Stuck with a 5-speed — for 22 years
At the moment Sandie Resnick won a Miata — when the disc jockey rang her number at work — she didn't actually know what a Miata was.
Later, she found out she didn't know how to drive it.
That was in the summer of 1990. Resnick and her husband, Sy, wound up keeping their stick-shift red Mazda convertible for 22 years and 72,886 miles — and when they finally sold it, she still didn't know how to make it go zoom-zoom.
Finally, last month, she got a chance to pilot a drop-top Mazda sports car. The company delivered one with an automatic transmission to her house in West Bloomfield and let her go wild for two weeks.
How that came about is nearly as unlikely as Resnick winning the car in the first place. But then, she tends to be lucky that way.
"There's a jukebox in the other room loaded with 100 records," she says. She won it.
Likewise, she has won cash, $500 worth of landscaping, a Marygrove retractable awning and trips to Hawaii, Florida, New York, Cozumel and Kansas City, among other places and other things.
Most of the prizes have come from calling radio stations.
Chris Edmonds, who was co-hosting the morning show with Jim Harper when WNIC-FM (100.3) gave away the Mazda, says he doesn't recall the contest after a quarter-century.
But Resnick wins so much so often that he recognizes her name — and the best jackpot of all, she says, was the Miata.
Darn right, Sy says. He can handle a standard transmission just fine.
Five speed was a problem
More long odds: Sandie and Sy lived across the street and one house down from one another in Detroit when they were kids and never met.
That didn't happen until January 1961, when they were seated at the same table at a wedding. Eight months later, they had a wedding of their own.
He's a retired purchasing agent and she's a retired medical secretary. They have three kids, seven grandkids, a ferocious toy rat terrier named Coco-Pup and only the occasional disagreement.
He'll happily tell you he's 76 years old, for instance, and she wishes he wouldn't.
He kids her about who actually won the Mazda, since he picked up the contest entry slips for her at their local Kroger and dropped them off after they were filled out. And she says she could so drive the car.
What she means is that she could shift gears once she was on the open road. Actually getting into and out of first was the problem.
"If I stalled at a light," she says, "people honked." Since both of those things happened with regularity the handful of times she got behind the wheel, she confined herself to the passenger seat.
Making up for lost time
A few years ago, Sy's sister gave them a car she no longer needed.
That left them with four automobiles — she drives a '98 Pontiac Firebird, also red, with 114,000 miles on the odometer — which seemed excessive. So they parked the Mazda at a car repair shop in Southfield with a "For Sale" sign in the window, and a publicist from Pontiac named David Adrian bought it for $3,995.
He uses it every day, with the help of snow tires and a wintertime sandbag in the trunk. Not long ago, he found himself at a committee meeting alongside another publicist, Tom McDonald, who works with Mazda.
Funny thing, Adrian said, and he told the story of the woman who won a Miata she couldn't operate.
Because he's a nice fellow — and because what's now known officially as the MX5 is turning 25, and because he knows a good story when it sits next to him — McDonald rolled a silver 2014 convertible into the Resnicks' driveway.
"Are you going for a ride again?" Sy would ask.
"Yes," Sandie would say, and off she would roar, making up for lost time.
Sandie says there's no secret to winning contests, but that's not entirely true.
She keeps a chart of which radio stations are running what giveaways, and at what time. She uses two phones, each with the contest phone numbers on speed dial.
"You need persistence," she says.
Patience helps, too. Sometimes you have to wait 24 years.