Inside Mazda

Miata Serves as Ultimate Tribute to Late Brother

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.


Pete Royea’s love of cars runs deep. “I've been into cars since I was about 6 years old,” Royea explained. “My oldest brother got me into cars.” Growing up, Royea and his family moved all around the world. While in boarding school, he always kept in touch with his brother who was living in Canada at the time about cars and car culture.

“We did the best we could to keep in touch,” Royea said. “I remember distinctly in February 1989, my brother called me excitedly to tell me that Mazda had done the unthinkable. They had something inspired by the old British and Italian roadsters, but with Japanese mechanicals and pop-up lights and it was going to be like the best thing ever. We shared a lot of excitement about that.”

Despite Royea’s and his brother’s best efforts to convince their parents to buy the 1989 Miata, they needed something more practical (they in fact bought a 1989 Nissan 240SX).

On September 10, 2014, Royea got the call no brother wants to receive. “He phoned me and said, ‘Bad news, I've got cancer and they're saying prognosis isn't good,’” Royea shared. “Luckily, with work and the flights, I ended up getting up there just about every weekend between September and when he passed away the second week in November.”

“It was probably one of the best learning experiences I ever had in my life,” Royea said. “He never wasted any time with regret or denial or anger. He wanted to spend time with family. It was pretty profound. He was and still is a hero.”

On the way back from the funeral, Pete’s wife suggested they purchase an MX-5 Miata as a tribute to his brother. Pete thought it was a great idea.

“It had to be a 1990 mariner blue one,” Royea said. “It had to be that first car that we talked about so much at the Chicago Auto Show.” Royea eventually found one locally that had just crossed 50,000 miles and was a hundred percent stock.

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Royea initially purchased the Miata as a hobby car for he and his wife to share, but over time it became a real contest for who got to drive it every day. During this time, Royea also started looking into upgrading the car, but his wife was insistent that he not touch the car as it’s 100% original. So, Royea purchased a 1992 Sunburst Miata with 38,000 miles on it, sight unseen, for his wife.

“I immediately solved our issues of not being able to decide who got to use the car and gave me a chance to actually go and start figuring out how to work on a car,” Royea explained.

Royea has since become fully immersed in the MX-5 community, regularly attending Friday night KINOD meet ups, going out on the track with the group and driving up to Laguna Seca. “It is by far the best community that I've ever seen around the car world,” Royea said. “Some of my best friends have come from the Miata community. The background, the demographics, they are so diverse. It's one of the most inclusive groups I've ever been a part of or been privileged to be a part of.”

Royea’s passion for the Miata has extended to others in his family, including his son who now drives a 1991 Miata, as well as his nephew who is now on his second Miata. “There’s a spark of passion about these cars for sure,” Royea said.

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“It really is still a connection with my brother,” Royea explained. “So there is a healthy dose of sentimentality that comes with owning the MX-5 Miata.”

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