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Roadsters converge on city

| Friday, June 16, 2006

The population of Mazda Miatas in Fayette County exploded this week as the Miata Mountain Mania Regional 2006 arrived.

"We will have 134 Miatas here by the end of the day," said Bryan Bond, of Uniontown, president of the West Penn Miata Club, which has 65 members and covers parts of Westmoreland and Allegheny counties and West Virginia.

The Mazda Miata -- those two-seater convertible roadsters -- has become so popular that legions of the car's owners have started clubs to meet, greet, dine, wine and take guided tours to different parts of the country.

Bryan Bond and his wife, Leslie, have talked about having a regional event for some time. It continues through Sunday.

The Bonds are originally from West Virginia, have lived in Uniontown for three years and decided that their new home would be a great place for a regional event.

"There are beautiful settings here," Bryan Bond said about the Laurel Mountains' roads, the scenery and access to major highways. "We thought this is the perfect place."

"There are great restaurants here, and downtown Uniontown is beautiful," Leslie Bond said.

Bryan Bond said he notified the other clubs in the country through the Internet and even left his business card on any Miata he saw in a parking lot.

The Bonds said they received such a positive response from the other clubs that they had to set a cut-off number of participants before it became too big.

"These people look for stuff to do," Leslie Bond said.

The participating members, who arrived at the Uniontown Holiday Inn on Thursday, came from 22 states, including West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Vermont, New York, Florida, Indiana, Texas, and even Ontario, Canada.

When the members arrive and register at the event, they can check out any of the local guided cruises that have been set up by the organizers.

The Miata Mountain Mania event consists of 12 different destinations with guided cruises in Fayette County, the mountain areas, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Maryland. Some of the destinations, which can also be self-guided cruises, include visits to Fallingwater, Kentucky Knob and the Flight 93 Memorial.

"They (the club members) will travel big distances, and they like to have fun," Bryan Bond said.

However, the traveling, the restaurants and the destinations aren't the only reasons Miata members are Miata members.

"You meet nice folks wherever you go," Bryan Bond said, adding that if you meet a stranger at an event, the strangers already have something in common to talk about. "And you just take it from there."

Steve and Jen Hencely and Dave and Nancy Glodowski, all of the Peach Tree Miata Club in the Atlanta, Ga., area, said the friendships they've made as members of the Miata club since 1998, is what they like best about the club.

"And getting away from work," Steve Hencely said.

"We go places that we would never think to go on our own," Dave Glodowski said. "We end up seeing a lot of places."

The group will drive to Nemacolin Woodlands today to have all the cars in a panoramic photograph.

They also have get-togethers like last night's welcoming banquet; a Stretch-Your-Legs party is planned on Saturday night, featuring the Brass Knuckles Band; and the Sunday morning closing ceremony will include a raffle drawing and prizes, like having the greatest number of miles on a car or people's choice of favorite car.

Bryan Bond said another member told him about the philosophy in having a Miata and belonging to a Miata club.

"The is the first car I've owned that came with a social life."

For more information on the West Penn Miata Club, visit www.westpennmiataclub.com.

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