Archive for Recent Events

Run to Monterey, Featuring a Track Day at Laguna Seca

There is plenty to do and see in the Monterey Bay area.  My personal favorite spot is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, between Monterey and Salinas.  Of the nine race tracks I’ve run at speed, Sonoma Raceway is the only one I think is more fun.

On Thursday, June 22nd, I met Tom Kelly and Marie DeMarbiex, Greg and Eunice Magill, and Bob and Kathleen Swanson at the Aliso Creek rest stop, our starting point for our run up to Monterey.  Lisa had planned on going, too.  But our cat, Mario, is having health issues.  So she decided to stay home and watch over him.

Our first stop was for lunch at a small restaurant right on Santa Barbara’s East Beach.  I lived in Santa Barbara for about a year and East Beach was my regular weekend spot.  I learned most of my volleyball skills there.  It was a bit disheartening to realize that it had been 40 years since I had been there last.  When did I get so old?

We also made a gas and Starbucks stop in Buellton.  My cousin Anna lives there and she recognized my car as she drove past the Chevron.  She contacted Lisa through Facebook to see if it really was my car that she had seen.  Lisa confirmed that it indeed was me.  So Anna stopped by for a quick “hello”.  Yes, I do have family everywhere!

Our hotel for the weekend was the Lighthouse Lodge and Cottages in Pacific Grove.  It wasn’t anything special, although the remodeled rooms were nice.  My room had a small balcony off the back, overlooking the adjacent cemetery.  Yes, it was quiet.  What was really nice was the hotel’s location.  It was a short walk to the Point Pinos Lighthouse and what passes as a beach in Northern California.  There was also a nice golf course, complete with deer spectators.

Friday was the track day, so we all got up early and headed to the track.  It was very foggy when we arrived, but the fog burned off just as the first run group began their session.  After we completed our track time and the “transponder hunt” (ask Tom), we had a nice outdoor dinner at Tarpy’s Roadhouse.

On Saturday, Bob and Kathleen went back to the track while the rest of us took a Lyft into Monterey.  We had a nice lunch, did some shopping, mingled with the crowd and finished it off with ice cream at Ghirardelli’s.  The hotel was only 2 miles from the Monterey shops, so we thought we would walk back.  After a few blocks, we gave up and called for a Lyft.  My brother had driven down from the East Bay area to play golf with one of his regular golfing groups.  We had dinner together Saturday evening.  As I said, lots of family.

Bob and Kathleen decided to stay an extra day while the rest of us drove home on Sunday.  We stopped for a barbecue lunch at Willow Ranch in Buttonwillow.  It’s our regular dinner spot when we’re at the track in Buttonwillow.  The food was good as always, but their air conditioning system wasn’t working and there were triple-digit temperatures outside.  They had brought in portable AC units, which made it bearable, but we left just as they closed because of the heat.

Driving home through Los Angeles was the usual traffic nightmare, made worse than a typical Sunday because of a brushfire near the freeway.  We decided to take I-210 around the north to I-15.  My navigation kept trying to take us back to I-5, so after a while, I just ignored it.  Unfortunately, that meant I missed what would have been a shorter route, so we ended up driving a few more miles than necessary.  But we all did make it home.

I will probably plan another Monterey Run for about the same time next year.  Speed Ventures rents the track at least once a year.  They’re no longer my favorite group with which to run, but their Laguna Seca weekend has a 92dB noise restriction.  Most other weekends are limited to 90dB.  Hopefully, we’ll have a bigger group join us, including some non-racers.  Thanks to Tom  and Marie, Greg and Eunice, and Bob and Kathleen for making this one fun!

– Craig

Top Gear America taping

COCSD members Tom Kelly, Greg Magill, Craig Moya and Randy Standke were joined by San Diego Miata Club member Greg Lee on a road trip to Las Vegas to participate in the taping of the new Top Gear America television series.  The group drove up on Sunday, May 14 and were in the audience for the Monday morning taping.  The taping of all 8 episodes were done that week, with two taping sessions each on Sunday through Wednesday.

