James Barone Racing

The MX-5 Miata of the Month from

strickland4.jpg (20260 bytes)November 1999

Warren Strickland


Congratulations to Warren on the selection of his Miata, as our November
Miata of the Month!

strickland1.jpg (18837 bytes)My wife and I purchased our first Miata in May of 1998. It was a new '99  and we were so very proud. However, we had never purchased a true sports car  before and had never owned a convertible. We had read a review of the car in  the local newspaper the day before and decided on a whim to buy the only one  left on the lot the next day. Not being a spontaneous sort of guy, this was  a major break from tradition for me.

The decision at first seemed a bit risky and certainly impractical. The  salesman assured us that the car was meant for FUN and was known for its   extraordinary handling ablility. After making the purchase, I decided time   itself would tell me if this little car was really the master of the road   that the salesman said it was.

strickland3.jpg (25574 bytes)Not long thereafter, I discovered Miata.net and began reading about  rallies and the such. I spotted one at Deal's Gap in the Smokies. The road  there was advertised as being a challenge to even the best handling machine.  In addition, this would be a nice opportunity to meet others who had bought  Miatas. After some deliberation, we decided to attend.

It was great to see all the Miatas and their owners at the Gap. And   indeed, the road was as much of a challenge as advertised. 141 Miatas   traversed the Gap on Sat. morning in what turned out to be a wonderful ride   for all. However, I was still a bit reserved about really challenging my new   car. Did it really handle as well as advertised? Perhaps I would find out  at a later time - after I had more confidence in my own rather limited  driving abilities. As it turned out, that time arrived much sooner than  anticipated.

strickland6.jpg (16836 bytes)My wife and I decided to depart the Smokies around 3:00 A.M. on Sunday  morning to make the drive home. Our return route took us right through  Deal's Gap itself. Needless to say, there was absolutely no traffic at that  time of night so I couldn't resist the temptation to take the curves just a  tad faster than the previous day. After all, what could possibly be on the   road at that time of night!!!! After rounding one of the challenging curves   in magnificent fashion, my prophetic wife asked me to slow down a little.   After all, she said, "we might encounter a bear or something." I chuckled at  that suggestion since I had never seen one of the beasts in the wild in my   entire life. Nevertheless, I decided to take her advice. Well, we rounded  the very next curve and lo and behold there was a huge black bear sitting  square in the midddle of the road. I hit the brakes and went into a mini  skid. There was no shoulder to our right, just a deep foreboding crevice. I  used every evasive driving maneuver taught and brought the Miata to a sudden  stop about one foot from old Smokie. He got up from his startled slumbers  and lumbered off into the woods.

strickland5.jpg (22807 bytes)My heart was in my throat and we were both speechless for a few seconds.  Upon recollecting myself, I straightened out the Miata, thanked my wife for  her great advice, and agreed never, never to doubt the incredible  maneuverability of a Miata again.

This close call is one I shall never forget. I am just glad to have a  little car called the Miata which fits so well on tiny roads with little   extra space. It just proves once again that "BIG IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER."

strickland2.jpg (19730 bytes)

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