Copyright 2007 - Sacramento Area Miata Owners Association - Sacramento, CA 95662
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By Ron Petrich
Its that time for new year’s resolutions again, the time of year when we realize what kind of liars we were a year ago. Then we
make a resolution not to lie anymore, and we resolve to resolve to resolve to… well we get the picture.
One resolution that I made last year, and I will renew again this year, is to make the SAMOA website the best it can be. What
this means to me is that it will be accurate, free of factual and date errors, up-to-date, and topical. Interesting and pretty are
also in there somewhere, but keep in mind that your webmaster is not artistically inclined, and is tone deaf. never the mind, I
CAN work on the first half of the aforementioned list. That is what I did last year, and that is what I intend to do in 2008.
I think the track record is pretty good so far. Based on the number of visits to our site, and the comments I have received, most
of you are pretty pleased with sacramentoareamiata.org. But in the interest of continuous improvement and total quality
management (TQM) – the Japanese call it kaizen – I am eliciting your support. Those of you who visit our site may have noticed
a relatively new feature added last year – a SAMOA guestbook. Any site visitor can leave an anonymous (or not) message for the
webmaster or anyone on the BOO. The purpose of the guestbook is to allow suggestions for improvement or changes to be
easily communicated. While several good comments have been posted, the guestbook feature is, well, underutilized. Come on
gang, we’re not looking only for compliments or to see if someone in Katmandu likes our site, we really need to know what YOU
want to see. So please let us know.
Similarly, at meetings, I’ve asked basically the same question. How is the site? Does it provide the information and entertainment
that you want to see? Can we do more or do it better? But I really haven’t seen any feedback, so I can only conclude that we
are doing a pretty good job, and we will stay the present course.
So in 2008 you can expect that your club’s website will continue to be as accurate, error-free, up-to-date and topical as I can
make it. It just may not be as pretty as you like, but I promise I won’t sing either.
Happy New Year SAMOA!!!
By Mike DeLaurentis
I know this has nothing to do with SAMOA, Miatas, or cars but it was one of the more memorable things I may have done this
year and thought I'd share the experience. Robin, Jeanne, Helen and I recently attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Dixon
Veteran's Administration cemetery. This ceremony was simultaneously being conducted at VA cemeteries across the country and
it was the first in which citizens could purchase wreaths and donate them to the cause.
This was the first time such a ceremony was conducted but it was planned and nicely executed. I've attached a few pictures of
the activities. After the wreath laying we strolled through the 2,000 some graves that have been filled since the cemetery
opened in October, 2006 and looked at headstones. There were of course the customary markings showing the interred's
service, rank, battles and sometimes their most significant medal. The wreath I placed was on a Navy Pearl Harbor survivor who
earned The Purple Heart. We tried guessing at some of the more unusual religious marking and we also read the inscriptions.
There were many of the standard inscriptions; "Wonderful Father and Husband", "Patriot", "Loved family". But we were a little
amused with other inscriptions such as "Lifelong Cowboys Fan" and "Never Paid Retail for anything"! We decided that we
probably need to start working on ours. I came up with "CDR Michael J. DeLaurentis, SC, USN (Ret). Owner of arguably the
most beautiful (Mahogany) color Miata ever produced". Think it will fly?
We will let you know next year when the program is planned in case you would like to attend and participate as well. Have a safe
and Happy New Year.
Treasure Trove News
By Jeanne George
Memberships Expiring January 1:
DeLaurentis, Mike & Helen
Mackey, Neal & Elaine
Moe, Ron & Linda
Rainbolt, Joe & Carol
Wilson, Mike & Marlaina
Zicker, Wes & Paula
Memberships Renewed in December:
Swaney, Dennis & Mary
During 2007, the SAMOA Club was very successful in reaching out and gathering the interest of fellow Miata enthusiasts. We
welcomed 38 new memberships which includes 59 new members. It has been nice meeting these new people at the monthly
meetings and various events. Their main source of information was from the SAMOA web site, which Ron Petrich has continued
to update and add new features. They also obtained club information from the Sacramento Bee weekly Friday Auto Club Notes.
