A little Miata time attack drift ride along

I received a text the other day from my neighbor, one half of the Wilde brothers, to come and check him and his son out at Adams Motorsports Park on Saturday.  Now I haven’t ridden in Dave’s car since he boosted the motor and got everything dialed in just over a year ago.  Well it appears that he has been practicing his drifting and working on lowering his track times all while driving the tread off the tires… literally.

My Saturday was free and I couldn’t miss this opportunity.  After getting the O.K. from my wife,  I drove out, paid the fee to get into the pit area and strapped on a helmet.  Now down in the pit area everyone was either cooling down from a run, prepping to hit the track or watching other drives on the track.  I saw 3 Miatas lined up and I made a beeline to join up with Dave and his son.  As previously stated it’s been a while since I’ve rode shotgun in this little red Miata, let alone on the track with him.  And right about now I’m thinking, what the h3ll did I just get myself into?

Doing the best I could to mask my fear, I manned up and fastened the strap on my helmet.  Once buckled in I hit the record button.  So with one hand holding the phone and the other gripping the onto the car for dear life the turbo spooled up and I felt my neck snap back!  We were off!!!  We were 3 Miatas deep on the track and all running crazy fast times.  The racecar/racetrack vibes were in full effect at this point.  The sound of the turbo spooling and tires squealing give such a visceral feeling that is hard to describe but you can see from the video how hard the Miata was getting worked.  With 265whp and a feather-lite 1800 lbs of stripped down Japanese weaponry, we had a blast!  I recorded the complete session and tried to capture Dave working the steering wheel with the ferver of a Formula 1 driver the best I could.

We got a little squirrelly at times but not like the guy behind us who spun-out towards the very end of the video.  Also if you look closely you can see the brakes sparking on the Miata in front of us under hard braking, but no crashes and everyone finished without injury.  Although a bit sweaty after the session, we all had HUUUUUGE smiles on our faces.

Another adventure in the books for me and Perks Garage.

Thank you Dave… until the next time.

A little drift demo. 

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3-Wheel motion

I have been asked over the past few months by a few of my readers…”Where did all the stories go?”  “Are you going to write anymore stories?  I really enjoy reading them.”  Well I was scrolling through some old pics on my laptop the other day and there were a few that warranted a post right here in Perks Garage.  Buckle up, because this one is a doozy!

I like to consider myself a very handy guy, from replacing faucets, shower heads and garbage disposals, etc.  I also consider myself a novice car tuner or sorts, from swapping out exhaust, installing short shifters, diverter valves, boost gauges, clearing and custom painting headlight housings, to installing car stereos and aftermarket suspension.  I have touched most mechanical parts on the cars that I have owned as well as ones owned by friends in an attempt to do maintenance, repairs or customize them in some form or fashion.  As you can see, I am not opposed to DIY work and have done quite a lot with my little beginner tool sets.  That is why this story is very interesting to say the least.

Bubba, my sold but not forgotten, British Racing Green Special Edition Mazda Miata was to be my chance to show the Miata world what I have to offer in the form of customization.  I searched long and hard to find one in decent shape for a decent price and Bubba popped up on CL (Craigslist) one Saturday morning.  My neighbor and I raced out at 8 a.m. to go take a look.  It checked off all functional boxes.  Not really the color combo that I wanted, but a great price and value.  I flashed some cash, signed the pink slip and we drove Bubba back to my house.

During my brief ownership, Bubba had taught me a few things.  First thing I learned is that you don’t take fast turns in a rear wheel drive car with 20 year old tires without having a change of underwear with you.  Those old dry-rotting tire will provide you with some very unwanted drifting experiences!  It’s not as fun as Ken Block makes it appear when you didn’t plan them!!!  Secondly, respect the car for what it is, low power and tons of fun.  This car will keep you smiling as you listen to the little 1.6 motor scream to redline while you push it to its limits.  Third and most important is to make sure you double check every bit of work, repairs or modifications that you perform on it, or any car for that matter.  Triple check if need be.

About a year into owning it, I decided to start modding the car.  I searched the interwebs for the right wheel and tire combo to complement the BRG paint color.  I ended up with a set of XXR 542.  They were 15×8 shod in 195/50/15 Falken tires.  This is a pretty popular size combo for Miata’s especially with the right suspension drop.  I bought myself a stainless steel exhaust and a Racing Beat intake.  Bubba was coming along and I was really digging it.  Next thing was to get it lowered to really set off the look I was going for.  I was saving up my dollars and doing my research when my neighbor tells me they were installing another suspension set-up on a friends Miata and he was willing to let go of his old set-up dirt cheap.  I was really looking to purchase a height adjustable coil-over setup like Megan Racing or Tein, and this was just a modified spring and shock combo.  It wasn’t what I really wanted, but what the hay, it would get Bubba a bit lower and the newer shocks really couldn’t hurt.

