Archive for April, 2019

Barn Finds & Egg Hunts: Easter Holiday Weekend in Utah

Posted in Car Show, Misc Travel, RLX, Utah on April 24, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (RLX):  23,456

Trip Distance:  $80 Round-Trip Flight (Gasp)

With all the fancy paint jobs and gleaming chrome at the 34th annual Easter Car Show in Hurricane, Utah last Saturday, the car that most stood out to me was in fact the dirtiest.  It was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala that had literally been pulled from a 20-year-slumber in a barn in Milford, Utah the day prior.  The only things touched prior to its entry in the car show were the tires, which needed replacement in order to facilitate transport.

A registration renewal sticker on the back license plate confirmed – this car was last on the road around September 1999.  I was a senior in high school at that time.  It seems like eons ago.

Even the interior remained filled with dust and had a crusty paperback book sitting on the backseat.  There is something so fascinating about a “barn find” vehicle – a certain mystique, like the feeling of encountering buried treasure.  I’m sure it took a lot of restraint for the owner, Brent Pearce, to resist wiping off the dashboard or at least running a vacuum through the carpet.

I neglected to take a look at the odometer (I know, of all things) but given this car’s condition, it looked to be a low-miler.  I’m sure it will take some time, effort, and money to get its V8 engine to awaken from a deep 20-year-slumber.

My second favorite thing about the car show was this $6 sloppy joe.

I had an enjoyable weekend in southern Utah with family and friends, especially since mom (pictured below) let me borrow her “new” Crystal Black 2016 RLX as my rental car for a few days.

I enjoyed tooling around my old digs and doing it in style.  The seat belts make a satisfying “tug” at you when you buckle them, and when you take a corner at a moderately high speed.  Fit & finish are top notch, and the audio system rocks.

The other noteworthy vehicle at the show was my brother’s 1954 Ford F-100 pickup.  It’s powered by an engine from General Motors, which is a little odd.  The supercharged “LT4” V8 was tuned to 650 horsepower by Blake Foster from Speed Tech Performance.

Body work is perfect, and that “Snapper Rocks” paint color is one of BMW’s offerings.

Here’s a short walkaround along with Q&A with Blake who was there representing his business.

We got the family together on Sunday morning for a 500-egg (!) Easter hunt.

Luckily some of the eggs were bigger than my 4-month-old niece Ava, so they were easy to spot.

Thanks to my friends David and Matt for their recent visit!

Have a great one!

Gas Guzzling Gone: Electrified Transportation Debut at “Nikola World” 2019

Posted in PAPA on April 18, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  565,345

On Wednesday morning, I took one of my 25-year-old Acuras to have its emissions checked, just like I had done 5 times prior – every couple of years since 2008 when I first bought it.  The numbers looked good, I paid $17 and received my certificate, and went on my way.

I’m now good to register for another 2 years in that car, now with over 160,000 miles on the odometer.  But after seeing a presentation earlier this week on alternative fuel – hydrogen / electric – vehicles, it made me start questioning the future of my my old gas-burners.

And what about my trusty Legend coupe with 565,000 miles on the odometer?  Even if it achieved the 26 mpg highway rating its entire life, it has burned 21,730 gallons of gas.  Chew on that for a minute!

We are living in an era when electrified transportation is catching on like wildfire.  There are electric cars that can outperform traditional supercars and muscle cars by quite a margin.  Advancements in battery life and corresponding range capability have opened the doors to many people who previously might not have ever considered shifting away from driving a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

A company at the forefront of that shift in mindset is called Nikola Motors, and if you haven’t heard of it by now, you will soon.  Nikola has already taken deposits on $14 billion worth of semi trucks that are hydrogen & electric powered.  Clients like Anheuser-Busch, CAT, and Ryder have already pledged their intent to do business with Nikola, and the company is about to break ground on a new manufacturing facility here in Arizona that will employ 2,000 people and start cranking out trucks by 2021 or 2022.

Nikola’s product lineup, I learned, goes far beyond the big rigs.  A huge launch/media event at WestWorld in Scottsdale gave me, as well as about 70 other journalists and 2,000 other spectators, a first look at a few of the products that Nikola has been working on behind the scenes for the last few years, since the Salt Lake City-based startup began to pick up momentum.  Its CEO, Trevor Milton, took the stage and shared his passion for transportation innovation that has led him to this point.  “The world is ready,” he said.

