What do you get when you cross an intersection with a Miata and a jogger?  A membership in the local PACE Miata Club.  That is how this adventure started two months ago.  It may have been sooner, but the club’s membership chair had issues with the application.  Not to place any blame on anyone, this is all my husband’s doing. I am not, repeat, not pointing any fingers.

First, the amount of the check was incorrect.  It seems that they prorate the dues based on the month of the calendar year you apply.  The Membership Chair called and said he would return the check or destroy it until a new one was received.  All in all—we would reap a savings of $2.00.  I tried to get him to keep that $2.00 to no avail.  He insisted. Oh, by the way, the dues include membership for 2 people—if I was his wife I am included!   I asked if girlfriends counted.  He said I could be.  Delay #1.

A few weeks later, another call came in.  For some reason, our emails keep bouncing back as undeliverable.  Could perchance the email be wrong?  Well, I have seen my husband’s handwriting.  Doctors are in awe of his style.  I interpreted his writing for the man. All was well, Delay #2 solved.

A few weeks later, with wild anticipation, my husband announced that on Saturday, we were going to our first Miata meet. It would be in Lancaster County PA a mere 45 minutes away. We go to a buffet breakfast and then tour the covered bridges in Lancaster County.  It sounded like fun to me, too.  Plus I like to meet new people who have the same interests as we do—Miata’s and covered bridges.

The day arrived.  It was the hottest and most humid day of the year.  But weather be damned. We were going—with the top down! We had waters. We had sun glasses.  We did not have sunscreen or workable A/C.  As we drove the 4-lane highway toward Lancaster, other Miata’s—newer more expensive models, each gave a nod and a wave as they passed us by.  Did you know that all Miata’s are 4 cylinder—but today’s models have larger engines, thus more power.  Our little car was pumping at 60 mph in 5th gear and 3000 rpms. 

As we were passed by a motorcycle and then a tanker truck, Dr. Bill commented as we looked up at the large undercarriage of the tanker, “Do you realize we have no protection for our heads, no roll bar, and this window will break upon any impact? In fact, we would probably be decapitated.” A shuddering thought. But not as much as the reality that every car that passed us, I was eye to eye with their wheel well.

Soon, no GPS was needed. The Miata’s all started to be going the same way in one long line.  We will follow them!

Pulling into the parking lot of the restaurant, a little wait was needed as every car backed into their spot.  They all watched as the new guy backed into his spot—a little crooked.  “Hey! Where did you learn to drive?” came the combined taunt.

The next few minutes were spent walking the line of cars repeating answers to each question: What year? 1991. How many miles? 75,400. Original Paint? Yes, BRG-British Racing Green, Doe Interior. One of the first ones! Yes, #3940 out of 4000, name plaque near gear shift. Hard top at home. Bug Eye Lights. 

But it was the newer cars that had Dr. Bill’s eye.  $30-50,000 models.  “We are out gunned here—these are rich retired men,”  he sighed.

Inside, we found our seats for breakfast; we invited ourselves to sit with a small group. These were the Pros when it came to the rides.  They regaled us with their travels . . . Watkins Glen and they requested the pace car to go race car speed.  The NY Law states that non-race cars—even on track-- can only go the speed limit. So instead, they asked to stop the cars on the steep curve to take a picture with all the cars lined up row upon row. “We were nervous  and as I was on the top of the curve, I kept praying that my car would not slip and roll.  It was fun and a great photo!”

Another man spoke of the trip south and the fast drive on the NASCAR track. Another chimed in about the turnpike trip to Johnstown and taking the cars on the Incline to the top of the mountain to have dinner.   They talked of trips, speed, CNM (Cars not Miata’s) and then women drivers.

It appears that one, shall I say, lucky woman, was accepted into the group and came to her first event.  It was then we started to learn the rules.

#1- You must have a CB to talk to each other. It helps with keeping the group together and directions clear.  She did not have a CB at her first meet. (Neither did we, we did not know of this rule and it was not on the website.) Some have CB’s installed, but most have hand held CBs.  They use band 24 or was it 34? I am not sure, as they all began to argue over which CB was better. The installed ones made it easier to hear as the speaker was behind the driver and the co-pilot (defined as the little woman) can reach behind to change the volume or band as needed.  The hand held CB did not allow for ease of use and rested on your lap. Best of all, it did not mar the car with any installation.

 No problem with the lack of CB. They also provide a turn by turn written guide.  The men graciously invited us to drive between 2 CBers. You can tell the CBers, they have visible tall black antennas on their cars.   At this point, I was waiting for a discussion on size and length, but they continued on.