The 2007 Board had decided to continue the One-Year Free SAMOA Membership program which began in 2006 for new Miata
purchases from a Miata Dealership. Local Dealerships provided club information to new Miata owners and three individuals took
advantage of the program this year.
In addition, 63 current members choose to renew their memberships. Membership fees provide the operating income for the
club. This income supports events such as the Birthday picnic catering cost, club insurance, office supplies, new member mailings,
Towe Auto Museum membership, Web hosting fees, office supplies, new member mailings, Towe Auto Museum membership, and
recognition awards to members for their contributions.
Robin and I have decided to spend the first week of the New Year enjoying the Red Rock area of Sedona, AZ, hiking, reading,
and relaxing. I wish you all a Happy New Year.
The 90K Mile Service (For Which I Ended Up Paying $800)
By Adi Damania
But first a bit of background information. The most intriguing Miata of all is the 1999 10th Anniversary Edition which we christened
“Blue Belle” with its Sapphire Blue Mica paint, glossy five-spoke wheels, two-tone leather interior trim, chrome rings around the
speedometer and tachometer, a Nardi Italian leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a carbon-fiber-look trimmed center
console, a superb Bose stereo that rattles the car when the bass is fully boosted, a firmer suspension and a six-speed manual
transmission to boot. 3,150 cars of this model were sold in the United States and Canada, all exactly identical except with a small
dark red oval plaque on the left side that said which number the car was (ours is 2401). We also got a miniature version of the
car, a special key ring and car keys, and a set of his-and-hers Seiko watches. All of the latter after some serious haggling and
argument with the previous owner’s wife who thought we would not ask for them!
The car comes with a six-speed close-ratio transmission that is a big improvement over the previous five-speeds. With smaller
steps between the gear ratios, the engine could stay within its power band more efficiently and, since the six-speed also came
with a 3.91 instead of the regular 4.30 final drive ratio, it was supposed to roll on down the freeway at slightly lower engine
speeds and would have been therefore a tad quieter had not the previous owner replaced the OEM air cleaner with one from
K&N in order to squeeze out a few more hps out of the little 1.8l DOHC engine. In a Car and Driver test, the six-speed 10th
Anniversary Miata made it to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds — or about 0.3 second quicker than a five-speed Miata. But some Miatistas
swear that the 5-speed is better suited to their style of driving. They could be right. I missed the 6th gear completely the first
time and almost went in to reverse!
So finally the day arrived when “Blue Belle” reached a crucial juncture in her life – the 90K Mile Service. We had practically done
nothing to it since we bought it from the Service Manager at Mercedes Benz of Sacramento in 2002.
So off it went to a reputed house of Woodland auto mechanics. They said the standard 90K mile service called for replacement of
the spark plugs and check up of a variety of things as laid out in the manual and change of all the fluids. Their estimate: about
$350 plus parts and fluids.
However, later in the day they called (as they usually do) to say that, on inspection, the front brake pads needed to be replaced
as they had worn down to the last 20% and the front rotors needed to be smoothened out with sand-blasting (they actually
wanted to replace the rotors but I wanted to keep the costs down). On retrospect it would have been more cost effective to
just replace the rotors as labor is now at $75/hr.
Then the check engine light issue came up. The little orange CEL just would go away only to reappear after a few days. In the
past I had tried several methods to thwart it by using Octane boosters with premium gas, and purchasing a new gas cap from
Moss Motors. But now to no avail. Ken Fielding’s senior mechanic said it was a code “P0402”. What is a code P0402”??!! Sounds
like crime code! It is actually ‘excessive EGR flow’.
Anyway, they told me that the manifold and the EGR had to be removed and the carbon build up inside cleaned. I asked them as
to how they could be so sure that that would cure the problem? They replied that they were a part of an on-line group of
mechanics from all over the country and Canada, who could query each other whenever there was a problem that one of them
had not come across before. Nice thing to have! So I told them to go ahead and fix the CEL as it WAS annoying. And Parvin
always cringed when it came on in the past. Two and a half hours of labor for removing and fitting the manifold after cleaning out
the EGR ports, and no parts were involved.