I was seated in the 4th row back in the Media section soaking it all in.  Arizona governor Doug Ducey and other notable stakeholders in the initiative were present and expressed comments on why they support Nikola and its objectives.  Solar energy will power the manufacturing facility, and zero-emission transportation is just one of many things that people in Arizona and elsewhere will preserve the nature of our landscape for future generations.  I found it especially interesting to be introduced to some of the products we’ll see hit the streets and trails in the coming years.

The first was an all-terrain vehicle called the Reckless, which, unlike other side-by-side ATVs or UTVs in the powersports community, will be be fully electric — designed for use in military operations when stealthy movement is critical.  It can also be fully submerged, driven via remote control, and contains a landing pad for a drone at the tail end.  Another was the NZT, pictured above, which is a fully enclosed side-by-side for off-road use that provides full HVAC control as well as isolation from dusty trails.

Jordan Darling, VP of the Powersports arm of Nikola, discussed the merits of the company’s “Water Adventure Vehicle,” or WAV.  It looks like a traditional waverunner, but of course, it’s electric.  Imagine being able to access parts of our waterways and lakes that are currently forbidden to watercraft with internal combustion engines.  And did I mention it also has cruise control?  The design itself was inspired by super bikes.

And lastly, we got a look at two of the big rigs that Nikola has pioneered:  Its “Two” and “Tre.”  Both are said to outperform traditional diesel heavy haulers by a landslide (“2 to 3 times faster” we were told) and offer a suite of comfort and safety amenities that are industry firsts.  They are controlled from the driver’s seat via large flat screen panels on the interior, and due to having no engine nor transmission tunnel, offer expansive space within the cabin.  Anheuser-Busch has already puts its name down for 800 trucks.  Today, its current fleet travels over 350 million miles per year.

I’m anxious to see where this technology goes and to be honest, even though I’m a die hard for my old-school automotive technology, it’s fun to be living in an era where we have the capability to take our transportation to the next level.  I wonder how the staffers at the Arizona emissions check station would react if I showed up in an electric vehicle?  Sounds like a good opportunity for a hidden cam prank.

Thanks to the Nikola team for the invitation!  Here is a short video and a few photos below.

A gal on my shuttle bus to the venue clearly was a little behind the tech times, and I can’t help but say I was a little jealous.  Flip phones remind me of simpler times.

Refreshments being served prior to the product launch reveal program.

There were 45 countries represented at the event.  I was probably one of only a handful of people who only had to drive about 15 minutes to be there.

Nikola’s message about preservation and sustainability was well presented.

Nikola’s “Tre” will be a Europe-only truck.

2 for 1: NSX WestFest 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

Posted in California, Nevada, NSX, Racing, Road Trip on April 16, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  115,508

Trip Distance:  1,100 Miles

The last time we talked, I was just getting ready for the third-annual WestFest NSX meet-up in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I had a great time interacting with my friends and seeing some of the sights and sounds of the area.  Friday, Findlay Acura in Henderson hosted us for an open house.  That night, I met up with a few local friends for dinner.  On Saturday, we went to Valley of Fire State Park.  I explored the Strip with Chris Tobias from AcuraConnected who had flown in from Edmonton, Alberta for the occasion.

Now, are you ready for a serving of alphabet soup?  Then come along for an NSX ride from NV to CA for the NTT-sponsored, IMSA-sanctioned, AGPLB.  Because, YOLO!  If that all flew over your head, it’s okay.  I’m new to the IndyCar thing, so I still have my training wheels on.

As the successful WestFest was winding down, my 1,000-mile, 3-state weekend road trip adventure was ready to move to the next chapter.  Accompanied by Chris, we saddled up in my trusty 1992 NSX and headed out on Interstate 15 to southern California bright and early on Sunday morning, April 14th.  We laughed as we passed a billboard near the Nevada-California state line that read:  “Get even before you get out.”  Unfortunately for both of us, we left Las Vegas a little bit poorer than when we’d arrived.

Our first destination was the world’s tallest thermometer in Baker, at the gateway to Death Valley.  But the real target was about 300 miles ahead:  the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, an IndyCar race that’s been around since 1975 which holds an important place in the IndyCar Series as well as in southern California car culture in general.  From the moment Andrew Quillin from Acura Public Relations greeted us at the entrance, the need for speed was resonating in the air, and the Acura presence was strong.

