Trail-tackling Off-Roadster | Your Cars

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Aug 2, 2021 | Mazda, Miata, MX-5, Offroad, Miata Is Always The Answer

Photography Courtesy Joel Gat

Miata is always the answer,” explains Joel Gat. “I travel to a lot of mountain events and trailheads, and I prefer to have something fun to drive. What good is a fun Miata for 90% of the trip if it won’t take me the last 10% of the way, though?”

His off-road solution is a mostly stock Mazda MX-5 RF fitted with some knobby tires–in this case, the 205/70R16 Falken WildPeak A/T Trail. The Miata’s suspension remains stock, although Joel clearanced the fenders with a hammer and pulled off the side skirts. (Note to those looking to duplicate the effort: You can find those Falkens on Tire Rack’s site for about $130 each.)

[Off-roading the unexpected in the Gambler 500]

Off-roading a Miata requires a little finesse–and pre-walking river crossings to make sure they’re not too deep!” Joel explains. The big trick involves managing momentum: “When I’m off-roading, I have to balance the need for momentum–because rear-wheel drive doesn’t have great grip–with the need to not slam the bottom of the car into every rock and hard surface.”

Steep rock shelves need to be taken at an angle–like a slammed Civic going over a speed bump, he notes. “The reward, though, is a whole lot of dropped-jaw Jeepers in disbelief!”

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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/27/21 4:03 p.m.

Joel, Joel, Joel. I've known him for a long, long time. He's a nut. You should hear the eventual plans for that car. His recent trip to Imogene caught a lot of press, that's for sure.

He really wants a set of Fox for that car. We're just waiting for a shipment.

nderwater UltimaDork
7/28/21 10:06 a.m.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
7/28/21 10:09 a.m.

“The reward, though, is a whole lot of dropped-jaw Jeepers in disbelief!”

It's a Miata thing, you wouldn't understand.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/29/21 6:26 p.m.

My comment in this story got quoted in The Drive, without the realization of what kind of Fox shocks we're talking about :) 

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