HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY!
Thirty years ago, in 1989, Mazda introduced to the world the new MX-5 Miata, the two seat convertible roadster that re-invigorated the sports car genre for the common man and woman. Today, the MX-5 is going stronger than ever, with gatherings of Miataphiles all over the world to celebrate the 30th birthday of this happy little roadster.
So here we are, Roo and I, in Bristol, Tennessee, at an event dubbed Zoomin’ the Mountains of East Tennessee to take part in the MX-5 birthday bash.
This five day event is everything Miata. Daily drives to different and interesting venues, car shopping (looking at other folks MX-5’s and seeing what mods they did), vendors on hand plying their Miata wares and, as the event organizer put it, “we’re gonna party like rednecks!” all week. We were afraid to ask.
On the downside, it rained all day, every day. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees, and it certainly didn’t stop the spirited driving we did in our groups on the beautiful, twisty back roads of East Tennessee and Virginia. No drop top driving on this trip.
We drove to Breaks Interstate Park in Kentucky and Virginia, Abington Vineyards in Virginia, Johnson City, TN and downtown Bristol, which straddles the Tennessee and Virginia state line. The crown jewel of the trip was spending a day at Bristol Motor Speedway doing autocross and hot laps on the track. What a rush! Read the next post for a rundown on that. Here are a few photos from the venues we visited.
MX-5 HEAVEN IN THE PARKING LOT
BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK
Breaks is a state park overseen by both the states of Virginia and Kentucky. Known as the Grand Canyon of the South, the gorge is beautiful, when you can see it! The thick foliage at this time of year pretty much obscures it unless you take a long, difficult hike down (and back up) the gorge.
Abington Vineyards is a small Virginia winery that makes wonderful, off the beaten track wines from hybrid grapes that grow in this difficult to grow climate of southwest Virginia. You won’t find the standard Pinots, Cabs and Chardonnays here (those grapes can’t grow in this climate), but instead a variety of delicious hybrid whites, reds, and even a to die for brandy port! The grounds are beautiful, the hosts are wonderful, and they give a great winery tour and tasting of four wines for eight bucks!
The roads here in East Tennessee and southwest Virginia are tailor made for sports cars and motorcycles; twisty, curvy mountain back roads that just keep a shit eating grin on your face! But one road in particular has you grinning with a healthy dose of nervousness, a place called The Intimidator. And we were to find out just how intimidating it is.
Next Post: Redlining on The Intimidator. Miatas invade Bristol Motor Speedway