Carlife>> The Kinod Socal Roadster Lifestyle

Earlier this month, there was a discussion about the roadster community amongst a few of us Speedhunter folks and the subject of the Kinod Photography group came up. I hadn't heard of them previously, so had a look at their site and was rather impressed with what I saw…. One photographer particularly stood out: a young chap named Linhbergh Nguyen. I don't know where he learned to shoot photos but think he has an incredible eye for composition, light and colour…. things that you can't really learn IMO… either you have it or you don't and I think Linhbergh definitely has it… Have a look at his photography blog site to see what I mean. As he also lives the Roadster Lifestyle I thought it would be a great idea for him to present an overview of the Socal Roadster scene as we finish up Mazda month here on Speedhunters… enjoy!

Linhbergh Nguyen

You absolutely cannot deny the feeling of the wind blowing in your hair, a cosmic amount of headroom, and of course the nostalgic stylings inspired from the Lotus Elan. Or it could be the constant peppy tune carried by the engine, singing it's way past seven thousand rpm, always waiting to receive more, and begging for it when you don’t give it harder! Or it could be the chassis that whispers in your ear with sweet nothings. Titillating with the idea of hugging a curve, kissing an apex, or tightening your grip for that dip ahead. Or, it could be that this car just loves to stick its hand into the neither regions of your pants and does as it pleases –every time you turn the key. This is roadster life. It changes the way you live your daily life, how you drive, and the people you hang out with.

Who would’ve known that in four short years, Miatas would create a cult following as the Eight-six Corolla did for itself years ago. And who would’ve known that it would be Southern California that would lead the youthful explosion of new roadster enthusiasm in the Untied States and even influence roadster styling internationally too!

But, it wasn’t that long ago that Miatas had worse stigmas than they do now. Everyone knew that these happy little cars were driven by old retired folk, middle aged women, and of course, hairdressers. But throughout it’s eighteen year lifespan, Miatas have always been known for it’s handling, relative cheapness to buy and maintain. And that thought has shown through the years of competitive motorsports these cars have been apart of for years. Spec Miata, SCCA autocross, and time attack are a few examples of the motorsport pedigree that these cars have built up over the years. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago, that young folks started noticing that these cars and taking them into their own hands, and making them into a mainstream phenomenon.

It was around 2005 that a man named Kendal, starting installing parts on his roadster with brands barely anyone in the Miata community has ever heard of (Work, RSR, BRIDE, ARC, and Maxim) along with other modifications not seen by typical Miata tuners, such as a removed soft-top, stripped interior, hood risers, JDM side markers, or an aggressive stance with 15×7 +25 Work Equip 03's. Such offsets and modifications for a street Miata were not imagined before. The community was floored. Older “traditional” Miata owners rebuked such blasphemy. But Kendal was so ahead of his time that it caught the eye of many younger tuners –including myself. Kendal changed the Miata game completely.

It wasn't long before names like Peter and Paul surfaced throughout the forums. And with those names came such things like 13×8 +4 or 15×8 +0. And Miatas were never the same since.

Who would've known that a little less than a year later, at a Krispy Kreme in the City of Industry, would host the birth of an amazing camaraderie of fellow roadster owners in Southern California. On June 27th 2006, KINOD was founded. KINOD at the time was an acronym for Krispy-Kreme In-n-Out and drive, and we did exactly that on every Friday night.

Friday nights became, for many of us, the only day in the week we'd look forward to. After a long week of school or work, we could not wait for the drive to the meet. It was our release, and our escape from the week’s prior hustle of life –a guys night out. Shooting the *** and talking about our passion for roadsters made every battle fought during the week well worth it. We'd be getting calls from out girlfriends and wives, but their bitching was worth ignoring for the simple fact that we were at KINOD. We'd be getting calls from out girlfriends and wives, but their bitching was worth ignoring for the simple fact that we were at KINOD (the potential for some of us sleeping on the couch that night was still well worth it).

We did more than just stand around a dark parking lot on Friday nights. Here's our fellow drifter, Jeff Abbott in his 1999 turbo charged Miata, smoking it up at the Horse Thief Mile. He's the best Miata drifter in Southern California. His car control is elegant and brutal at the same time –it's a feat to witness in person. Look out for him in the 2009 season down here in sunny California.

Here's another shot of Jeff Abbott tearing it up at Horse Thief Mile. The green sparkle paint job is amazing.

We hold “tech days” at which any of us can bring our cars to work on and get help with whatever we needed. These days have seen many different projects go on; oil or fluid changes, suspension installs, roll bar installation, water pump and timing belt jobs (which take pretty much the whole day), and even turbo installs. Remember that scene from the Fast and the Furious where they are having the barbeque at Toretos house? These Tech days are exactly like that –even with the kissing on the head (oh wai—). We barbeque, work on cars, shoot the ***, and share our love for roadsters, motorsports, all sorts of automobiles, and tuna sandwiches with no crust! So take that burger and fries for $2.99 somewhere else, buddy!

After a long day of working on cars, (and making up excuses to our loved ones as to why we were not home yet) we clear out the garage, pull some chairs to a table and enjoy a few games of poker. Cars, poker, and screaming significant others –that's a definite man day in my book.

