Archive for the California Category

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!

“Radwood” 1980s-1990s Car Show in Los Angeles at the Petersen Museum

Posted in California, Car Show, Integra, Road Trip on December 3, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  73,102

Trip Distance:  762 Miles

Some things just get better with time.  And other things, even though not “good” by many definitions, still deserve a chance for recognition and appreciation.  Like this one:

Matt Farah, a notorious automotive journalist known for his podcast “The Smoking Tire,” made the comment during the closing awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Radwood show on Sunday afternoon, “To the guy with the Pontiac Bonneville SSEi, this is your show.  You’ve waited your whole life for this.” And he’s right – what other car show anywhere in the world welcomes a car like an Oldsmobile Ninety Eight or a Chrysler Town & Country wood-paneled convertible?

It’s those “malaise” era cars from the 1980s and 1990s that some of us grew up behind the wheel of, I’m happy to report that my third “Radwood” car show and celebration of culture from that two-decade era was a total success.  Here are write-ups from prior Radwood shows.

This time around, I took the opportunity to debut my new (to me) 1992 Integra GS sedan that I picked up in May in Southern Utah.  Of the couple hundred cars on display, I had 1 of only 2 second-generation Integras, and mine was the only 4-door “DB1” sedan version.  Dominating the playing field were German cars, especially BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche.  I was glad to have a little exclusivity, and at least I was able to park by some fellow Honda-heads, including David in his 1994 Legend and Mike in his 1989 Prelude.

My drive to Los Angeles was filled with traffic, rain, and traffic because of rain.  All of that contributed to making my normally-six-hour-drive take about eight and a half hours.  I spent a couple of days in West Hollywood part of town, including a meet-up with my friend Wyatt who has a 1997 Acura SLX that I got to drive.  What a ride!  It was a little clunky, top-heavy, and the transmission slipped, but it solidified my need to own one in the next year or two.

Radwood this time took place at the world-renowned Petersen Museum at the intersection of Fairfax & Wilshire just a couple of miles south of where I’d been staying in WeHo.  The lineup of cars headed into the venue quickly confirmed that I’d found the right place, and the 1983 Dodge van ahead of me got me high on exhaust fumes while we idled our way to the check-in staff and were directed to parking spaces. on the upper levels of the structure.  It took just a few minutes to get the car dusted off; my little Integra has only about 73,000 miles on it and has been extremely well preserved.

Throughout the day, I bounced around the parking structure interacting with friends I’ve made through the crazy automotive enthusiast network over the years.  For me these events are even more about the people who attend them than about the vehicles themselves.  Best of all, the 1980s and 1990s culture was well represented in forms other than the cars we’d driven:  Blasting on the loudspeaker were hits from Madonna, fanny packs and bright colors were the apparel of choice, and we were surrounded for just a few hours by the carefree, big-hair, analog lifestyle of the 1980s.  The chicken tenders and tater tots from the food truck weren’t bad, either.

Representing as sponsor for this event was Acura corporate, which surprised me, but I was happy to see it.  Andrew Quillin from the company’s Public Relations area had brought out a red 1991 NSX, a yellow Integra Type-R, an Integra from the RealTime race campaign, and the 1995 CL-X concept car which had to be transported via mechanical means other than its own, since it doesn’t have a drivetrain.  The booth drew a good amount of foot traffic throughout the day and I got the chance to briefly rub shoulders with people like Jon Ikeda who is the brand’s General Manager.

Speaking of star-studded encounters, I got to shake hands with a couple of YouTube celebrities including Ethan Tufts of Hello Road and Tyler Hoover of Hoovie’s Garage.  Tyler’s channel recently hit a half-million subscribers so I congratulated him on that well-deserved accomplishment.

All too soon, it was time to wrap up the festivities at the Petersen, and Radwood’s Bradley Brownell distributed 7 awards – not just for cars, but some were for wardrobe and wheels.  I rolled out of the parking garage a little before 4:00 p.m. and set my sights eastward for my 400-mile return trip.  With 1990s music on the playlist, of course.  Thanks for coming along!

Entering California

Traditional photo-stop in Desert Center, right off Interstate 10

Evening meet-up with Sofyan Bey of Redline Reviews

Saturday morning visit to Honda’s original headquarters at 4077 Pico Boulevard (circa 1959).

