This thread is going to start in a different place than the typical build log. It starts with a bit about me, my entry into this obsession, and my relationship with this car....
Ginger, a Velocity Red 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5, and I (Naresh) met in early October 2008. I had had every intention of shopping around and trying NAs and NBs to see which I preferred, but when I saw her gorgeous red paint and curvaceous figure, I was more or less done. The test drive, my first top-down experience, pretty much sealed the deal.
It was right around the end of the 2008 Motorsport Club of Ottawa Solo II season. That was my first season of autocross, and I had five events under my belt in a brand-spanking new 2008 Mazda 3 hatchback with Eibach Prokit Springs (my first ever automotive mod).
My introduction to the sport was going pretty well, as I managed two podiums and managed to keep pace with fellow newbie and friend-in-the-making, Pat. The problem was that my days at autocross were leaving my wife, Trish, stranded, car-less, at home, which is what gave rise to the search for a previously loved Miata to use for the next season.
That first autumn, we drove her right up to Remembrance Day (Nov 11), top down whenever it was dry, no matter how cold. Every drive was a voyage of discovery – so much grip, so responsive, so manoeuvrable, so quick. We found ourselves taking long, pointless drives through the countryside around Ottawa, just enjoying the car and searching for roads that provided the most direction changes per kilometre.
Spring 2009 broke, and Ginger fired up without hesitation, full of fresh diff, transmission, and oil (first time I had done those things, too). Her first performance driving outing was the MCO Precision Driving School, which Trish did to get familiar with the car and with driving on the limits of adhesion. Ginger ran fast and trouble-free as Trish got faster and more comfortable throughout the day.
At the first MCO autocross event of the 2009 Season, both Trish and I were registered, and I soon discovered that my novel thoughts on alignment were way off base as the car turned out to be an over-steering handful. That day I learned just how responsive the car is – that it does what you tell it to do, good or bad – and that I should start with tried-and-true set-ups before making up my own. Trish enjoyed herself enough to do the next event.
Event 2 saw Trish close the gap between us by 12 seconds (down to 8 seconds) just by knowing what to look for on the course walk! She enjoyed it enough that she said, “Maybe we should get that Big Enchilada thing you’re always talking about.” I didn’t need a second invitation, but unfortunately a shoulder issue brought an end to Trish’s season. The rest of this first season saw me install the Flyin’ Miata Big Enchilada (ECU, intake, full exhaust, 550cc injectors, BOV, Throttle Body inlet, intercooler, boost controller), FM AFCO suspension, FM anti-roll bars, a Hard Dog Hard Core DD M2 Hardtop roll bar, and FM Frame Rails – the car would be a different animal from one week to the next. Needless to say, every job was a learning experience and fraught with equal parts excitement and stress. Luckily, I had good friends to help me through the rough patches, including letting me drive their cars when a mod ended up taking longer than expected.
2009 also took me to Picton for the Rumble at the Strip, which ended up being a little too literal as an “insufficiently tight” caliper mounting bracket bolt shook out, allowing the caliper to come loose and punch a hole through my rim mid-run. While not a fun way to start your weekend, the experience proved the quality of the autocross community and the strength of the camaraderie that binds it together as people I didn’t even know those who helped with zip ties, tools, pushing, and calling around for parts. Ultimately, this same type of generosity saw Ginger climb onto a friend's trailer using another’s ramps and then get towed to Ottawa behind a third friend’s truck. The supplier of the trailer found his way home in another's trailer that night. The only thing better than autocross is autocrossers.
I also took to the track (Shannonville Motorsports Park) for the first time in 2009 – once bone stock in June and twice more fully-modded in the fall. Loved it right away, so in 2010, I racked-up two days at SMP and five days at Calabogie Motorsports Park, all of which revealed the need to address Ginger’s tendency to overheat on track. For the 2010 autocross season, I ran MCO events, the Picton double-header, the CAC Nationals (5th in STE), the PMSC regional at Kawartha Downs (1st in STE, 2nd overall in PAX, and 5th RAW).
2009 and 2010 were the best summers of my life. I did things I didn’t think I would ever do, I’ve gotten to be a better driver than I could have imagined, and I know I can improve a lot more. My wife and best friend has also become enamoured with the scene and the activity, and I’ve made a raft of new friends in the process.
To some, this might seem like a guy who has passed the big Four-Oh and refusing to let go of his youth. The reality is that for as long as I can remember, I have loved cars, loved driving, and loved speed. I’ve dreamed of owning a sports car and having the opportunity to drive it under conditions where I can push my driving abilities to their limits, in the hope of becoming a better driver. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to realize these aspirations, so 2009 and 2010 represent the realization of some life-long dreams. Sure, I’m not piloting a Ferrari or a Porsche, but I’m pretty sure I’ve passed a couple of the latter on track.
Most of the interior and various other removed bits got sold, netting me about $4K to reinvest.
Seat: Momo Lesmo One
It's sitting a touch too high right now, but getting it lower will need the floor to be cut-up and since Moti is a long frickin' way from Ottawa, I'm still hunting for someone to do it.
Passenger will get my old Sparco Sprint V.
Belts: Schroth Profi II for driver and passenger
Dash: AiM MXL I bought used
Can't say enough good things about AiM. I got my dash for less, but I wouldn't hesitate to give $2K for their dashes.
Camera: AiM SmartyCAM HD GP
Sold my original smartycam last fall and picked this up for the 720p goodness
QR: Miatacage.com unit
The plan was to not have any spacers, but the mounting wasn't as expected -- seems 2004 cars have a bit longer steering shaft. Miatacage has offered to machine the QR so I can eliminate the space, which they sent for free when I ran into my issue.
Old FM Racing Rad has been ducted with PVC shower liner based on work done by a member here. Effectiveness has not been tested yet.
My only wiring mess-up was disabling my ABS without meaning to. I think I figured out the issue tonight and re-connected the blue/white wire from the ABS unit to the 10A fuse on in the cabin.
There's much more to do on cleaning up wiring, but this will do for now.
The car ran for the first time this past Saturday.
We ran the first event of our local autox series and I took my first FTD (raw time since we don't use PAX) on last year's street tires. I'm excited to see how the car does on the C71 compound Z214 in the pics.
I've driven this car in every iteration from the day he bought it until now. It is the most fun I've ever had in a vehicle. I love my car, but this one is something else and Naresh has done a hell of a job with it. Can't wait to see where it goes next.