That night I cruised down the street to do the suspension swap.  Four guys in a garage wrenching on 2 Miata’s for a couple of hours is always a good time.  We were able to get both cars taken care of and buttoned up in a 2 hour time frame.  Slapped the XXR wheels back on, removed the jack stands and planted Bubba nicely on the ground.  I took one side of the car and someone else took the other side and we installed the lug nuts. After stepping back to admire the new look I took Bubba out for a little test drive.  Not bad…not bad at all.  I drove back to my neighbor’s house to thank everyone for helping out and then cruised home for the evening.  I didn’t drive the Miata for a couple of days, but was looking forward to driving it to work the next week.

Unfortunately or maybe fortunately the day I decided to drive Bubba to work it was raining…not heavy rain, but enough to slow down the commute on the 91 freeway (more than usual if that is possible).  It seems as if people were driving slowly in an attempt to dodge the rain drops.  Maybe they thought that by driving at only 20 mph that would somehow keep their cars from getting wetter than if they were to drive 40 mph.  Either way we were creeping and crawling down the 91 this morning.  Usually this would bother me, but this day I didn’t mind because I was enjoying my freshly lowered car and my new matte gold wheels.  I was The Man that morning or at least I thought I was.

Part way thru my commute I started to hear a faint thumping from Bubba.  I thought it could be the exhaust bumping around back there because the rubber exhaust hangers were pretty worn.  This was a sound that I’ve heard before so I was not concerned.  I assumed it was the worn out exhaust hangers allowing the heavy aftermarket exhaust to swing slightly under acceleration.  Not a big deal as they were on my list of parts to buy.  About 10 miles into my commute I noticed that the thumping became rapid whenever I would pick up speed.  But due to the rain and slow moving traffic, I spent most of the drive between 1st and 2nd gear making the sound infrequent enough to not think too much of it.

My daily commute is a 34 mile one way stint done mostly over 3 freeways.  20 of those miles are spent driving from my house down the 91 fwy, I then drive the 55 fwy for about another 12 miles before my  final 1/2 mile sprint down the 405 fwy.  So as you can see it’s a pretty lengthy haul one way, traffic or no traffic.  This day there was a party going on in my car.  I had the music blasting through my new radio and speakers when suddenly the freeway congestion cleared up.  It was like the parting of the Red Sea.  Now, usually when there is a break in traffic I floor it as if to get the hole shot in a motocross race, but not today.  The thumping that I heard became more rapid and caused me to be a bit concerned and cautious to say the least.  So I slowly headed towards the shoulder of the freeway as a precaution and to check things out.

Just as I crossed over 3 lanes on the freeway and make it to the shoulder, my front drivers wheel POPS right off and the car slams to the ground.  I sit in utter amazement as I watch my brand new wheel bounce from the shoulder of the freeway where my car planted itself, all the way over to the carpool lane.  It then somehow rolled back across the freeway and landed right in front of my car!  There were a few cars that saw what happened and slowed down just in time to watch my wheel do an impression of a giant bronze yo-yo travelling all the way across the freeway and come right back to me.  Thank God no one was hit by the wheel, nor did it cause an accident.  I just sat in my car stunned and wondering to myself “what the heck is going on here?  Some idiot just lost the wheel off of their car!!!  Oh wait…that idiot was me.”

When you are sitting on the freeway in the rain in a tiny little car that is missing a wheel, you watch as others drive by staring back at you.  You start to ask yourself, “where are these Good Samaritans that I’m always hearing about?”  What’s worse, is when you look up and see your boss pass by, look at her watch and then shake their head at you.  Well she didn’t shake her head, but she did pass by and look.  After calling for a tow truck, I called in to tell her I was going to be late because my wheel fell off on the freeway.  She did acknowledge to seeing me and asked if I was alright…before snickering.

Well to put this story to bed, I got out of my car, grabbed my wheel and waited for a tow truck to pick me up as the rain poured down on my broken umbrella getting me soaked.

What you see below are the pictures of Bubba being carted around on a flatbed.  Apparently the lugs were either cross-threaded or someone tampered with them the night before and the wheel didn’t have enough to stay attached to the car and sprung itself loose.  Either way, I am thankful to be alive and amazingly no real damage occurred to the car.  The rotor was a little banged up and the wheel had a few nicks, but after installing some new studs and new lug nuts, I was good to go.  Someone upstairs was looking out for me…again!

