your car. Took me until this morning to remember mine and I daily drive the Miata, plus the thing was on my windshield!

Bread Basket Breakfast Briefing

photo montage by Victor Yu

Members Attending: Donna & Brian Bogardus, Tom Varallo, Karl Splan, Doug Martin & Victor Yu
Ex-members Attending: David Schumacher

Victor had a family obligation so he couldn’t get to the start point in time to make the drive to Blackville with the group, but promised to meet us there. As it turned out, because of the usual Miata gathering start time creep, when the five us were approaching the the last turn to get to Miller’s Breadbasket, Victor, who was coming from an entirely different direction, popped into view.

Breakfast at Miller’s is a new thing and the 2 times that Donna and I have eaten there, there have only been a couple other people there with us, so we weren’t too sure how long they were going to keep doing it. But this visit, possibly because we were there a little bit later in the day, there was a decent crowd eating breakfast.

Breakfast there, like the lunch, is served cafeteria style, grab a tray point at the food and someone serves it up for you. The wild card is a 3-egg omelet, it is cooked to order and brought to your table. The trouble with this is you have to wait a bit for it to show up, meaning you are looking at your accompaniments on your plate already and trying not to eat them.

After finishing eating we sat around and chatted so long (Miata gathering finish time creep) that Victor had to duck out and leave ahead of the rest of the group to wrap up that familial obligation. Karl doubled back to Springfield to check something out he was interested in. David went his own way too, leaving Brian to lead Tom and Doug back to Aiken on a different, but shorter route, back to Aiken.

Driving All 4 Wrap Up

At the end of the festivities on Saturday, I asked everyone to write up a review of their impressions of each generation, keeping it kind of short. The responses are in the comments of the event post already, but I wanted to create a separate post for them on its own. I think we all had mixed feelings about it only being the four of us. On one hand it would have been nice to get a few more Miatas out to choose from. But on the other, by the time we each drove 3 Miatas and rode in the passenger seat of our own car 3 times we had used up pretty much all of three hours and it was getting seriously warm and traffic on US-25 was getting denser.

Big thank you to Brian for making this happen. I believe we all had a great time! We were asked to leave our impressions in brief statements – no road and track or car and driver reviews…

Gen I (NA) – Larry’s beautiful car – obviously this is what put Mazda on the map. True sports car for the masses, great all around package. Gets the job done. Feels great even after 20 years and 13x,xxx miles. I like the pop up headlights…

Gen II (NB) – Brian’s car – Mazda should have quit here. Just dropped the (current) new motor and 6 speed into this body and hold on. Brian’s car has a few nice suspension upgrades and drilled rotors. Felt tight and fun.

Gen III (NC) – Karl’s – retractable hard top. More grand touring than track car. I think Mazda lost their connection with the original generations and went towards a different crowd. Great example of a Gen III car.

Gen IV (ND) – I’m biased. There is a lot to like. Great balance, great drive train, creature comforts. Incredible fuel economy. Slightly less connected, more body roll than I’d like, steering doesn’t give the feedback of the NA or NB. 25,xxx miles of trouble free and leak free motoring. Wish list – quieter tires, different spring package.

Great fun, now lets schedule a mountain run….

Don Nesbitt

Being the least knowledgeable and experienced with Miatas and sports cars in general of the four owners, I will leave it to Brian, Larry and Don to comment on the attributes and shortcomings of each of the four generations of Miatas. I enjoyed driving each vehicle. Especially appreciated, and benefited from, having the owners of each Miata riding along to provide useful information and history of each car. I come away with a sense of context about my own Miata that I could not have recognized without having participated in this event.

My takeaway is this. First, my NC is an automatic. All three other Miatas had manual transmissions. Not having driven a stick shift in about 30 years left me feeling like a distracted driver from time to time while trying to recognize which gear I was in. Brian, Larry and Don were all gracious enough to tolerate my poor shifting and misapplied gearing. Beyond that, I learned how better connected the driver of each of their cars is required to be, and why the Miata has a reputation for being a drivers car.

Secondly, I came away with the knowledge that, in part by accident, I had purchased the right Miata for me. It is easy to drive. An important factor for someone of my maturity. It blends the right amount of sportiness with simplicity to allow for the optimum level of enjoyment, comfort and practicality. That is what I went looking for when I first started my car search.