When designer Jon Ikeda took the driver’s seat of the entire Acura brand as General Manager in August 2015, he made it clear that he was looking to return the brand to a lineup worthy of its “Precision Crafted Performance” slogan from the early days in the 1980s and 1990s.  Now about 4 years later, Ikeda’s influence is evident in the return of A-Spec nomenclature, a performance focus that’s derived from the NSX halo car to other vehicles in the lineup, and most importantly a revitalization and expansion of the brand’s presence in the racing industry.

My trip to Long Beach for its 45th annual Grand Prix race has solidified my conviction that Ikeda was the right man for the job.  I was surrounded by the pride and innovation of the brand everywhere I looked.  Acura took over title sponsorship for the event from Toyota with a 3-year commitment just earlier this year.  Aside from the obvious branding and signage, there was an entire conference show hall filled with heritage Acura performance cars from over the years – preserved and displayed as a way to showcase the brand’s achievements.  And that’s before Chris and I even got to see the view from the Pit Suites.

The Long Beach Grand Prix is the 4th of 17 “IndyCar Series” races during the 2019 program year.  It is carried out on a series of public roads that are transformed temporarily into a racetrack for the occasion.  They are the same streets, in fact, that I drive when I attend the Japanese Classic Car Show each year – hardly recognizable among all the concrete barricades and bleachers.  Our perspective from the Acura Media Suite #21 faced south across Shoreline Drive – a stretch straight enough that the IndyCars are flying by at upwards of 175 miles per hour.  If it weren’t for the roar of a 12,000-RPM, twin-turbocharged engine, you could blink and never know a car went by.

Just two days prior to the “official” race, NSXCA President and awarded race driver Peter Cunningham blazed around the same 1.96-mile circuit in a production-spec Thermal Orange 2019 NSX, setting a lap record and making the rest of us all feel a little more inadequate about our skills behind the wheel.  The course itself has changed just slightly a few times since the 1975 inaugural year, but has been the same since 2000.  There are 11 turns with little margin for error – this is a lot more high stakes than the go-kart track I used as a kid.

Chris and I joined journalists from Motor Trend, Kelley Blue Book, and The Drive, along with a handful of senior leaders and their families.  It was the perfect perspective above the pits, especially being able to watch the speedy work of pit crews.  A Curva Red NSX Pace Car led the way through the course initially, and then 23 drivers put the pedal to the metal IndyCars right on time at the 1:42 planned start.  Luckily for us in the pit suites, we had visibility to bird’s eye and first-person camera angles on TV screens, along with live updates about the leaderboard for the 85 laps that were underway.  And they went by quickly!  In fact, the race took fewer than 2 hours from start to finish.

Alexander Rossi, 27, won the race with 20 second margin, his second consecutive win for the event.  This wasn’t his first impressive racing feat:  As a rookie in 2016, he won the Indianapolis 500.  And his time behind the wheel started many years prior to that:  Before he raced IndyCars, he got his childhood start championing go-karts.  Rossi was up against some stiff competition, including Marco Andretti – grandson of famous racing legend Mario Andretti.  It seems that an appetite for speed runs in the Andretti family.

The sights and sounds of an IndyCar race gave me a glimpse of why the racing lifestyle can be so addicting.  The culture and community around the entire atmosphere provide endless entertainment even if you’re not a race fan.  If you’ve never been to an event like this, I highly recommend it!  Now, if only Acura had let me throw my 115,000 mile, 27-year-old NA1 NSX around the curves for a couple of laps!

Below is a 5-minute video and a series of photos from the conclusion of WestFest and the AGPLB.

Group shot from WestFest on Friday

I met up with Brad, who drove down from Boise, Idaho with his wife Linda in their immaculate Formula Red.  Pictured here also is my local friend Brandon, who has a Legend and a TL-S.

Long Beach Blue is still my favorite color.  Fitting that I left this event to go directly to Long Beach.

With some lovely ladies inside the dealership.

Evening meet-up at my friend Jeff’s place in North Las Vegas, with Romeo and his Legend.

Here’s Jeff, who went from a 1989 Legend to a 1993 Legend to a 2003 CL-S to a 2008 TL-S.  I’ve known him for over 15 years now.

Best fajitas in town, thanks to Michoacan restaurant.

Jeff, Tyson, Nick, Brandon, Romeo

Saturday morning on the escalator with Chris and Nick

Valley of Fire drive

Group shot – I actually didn’t make it into this one!

Banquet dinner back at Gold Coast

The Bellagio casino’s fountain show was set to the Game of Thrones theme song.

Rolling 115,000 in the NSX on Sunday morning.  I bought the car with 80,000 on it in 2011.