Bubba towedBubba threads

Nice looking spare wheel 😦Bubba towed 2Giving Bubba a bath after getting him road worthy again.IMG_9343IMG_9352

How Bubba looked when I sold him to an amateur drifter from Vegas.IMG_20130209_1400560412141111~20123140615

Take it easy little fella…

A Love Story

The year was 1993 and I was rolling a frost white 88 Toyota Tercel EZ,

the EZ stood for BASIC!!!  I mean a passenger sun visor or side mirror was not included on this car.  It had gray vinyl seats with a 4 speed stick shift and crank windows, but it was my baby…with all its 78hp glory.  From senior year in high school, racing up and down the 110 fwy, back and forth from CA to San Antonio, Texas.  For my high school friends, my Texas fam and my wife, you know this car put in work!  But this entry is not about my baby, but rather the one that stole my heart.  Folks this is simply a love 💓 story.  A story about how I fell in love, with a little roadster from Japan.

It was around 4:30 am and I’m heading to work at the Aerospace Corp in my white 88 Tercel hatchback.  Cruising westbound on the 105 fwy bumping that new Lethal Injection from Ice Cube, because that’s just how I roll.  It was dark and there were only about 5 cars on the fwy because no one gets up that early.  I was crossing the 405 and nearing my exit on Sepulveda when I saw a little red convertible sports car zipping by me.  “Is this guy’s top down at 4:30 am?  What a nut!”  As I neared the Sepulveda exit, drops of water began falling from the sky and my thought was, “this guy is about to get soaked.”  He takes the exit ramp in front of me, and as he was pulling up to the red light the rain is starting to come down.  He reached back with his right hand and with one motion pulled the convertible top up over his head and latched it closed just as the red light changed to green.  I mean, he never even stopped the car!  It was a flawless execution.  Was he doing a commercial for Mazda?  My eyes lit up just like that kid Ralph in “A Christmas Story” whenever he described the “official carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle…ooooh!”  I was blown away!  I thought to myself that I had to have one!  It was at that exact moment a new love had been born…Miata!

Fast forward some 20 years and who knows how many cars later and I finally get up close and personal with the infamous well-balanced Miata rosdster.  One day the guy at the end of my block had his garage open. He had an Orange Lotus parked in front of his house and was working on a Miata in the garage with another guy that looked to be his twin.  Me being nosey me, I decided to walk my dog down there to see what was going on in my neighborhood.  Now usually in Corona you don’t hear Too Short playing in a garage, especially from the garage of a white guy that drives a Miata, but this was my introduction to the infamous Brothers Wilde.  I introduced myself and my interest in their cars while trying to remain calm and nonchalant, but good old Christmas Story Ralph was inside me just as giddy as a Christmas day.  After a bit of conversation I was invited to come check out Adams Motorsports park, an outdoor go-karting track, from these guys I just met, to experience some Time Attack and drifting that goes on out there.  Now between the two of them, they have probably bought and sold more Miatas, than you could count on all your little fingers on both hands, so the title Miata experts guru’s seems rather adequate. Well being the enthusiast I am I showed up at Adam’s that Friday night with my helmet in the off chance that I was courageous enough to go for ride along with someone.  That night I got to witness some high powered cars racing and some amateur drifters sliding all over the course.  There was some track mishaps with cars driving off the course up the hill and hoods popping up and spin outs galore! This was exciting but I then I saw it!  I watched in amazement as a little red blur and a silver blur sped around the course Time Attack style and I got the warm and fuzzies in my gentlemen parts. It was my neighbor aka mx5msm and his brother riding shotgun and their buddy aleks024 in the other car…WOW!  After their run, the invitation to ride along was presented to me and I jumped at it.  Now putting my life in someone else’s hand is not the norm for me, but the life insurance policy is paid, so eh, what the hell! I strapped on my helmet, said a quick prayer and let the fun began. With a death grip on the door handle and me wearing out my imaginary passenger side foot-brake, I was blown away and the handling capabilities and balance of these little cars in semi stock form.  The only thing he had at that time was suspension, a rollbar and an intake…thats pretty much it.  100hp never felt so exhilarating. Now throughout my driving years I had been use to piloting and rolling in much higher horsepower cars, Evo’s, Subies, TL’s and what not, so I was blown away to say the least at what I was experiencing. Turn after turn after turn, tires screeching with only the light from the Miata’s signature pop-up headlights illuminating the track as my neighbor and I were being run down by who I suspected to be Lewis Hamilton‘s driving instructor…aleks024! My grin only got bigger.  My helmet tapping against the rollbar as we slalomed thru the tire section and the hairpin turns.  This car was amazing!  Truth be told, I may have soiled his seat a little bit, but that was his fault.  This ride was life changing, I mean I felt…ALIVE.  I know I’m rambling on, but all in all I HAD A BLAST and obviously survived to write about it lol.  Anyway I was more motivated than ever to stack some cash to make a purchase of one of these little wonders.  Thanks the Brothers Wilde for the invite and ride!