A special thanks to Brian for putting this event together.
Karl Splan

NA – My first love. Like Don, I too like the pop-ups.1 Driving Larry’s car is a lot like driving my car, same 5-speed transmission connected to basically the same motor, but minus the suspension mods. I maintain that my perfect Miata would be to travel back to 1991 and steal my own ’90 Mariner Blue with about 20,000 miles on it and bring it back to present day.

NB – Seeing as time travel has not been invented yet this is my perfect Miata. If it were stolen or destroyed by falling space debris I would probably buy another 2001-2005 even if I had to spend nearly 5 figures for low mileage example.

NC – I can see why Karl and the rest of the Club members who have NCs like them. The first two generations are more elemental sports cars in the style of the British roadsters, this is more of a sports touring car. While only marginally larger in dimension it feels like a bigger smoother car. And I bet if you put the folding hard top up, a lot quieter too.

ND – Although it is the least Miata-looking of the generations, I really like the looks of this car. 10 years from now (if they haven’t invented time travel and I can’t go back and steal my ’90) I’ll probably own one of these for a couple reasons. 1. My current car will be worn out and low mileage NBs will be be rarer than hen’s teeth. 2. There probably won’t be a NE or if there is it will probably be self-driving.

The idea for this was Karl’s, so I’m thanking him for that and the other two should get a prize for showing up and letting relative strangers take the wheel of their car. And even though I have been behind the wheel of all 4 generations before, it was fun to learn the reasoning on why each person drives their particular generation of the car.

Brian Bogardus

1. Disclaimer – back between 2001-2004 I ran a website called the Barndoor Fan Club.

Don pretty much summed it all up, but here’s my chime-in:

The NA: The car that started a new Roadster era, just enough to get and keep you excited about driving again. It has enough road feel without being bone jarring for a good ride. I’ve looked at it since it came out, drove a few that I was disappointed in and finally finding/buying almost 9-years ago. We like it enough that we’re having a hard time deciding to let it go after buying the ’08 PRHT. Pure driving fun with a few touches of refinement. We’ve driven it to Key West, Niagara Falls and more with no complaints and happy with the ride, performance and economy. The NA has got to be the most-fun-per-dollar car you can own.

The NB: I had ridden in it when it belonged to Dave, but driving it was like driving my NA, performance and sound wise, just looked different. I could feel a few upgrades, but overall it is an NA with cosmetic changes. I did notice seating much higher (maybe 2”) than the NA.

The NC, with auto and PRHT: Since I own an ’08 of the same with the GT package, I was not going to drive it but Karl asked me to and eval it (his is an ’07) against mine. Well, it was the same, and I showed him a few things he could do with the paddle/manual shift verses the full auto. The big difference is how the seat was much lower and I felt swallowed up more than the ’08; I did some research on that and find that the ’08 gained some height and an adjustment for it; as it was a common complaint with early NC owners. Karl is comfortable with that and has a good find, with a low miles car for an ’07. As Don said, maybe they overworked the NC, as it’s a totally different car and drive from the A and B; maybe Mazda was trying to take some of the German car market. Oh, the seats in our NA are more comfortable than the ones in the NC.

The ND: in a word, nice. I could learn to really like this car. The seats were very comfortable, performance and handling very sharp and tight; it felt like a new car. I didn’t play with any features and hardly looked at the gauges, just drove by the feel. A long drive would not be hard. I think Mazda accomplished getting the Miata back to a roadster. I do not like that stand-up display on the dash, but I hardly noticed it during the drive and the one time I did look at it, I couldn’t see it for the sun. That’s the one (well there’s no PRHT, very little inside storage and the $$$) thing that would keep me from buying an ND.

My rating would be:
1 – the NA
2 – the ND
3 – the NC
4 – the NB

Thanks to all that participate and shared their beloved Miata’s.
Larry Garner
’97 NA
’08 GT, PRHT, auto

Photo Scavenger Hunt / Road Rally Wrap Up

Donna and I read the rally instructions when they were first posted on the website. We then read them again the night before when I printed out a copy for us to put on our clipboard. We were ready.