Arriving at the Acura Long Beach Grand Prix with Andrew.

Headed to the Pit Suites

Woot woot!

Andrew and his wife Katie

Marco – grandson of Mario – Andretti was one of the drivers.

Acura head of Public Relations, Matt Sloustcher, with his wife and son.

Display booth inside the convention center, complete with a 1986 Legend and 2001 Integra Type-R

Events throughout the day

Thanks for coming along!

NSX WestFest 2019 Kickoff, Honda “Past”Port, Acura TLX PMC Edition

Posted in Integra, Nevada, NSX, Road Trip on April 11, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  114,545

Greetings from Sin City!  I’m reporting to you from the hub of the action here where the third-annual NSX “WestFest” is kicking off this evening.  I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday morning and in between “say ahhhh” moments, my dentist was asking about any upcoming plans for the weekend.  “I’m going to Vegas for a car convention,” I told him.

This evoked all sorts of Q&A:  What happens at a car meet?  Do you all really drive the same model?  Do you race them?  And so on.  It kind of cracks me up that the concept is foreign for a lot of people to imagine.  And that’s perfectly okay.

It would be like someone telling me they’re going to a comic book convention: I’m completely illiterate on such a hobby, but I’d be fascinated to learn what goes on there.  Maybe I need to give up cars and take up collecting something smaller and less expensive.  Though some comic books probably outprice the cars in my garage.  I digress.  My dentist thought it was a cool weekend plan.

Tonight, some 65 or so Acura NSX models from 1991 through 2018 will roll in to the Gold Coast Casino here just west of the Las Vegas Strip.  Tomorrow’s festivities will include an open house at a dealership in Henderson, a poker run, dinner at South Pointe, and a club night out at VooDoo Lounge.  Friday will take us to the Valley of Fire State Park, a BBQ lunch, and back to the Gold Coast for a closing banquet and awards ceremony.  Sounds like a good time to me, so let’s get this party started.

Should I plunk down some $20s at one of these slot machines?  Be right back.

If you’re new to WestFest and its happenings, here are write-ups from prior events in 2017 and 2018.

Below are some other automotive-related updates for my viewers – because, well, you asked for it!

I noticed HondaPro Jason stopped at In-N-Out in Kingman, AZ yesterday.  So I re-created his same photo.

Fortune from Panda Express:  “You shall attain great wisdom with each passing year.”  Well, great!

There’s nothing quite like an Arizona sunset.  This taken just south of Hoover Dam on Highway 93.

Weekend road trip in this old thang?  Why not!

I think I found the group.  That Thermal Orange, though!

Here are a few bits of news from recent weeks.  My friend Robert contacted me about a 50″ by 60″ poster he’d had in his garage for many years.  He gifted it to me for display in the garage — it’s the 2002-05 NSX on the wall in the below photograph.  Coincidentally, I already had a similar picture from many years ago that shares the exact same size & material.  They look great together.

On April Fools Day, automakers stepped up to the plate in a big way to come up with clever ways to prank us.  I especially liked what Honda did with a short video on the “PastPort” model – reminiscent of the 1990s.  You can watch the video here.

Honda’s social media team even responded to my comment.

The SLX took a trip to the mall.  “Check Trans” red light flashing (bottom left).  It happens sometimes.  SLX life, yo.

I went to Scottsdale Cars & Coffee on Saturday morning to meet up with a few friends including Vlad who drives a whole fleet of remarkable cars, but even though most of them are near-new, this 20-year-old Phoenix Yellow (aptly named) Integra Type-R is probably his current favorite.  It is a rare model from the year 2000 with only 31,000 miles on it.

The “R” cars (Integra Type-R and Integra GS-R) looked nice together while we had breakfast at Village Inn down the street.

And finally, check out this special edition:  Now going into its sixth model year, the TLX will be offered in a rare hand-built variant called the “PMC Edition,” assembled at the famous Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Ohio where the NSX is built.  The PMC TLX goes on sale this summer and will be limited to only 360 individually-numbered units.  Talk about exclusivity!  Do I need one?

You’ll recognize that brilliant Valencia Red color; it was formerly only offered on the NSX itself.

What if I could get my hands on # 001 / 360…

Have a great weekend – you probably won’t hear from me until after all the hustle and bustle of this Vegas adventure is over.  Because I happen to also be going to Long Beach on Sunday for the “Long Beach Grand Prix” race event.  Two big programs, all in a weekend?  Yep.

Over and out.