The SLX and the Integra

Spotted from the parking garage by Motor1’s Steve Ewing on the way into Radwood

My friend Rob’s Legend sedan looking fantastic

I loved the gear shift lever in this Oldsmobile.  It spells out “Reverse, Neutral, Overdrive,” and so on.

Does this car make you think of the movie Planes, Trains, & Automobiles?

So 80’s!

My friend Leon’s Mercedes S-Class “Grand Edition,” one of only 600 cars in that package for the year, in stunning Obsidian Black and complete with a cellular telephone.  Leon was taking care of important business when I captured this photo.

Here’s Ethan from Hello Road.

My friend Serge’s 4Runner was full of period-correct swag, including a Blockbuster rental video.  Be Kind, Please Rewind.

Pre-departure from the deck of the parking structure with Joseph and his amazing 1991 Integra GS.

My friend Brandon’s new 2007 TL Type-S manual.

Bay Area Road Trip! “NSXPO” 2018 in San Francisco, California

Posted in California, NSX, NSXPO, Road Trip on October 2, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  113,388

Trip Distance:  1,600 Miles

(Photo Credit:  Eric Iwasaki)

Someone told me the other day in a text message, “You must really like cars if you’re traveling to see them.”  Well, yeah!  You just can’t attempt to explain an automotive obsession to someone who doesn’t understand it.  And that’s okay.

I was a participant a few days ago at this year’s largest gathering of Acura NSX owners in the country, deemed NSXPO and started in the late 1990s.  NSXPO is like NALM (the National Acura Legend Meet) but on a much larger (and more expensive) scale.  While NALM registration for this year’s Colorado Springs event was $90, NSXPO cost $400 – and neither of those, of course, included other expenses associated with the trip:  Fuel, lodging, most meals, and other incidentals.  This is a spendy hobby, but I can think of no more rewarding way to invest in a good time.

NSXPO reached capacity and sold out in just a matter of days after registration went live this past May – a full 4 months in advance of the event itself.  This marked my fourth NSXPO attendance, though admittedly I “cheated” and flew in for two of them:

Here are links to my prior NSXPO Write-Ups:

  • NSXPO 2015:  Palm Springs, California
  • NSXPO 2016:  Orlando, Florida
  • NSXPO 2017:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The four core planning committee members definitely had their work cut out for them with a group of this size.  Establishing logistics for an event of any size in the urban San Francisco Bay Area is a feat, let alone with over 230 people and 130 vehicles in attendance.  Pictured here are the core team members (May Lee in purple, Roger Estrella and James Ubarro in orange at right, and Les Rowe – not pictured, along with NSXCA President Peter Cunningham, and special guests).

My drive took me through Los Angeles, then upward on Interstate 5 — a road I’ve come to know and love in 2018 thanks to multiple trips:  Radwood, my Integra purchase, and then my Integra drive home.  Beyond that, I was also just in the Bay Area for Car Week.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the first two days of this year’s event – the track days at Thunderhill Raceway.  Then again, I’ve never been much of a performance driver and I have a lot to learn about pushing my car to its limits before I make a fool of myself!

For my own NSX, the trip to California was like going back home.  In December 2011, I purchased the car in San Jose.  It almost seemed like it was already familiar with the roads out there.  After a roughly 12 hour total travel time, I arrived at our host hotel, the Hyatt Regency SF Airport, on Thursday afternoon and arranged for a few local friends to come over and hang out.  We went out in downtown Burlingame that evening in my friend Ken’s 1987 Legend sedan.

On Friday morning, we braved commute traffic northbound to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was worth it.  The Golden Gate is perhaps the best-known in the SF Bay Area.  When completed in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, at 1.7 miles.  Today it has a $30 million “zipper” movable barrier system that allows lane usage & direction to alternate.

From Horseshoe Bay, we were able to take panoramic photos of all the cars lined up together.  Lunch was served up at the Presidio, with special guest speaker Graham Rahal, who has scored himself some impressive race wins during his career.  Graham was the youngest person to win an American open-wheel race, at age 19, which was ten years ago.