#2- Have a full tank of gas, and an empty bladder. There may not be a bathroom break.

#3-  Zero (0) your odometer at the appointed location in your written guide. It will help in case you get lost or separated. 

#4- Keep the driver ahead of you in view at all times.

#5- Keep the driver behind you in view at all times.  If you have a stop sign, or a curve, a hill, or red light, slow down until they reappear. This should also keep you from getting lost.

That is when the discussion turned to women drivers.  It seems that the one aforementioned unsuspecting woman driver joined the club.  She arrived in a flame red, automatic Miata. It turns out, RED is a woman’s color. I cannot wait until a dear male friend of mine reads this as red is his favorite color. He must be in touch with his feminine side.  And AUTOMATIC!!  One does not drive a sports car with Automatic Drive!  Oh the Sacrilege.  Oh the Inhumanity of it all.

This poor unsuspecting woman arrived all excited about participating in the ride.  She was ready. She had her GPS, her guide, and her cell phone. No CB, but she could follow. What she did not have was balls.   By the time the ride had been progressing half way, she was at least a mile behind the front car that according to rule #4—you needed to keep that driver ahead of you in sight at all times.  Which made the driver behind her (rule #5) that she did keep in view, very angry and upset.  When it came to the halfway rest stop, this gentleman sped around her, stopped, got out of the car, and proceeded to yell the rules at her. At the end of his tirade, which by then had drawn a crowd, she looked at him almost in tears.

“Why, I only have a 4 cylinder engine! I was doing my best!”

The guffaws were loud and many!   The retort, “Baby, all Miata’s have 4 cylinders.” 

The woman turned her car around and left, never to be seen by that club again.

To which I give this reasoning as to why she did what she did (red automatic car notwithstanding as an argument).  Here is what happened to us:

We placed ourselves at the appointed place, cutting into line when we saw the Black Miata with the driver who said he would be in front of us, and his friend would step in behind us. We were in the middle of 25 cars.  The ride made its first turn onto Rt 30 at the height of tourist season in Lancaster County. That meant that at the first left turn, after which we were to 0 our odometer, was halfway between red lights and across 3 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic.  Not to be undone at the first turn, our leader raised his hand and made a motion like a horse commander for my driver to follow him. As Bill gunned the engine and kept close, as soon as we turned, this navigator told my hubby to 0 the odometer.  

The line of cars made a quick stop to regroup as it took a while for all cars to cross the 3 lanes of traffic.  And then the fun began.  Remember, we needed to keep both front and back in view.  That proved quite challenging as my husband went through 4 red lights, 26 stop signs, and traveled at least 30 mph over the speed limit as we passed through little hamlets, around Amish wagons and carriages, on narrow country roads where you could not see around turns due to tall corn, and little hills.  So much for scenery and seeing the sites.  Now remember, Rule #5, we had to slow down till we saw the car behind us, at which time the car in front of us stopped.  We made a little skid.  “No problem,” said my driver, “I’m in control.”

So in defense of the woman driver, I say she was probably trying to remain within the law, and not with the Macho Miata Men.

As for the Macho Miata Men, as I was dutifully following the guide as well as keeping the cars in view, and marking each conversation with odometer readings, I told my hubby, “I think they made a wrong turn, there was a bridge off to our left, and we went right.”

“The lead driver knows where he is going,” admonishd my hubby.  “You are probably reading this wrong.”

“Hmmph,” said I, “Then why are we passing this same house and road again? I recognize the flags. We just went in a circle.”

The silence from the driver’s side  was deafening.

I asked what the Odometer reading was and started the process of updating the mileage, when the entire line of cars came to a halt.  Up ahead, our lead car was off to the left in a cornfield, and looked like it had been broadsided by another CNM. Oils and fluids were running down the road.  People were running to assist.  When it turned out the air bags deployed and all were ok in both cars, the leader  from the back of the line came along side each Miata and said the rest of the drive was cancelled for the day. An ambulance was on its way as a precaution.  And to have a safe drive home.

As for my driver? My husband is the most law abiding, safe driver I know.  When the car ahead put on his breaks, my driver knew—and understood—that downshifting was called for, he did not use the break unless it was needed.  He also was getting more and more upset as they travelled faster and ignored the rules of the road.   “This is not me.” He said as we turned around. “I am glad it is over. I think we can do our own GPS navigating, without the crowd.” 

That is why I love him.  And I got to drive home.