So with that flame fueled and the search began.  I joined a forum or two and after researching these cars and combing the internet for a while.  I grabbed my cash and went shopping.  A few test drives later, I ended up with a stock 91 NA BRG (British Racing Green) Special Edition Miata.  I added a few parts to give it the Mike touch. So now without further ado, I present to you…BUBBA #741 of 4000.

Bubba’s photos by M Perkins

Going Topless

Here is where I stand or shall I say sit today. 2002 Audi TT Quattro 225 6-speed 3 pedal…oh yeah!. I was sitting at work looking thru our companies internal car buying service on a Friday when this I came across the ad for this little TT.  It was not the baseball leather edition, but it still caught my eye. That Sunday after church, my wife asked what were my plans for the rest of the day and I thought this was the invite for a honey-do list day.  I told her, “going to check out a car.” I anticipated the usual WTH glare she gives whenever I mentioned the C- word. To my surprise she asked if she could go with me. Whuuuuuuuut? Happy dance, happpy dance!  Wait, what did you do with my wife?  I took this rare opportunity and ran with it.  So we headed down to northern OC, but just to look at it because my mind was already made up about this CLEEEEAN Blue Graphite Pearl B6 Passat – Wolfsburg Edition…euro💓. In my mind I. already had this thing bagged on Accuair, tucking something 3 piece and polished at all four corners with an APR tune and custom 3″ Magnaflow turbo back exhaust. I was trying to negotiate a lower price on the Passat that week when I decided to go take a look at the TT.

The TT was stock, but super clean with low miles for being such an old seasoned car. Garage kept and pretty well taken care of except for the slight rear bumper ding from either a backing incident or someone not respecting the sexy backside of the little Audi.  I always had a thing for roadsters, S2k’s, Miata’s especially, but the TT…who doesn’t want to pull the top down and show off their TTs ;). I told myself “just leave it stock and save the mods for Bubba (my NA BRG Miata I was building)”, but Self said…”SCREW THAT!” and you just can’t argue with Self…that’s just crazy talk.  Well I got a big beautiful smile from the Mrs when I put the top down to check it out.  The price was right, so the deal was done and the date night car was bought.

Now here she is, sitting low and fitted with a staggered set of Privat Cup wheels – 18×8.5f and18x9.5r.  Rubber comes in the form of Sumitomo’s measuring 215/40 up front and 225/40 out back, giving just the right amount of stretch.  These german vehicles have crazy factory hub spacing and fitting aftermarket wheels can be a challenge so the addition spacers is very necessary without custom built wheels.  I picked up some 12mm and 15mm spacers help the TT achieve just the right amount of pokage so that I can be “culturally” accepted.  The gravitational pull is courtesy of German built ST coilovers. The saying goes, “if you ain’t rubbin, you ain’t dubbin!”  That too can be said for Audi’s as well. No performance upgrades…yet.  Right now its simple and clean!
Photo by M Perkins

Intro to the Past

Welcome to Perks Garage! This blog will be used to discuss my passion for all things automotive. I will share my views, opinion and perspectives on cars, tuning, specs and events that I attend throughout the year, and yes there will be pics as well.  Now I admit that I am not the greatest photog, but in my head I am just as good as a Marcel Bischler or a Jeremy Cliff, look them up if you don’t already know.  I will be interviewing other enthusiast and showcasing builds along the way.
Now that we got that out of the way, let me start by introducing myself. I’m Mike and have been in love with cars since I was about 10, which was a looooong time ago. I am not afraid to work on my own cars, from regular maintenance and stereos to installing custom suspension and body kits.  My first memory of driving was in my sisters Honda Civic when I was about 12 or so.  At that moment I was in love and knew driving would be my sanctuary.  My first automotive love was the 88 Honda CRX SI.  When most boys were drooling over their dads dirty mags, I had the Honda car brochure spread eagle on my bedroom wall with the CRX centerfold enticing my dreams.  I would rush home and thumb thru the brochure everyday, going between the CRX and the Prelude.  It was torture since driving a car was years away…legally that is, and owning one was even further.  In my years, I have owned a number of vehicles and I have modified every last one of them with the exception for my 85 CRX (funny story about that one). Needless to say my  hobby drove drives my wife crazy, as I am sure it would most wives.  In the last 2 years, I tried to convince my wife that owning 5 vehs for 2 drivers with a 2.5 car garage was a great idea.  With that, I am now banned from buying another car for quite some time now 🙂  I’ve gone from Tercels with big wheels to slammed Accords.  From RonJon kitted TL’s to stretched and poked Quattro TT’s.  In the words of the great philosopher of this new generation imported direct from Canada “Started from the bottom, now we here!” – Drake 2014  lol

Now with that brief intro, I give you Perks Garage!

Welcome and enjoy the ride.