The evening took us out across the harbor from the Embarcadero pier area – a 45 minute bus ride from our Hyatt.  As dusk settled in, we were surrounded by stunning views of the illuminated city skyline from out in the water.  Dinner was served and we had a short program, all while boating along on a massive ship that took us out to the Bay Bridge, around Alcatraz Island, down to the A&T Ballpark where the SF Giants were playing baseball, and then back.  The round-trip adventure took about 3 hours, and the highlight was seeing our friend Randy Chua propose to his fiance.  (She said yes, which was received with a round of applause).

On Saturday, the caravan of NSXs rolled out toward the high elevation community of Woodside, tucked into the mountains about 30 miles south of SF.  Mountain Terrace served up a brunch menu there on the grass.  Unfortunately, I had to work that morning and arrived a little too late to join in on that – so I grabbed lunch on my own across the street at a historic spot called Alice’s.  It was originally constructed as a general store, but converted into a restaurant in the 1950s.  Today it serves a variety of car clubs and motorcyclists year-round, which explains why two of the sandwiches on the menu are the “Yamaha” and the “Honda.”  You can guess which one I ordered.

For the next hour, I pointed my NSX southbound on Skyline Drive and enjoyed the twisty roads and the scenery.  One particularly fun stretch had curves that narrowed to just a single lane of traffic with speed limits at 15 miles per hour.  I went a little bit faster than that.  The NSX excels in such a driving environment.

By the time I arrived at our next stop, Canepa Car Museum in Scotts Valley, most of the group had already beat me there.  The museum itself also doubles as a dealership, showcasing some of the finest sportscars I’ve laid eyes on.

My friend Dom made an appearance back at the Hyatt.  He and I have crossed paths in social media circles for some time now, but this was our first time hanging out in person.  He was in his blue 2013 ILX.  I threw him the keys to the NSX and let him take it for a whirl.  We finished our test drives just in time for me to quickly change into more formal clothes and get to the pavilion next to the pool.  Seating was already underway for our closing dinner and awards ceremony.

We were honored to hear from Motoharu Kurosawa, otherwise known by the name Gan-San, who had an extensive professional racing career.  Representatives from HART (Honda of America Racing Team) also addressed the congregation, while dinner was served.  Awards were given out for the best original and best modified NSXs, and the long-awaited announcement was made regarding dates & location for next year’s event.  NSXPO 2019 will be held in Washington, DC on October 9-13.

All too soon, NSXPO drew to a close and we bid farewell to some of our friends who we only get to interact with once or twice a year.  I caught a few hours of shuteye and hit the road early (but not yet bright) on Sunday morning, hauling the entire 11-hour, 800-mile stint with only a few short stops.  My NSX performed flawlessly and I had plenty of time to jam out to music and enjoy the drive.

Until next time!

Top level of the Hyatt in SF, full of NSXs

Pre-departure on the group drive to the Golden Gate Bridge

Rolling out

With friend and fellow automotive journalist Jason Cammisa who stopped by

Group parked at Presidio

Looks like this guy’s been to a few meets over the years!

Lunch time

My friend Ben’s 2005 Silverstone NSX-T….

…. with only 8,300 original miles!

My car with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

A visit from Dom and his Fathom Blue ILX 6MT

Bay Bridge

Gas station at Alice’s in Woodside

Group on the dinner cruise

View of the AT&T baseball field from our cruise

Perfect name for a road!

Curves all to myself

Having some fun near Skyline Drive

Very amazingly preserved 1991 Berlina Black NSX with Ivory interio

Jhae and his famous NSX

Lots of colorful cars out there at Canepa in Scotts Valley

A visit from David who has a Legend he showed at Radwood

Check out that yellow interior!

Driving home through some severe dust storms on the horizon

Retro Rides: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) in Long Beach, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Road Trip, Vigor on September 17, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  112,562

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

“How do you keep it smelling like that?” asked an attendee at last Saturday’s Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, after poking his head into my 1994 Acura Vigor.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “It smells just like an old Honda.  It reminds me of one I used to have,” he said.

As it turns out, the “old Honda” smell conversation came up more than once – enough to make the wheels in my mind start spinning.  Does the Car Freshner scent tree company need to develop a new scent, called Old Car?  I call dibs on royalties for anyone who takes the idea and runs with it.