At the Rally start point we had 9 Miatas, seven that were going to “compete” and our Rally Masters David & Ellie Brock. There were 5 cars from the Club (Donna and I, Don & Kay Boltz, Teri & John Bozzarello, Mike & Shirley Dyer and Dennis & Karol Mason) and 3 cars from elsewhere who found out about the fun from Facebook. There was a couple from Asheville, one from the Atlanta area and a father/daughter pair from Lexington.

David asked for a volunteer that was familiar with Rallying to go first because even though they had rechecked the course just the day before, you never know something could have changed and this way the first out could call back and some adjustment for mileage might be made. Seeing as Donna and I had done most every rally John and Jackie Nichols ever put on for the Club before, had done a couple put on by the Miata Club of America back when that organization existed and had even designed one for our Club back in the 90’s, we opted to go first. We were ready.

When we have run rallies in the past, because the real pressure is all on the navigator we have been swapping responsibilities back and forth, for this one I was going to navigate and she would drive. I snapped my smart phone into the Garmin GPS mount (go figure, it fit perfectly), attached it to the windshield and started the Google Driving App. We rolled to the start line and were handed the cue sheet:
1. Set trip odometer to zero.
2. [odometer and driver] (odometer must be legible)
3. N
4. R
5. “+”
6. L (Off course clue: T)
7. “2880”
8. L
9. Horse barn
10. R (Off course clue: T)
11. [navigator and fisherman]

Donna reset the trip odometer and then we had to be reminded by Ellie that the next thing we needed to do was take a picture (that’s what the bracketed phrases meant.) This should have been our first clue we might be just a little over confident about how ready we were. There was no time component, so we gathered ourselves and because Cue #3 was N, I told Donna to turn right out of Gregs Gas Plus and we were off. Cue #4 was R, so we turned right on Gregory Lake Road.

The next one was a plus followed by an L, so I said our next instruction is to look for a cross street and turn left on to it. After our left turn we started looking for the number 2880, but the house numbers were in the 1900s. It didn’t feel like the right road either, too narrow and the map showed it looped almost right back to Gregory Lake Road. We had traveled a mile and a half and were already off course.

We get back onto Gregory Lake and look for the next cross street. There it is, turn left and the first thing we see is a “look out for tractors” sign. Tractor, that starts with a T, does that mean we are still not on course? I tell Donna to press on. Maybe we’ll see 2880. We don’t, but the next cue is L so I instruct Donna to take the next left. And I start looking for a horse barn. We don’t see a barn by the time we get to a T in the road. Nice navigating Brian.

I look a little further down the cues and see #11 and just know because of where we are and where we started the fisherman in the picture is the sign in front of Old McDonalds Fish Camp, so I tell Donna to turn right. She takes my picture in front of the sign. Alright, now we are cooking. From here I kept us on course by luck and familiarity with the area for the next couple of cues. But one too many critical words on Donna’s driving forced us to swap seats not long after we didn’t find the next required picture.

With Donna navigating we stayed on course for about the next 20 cues and gathered the next 4 photos before we started missing cues and actually hit one of the off course markers. Thankfully #39 was a set of coordinates which we knew we could type into the Garmin and find. This let us get the next picture, so we were starting feel good again. It didn’t last long though as we never found Cue #40, never saw the off course marker and drove and drove until we ended up in downtown Harlem, GA.

At this point we had now been on the road for 2 hours and had traveled around 75 miles and knew we were way off course. Reading through the rest of the cue sheet we saw numbers #52 [car and windmill] & #54 continue to the Sonic Drive In and used our area knowledge to use the GPS to take us to the Sonic on Washington Road in Evans.

We were the 4th car to arrive at the ending spot. We got 7 of the 9 required photos and drove 94.8 miles instead of the 54.2 of a clean run, so I think the number 4 is probably the order we finished in too. The couple from Asheville nailed the thing getting all nine photos and traveled less than a mile more than a perfect run taking home a nice set of engraved glasses.

But how we did was secondary to having a beautiful sunny day to drive around on nice two lane back roads of the CSRA in a Miata.

Big shout out to the Brocks for putting this thing together.