The Drive Home - 1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

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1997 Mazda Miata: The Drive Home

March 19, 2013

1997 Mazda Miata

Now there was this little matter of getting home.

After my soggy days at Laguna Seca, the mostly clear skies and drying pavement were a welcome sight. It was well after 4pm when I rolled into the closest gas station I could find, but I knew the road home pretty well: get to the 101 and drive south for a few hundred miles, pick up the 405 south and I'm home before I know it.

I was so relaxed that I popped into the usual coffee chain, grabbed a sandwich and a latte (it was a big, manly latte) and finished them both before getting back into the car. I even thought of reattaching the stereo faceplate for some music. Hey, at least I thought about it.

There was no stress as I reset the trip meter, eager to compare my on-track mileage to an honest tank of 65 mile an hour highway driving, and drove towards the 101. The sky was clear, the roads were dry...and that was to be the last I saw of those conditions.

For the next six hours, it rained.

At its best, the sky offered up thick mist and low clouds. At its worst, there was rain similar to what I'd driven through on track. Only now, I was surrounded by other cars with ever changing pavement and darkness. I don't think there's been a drive that's provided such a steady stream of stress in my life. The car was constantly darting over the broken pavement, the wipers were always taxed and the suspension was constantly absorbing everything the CalTrans monkeys, who poured this freeway, could throw at it.

Again, I didn't die, so how about that fuel mileage?

1997 Mazda Miata

The spirited drive up gave me an average of 22.7923 miles per gallon.

The days on track yielded an average of 14.751 miles per gallon. That's not as bad as it could have been, but with all the rain, I'm not surprised.

The drive home, which was all interstate, was good for an average of 23.651 miles per gallon.

For the trip, that works out to an average of 20.740. When you think about it, that's pretty all right.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor


  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Pretty all right? The Honda Pilot over at the next pump, with twice the weight, twice the displacement and a lot more drag, will get 23.5 mpg at 65 mph. And yes, I know rain will degrade maybe 1 mpg.

  • alex4515 alex4515 Posts:

    Makes me think of a trip home from Phoenix to Dallas after Thanksgiving of 2009 - my wife, my 9 month old son and I took the northern route and drove through slush/snow/ice/rain etc. for about 5-6 hours of the first leg. It was definitely a trip I will never forget!

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    That's similar ileage to what I get from my far less powerful, carburated '72 MGB. What's the status of the new engine? Are you mining, smelting, and forging the parts yourselves?

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Greaet lead photo shot Kurt (I guess it's a given...); that fuel economy isn't bad considering the trackday thrown in...

  • nomercy346 nomercy346 Posts:

    Did you guys remove the side windows? Why? Was already wondering when I read your comments on the waterproof jacket...

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    That's fantastic mileage for a track day. The most stressful drive I ever had was a trip back from Laguna Seca in the rain. I decided to take the long scenic route home down Highway 1. And once I reached the point of no return, the clouds opened.

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