A Brief History by “Voodoo” Bob Krueger

When the Miata was introduced in 1989, Mazda’s little roadster took the world by storm. Here in the United States, buyers flocked to Mazda showrooms, and the Miata craze stepped into full swing. The Miata Club of America (MCA) was formed, and local chapters soon began popping up all over the place. Sunny California was no exception.

In June of 1990, the Southern California Miata Club (SOCALM) was born as a recognized chapter of MCA. SOCALM provided a meeting place for enthusiastic Miata owners all over Southern California, and membership took off. That membership included several Miata fanatics from San Diego County.

A club for San Diego

Southern California is a big place. By 1995 it was clear that it was too large to properly serve all of the members. San Diego members had to drive up to the Los Angeles area to participate in many events, although there was the occasional event in San Diego County. Several San Diego members were already up and running on the young Internet, and they frequented a CompuServe forum named “Miataville.” It was in this forum that Rainer Mueller proposed an impromptu run in February 1996, the “Miata Regatta,” through the winding roads of San Diego’s north county. Ten other San Diego County residents joined Rainer on his run, which concluded at Stuft Pizza in Sabre Springs.

SDMC members gathered at the San Diego Automotive Museum on Labor Day 1996 for a group photo.

SDMC members gathered at the San Diego Automotive Museum on Labor Day 1996 for a group photo. This photo was featured in Miata Magazine, where SDMC was featured as a spotlight chapter. Photo: Rainer Mueller

Over a hearty meal, Tony and Mary Beecher, Mark Booth, Robert Holland, Bob Krueger, Rainer and Marianne Mueller, Cindy Paloma, Ruth and Lou Stark, and Woody Woodhouse enthusiastically discussed forming a San Diego club. With the support of SOCALM’s president, they received approval from MCA to form a San Diego chapter, and they began spreading the word to other San Diego Miata enthusiasts.

The club’s first meeting took place on March 31, 1996, at Angelo’s Italian Restaurant and Bar in Kearny Mesa. The club officially formed as the San Diego Miata Club, a chapter of the Miata Club of America. 34 memberships joined at that meeting, consisting of 55 members: Tony and Mary Beecher, Mark and Cathy Booth, Celia and John Bowen, Jack Brandais, Timothy Chen, Micahel Chiappetta, Jack and Sue diLustro, Greg Dunlap, Alan and Debbie Elster, Ken Evory, Art and Michelle Fayer, Dwight and JoAnn Fisher, Joe and Diane Garrison, Alan and Valerie Gieseke, Grant and Mari Goodman, Tom and Stephanie Gould, Art Hamilton, Steven and Yvonne Hart, Mel and Kristie Hildebrandt, Robert Holland, Tony and Maria Igar, Anna and Craig Jameson, Cynthia Jones, Cindy Kershaw, Bob and Vicky Krueger, Cynthia Krueger, Bob and Debbie Llewellyn, Rainer and Marianne Mueller, Cindy Paloma, Richard Scherschel, John Simpson, Ruth and Lou Stark, Joe and Leine Williams, and Woody and Maggi Woodhouse.

An Executive Board was voted in, consisting of Mark Booth (president), Cindy Paloma (vice president), Ruth Stark (secretary), and Mary Beecher (treasurer). Soon after, the first newsletter was published, the club’s bylaws were formed, and SDMC incorporated as a nonprofit organization. Cush Mazda began offering discounts to club members, and Tom and Stef Gould designed three logos for the club. At a club meeting in late June, the membership voted in the official SDMC logo, which we still use today.

Club members selected the club's logo from three designs.

Membership trends

Through the years, SDMC has grown. In August 2002, membership levels peaked at 391, consisting of 624 members. Today, the membership levels have declined, but have remained healthy at just under 300 memberships.

The Miata Club of America, on the other hand, did not fare so well. At its peak, MCA had more than 30,000 members, making it the largest single-model car club in the United States. Legal issues between MCA and the publishers of Miata Magazine prompted a rapid decline in MCA membership. SDMC officially ended its affiliation with MCA in September 2000, and MCA terminated operations eight months later.

One of the main reasons that SDMC has maintained a healthy membership level is a very active events calendar. Over the past 10 years, members have participated in nearly 600 planned events and countless impromptu runs. Events have ranged from simple Wheels’n’Meals social get-togethers to elaborate multi-day events. There have been signature events that have run just about every year of the club’s existence, and the famous and highly successful Surf’N’Safari regional events in 1999, 2004, 2010 and the last event in 2022 are icing on a very large cake.

Activities bring recognition

The club’s membership levels and active calendar made waves across the Miata community worldwide, even in its early days. In November 1996, just eight short months after forming, the San Diego Miata Club was featured as a Spotlight Chapter in the national Miata Magazine.

However, the club has not been without its sad moments. Members have lost their homes during the wildfires, and SDMC members stepped in to offer support. Through the years, SDMC members have passed away, and again, club members were there. After the horrible 9/11 terrorist attacks, SDMC sent a letter to the New York area Miata clubs, offering prayers, condolences, and assistance. In more recent events, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf States last year. In cooperation with Miata-Fun.net and SOCALM, SDMC helped raise $11,000 for Habitat for Humanity. These unfortunate events show that SDMC is more than just a bunch of Miata fanatics; it’s a close-knit network of friends and family willing to help out themselves and others.

Separate, but always friends, SDMC and SOCALM members met at Mazda's North American headquarters in May 2005 to see the new NC.

Separate, but always friends, SDMC and SOCALM members met at Mazda’s North American headquarters in May 2005 to see the new NC. Photo: Jerry Standefer

All of the members of SDMC, past and present, deserve a pat on the back! The club has an amazing history and a very bright future. As long as its members remain committed to having fun in their Miatas, the San Diego Miata Club will continue to prosper and afford owners of this amazing sports car even more reasons to smile.