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Na een ritje met een eerste generatie Mazda MX-5 heb ik wederom prijs: I got it bad, and that ain’t good³. En wat doe je dan als rechtgeaarde internetjournalist? Firefox aanvuren en je een slaapgebrek Googlen, natuurlijk. Tijdens één zo’n zoeksessie belandde ik op de Facebookpagina Million-Mile Miata; een project van het Amerikaanse blad Road & Track dat zich als doel gesteld heeft om 1 miljoen mijlen – dus 1.600.000 km – op een 25-jaar oude MX-5 NA te klokken, gekocht voor omgerekend € 1.200.

million-mile miata

Op zich al een straf verhaal, ware het niet dat de huidige menner – de in LA residerende redacteur Chris Cantle – er wel een heel bijzonder avontuur mee beleefd heeft: een heuse car-chase!

million-mile miata

[…] My errands complete, I head home, more in love with L.A. than ever, only to find a man walking out of my garage with an armful of my things. The small-town niceness, looking for an excuse not to be disappointed, kicks in immediately. He must be working for the landlord. He must be moving something for a neighbor. That can’t be my garage he has open.

But I’m already backing up and steeling myself for a confrontation.

The bandit knows I’ve got him. He’s a young fella. Twenty-something? Sweatshirt. Pretty small. I’m doing the math in my head, thinking I could take him, but his last load of my things is already in the back of his Infiniti. He’s clever: The car was idling, ready for a getaway. And he takes off.

I know it’s stupid. Every part of my intellect does. But I have a hard time listening to that whinging guilt machine in my head under the best of circumstances. It’s on.

He flogs it down the alley. His Infiniti is quick. The Miata lunges and skitters across monster potholes. Without looking, he makes a hard left onto a surface street. I pause to judge the thing, then I follow. I gain in the corners, he opens up distance when it’s straight and there’s some visibility. He slows for Pico Boulevard, cutting around stopped traffic. I’ve managed to get my phone out, and when I close the gap to a few feet, I snap a photo. Got him.

million-mile miata

I follow the Infiniti across Pico. It’s a big thoroughfare—fast, crowded, and dangerous. He’s driving wildly, swerving and understeering through corners. I’m less panicked. I know I can wait out his crash. I’ve got the speed to keep up with him, and he’s getting closer to disaster with each second.

This is, by a long shot, the most fun I’ve ever had.

I cautiously pick my holes in traffic and slip through. On the outside of my mind, I’m starting to recognize that the tiny Miata is as fragile as it is nimble.

I steer with one hand, caning the little car against the top of second as I dial 911. The operator picks up instantly, and some sense of calm and decorum blankets my anger. The want-to-be-polite washes over me. Already, the pursuit has run its course. I have my photo. I could follow the Infiniti. I could catch him. I could stay behind him until he packs into the side of a parked Audi or a church. I want to, but I’m already backing off and watching his blinking hazard lights squirm around a corner while I describe the Infiniti to the nice lady on the other end of the phone. […] [Text: Chris Cantle for Road & Track Magazine]

Het hele verhaal, inclusief kleurrijke inleiding staat HIER opgetekend. En vergeet vooral geen fan te worden op Facebook, want dit zou wel eens het leukste autojournalistieke project van het jaar kunnen worden. Of beter: van het decennium, aangezien ze nog zo’n 650.000 mijlen oftewel één miljoen kilometer te gaan hebben!

[Tekst & Foto’s: Road & Track]