Back in 2013, not long after acquiring my own little red ’95 Miata, I attended and reported on a local Miatapalooza event, held in nearby Lakeland, Florida. Since then, I’ve gotten to meet event organizer Randy George and many of the other friendly Florida-based Mazda Miata enthusiasts, while repairing and tinkering with my own Miata along the way. This past Saturday, Miatapalooza returned to the Tampa Bay area, taking place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida and I was not going to miss it.
According to Randy, this year’s event attracted a massive crowd of 1,137 people and at last count, more than 650 Miatas! Enthusiasts came from all over the country to take part and hang out in the Florida sun, celebrating their love for Mazda’s little roadster. Randy mentioned that Rafael Robles actually drove his Miata all the way down from Colorado. “Rafael destroyed 3 wheels on his Miata drive here but STILL made it!!” Mike Fernandez flew in from Alaska, and Peter Royea flew in from Southern California. Some cars looked familiar from the 2013 event, some have unfortunately been lost due to wreckage since then and replaced, others sold off to make room for a newer model.
Since the 2013 event, the fourth generation, or ND has been released, as well as the targa-topped RF model. This event was my first time seeing the RF. It’s quite a looker in person.
The MX-5 Miata is great at being an inexpensive blank canvas for customization and upgrades. Everywhere on the field there was someone’s idea of what they wanted their Miata to be.
Even a rally car! Known online as “MiataGoFaster” this NA is owned by Rally Girl Racing who compete in this car in Rallycross.
This ratrod Miata looked like it was ready for a cameo in the next Mad Max film. Perhaps that would be called Mad Max: Fury Roadster? There were General Tire logos but I can’t seem to find info on it online as of yet. The front grille looks like it was welded together from what may have been a kid’s Radio Flyer wagon or some kind of drip pan. Talk about a war face.
If you follow Miatas, you’ll likely instantly recognize Matt Man’s turbocharged 1.6 liter NA. This car was at the 2013 event but in a much more mild looking state of tune. It seemed pretty wild back then, but seems somewhat tame now by comparison. In either case, the car seems to be exceptionally clean, as though you could eat off of the engine bay.
This pretty Miata appeared to be sporting what looked like Laguna Seca Blue paint. Similar to Mariner (a.k.a. “Smurf blue) but slightly lighter. The signal lenses were tinted, which matched well with the brightwork having been sprayed black. No, it wasn’t for sale; that sign was just for the bikini top.
This seemed like a nice mixture of show and go, wearing Fifteen52 wheels and a roll cage.
The paint was in pretty rough shape on this one, but it had a lot of interesting details.
It’s not a party without some googly eyes.
Mild to wild from right to left. I was curious as to why the blue car had such big wheel wells cut out. My first thought was that perhaps it was on airbags and could drop that low. When I spoke with the owner later on, I found out that it was for flares that he usually has on to house the extra-wide wheels and tires. He’d left them off out of concern that they could be damaged depending on how tight the parking situation was. Frankly, I thought it looked kind of interesting this way, almost like if you dropped it, it would look like an extremely low Super GT race car, like how some teams seem to section the body of an RX-7. Or if you raised it, it could look more like a strange sort of go-kart. I think the cleanliness of the cuts were what threw me. Normally when I think of flares, I think of someone taking tin snips to their fenders and leaving things a bit hacked up looking. But this seemed somewhat clean.
And it’s in another great blue, this is actually painted Nissan’s famous Bayside Blue, as seen on the R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Seeing as how the owner has a sort of Nissan theme going, he’s considering swapping the original Mazda engine for a Nissan SR20DET from the Japanese market Nissan Silvia or the heavier but more powerful RB26DETT from the GT-R.
Tampa Bay Miatas were out in full display. This yellow ’92 Miata belongs to Greg Antonyants. The last time it was in front of my lens it was primer grey, but after almost 3 years, he recently had it painted and I have to say it looks like they did a great job with it. It’s turbocharged, has aftermarket suspension, and the ultra lightweight 6UL wheels from 949 Racing. Behind the yellow is “Punkin’ the Miata” wrapped in 3M gloss bright orange vinyl.
A Miata that was sadly wrecked just a few months before the event was owned by my friend Tyler Karon. Thankfully, he was unharmed. It was a red ’95 just like mine which he had put a lot of work into and had driven on the Tail of the Dragon last year. He even repainted it himself. I only got to see Tyler once at the event, during the raffle for just a second when he won a prize. Or so I thought. Going through the photos I found him in this shot under the hood of his new-to-him green NA. It turned out I got a shot of his new car after all!