Tom (with help from Marie) rented a Kia minivan and did all of the driving.  Craig served as navigator and brought along some GoPro video cameras to record the trip.  We weren’t allowed to photograph or shoot video at the taping location, but there was plenty of “interesting” conversation over the 11 hours or so of round-trip travel time.  Watch for the video of the highlights soon!

Craig, Tom, Greg and SDMC’s Greg Lee met up at Randy’s for the trek to Las Vegas. Photo by Randy’s 4-year-old granddaughter, Zoe.

While in Las Vegas, we had dinner with Lisa DiSabatino’s parents, Yvonne and Mike. Mike joined us for the taping.

The taping took place at SpeedVegas, a privately-owned race track, at the end south of Las Vegas.  Greg M. and Craig were among the 20 or so audience members chosen to stand by the track while the guest celebrity and the professional driver (aka The Stig) took their hot laps on the 1.5-mile road course.  The others viewed the laps from a second floor observation deck on the adjacent main building.

The Stig drove a very modified minivan on the track. Greg got a photo of the Stig family decal as we left the taping.

Once the laps were run, all 200 or so audience members were grouped around the taping “studio” – the tall, multi-bay service garage at the track.  If you’ve watched the original BBC Top Gear, taped in the UK, you know that the audience does not sit.  They stand.  And stand, we did, for about 4 straight hours, including the time outside at the track.  At least those of us on our side of the studio got to move around a bit.  We separated and regrouped, as they brought multiple vehicles into the studio from behind us.

It’s impossible to say whether any of us will make “cameo” appearances, once the episode is broadcast sometime this summer.  Regardless, it was fun to participate, learn a bit about what happens during a series taping, and just hang out with fellow car nuts.

Back in San Diego, everyone paid Tom their share of the car rental and gas cost. Contrary to rumors, we did not pay with “leftover” singles.


Presidents’ Run

When you live in San Diego, it is very easy to take days with perfect weather for granted.  Yes, we suffered through a “brutal” winter. It rained for an entire day!  But as soon as spring arrived, we were back to days of sunshine and temperatures in the mid to upper 70s.  On Sunday, April 2nd, the weather was perfect.  And we took full advantage of it.

As most of you are aware, Lisa and I belong to two car clubs.  We’ve been in COCSD for over 23 years.  (We were both very young when we joined.)  It is, and always will be, our “first” club.  But a few years ago, we were invited to join the San Diego Miata Club.  Actually, they told me they were tired of having me attend their meetings as a guest, to talk about Main Street America or to challenge them to kart racing, and it was time for us to become members.  The cost is only $35 for a couple and no, you don’t have to own a Miata.  So it was an easy decision to make.  SDMC is larger than COCSD, but there are so many similarities between the two clubs.  The biggest thing both have in common is wonderful people.  We truly enjoy hanging out with members of both clubs.

Another common thread is the desire to drive our fun cars on twisting, winding roads.  SDMC president Gene Streeter and I decided to lead by example and plan a run through the familiar, but oh so fun San Diego County back country.  Lisa and I had been introduced to a family-owned and operated restaurant in Jamul with excellent burgers and a large parking lot, so it seemed to be a perfect destination.

Gene and I spread the word to the members of our respective clubs and did a test drive of the route.  Based upon the response we received, we anticipated 40 to 50 others would be joining us.  We ended up with close to 80.

COCSD members and guests Alan Atha and Nancy Oeh, Joe Beland and Betty Maving, Lee and Pat Caudel, George Dauphine, Lisa DiSabatino, Rick and Janet Hefter, Joe Huvar, Leah Johnson, Howard Kendall, Jim Kistner and Lydia Zulia, Jim Mellos, Lee and Margaret Olson, Nick Pavle and Marsha Otto, Gilbert Peet, Brent and Anne Randall, Stuart and Lisa Robertson, Bill and Lin Siepert, Jim and Robin Sperling, Alan and Catherine Stewart, Rod and Linda Weissenberger, Napoleon White and Lydia Duro and Lore Young were joined by approximately the same number of SDMC members at our gathering point in Rancho San Diego.  From there, we headed east, through Descanso Junction, Guatay and Pine Valley, to a short break at the Buckman Springs rest stop.

