101 Miatas

by K. Zack Broadbent

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!

Back to the Challange

18 May, 1999