This weekend, I joined 423 other participants at the largest show dedicated specifically to Japanese classics, in the southwest region and perhaps in the country.  Now in its 14th year, the show – dubbed ‘JCCS’ by long-time attendees or supporters, is now enhanced with expanded eligibility criteria.  Historically, showing a 1990s car required special consideration & approval because the cutoff for allowed model years ended at 1985.  Now, just about anything Japanese that’s up to & including model year 1995 is eligible.  The change comes at a time when so many venues – including Radwood shows, and the recent Japanese Automotive Invitational, are starting to devote special recognition to the “Neo Classic” 80s & 90s era.  Totally awesome.

JCCS took a thorough and organized approach to its execution – starting and ending on time, and even orchestrating roll-in and staging in an orderly fashion.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, as the Japanese (thus the reason why I drive Japan-built automobiles) are masters of precision.  Volunteers guided incoming vehicles to their respective assigned areas, but the traffic jam at the gate (and on the grounds) was definitely more than the Marina Green park is probably used to seeing on a Saturday morning at 7:00.

Model Citizen‘s Patrick Strong acted as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the day, spotlighting key exhibitors, rattling off raffle ticket numbers for prize winnings, and conducting the awards presentation at the conclusion.  Meanwhile, the lawn filled up with hundreds of Japan’s best creations:  in all, about 150 Nissan / Datsun vehicles, 87 Toyotas, about the same number of Hondas, some Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and a lonely Isuzu in the mix.  Some were stock, while others were highly modified.

As the day pressed on, I enjoyed bumping into some of the many people who make the automotive hobby such a rewarding pastime – friends from the Honda community poured in and it became a bit of a reunion for me.  I partnered with my friend Mike, who drives a 1989 Prelude Si, on content for our YouTube channels and caught up with colleagues from the Legend, NSX, and Integra clubs.  When the time came to grab lunch, I opted for the food truck on “vendor row” with the shortest line, which ended up being a crepe vendor.  It’s the first time I can say I’ve ever eaten a crepe with bacon and avocado in it – those were two key ingredients from the “California Sunrise.”

I was, of course, wearing my “Alive With Five” T-shirt commemorating my Vigor’s 5-cylinder motor.

Car shows aren’t always about coming home with “hardware,” but it’s rewarding when the judges recognize the vehicles that stand out in exceptional ways.  Winning honors in the Neo Honda & Acura category were my friend Rob Pia with his 1994 Legend LS sedan and Leon Palassanian with his 2001 Integra Type-R.  While Leon’s Integra technically falls beyond the 1995 model year cutoff, because the car’s generation started in 1994, it was eligible.  And at only 30,000 original miles on the odometer, it was a show-stopper and a crowd-pleaser.  It was one of two Type-R models on the show field – the other was a white Canadian-spec model.

I wrapped up my trip by chauffeuring a friend to Palm Springs and having a bite to eat there, before pressing on to Phoenix.  The late night drive was made better with Paula Abdul on the stereo – via cassette tape adapter, of course – with “Straight Up.”  It only seems fitting that a 1988 song accompany me home from what was an incredible day embracing an iconic era for automobiles.

Here is a 7-minute video capturing some of my trip as well as the show itself.  As always, pardon the amateur camera and editing quality!

And while you’re here, stop by ImportArchive.com.  My friend Darren (same who prepared the digital drawings of the cars in my garage) has spent 15 years collecting and scanning brochures of Japanese automakers.  I’ve contributed a few materials to his archive and I’m excited to see it grow.  Downloads are made available once he gets the items digitized (over 50,000 scans are completed to date).

Spectating attendees Steve & Zac making the rounds

This is the display I made up for the Vigor – including a quote from the original sales brochure

Friends stopping by to visit.

Nice 1987 Legend on show at the Honda (sponsor) booth

David drove down from the Bay Area in his 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed

These folks must have been smelling that Vigor interior!

This is the 1993 Legend LS currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer website.  It is stunning, and can be yours if the Price is Right!

Let’s throw some non-Hondas into the mix – I can’t only show my fave brand!

Armando’s beautiful 1974 Mazda RX-4.

Lexus SC rear ends.

Look at that Land Cruiser!

Right-hand-drive was the name of the game.

Gorgeous Honda S roadster.

