Inside Mazda

Discovering Balance and Joy in the MX-5 Miata

Celebrating 30 Years of the MX-5 Miata begins with celebrating our fans and their stories. We asked owners and enthusiasts from around the country to submit their MX-5 stories to celebrate the debut of the 30th Anniversary MX-5 Miata at the Chicago Auto Show.


In 2010, fresh out of school, Sarah Bantay purchased her first Mazda – an FC RX-7, and immediately fell in love with it. After racing the rotary-powered sports car for a few years, she decided to go out and find another car that was both affordable to work on and fun to drive. In 2013, Bantay purchased a 1994 MX-5 Miata and competed in the E-stock autox class with Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).

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Her MX-5 took her from track to track, but as Bantay reminisced on her most memorable on-track experience, she is immediately drawn back to her time at the iconic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, formerly Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, during the annual “Miatas at Mazda Raceway” event.

“I'll never forget flying down the Corkscrew for the first time, screaming with joy,” Bantay reflected. “I wasn't sure if it was me or my tires screaming but that didn't matter. I won't forget the sound, the feeling, the colors or the smell.”

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Fast forward to 2018 and with plenty of drive and track time in her 1994 MX-5, Bantay was ready for something new. Bantay had her heart set on a new 2019 MX-5, but not just any 2019. It had to be a Arctic White MX-5 with a black soft top, the Brembo/BBS package and a manual transmission. And she didn’t want to wait.

“When they first came out, nobody had that car yet,” Bantay explained. “And I was just like, ‘I'm ready to go! I have a buyer who's ready to buy my other car.’ But I couldn’t just let my current MX-5 go and not have a replacement.”

A local Mazda dealer she’d been working with called her to let her know that the exact MX-5 she’d been looking for arrived at a dealer nearly 400 miles away, but they weren’t sure if she’d be interested in it since it was so far away. Sarah coordinated with the Northern California Mazda dealer and secured the car she’d been dreaming of.

“I sold my first generation MX-5 and as soon as I closed the garage, I just started crying,” Bantay said. “What had I done? But that sadness was gone pretty quickly. I booked a one-way flight up to pick up my new car.”

Bantay flew to Northern California from Southern California and had the keys in hand the same day. Not wanting to waste any time, the following morning she embarked upon one of her most unforgettable drives down the Pacific Coast Highway and U.S. Highway 101, listening only to the sound of the car’s engine the entire way home.

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Photo Credit: @SachikoStudio

“Just going through Big Sur, going down the highway with the ocean on one side and trees and mountains on the other side, by myself with the top down,” Bantay reflected, “It was great.”

When comparing the 2019 model to her 1994, Bantay happily reports that everything that was done right the first time is either the same or better.

“The brand new car feels just the same in all the right ways as the original,” Bantay explained. “It’s joyful, balanced and fun."

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