Miatas at Laguna Seca

TL/DR: Last weekend, I took the blue Miata down to California for the annual Miata reunion. It was fantastic, probably the most fun I’ve ever had on track.

Myself and 3 others from Oregon decided to drive down the coastal route. While there is usually a fair amount of slow moving traffic on that route, it is not nearly as soul sucking as taking the interstate down.

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The first day we made it from Portland to about 150 miles south of the Oregon border. Right about 530 miles for the day, which was surprisingly fine in a car not known for it’s long distance cruising prowess.

The second day, we hit the northernmost part of highway 1 first thing in the morning. It was perfect. We all drove about as hard as we were comfortable with on the street and didn’t see another car going our way the whole time.

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From there we hit 20 to get back to the main road. This was one of my favorites from last year’s motorcycle road trip, but this time we ended up hitting a lot of traffic. On a bike, traffic wasn’t an issue, but trying to keep 4 slow cars together made passing a bit more challenging.

After sitting in some lovely Friday afternoon bay area traffic, in mostly cars with no air conditioning, we arrived at Laguna!

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This was the first “real” track I’d been to. It really made the tracks of the northwest seem like amateur hour. Just the facilities, organization, setup, and amenities, really put my local tracks to shame.

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I camped Friday night at the track and enjoyed some of the truly beautiful local scenery.

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The next day, I got there bright and early, took all the loose crap out of my car and went to the driver’s meeting. About 40 minutes later I was out on track.

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It was really strange to be driving a track for the first time that I knew from video games. Some stuff translated, some didn’t. For the most part, it was really valuable to know the general layout, corner numbers, and braking zones. But the games do a really poor job of giving a feel for the general flow of a track or the lateral forces. Especially true in the corkscrew. Pointing the car over a blind crest into a 2 story drop is terrifying in person.

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Who says miatas have a lot of body roll? Oh yeah, everybody

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We ended up losing a session in the morning due to one of the attendees having a medical issue, but 4 was enough for me. After the 4th I was straight up exhausted.

This was my first time tracking a Miata, and mine was pretty much 100% stock. I was amazed at how neutral it was. Just about every stock car I’ve driven on track end up wanting to under-steer (especially current cars) and needed some pretty significant alignment changes to dial out. The miata was totally neutral. All 4 tires gave up at pretty much the same time putting the car into a nice controllable 4 wheel drift. Shocker, I know, but turns out Miatas are really good on track.

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There was a whole other event going on outside the track day area, but there was some really neat stuff in the paddock too.

NA Coupe Prototype, I really wish it didn’t have stupid sized wheels and wasn’t mustard yellow, but god damn the lines are good

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There was a company from England that makes basically Miata caterham 7s. They look fantastic in person, I want one.

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As well as a ton of vendors showing off some really neat stuff.

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We didn’t make it over to the “meet” area or car show until the evening. There was plenty in the paddock area to keep most of the track guys busy all day.

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Pretty sure this lot was full at the peak of the day, but it’s still awesome to see so many miatas in one place.

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I don’t know why, but screaming chicken graphics on an ND actually looks great in person.

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I need to go back to laguna, the track, the facility, the history. It all makes for an amazing experience. Like I said, this was the most fun I’d ever had on track.

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The drive home Sunday was a lot less entertaining. Had to be back at work Monday, so I did a straight shot back to Portland via the main interstate. It took a surprising amount of focus to hold an NA (I don’t have cruise control) between 70 and 75 (indicated) for hours on end when the car really wanted to move along between 60 and 65 (indicated). The drive was a little over 700 miles and took about 15 hours with a 2 hour break in southern Oregon to visit with some family.

The ‘94 did great! It was a bit of an unknown since I impulse bought it a few months back. It needed a bunch of parts to get it reliable (o2 sensor, brake lines, plugs, wires, a seized caliper, a maf sensor, a CAS o-ring) and I hadn’t had a chance to put more than a few hundred miles on it before the trip. But between the 4 of us that drove down, there were surprisingly few hiccups.

10/10, would do the trip again.

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