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a day at the san diego international auto show

Car show - Lois & Ruth

After a year and a half of writing reviews, I finally got to attend my first car show last week.

Mazda invited me and my good friend, Ruth, to check out their Ride & Drive Experience at the San Diego International Auto Show and, because we’re up for almost anything, we immediately accepted. As someone who is way more into cup holders and sound systems than horsepower and torque (what?!), though, I had no idea what to expect.

We had a blast!

Just look at us in that picture. We may not be your typical car show models but it’s pretty obvious that we were engineered for exhilaration, don’t you think?

Josh and Cameron, our private tour guides ( ha ha! that’s not the title on either of their business cards but we appreciated them stepping into that role as deeply as we appreciate them lending us cars to review), gave us quite an education about the Mazdas, and we learned that the Mazda3, which I reviewed here, is, hands down, their most popular model. Attendees at the show were all over that car and, in fact, we had to push some people out of sweetly ask some people if they were done ooh-ing and ah-ing over the one above so we could get our picture.

Car show - Mazda with roofrack

As we leisurely walked around the Convention Center, we saw all kinds of fascinating vehicles and prototypes, played a few games and even virtually spray painted our own cars.

The highlight of the show, though, was the Ride & Drive Experience. This is such a great idea because it gives consumers the opportunity to test drive a variety of cars without the pressure of a dealer. That’s huge.

Car show - Mazda test drive sign

We were excited to get started but there was only one little problem.

I failed the breathalyzer test.

Hold on. Before you start getting some picture in your head of me falling all over myself, drunk on whatever, let me explain. I had just made a joke that they shouldn’t be testing people the day after New Year’s — even though the real joke is that I don’t drink.

Car show - Lois breathalyzerAnd then, when I blew into the thing, it didn’t register. So I did it again. And again. And again. I huffed and I puffed. I let out a cleansing breath. I blew softly. I whistled.


Everyone was hysterical laughing until, finally, Josh vouched for me and we continued on our merry way even though I was practically hyperventilating by that point.

So, I didn’t really fail the breathalyzer test. I just didn’t really pass it.

Once we got in the cars, though, I felt right at home. I’ve reviewed the Mazda6 and the CX-9 before, and it was fun to get behind the wheel again.

Car show - Mazda ride & drive

We got to see part of San Diego we had never seen before and we really enjoyed comparing all the different features of the cars. If you haven’t test driven a Mazda lately, you should definitely check out the car show in your city and try one out. I bet you’ll love it.

When we finished our test drives, we were rewarded with Starbucks gift cards, which was a very nice surprise — and which actually motivated a few of my friends to head to the Auto Show when I told them about it.

car show - Starbucks card

After goodbye hugs to all, I picked up a trenta-sized iced tea and spent the evening buzzing around, considering which Mazda I should ask Josh to borrow next. If caffeine was the substance being tested, I’d never pass a breathalyzer test.

Zoom zoom, indeed.


  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I am going to the one in Boston next week and this will be my first, too! I am so excited to go.

  2. I think car shows are so fun! I love seeing the concept cars. They always look so cool.

  3. This is so fun! I want to attend a car show now.

  4. Oh my goodness this sounds like such fun! What a great day our for car lovers.

  5. I know you said you had a blast but you can tell you did! How fun. I’ve only ever gone to the Toronto car show way way back when it was a ton of fun too!

  6. I’m way concerned about the breathalyzer test, Lois. I mean, surely you do NOT have massive firebreath, right? ROTFL Well, I have to admit that it looks like you had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Who probably can drive today’s totally automated cars better than my husband. Which, come to think of it, doesn’t say much since he is a TERRIBLE driver. … I want to go to a car show!

  7. Sounds like a lot of fun! Our Mazda has just bit the dust, and we’ve been thinking about what to replace it with eventually. Maybe we should test drive another Mazda!

  8. I never miss an Auto show in my town. I love cars and their makers!!!

  9. That is just way too funny about the breathalyzer! I can imagine how hilarious that must have been for you all. My ribs twinge just thinking of how hard you and Ruth must’ve been laughing!

    I can’t wait to test drive a Mazda. (Wonder if they’ll give me a Starbucks card. :-D)

  10. My husband and kids love the car show at the Texas State Fair every year. I only went once. All I know about cars is their color.

  11. Fun! I love to drive, so I’m sure I’d love to test drive some cars. With a cup of coffee nearby, of course.

  12. I have never been to a car show. It looks as though you and Ruth had a good time. Thanks for the information.

  13. Looks like you had a lot of fun at the auto show! Love the photos.

  14. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I can vouch for you not being a drinker — except for lots of iced tea with extra ice!

  15. Looks like a great show, I bet you got to see some really neat vehicles the public has not seen yet!

  16. wow that surely sounded like a blast! Funny about the breathalyzer test lol. Glad you had a great time!

  17. This would be such a great way to spend the day. My Dad would love to go. So many great cars.

  18. You two look like you are having way too much fun. I admit I’ve never been to a car show but I’ve been to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana – does that count? I love classic cars, and Mazdas are classic

  19. This looks like a lot of fun, I have always wanted to go to San Diego!

  20. When I was younger we used to always go to a huge car show at the beach. I loved it. It was awesome. They had SO MANY CARS!

  21. I’ve never been to an auto show my entire life. I think they look so cool though.

  22. San Diego is one of those places I’d love to go to but I just can’t find the time for it; I bet you had fun!

  23. Sounds like a lot of fun,I want to go to one now lol.

  24. You always get to go to the coolest places! I would love to know how you do it. I love the blue one. It looks like so much fun to drive.

  25. We used to go to the Auto Show at the Javits Center every year. I’m not a car person, per se, but I have to admit it was a ton of fun! Some of the cars were beauties!

    You and Ruth could do an infomercial because you are THAT adorable in the photos. I’d buy a car from you.

    Guess you’re back on the trenta, eh? Funny about that test! xo

  26. I love going to car shows. The big one in Detroit is coming up soon. I hope we get to go this year.

  27. I love going to car shows, even if I’m not shopping for one.

  28. Auto Shows are so much fun! Sounds like you had a really great time at the San Diego International Auto Show.

  29. Melissa Smith says:

    It’s been years since I’ve been to a car show! I actually went to help a friend work the daycare, but I went out to look st the cars every break I got. I’m not even a car enthusiast! LOL

  30. Man! I want to hang out with Ruth and Lois at the auto show!! I’m totally a car chick, too. Didn’t get to go when we were in San Diego. Hubs and the boy did though. They loved it!

  31. How fun! That personalized Starbucks card is cool. I can’t wait until the auto show comes to DC!

  32. What great fun! I want to go to a car show too! Would be nice to see all the nice cars. I’m more into the color of the car because I know absolutely nothing about cars!

  33. Never been to an auto show before. Looks like it would be really interesting!

  34. We love attending the auto show here in New York too. It’s a great way to check out all the newest cars.

  35. I love going to auto shows. It looks like you all had such a great time.

  36. We recently test drove a Mazda and my DH really wanted it. Unfortunately it was out of our budget.

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