They also reported that the battery I had purchased from AutoZone about a year back was weak and needed replacing if I was
not going to drive the car almost daily. So here’s a lesson for you all. Get an OEM battery from a Mazda dealer and quit fooling
around with other makes. They never last long. My original battery had lasted 7 years!
But I was glad all the work was done. The previous owner had done nothing, except drive the little car daily from Galt to
Sacramento, when he sold me the car! Now, all the fluids were changed. Brake fluid bled and new one added. Transmission,
gear, differential, and engine oil were changed as per spec. And new NGK spark-plugs fitted. The old ones I was shown had
hardly any wear after 90K miles! When I used to race small bore Honda motorbikes in India I used nothing but NGKs. A couple of
higher number for racing and lower for city riding. The K&N air filter was cleaned and oiled. The coolant plastic reservoir bottle was
changed (the old one had lots of algae in it!).
The next day I took the Miata to work and drove at speed on County Rd #98. Everything seemed to be just as before (I
expected more power from the new spark-plugs) except that now there was no CEL (they say you have to drive the car at least
100 miles to see if the CEL stays off). Now I have to worry about that timing belt that I have not changed. Manual says it needs
to changed at 104,000 miles. Miatistas say otherwise. Has anyone had a timing belt failure? What are the symptoms? Do you just
hear a snapping sound and the engine freezes and you slowly coast to a hard shoulder? I hope someone can enlighten me. But I
will surely get it changed before I reach the magic 100,000 miles! I hate to be stranded on one of those twisty El Dorado Foot-
Hills roads after dark, especially around those wineries! God only knows what and who behind the wheel can be coming around
timing belt going bad – very very very slim... ok, pretty much none. The belt will snap and the engine will die, leaving you
at the side of the road. Don’t forget to have the water pump replaced at the same time (valve cover gasket and CAS O-
ring too). You may also want to think about replacing the idler pulleys, camshaft seals, all coolant hoses and accessory
belts while you’re at it. They’re all in the same area, so it’s more cost effective to do all this while everything’s apart. It’s
not an inexpensive maintenance, to be sure – but one that will give you peace of mind and increase the reliability factor of
your beautiful 10AE! - Mark
Members Provide SAMOA Events
By Jeanne George
In 2007, many members and officers provided a variety of events for the membership of SAMOA. These events provided a
selection of choices of things to do. Most were driving events but others provided services for the club. At the December
Business Meeting, SAMOA decal awards were presented to the leaders of these events. How many did you attend?
Correia, Denise: Zoo Zoom run...Moaning Caverns trip...Zoo Dessert run...and Chairwoman of the Scrabble Scramble 2007
Damania, Adi & Parvin: Woodland Museums run...this was their first event for the club
Gingrich, Ralph & JoAnne: Old Sugar Mill run...Fort Bragg trip
Kinsey, Graeme: Helped lead the George Surprise event...led a group of drivers to the Delta picnic
Noyes, Skip: Empire Mine run
Sipe, Jennifer: Let’s Go Girls shopping and tea at Sutter Creek...this was Jennifer’s first event for the club. She also made 2
CDs for each attendee of all girl favorite music selections.
Spangler, Dan & Mila: Led the Mt. Shasta July 4th Event. They provided a great selection of back roads and fine dinning
experiences on this 3 day adventure.
Weis, Vince and Kathi Bell: Led a group to the “Miatas at Moab” event this year. They hosted a picnic at their Delta home for
sharing photos and experiences. Vince offered cruises on the water ways in his yacht. They also led the driving to Fort Bragg.
DeLaurentis, Mike & Helen: Organized the Mt. Shasta July 4th trip
George, Robin & Jeanne: Hangover run with passenger swap...April Fools Day run...George’s Surprise with music & instructions
CD...Redneck pre-hangover run with passenger swap.
