A Man, His Miata, and Historic Rallies
Robert Selkowitz is a car guy with a mission. As rally master for the Catskill Conquest Rally and the Saratoga ABC Rally, he welcomes all cars to enjoy history as they drive today. Robert’s done his research and shares the interesting history of that which we take for granted: paved public roads.
His own rides show two things: you can have fun in just about any car and dreams do come true.
What kinds of cars do you see at your historic rallies?
My events often have a range of 100 years in the ages of the entries and it is a great mix of people and machines. I created these events while driving my 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan, which is a great vehicle and the sixth van I have owned since 1972. To anyone who wants to join a rally, I say, ‘If you love your car, come and drive it.’
So the Dodge is your dream car?
No! For my 40th birthday I bought myself a 1991 Mazda Protege. It was the year Mazda won Le Mans and I loved the Miata, which had come out in 1990. By 1991, we had our second daughter and the Protege was a practical, lovely car and lively with the 5-speed. For ever after my aspiration was for a Miata.
Has that Miata dream come true?
Yes! My family began to talk about getting me a used Miata for my 70th birthday. The idea was for me to get a used Miata, but a nice one. I began looking on Facebook, at Miata Clubs and various online sites. I found an ad in a club newsletter for a 2003 Miata Special Edition with 2,600 miles. It was midnight blue mica, my color, and immaculate.
The car was also twice my initial budget idea. I wrote an email to the owner saying it was my perfect Miata but seemed beyond my reach, even though I still didn’t have a family budget for the car. It was too good. The owner responded, “Let’s not talk about the money first.” He had bought the Miata at 69 and was now 86. He had been meaning to sell it for years. His goal wasn’t to see the car go into a collection where the new owner would maintain its low mileage and mint condition. He was interested in the life I would give it in rallies and driving around the Catskill Mountains.
The owner liked the idea of letting it go to me at age 69 and lowered his asking price and I got a budget figure from my family. The final piece of the puzzle fit when my wife looked at the photos of the car. She said, “That’s your Miata! DO IT!”
What’s it like to realize your dream and own this Miata?
What took me by surprise was the extensive documentation he kept and the pile of Mazda gifts, unused, that came with the car. I have the Certificate of Authenticity for Automobile # 526 of 1,549 Miata Special Editions in 2003. I have letters from John Mendel, Exec VP and COO, listing the contents of the gift set: Backpack with integrated/removable cooler with logo, Ogio Sports Blanket with logo, 7-in-1 Magnetic Travel Game, two Miata Special Edition caps.
When I found the caps at the bottom of the box which held all this stuff, and more, including a full shop manual, I laughed! The caps are lovely. My Miata is being serviced and a new set of tires installed. I did drive it briefly with the top down when I put plates on it.
What’s next for you in terms of rallies, Miatas, and more?
I have put 2000 miles on the Miata since April 23rd, when I picked it up after servicing. It has been to Lime Rock four times, twice on two VSCCA weekends. I even drove it around the track with the First Capital Corvette Club, based in Kingston, which is New York state’s first capital, and the Brits of the Hudson Club. Both clubs have members who participated in past Catskill Conquest Rallies.
I look forward to a lot of rallies with this car and welcome friends to visit www.1903autorun.com for more information. Let’s keep these cars moving!