Apr 7, 2013

Florida Miata Meet in Lakeland, FL - Miatapalooza 2013

Deb owns a Mazda MX-5, otherwise known as a Miata, a car that has a rabid fan base. Owners get together for rallies to swap ideas, tips and modifications to their Miatas. Miatas are customized for racing as well, as their small, nimble platforms make them ideal for the track.

One of the largest Miata rallies in Florida took place in Lakeland, about forty minutes north of Tampa. Called Miatapalooza, it was one of the biggest Miata rallies held, with around three hundred Miatas in attendance, from Miata clubs from all over the state. 

So Deb and I went up in her Miata to check it out.

A convoy of Miatas lines up to enter the huge parking lot where the rally will be held.

The sprawling parking lot was turned into an enormous Miata car show; these two pictures show only part of the area where the rally was held.

Below: some of the Miatas that have been customized for racing

This Miata is a demo that shows what one looks like before it is prepared for racing on the track. The engine and interior components are all removed, and the first thing to be added is the roll bar.

These are what the interiors look like after they have been configured for racing

By far the most unique Miata there was this one, which has been modified with a front-end kit, resembling the old Austin Healy frog-eye Sprite sports cars made in the late fifties and sixties. 

For comparison, the top picture is of the Miata, the bottom is of an Austin Healy Sprite, often referred to as the "frogeye" Sprite because of its distinctive headlight nacelles. It was only because of expense that the headlights were not concealed, as was originally intended. The cars are very collectible today.

The kit was manufactured by a Japanese company and sold less than twenty kits before it stopped becoming available for sale in the U.S. At the time, Miatas had a reputation as a retirees' car, with an almost stodgy image. When Jim, the car's owner, began modifying his car, his friends were horrified, telling him he was ruining his Miata and that it wouldn't run right.

Nowadays, the kit would be a huge seller, I'm sure.

Jim has done a lot with the car, customizing the interior and engine, even putting in a nitrous-oxide system for short bursts of intense speed, not legal for street use.

This Miata has a brawny Ford powerplant and custom mufflers, giving it a very big sound signature.

It's license plate says I8APONY.

A couple of Miatas had chalkboard paint on them, with invitations to draw or write on the cars with chalk. Definitely a way to attract attention!

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