Parker, Jack: OTM Run...SAMOA participation in Shriner’s Autocross event...Breakfast at Kirkwood run...Black Hawk Museum
run...and Annual Teddy Bear run
Petrich, Ron: Super Bowl Sunday run...Got Guts II at Thunderhill II...Redwoods Weekend run...and Sunday drives to Napa
Rwell, Fran: Led a group in the July 4th Garden Valley parade...Fort Bragg trip organizer...hosted Annual Chili cook-off
Decal awards were presented to the following people for their services to the club: Bob and Terri Bacon for their shopping for
the monthly raffle prizes and handling the ticket sales. Gundi Bechthold organized the successful and festive Holiday Dinner at
the Lions Gate Hotel.
At the July meeting a guest from Australia, Phil, who is a friend of Ron Crawford and Skip Noyes made a presentation to the club.
He was a magazine writer and an avid automobile enthusiast. He shared many great stories of his adventures with the members.
As a good will gesture from the club he was presented with a SAMOA decal to take back home with him.
It is not too late for you to earn one of these coveted Miata decals. Consider organizing an event for 2008 and contact our new
Events person, Jack Parker.
By Jeanne George
The new SAMOA embroidered clothing collection has been a big hit. Sales so far include the following: 22 long sleeve T-shirts,
12 men’s sweatshirts, 16 women’s sweatshirts, and 22 baseball hats. We only have a few items remaining in our inventory. If
you are interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 916 359-2627.
Men’s ¼ zip fleece lined Sweatshirts $20 each
1 large, Black with red lettering
1 X-large, Navy with red lettering
1 X-large, Ash with red lettering
Women’s full zip Micro Fiber Fleece Sweatshirt $20 each
4 X-large, Berripink with black lettering
1 X-large, Sky-blue with black lettering
1 X-large, Seapearl with black lettering
Baseball Caps $9 each
1 black with red lettering
5 tan with black lettering
Robin continues to watch for sales from the company and passes the savings along to the members. If there is something you
would be interested in special ordering, let us know. We will obtain pricing for those items.
Rolling Out for the New Year
SAMOA, Pre-Hangover “Redneck Run”
By Cameron Lloyd
Greetings for the New Year to you all! I had the very fortunate pleasure of recently buying myself a “new” (’94) Miata. I
brought it out to really stretch its legs for the first time at the New Year’s “Redneck Run”. It is wonderfully exciting to get a new
toy, bring it out to meet new people, and all go out to celebrate the coming New Year.
Arriving at Starbuck’s, the weather was awfully foreboding. It was rather gray and cold for open-topped motoring. The nineteen
cars for the run sat at attention in the morning haze, while the thirty participants sat inside, filling the small coffee shop with the
joy and coming excitement of the ride. We soon filtered out into the chill ourselves, and circled up to receive our sheets with
run directions and redneck jokes before launching the roadster parade.
The weather soon turned to our favor. Like a coming dawn of the warm New Year after the gray winter, the overcast sky
opened up to be sparkling blue with just the last traces of clouds to remind us of what the weather had been just a short hour
ago. The run itself was rather leisurely, winding along levee roads in a long loop south from Sacramento, back around and up
again. The stops along the way complemented the “redneck” nature of the event with combination Bait-and-Grocery stores,
boxes of spent shotgun shells in parking lots, and slumped-over port-o-potties. While stopped, we had the opportunity to
exchange passengers and meet new people as we rolled on, eventually ending at Logan’s restaurant in Natomas. We all sat down
to a big loud lunch, tossing peanuts at each other, and discarding shells on the floor. Almost like people shedding their cares with
the new-coming year… but more like people who had the opportunity to throw peanuts around in a restaurant without having to
worry about cleaning up.
New cars, new people, and even a new sky to remind us why we’d filed out for the morning and what we were looking forward
to. As the new blood to the group, I hope your excitement for the coming year is something close to mine right now.
By Robin George
Happy New Year!!!! As the saying goes “Time flies when you’re having fun”, and 2007 has gone quickly. I can truly say the
members of this club have one goal in mind and that is to “have fun”. This past year I witnessed over and over again, no matter
where we were or what we were doing, we had a great time. That is what sets this club apart from the others. I have been told
from our new members that our club is what they have been looking for. To drive, eat, and socialize. Some joined due to our
web site, but most have joined after talking to one of our members. That says a lot.