Here's a shot of from the recent Miata time attack event, The 949 Racing/Slick Auto “Miata Challenge.” It was an amazing event, in which all the trash talking was put to the test, and driver skill and car preparation played very important roles. But you know what? Not even an event like this can stop the *** talking; in fact, these events give passionate drivers even more fuel to throw into the flames, and because the whole Southern California community is so tight, the lighthearted *** talking is amazingly fun, and keeps everyone’s’ spirits up.

This is the monteriously fast Mazdaspeed Miata kitted with a built Flyin' Miata engine touting ~260 wheel horse power for a car that only weighs ~2500 pounds. And it keeps all this in check with some mega wide 15×9 +36 wrapped with 225/45/15 NT01s. This photo was shot at the Streets of Willow after round one of the Miata Challenege. This car came third in the modified class.

Another shot from turn six at the Streets of Willow at the Miata Challenge.

This photo sums up the day at Miata Challenge. It was a gorgeous day spent with wonderful people. And you can also spy the Nissan 370z that Antonio was driving around for Speedhunters in the background.

As you can see, the roadster community is a very diverse community, we have our track heads, the guys that love street performance, and the guys that absolutely love to rice their s*** out and drive low and slow. This roadster, with itsSSR MKIII was 10.75" from hub to fender in the front.That means it was so low that the car's airbag blew out when the owner drove too fast through a dip! That's truly dope. This man is living it.

But this car's owner, Leonard, is truly living it. This car has been featured on SpeedHunters a few weeks ago. Leonard loves the low life so much that he takes the time to drop and or raise the car when going to the track and daily driving it on the road. At one point, this car was so low that the car took out lane dots when switching lanes! He tells me time and time again that it hurts him deeply to raise his car when he's on the track –that is true low life dedication.

This is the Godfather of roadster lowness. Just looking at the photo alone gives you that amazing feeling that this car is a jem to drive. It is rolling on Work Equip 03 14×8.5 +6 front and 15×9 +23 rear wrapped with 195/45/15 Toyo T1Rs all around. It also has Carbing aluminum four-point bar, Bride LowMaxx, and the absolute soul of the car that you can't see from the photo: the Mikuni Carbs that is accompanied by the RSR GTII Exmag exhaust. That combination is an absolute symphony.

Check out Antonio's article on this car earlier in the month! It is truly something to behold. When you see this sucker rolling on the road, you are drawn to its magic.

The guys in the community like to call this car "the Standard." Because it really set the standard to what can be done to a Miata. Those amazing 15×8 +0 Work Equip 01s paired with its stance and Garage Vary lip is a feast for the eyes.

This is the same Miata above but rockin' the Hello Kitty license plate frame. It is sitting on some awesome American Racing 15×7 +0s. That's right, you heard me –American Racing!

This very unique body kit is a Pitcrew. And almost every panel on the car has been replaced with something lighter and stronger (except for the rear quarter panels). It is rolling on Work Goocars 15×8 +15 in the front and 15×8.5 +6in the rear. This car was able to get second place in the street class at the Miata Challenge despite being almost un-tuned.

This June marks the third year of "KINOD." We celebrate every anniversary with some KINOD t-shirts, here's a shot of the second year's shirt getting printed. These shirts were designed and printed from people within the Miata community.

A lot of us drive Miatas daily. And we know it's not the most practical of cars, nor is it very good at attracting the opposite sex like the S2000 is. Miatas aren't the greastest cars in the world –they're actually far from it. But you know what? Cars like these aren't cars you buy with your brain; you make the purchase with your heart. These care are completely irrational to own day in and day out. But we love them- that is all there is to it. The magic has penetrated deep within us and we can't escape it.

But at the end of the day, you remember that you didn’t wake up before dawn on track day simply because you love the car, but it’s because you know you're going to be spending that day with the people that love their cars as much as you love yours. It is that passion that keeps communities alive. I have personally witnessed this community grow to what it is now, and it’s that brotherly bond that keeps it going.

The thing about cars is that you love them because it makes you feel like you're eight years old again, and it harkins you back to the days of having that Lamborghini Countach poster on your wall when you were a kid. You stared at that poster like it was a Cindy Crawford center fold that you stole form your dad's bedroom. But, when you get out of the grocery store and see your little roadster in between two giant SUVs, it gives you that same Lamborghini Countach feeling. And when you drive these Miatas –be it a slammed rice mobile, or fast-on-the-track-handling-monster — it puts a giant smile on your face. And at the end of the day, it is real hard to remove that smile.

-Linhbergh Nguyen

KINOD Photography

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  1. […] myself a 1992 Mazda Miata back in 2005, fell in love with cars, fell in love with photography, wrote an article about it, and somehow I ended up where I am […]

  2. […] myself a 1992 Mazda Miata back in 2005, fell in love with cars, fell in love with photography, wrote an article about it, and somehow I ended up where I am […]

  3. […] the way I met some really cool people, went to and became part of the KINOD group, did a few track days, broke my car a bit and learned so much more about Miatas than I would ever […]

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