In a recent discovery at Disneyland, the original Walt Disney concept for "101 Dalmatians" was found. Buried under the now-defunct Dumbo parking lot, right in the middle of what will be the new California Adventure theme park, a time capsule containing valuable line sketches -- signed by Walt himself -- proves that the original movie was not going to be about dogs at all. In fact, Walt Disney had intended to tie the movie into his futurist concepts of travel. The line sketches show the famous Autopia of Tomorrowland, filled to capacity with small, open-air, two-seat cars, all running about having fun. In fact, the only concept that stayed with the movie from these original sketches to the canine-based film was the name of the evil character: Cruella (Cadillac) deVille.
Life always does imitate art, especially in Los Angeles. And so, just as if Walt really had predicted the Miata, SOCALM and Mazda hosted a party to celebrate the Miata's 10th Anniversary and kick off Miata World '99. Including the Anniversary Edition car brought by Mazda, there were 101 Miatas with 154 people in attendance at the Mazda Design Center in Irvine. The star of the event was, of course, the stunning Sapphire Blue Anniversary Edition car. Costarring was Tom Matano, fresh in from Japan. Tom has a gift -- no, not only with automotive design, but with the weather. In the days leading up to the Party, it was cloudy and raining. Yet, with Tom's help, the May 1st event had beautiful weather. Not even Mary Poppins could have been sunnier.
Also at the event from Mazda were Alan Childers, Jim Jordan, Fred Aikens, Peter Aylett, and Stephan Gallon. Mazda really showed some great support for the event, providing a continental breakfast and an Anniversary Miata Travel Mug for all attendees. In addition, the design studio was set up with displays showing concept sketches, competitor's products, clay models, and paint samples.
The Anniversary Party was also the official start to "Miatas Across the World," an idea that was originally created by Tom Matano. Years ago, Tom started talking about the idea of "Miatas Across America." Different concepts were floated by various people, but the idea just seemed to fizzle. Then, Bill Wright and the folks in BAMA picked up the concept and started promoting it. As the concept gathered steam, Bill Wright contacted Alan Childers to discuss having an event in Irvine prior to Miata World '99 in Dallas.
It was at this point that SOCALM came into the picture. Alan and I worked on the framework for the Irvine event, and SOCALM embraced and extended the "Miatas Across America" idea. We created two banners. The first banner is the map banner, and it will track where the banners have been. The second banner is the signature banner, and will commemorate all of the people that participated in "Miatas Across the World." These banners are to travel from club to club, promoting friendship and "Miatatude" in celebration of a decade of roadster fun. Photos and information about where the banners have been will be posted on miata.net as well as in Miata Magazine.
At the same time, Joe Portas (aka The Knobmeister) joined the group and made some cool door magnetics. These magnetics also have a companion log book created by Bill Wright, and will also travel around the world. Tom Matano drove his own personal Miata on the first leg of the magnetics' journey.
Of course, no Miata event would be complete without some sort of driving. After all, that's why we all have a Miata! To honor the Miata's birthday and serve as the first leg in the Western Cattle Drive to Dallas, SOCALM planned a 140-mile drive that highlighted some of the most scenic roads in Southern California. 70 of the cars at the event headed out on this trek, including Tom Matano and Alan Childers.
We initially drove through the suburbia that is Orange County, including some expensive hilltop communities such as Lemon Heights and Anaheim Hills. After our first rest stop, the group headed to Texas (led by BAMA) broke away and began their long drive east. The rest of the group continued on through Riverside County, passing by Lake Matthews towards Lake Perris. If there is one constant in all of the runs that I have planned, it is that Riverside County has potholes that can swallow several Miatas in one gulp. True to form, 0.6 miles of our path in Riverside County were under construction with potholes and gravel everywhere.
The smiles didn't seem to fade, though, as some of the roads in Riverside County are also very fun. Gavilan Road comes to mind, especially since the local farm workers -- their jaws dropped -- watched us cruise by. We stopped for lunch, our group having dropped to 46 cars. At the start of the day, Classic Red had been the dominant color by far (as it should be). When we got to lunch, White cars outnumbered red by one.
The run continued back into Orange County past Lake Elsinore on Ortega Highway. As we drove along Ortega Highway, a group of young guys with a pickup truck decided to have some fun and mooned most of the line of cars. I suppose you could say that they were smiling at us.
We paused in San Juan Capistrano, our group having dropped at this point to 31 cars. Everyone was still having a great time, and we made arrangements to have an early dinner. We pressed onwards to Pacific Coast Highway, cruising along next to the water in Laguna Beach. Even though there was a lot of traffic, everyone was relaxed and enjoying the scenery. We ended in Newport, just a few miles from where we started, for lots of laughs over good Italian food.
The Party and Fun Run included people from Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, and all over the greater LA area. This was also a true West Coast event, with people from SOCALM, SDMC, SAHUARO, BAMA, SAMOA, SJVMC, and VROOM.
Finally, a few people should be recognized for their efforts with this event. I would like to thank Alan Childers, Tom Matano, and the team from Mazda for their support. I also want to thank Bill Wright for helping to get everything started. Finally, I want to thank all of the volunteers who helped to make the event a success: Joe Jordan, Dennis Feria, Scott & Kris Sanders, Bill & Bari Hyde, Albert Tong, Katie Roth, Paul & Francie Pollock, Gene & Pinkie Stanley, Barb & Elliot Shev, Jaime & Jeanne Villacorte, Stef Gould, Barry Rosenberg, Phyllis Weiter, and Bill Wilner. I hope I didn't miss anyone. Happy motoring!
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18 May, 1999