Finish Line Performance

The MX-5 Miata of the Month from


April 2002

John Hammer

bigmouthjohn@attbi.com

Congratulations to John Hammer on the selection of his (injured) Miata as our April Miata of the Month!


I've always enjoyed talking about Miatas, especially mine. Then again, I'm a radio guy and host a racing show on AutoRacing1.com, so I've never had trouble talking! My story starts in Summer 1995 when I was looking to replace my Dodge Ram 50 pick'em-up truck. I'd owned some interesting cars: a couple of Corvairs, an Escort GT, a 1990 CRX Si, so I knew I wanted something different, something with personality. I considered a 2nd generation MR2 but they weren't dealing on price. The Mazda guy wanted to sell me an MX3 hatchback (he could get me a sunroof...oooohhh, aaaahhhhh!). I told him I really wanted "that white Miata in the showroom" but I knew I couldn't afford it. His jaw hit the floor: turns out I was the first person in months to show any interest in that car...that lousy car with manual steering & no air conditioning! That's right, it was a '94 R Package, brand new unsold in July of '95. Don't you love it when the dealer has no idea they're sitting on 1 of 1,218 '94 Rs ever built?! Some haggling later & I drove it home for $4,000 under it's sticker price, honest!

From there it's been a heckuva ride. A member of Miata Owners of Mid Michigan (MOMM) put a flyer on my windshield one afternoon, I went to a meeting & BAM, I was sucked into the world of Miata clubs! I became Vice President for a year then was elected President for a 2 year term that ended this past January. From there I became interested in the SCCA, autocrossing and track events. Modifying the Miata came next: several attempts with wheels & tires. A style bar, then a Hard Dog rollbar. Stripes! Intake, exhaust, bracing and plenty of track time to test it all out. I moved to Kalamazoo, MI and made new friends in KAZOOM (Kalamazoo Area Zealous Owners Of Miatas).

So where's my Miata now? At the body shop having the driver's side replaced! At Waterford Hills roadracing course I had a "shunt" and learned first hand what a 4 foot concrete wall can do to a Miata. Soooo, while it's in the shop I took the opportunity to (say it with me) UPGRADE! The KYB AGX adjustable shocks & Racing Beat springs have tweaked the suspension, Kosei K1 Racing wheels (the 4th different set for the car) are ready to be mounted & a new set of sticky tires are coming. Everything will be ready to contest the season within another month or so. But with all the changes to the car over the years, one thing remains the same: it still makes me smile everytime I turn the key.

When I bought my Miata I knew I was getting a neat sports car, but I had no idea I was also getting a new social life. My best friends are in the clubs and most warm weather weekends are spent at race tracks or on club drives. I set out looking for a unique car, I got more than I ever bargained for!


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