This is not just one, but two ’93 Limited Edition black and reds. In addition to these two of only 1,505 produced in this color combination, Randy also brought his black and red as well.
And if you can believe it, I finally put my passenger side mirror back together. It has moved with us to a new home and lived in a box since I broke it about 3 years ago. Somehow, I found enough pieces to get it back together the night before the event. And strangely it seems like I can see out of the mirror better than I remember being able to before. It makes no sense, because literally the only thing I did was take the mirror apart and replace a bolt and some washers, and now somehow the frame for the front quarter glass is no longer in my way. Oh well, it’s a win, I’ll take it.
Along with the Miatas there were some interesting vehicles that vendors and other had brought. One was this rusty REPU brought by LRB Speed, makers of aluminum undertrays. I kind of wanted to take it home.
It was a great day for rusty cars as there was also this 6th generation Civic turned into a sort of El Camino with what looks like possibly an Audi A4 front grille. Built by Daski Tuning Auto Custom Shop, it’s definitely creative. I really liked the 2×4 that seemed to be serving as a rear sway bar. From what I’ve seen on Instagram, this car must have recently been a fastback. The El Camino look suits it though.
In addition to all of the guests, there were vendors from Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Mexico, California, and all over Florida.
Another local Tampa area friend whose car that never seems to stop changing is my friend Scotty Simsa’s M-Edition. Beautiful paint on this car and it’s running Enkei RPF1 wheels, another Miata favorite due to their low weight. Scotty was running his Spinnywoosh vinyl booth. They seemed to have been having a pretty busy day throughout the event, cutting vinyl designs out on site.
Revlimiter is a big name in Miata customization, having produced custom gauge faces and badges for years now. I got to meet Adam Wolf, who started the company and builds all of these custom trim pieces and gauge faces for our old cars. While I was there, I bought one of his badges for the front of my NA. It’s time to finally retire the cracked factory emblem. Great to finally meet Adam. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. Not only that, but his articles were very helpful when I was tracking down and eliminating the source of the gasoline smell in my NA a few years ago.
BSI Racing returned with a couple of their Spec Miata race cars.
These Spec Miatas had parts from both Treasure Coast and 5XRacing.
5XRacing had some really nice steering wheels, radiator seal plates, and overflow bottles.
Another vendor I spoke with was Miata Bob, who is based out of St Augustine, FL. These guys as well as Treasure Coast, Ben’s Used Miata Parts, and Scratch n’ Sniff were great, because they had brought all kinds of used parts to pick through. I’m on the lookout for some grey seatbelts to get rid of the beige. Not sure how they ended up in my car but I want them out. Besides that, you find all kinds of neat things in the displays, like a Miata pedal car.
“Sorry, Kimi, you’ll have to make do with our human-sized car. This one’s not for sale.” Our dachshund, Kimi came along to attend the show. She was a big hit.
This gift pack was really tempting… all Miatas!
Amoroso Racing brought some Exomotive Exocets. The Exocet is a bit like an Ariel Atom type of vehicle, but it’s built from Miata parts and a tube frame, and it’s much more affordable than an Atom. This one appears to have a Flyin’ Miata turbo installed.
Towards the end, the organizers began calling numbers for a raffle. Everyone who attended received a ticket when they arrived. Here Randy George helps with bringing out some of the goods that were being raffled off.
Some people were offering cash to the winners and sometimes paying them for their prize if it was something they really had their eye on.
The most interesting part of the raffle was when multiple people wanted a prize and it wasn’t being claimed after several numbers had been called. So, it came down to a game of rock, paper, scissors.
The event was a great success in bringing the Miata community together. It was very enjoyable getting to see some old friends and make new ones. Personally, I’d been looking forward to this event since the last one in 2013, even more so since last year when I heard that it would be making a return. Miatapalooza gave me a second wind after an exhausting work week. You can’t be a Miata enthusiast and not walk away from this event with a smile. Randy wanted to thank the TampaBayMiatas club for all of their hard work as volunteers in helping make this event possible. Hopefully we’ll see another Miatapalooza in the future. That only happens when enthusiasts stand together to support an event like this. Great job, guys!
All images Copyright 2017 Hooniverse/Bryce Womeldurf