Yep, it’s 2008 and the start of a new and exciting year. We already have had our first Board Meeting and our first run of the
New Year. The majority of the same team from 2007 is working for you in 2008. You elected two new Board members, Pam
Hunt and Mark Brooks. They are eager and look forward to adding new ideas and fun stuff to the club.
Mark, our Technical Advisor, is willing to create and work on a fancy newsletter to further enhance the message we want to give
to our members. But he needs your input and submissions. That is where you the member can help. Send Mark pictures and
articles you want to share. Don’t be shy. Let’s see what he can do. Wear him out. Pam, our Secretary, along with Jeanne
(Treasurer) keeps the Board under control and grounded (keeps the testosterone level down). Pam also demonstrates the
eagerness to work on making this year an outstanding one.
We had a great turnout for the “Redneck Pre-hangover Run”. Seventeen Miata’s and three funny looking cars. We drove along
the Sacramento River levees and swapped our passengers whenever possible. We ended up at Logan’s Steakhouse and had
some good old Redneck food. I found out in a strange way that our members can throw some pretty mean peanuts too.
We are off to a great start. Keep it going and join in on the fun.
By Mark Brooks
As the newly elected (as if there was anyone else interested in running?) Tech Advisor for 2008, I figured I’d take some time to
introduce myself and tell you about my ‘experience’ that qualifies me to be your SAMOA Tech Advisor.
I have been a “car guy” for as long as I can remember – my first car was a 1973 Plymouth Duster with a 318 cubic inch V8. I was
17 years old, and blew up 4 rear ends, a transmission and the engine in that car. I replaced each of them myself and I still
remember rebuilding the engine myself over Easter vacation when I was a Senior in High School (good thing I was taking an auto
machinist ROP course at the time!).
After high school, I went to Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie Wyoming to learn auto body collision and refinishing repair.
Even though I had gone to school and graduated in the top of my class, I still had to start out at the “bottom of the ladder” at
the first shop I worked at. This meant working in the detail shop – after the cars had been painted, it was up to me to colorsand
them, buff and polish them so the paint had the same exact texture as the factory paint on the adjacent panels. I became the
shop’s expert on buffing/polishing black cars (as most of you probably know, black is the most difficult color, since it shows all
flaws). By the time I got done with them, they were flawless. At one point, I ended up having to drive to John Madden’s house
in Blackhawk to buff/polish his wife’s black Mercedes convertible a week after we had painted it (because they were unable to
bring the car to the shop to have it done). I went on to work at some of the more well known collision repair shops in the East
Bay area (Pleasanton and Walnut Creek). The shops I worked at were authorized repair facilities for Mercedes-Benz, Porsche,
Jaguar, Volvo, BMW and Range Rover/Land Rover. During this time, I also autocrossed my 1990 Honda Civic Si (I think the class
was “CSP”?) with SCCA and had a blast (and got proficient at removing the orange scuffs from my paint)…
I worked in this field for nearly 7 years before deciding that I didn’t want to do manual labor as a career. Unfortunately by the
time I left the body shops, I had worked on so many cars for other people that I was pretty burnt out on cars. That was around
About 5 years ago, the fire within was reignited when I found a car for sale – a 1971 Dodge Dart, it had the same
engine/drivetrain as my first car. Since I bought it, I’ve put in a bigger engine, better transmission, bigger rear end, better
suspension, bigger brakes, and have been slowly restoring the body/paint (very very slowly) to it’s original color. Then, a year or
so ago, I picked up my 1994 Miata, and have added a Hard Dog rollbar, Flyin Miata springs, and several other goodies. I’ve
participated in a few track events at Thunderhill, and have really enjoyed getting my hands dirty working on the car. Now, my
wife and friends have been harassing me to get my Dodge Dart finished and to stop putting so much effort into the Miata
So – I’ve got a broad range of automotive experience, from American muscle cars to Imports; getting my hands dirty rebuilding
engines to making the paint look pretty, and a lot of stuff in between. However – I certainly don’t ‘know it all’, so there may be
times I defer to my predecessor, Jack Parker – or other members of the group. But I can say that I will do my best to help you
out with your technical questions and problems and try to steer you in the right direction!