MIATAS AT THE GAP – FONTANA VILLAGE RESORT- NORTH CAROLINA
Look at these stats:
710 Mazda Miata MX-5’s
1105 Miataphiles in attendance
Over $6000.00 raised for the Blount County Rescue Squad
(the folks that save your ass when you screw up on The Dragon)
That is damn impressive. Each one a record setting number. All this over a four day weekend in the mountains of Western North Carolina. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our trip started out with a bit of misfortune, namely a rather large size of glistening oil staining my driveway, yes, right under my car.
One week prior to our trip, I noticed this abomination in my driveway. I immediately contacted our auto technician and was told to get the car in ASAP. After teardown, they diagnosed the problem as a blown crankshaft seal, and proceeded to replace all the seals with a new seal kit.
This took us up to the day before departure. After packing the car, I rolled it back on the driveway, and, SHIT! A new oil glob bigger than previous. What do we do? We couldn’t just hop in Roo’s Nissan and go. This was a Miata MX-5 event for gods sake!
We went. I filled the crankcase with oil from my garage, and threw two quarts in the trunk. We were nervous (and quite pissed off), but we had been waiting months for this trip to come about. Roo called our auto tech and told them the situation as we rolled down the road. I had no idea how much of an oil slick we were laying down, and in a bit of levity, Roo said it was very James Bond of me. No Aston Martin here though.
Our first stop on our way north was Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina. In actuality, the state line of North Carolina and South Carolina cuts right through the mountain, but it is the highest in SC, NC having much higher peaks.
At least “Matchbox” is leaking on gravel………….
The state line of South Carolina and North Carolina
Views From Sassafras Mountain
Mysterious Mountain Girl
After checking the oil level (and topping off), We headed for one of our favorite sports car and motorcycle playgrounds: the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Crossing into North Carolina, we picked up the Parkway and headed for it’s highest point.
Matchbox is still smiling! We’re halfway there!
We traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway for about 25 miles before exiting onto a secondary highway and motoring into Bryson City, North Carolina. When traveling in these parts, we always stop here for lunch in our favorite eatery, Mountain Perks Coffee and Café.
We ate lunch and discussed what we might do given our situation. After about forty-five minutes, we walked out to the car to drive our last leg of thirty-five miles to Fontana Village Resort. Roo got to the car first and said “Crap! Look at the front wheel!” I looked, and saw oil running behind the tire into the gutter. It was like the pan just fell off! I pulled the dipstick…….. DRY! I knew of a Napa auto store two blocks over, so I walked to it and purchased three quarts of oil. Poured them into my car which brought the oil level up to LOW on the dipstick. We drove to the store, bought more oil, filled the crankcase and drove to our cabin at Fontana Village Resort.
We made it!
Pondering our fate, we decided to salvage what we could of our vacation. I would keep pouring oil into my car as needed (almost constant) throughout the five days. The unfortunate reality was that I would significantly decrease the number of drives that we were scheduled to participate in. As a matter of fact, I only did two Dragon runs, one on Friday at a somewhat sedate pace, and a more performance oriented run on Saturday. I just did not have the confidence in the car to push it further.
Fortunately, there was lots of Miata centric activity going on at the resort itself. Miata central was where everyone could hang out when finished tearing up and down these mountain roads, or just walk around and check out all the vendors that were there selling everything from T-shirts to companies like V8 Roadster that retrofits small block V8 engines into your Miata! Want to take your MX-5 four wheelin’? Check out Paco Moto.
Saturday afternoon was the time for the annual group photo shoot. We didn’t enter Matchbox, only because it would take forever to get out after the shoot. Look at all those smiling faces!
Circle the Miatas!
The field is getting larger………
Hey! Where’d everybody go?
Paco Moto showing off their off-road Miata!
Photos of the annual photo. Everybody’s happy!
It turned out to be a great trip, and an awesome experience. Sunday morning was our departure day, and our trunk had our luggage and six quarts of oil at the ready. During the drives over the week, I ascertained Matchbox drank a quart and a half of oil every fifty miles. So, on the drive home, we stopped and topped off every fifty miles. It was an exercise in patience. But we made it. Matchbox got us home intact.
Whew! That photo shoot was rough. I need to cool off. See you next year for MATG XXIV
Postscript: Turns out the crankshaft seal our auto tech installed was defective. It was a Mazda OEM seal. He ordered in a higher quality aftermarket seal kit, and since then, no sign of oil leakage under Matchbox! All smiles!