Lisa and I had led the group through the first leg.  Gene and wife Bonnie took over for the remainder of the route.  Although Gene had driven the route when we checked it out two weeks previously, he let Bonnie convince him that he needed to turn right at an intersection where he should have gone straight.  So roughly half of the group took a slight detour before realizing their error and returning back to the proper route.  The Club radios allowed us to communicate and minimize the consequences of the error.

From the rest stop, we went south to Campo, then west on 94.  After a short distance, Margaret and Lee had pulled to the side because of a check engine light on the dash of their C5.  We stopped to check on them.  After verifying that all of the gauges were reading normally, we concluded that it was not something critical.  But rather than try to catch the group and follow them around Lyons Peak and Phelps Corner, we decided to head straight to the restaurant to make sure they were ready for us.

Brody’s Burgers and Beer is located in Jamul, at the intersection of 94 and Steele Canyon Road.  It’s in the strip center behind the 7-Eleven on the corner.  It’s owned and run by the Broderick family.  They have a large party room with a few regular tables and two long picnic-type tables.  The room is easily large enough for 40 to 50 people.  But with around 80 of us, several had to be seated in the main restaurant.  They were prepared for a big group, with extra staff.  But trying to fix food for our group, plus the others who came in, did result in delays.  Everyone took it in stride, but it does point out the need to respond when someone hosting a run asks participants to do so.

Howard was one of the last to leave, so I got the chance to check out his brand new Admiral Blue Grand Sport.  It’s an absolutely beautiful car.  If it were a convertible, it would be as perfect as the weather on that typical San Diego day.

Craig Moya

(Photos by Mark Booth, SDMC)


Hawk Watch & Cordiano Winery Run

Eunice Magill organized the Hawk Watch & Cordiano Winery Run on February 25, 2017.

Members and guests attending were: Keith Kingsley, Gloria Jones, Eunice Magill, Greg Magill, Gilbert Peet, George Dauphine, Diane Dauphine, Napoleon White, Dawn & Randy Standke with Granddaughter Zoe, Linda Duro, Glen Honig, Shelley Honig, Marilyn Bredimus, Steve Hucik, Diane Hucik, Margaret Olson, Lee Olson, Lisa Foland, Lore Young, Carole Bronstein, Steve Bronstein, Brent Randall, Anne Randall, Lee Caudel, Pat Caudel, Dennis Kenneally, Lois Kenneally, J. Demetrios Mellos

More details will follow, so check back soon.  For now, here are some of the photographs from the Hawk show at Regent Ranch:



After that, we drove over to the Cordiano Winery – to enjoy the food, wine and scenery.


Vettes for Veterans All-Corvette Car Show

North Coast Vettes (NCV) hosted the annual Vettes for Veterans All-Corvette Car Show on Saturday, November 5.  Several COCSD members were in attendance, meeting the “challenge” issued by the NCV to match their registrations for our Main Street America show in July.

Most of us met up at the Mission Bay Information Center for the drive up to Carlsbad.  Leah Johnson’s 2001 coupe was a part of a red, white and blue Corvette display.  The rest of us were parked together in spaces reserved for our club.


The weather was terrific and there were around 200 Corvettes to view.  Sam Campbell’s 2017 Grand Sport and Scott Norton’s 1967 coupe both won awards in their respective classes.


Joining Leah, Sam and Scott were Lee and Pat Caudell, Paul Fitch, Chip and Vicki Fox, Dave and Cindy Keetch, Howard Kendall, Keith Kingsley, Craig Moya, Gilbert Peet and Ray Provencio.