Congratulations to Mason on his selection for the May Miata of the Month!
My 1992 Miata was setting lonely, cold and snow covered under a pine tree when my father saw it. It was the perfect car. Front end damage, rear window ripped, interior filled with years of fallen pine needles and plenty of snow, rear taillight broken and the half of the rear fascia was missing. It was an absolute diamond in the rough! So we stopped at the house and knocked. No answer. "I'll write a quick note and you stick it on the door", I yelled to my father from the window of the van. Quickly I scrounged around the van hunting for anything to write on. Finally, on the back of a receipt I wrote the words that would change my driving future " Wanna' sell the Miata? Please call."
Lo and behold that same evening my father received a phone call from a very gracious lady. She was a college professor and she explained that the Miata sitting in her driveway actually belonged to her college age son. She added that the car had been wrecked and that her son probably would not have the money to repair the car in the near future. Furthermore she invited my father and I to come and take a closer look at the car and make an offer.
The next day my father went back to the lady's home and examined the car. The more he looked the more damage he found and the more he liked it. So after some deliberation he left a note for the owner, "$500".
He returned home and phoned me at my house to tell me the good news. "I left her a bid of $500", he explained. "What! You did what! How much! Way to go! You have sufficiently insulted the lady enough that I am sure we will never hear from her again" I exclaimed. Well that was it, that was the last time we heard from her for a while.
Finally one morning after some time and a "heated debate" I convinced my father to call the owner that afternoon. But before he got had a chance the owner called him. She first apologized for her tardiness and then explained that her son thought that $500 was very reasonable and we could pick up the car the next day. Obviously the young man was coming to the end of the semester and needed beer money.
The next day could not have come quickly enough, I rushed to my fathers home that morning and we immediately left to pick up our new purchase. The key was in the passengers seat just as the owner had stated. I scooped all of the snow and pine needles from the seat and slid slowly behind the steering wheel. My father already had the jumper cables on the battery so I turned the key. The car immediately came to life! I backed from the driveway, put the car in first gear and headed for my fathers garage. Only my father and I knew what would happen next ..
Over the next few weeks we removed every nut, bolt, and fastener from the car. My father cut the a-pillars off. The car was placed on a rotisserie so I could easily remove the undercoating from the bottom. The car at this time looked like an upside down bathtub.
Finally came the reconstruction. First my father fabricated a new roll cage and welded it in. Next we "tubbed" the rear fenders and redesigned the suspension. My father fabricated new control arms that worked in conjunction with Ground Control double adjustable dampers and Eibach springs. A new fiberglass body was placed on the car and a new very low lexan windscreen. A new Tilton brake pedal was mated to two Tilton master cylinders and new hand fabricated steel brake lines were run to the brakes. Braided brake lines picked up where the steel lines ended, ensuring great brake pressure to the upgraded brakes. A new aluminum seat was made and a custom seat insert was molded to my .uh backside. A fuel cell was added and moved from the stock location of the gas tank, to the passenger side floorboards. The engine was modified and the transmission received a set of close ratio gears. Lastly the car was painted in the traditional Workman family color of Blite (a blue and white fade).
|The car had never turned a lap in this picture. This is in the false grid of the very first race. I am in the car, my father is bent over the car reminding what those pedals on the floor do.|
The first ever SCCA F-Production Mazda Miata in the country was ready to race (for those of you familiar with E-production, this is the same car with a less modified 1.6 liter engine). The first season of regional racing went well with 4 wins in 6 races and the fastest race lap in each race. The 2 races we did not win we failed to finish with small problems like vacuum hoses coming apart.
2002 marked my first year of national racing. The goal was simply to earn enough points through good, consistent finishes to qualify for the SCCA Runoffs, the national championships of amateur road racing. Well did we ever. We finished no worse than fourth in any race including the other SCCA showcase event, the June Sprints at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. And in July at Nelson Ledges Road Course, near Warren Ohio, we scored the first ever national win for the Miata in F-production as well as the only national win for Mazda in F-production. Qualifying for the Runoffs was complete and we had completed our goal!
|photo by Dayle Frame|
The Runoffs was a roller coaster ride of good and bad. After losing an engine on the first day of qualifying we came back to place the car 11th on the starting grid. In the final qualifying session we were the fourth fastest car on the track. At the start of the race I was involved in an accident but survived with little damage. Unfortunately a few laps later, while racing in the top ten, the battery shorted and I was forced to retire to the pits. We ended our race season with a 29th place finish. However no one was disappointed with our first year of national racing.
So there it is from a wrecked $500 car to the first national winner in the country. Check out my website at www.mwmotorsports.net. Click on the www.motorsport.com link to see some great pictures from the Runoffs. And e-mail me if you have any questions about the car.
And by the way, my streetcar is a
red 1997 Miata, it was the first Miata I ever owned but that is another story
Will you be next?