My friend Chris’ 1979 Accord

My friend Hyram’s 1990 Legend

Second-generation Integra lineup

Stopping in Palm Springs on the way home to see a Legendary friend, David.

 

Spy shot of me thanks to James of Six Speed Blog a couple of weeks ago.

I had this little newspaper clipping from 2008 framed to hang in the house.

Junkyard sightings from last weekend:  Vigor, Legend, Prelude 4WS.

Anyone catch the updates to the ILX for model year 2019?  Fancy front & rear!

And finally, I was thumbing through a 30-year-old Acura brand magazine.  There was an area where they highlight interesting news or reader submissions.  Check out this paragraph about / by none other than Estelle Getty who played “Sophia” on Golden Girls.

Now you know!  Have a great week!

Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI) Recap 2018 – Attendees By the Numbers

Posted in California, Car Show on September 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  250,488

It’s now been three weeks since Pebble Beach was abuzz with the automotive extravaganza referred to as ‘Car Week.’  There continue to be a lot of great articles about it, including this one released just today by my friends Ben Hsu & Ryan Senensky of Japanese Nostalgic Car.

If you ask Karen at Motor Trend about how this year’s inaugural Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI) event came together, she’ll tell you, “It took an army.”  The planning, logistics, and execution of a car show that brought 40+ cars from areas across the nation were daunting tasks that she spearheaded for the August 25-26 event.  Luckily for Karen, she had plenty of help.  Motor Trend partnered with Infiniti on making it all happen.  And having proudly participated myself, my medallion now resides in a display case at my home (below).

(Photo credit to Trevor Yale Ryan from Speed Hunters)

What started as an idea hatched by Motor Trend’s own Ed Loh evolved into a revolutionary event in a lot of regards.  Never before had Japanese vehicles been given such a spotlight at Pebble Beach, and the media and public now agree:  It was a success.  Now in the same signature location at Pebble since 2014, Infiniti was looking to diversify and expand on its display, especially since the brand is coming up on a 30-year anniversary next year.  Remember the Q45 flagship sedan?  It’s three decades old!

Naturally, it made sense to showcase Infiniti’s own heritage and spotlight a few noteworthy cars.  Infiniti also decided to allow its competition into the arena by specifically showcasing models from Acura and Lexus on its own turf.

The list of participating vehicles was curated internally and cars were sourced from throughout the country – coming from as far away as Florida, New Jersey, and Michigan.  Some models proved tougher to locate than others.  A first-generation Integra, for example, was on the original list but not readily available, so they went with my second-gen instead.

Something you won’t see in any other articles about the event is a comprehensive list of exactly what vehicles came, but I got my hands on one.  Here is the participant list in ascending order by model year:

1959 Datsun 220 (truck)
1964 Datsun 1500 Roadster (black)
1964 Mazda R360
1967 Nissan Patrol
1967 Toyota Sport 800
1967 Toyota Toyoglide 700
1967 Toyota 2000GT
1968 Honda N600 (white)
1970 Mazda Cosmo Sport
1969 Subaru 360 Deluxe Coupe
1969 Subaru Truck (2nd Gen Sambar)
1969 Toyota FJ040 LandCruiser (seafoam green)
1970 Datsun 240Z Safari Tribute
1970 Isuzu Bellett (orange, black hood)
1971 510 BRE Datsun Trans Am 2.5
1971 Z432 Nissan Fairlady
1973 Mitsubishi Galant GTO MR
1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R
1972 Suzuki LJ20 Jimny
1974 Nissan Cherry X1-R
1975 Honda Civic CVCC
1975 Isuzu 1st Gen 117 Coupe
1976 Honda Civic Lady Concept
1978 Dome Zero
1978 Subaru Brat
1982 Grand Prix Mazda RX-7
1987 Toyota GTO Celica Race Car
1990 Acura Legend LS Coupe
1990 Lexus LS Prototype
1990 Mazda Miata Show Stock C Racer
1990 Nissan Pao
1991 Infiniti M30
1991 Nissan Figaro
1991 Toyota Dan Gurney’s Eagle MkIII IMSA GTP Championship Car
1992 Acura Integra GS-R Hatchback – Mine!
1992 Autozam AZ-1 Mazdaspeed
1992 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R
1993 Infiniti Q45t
1994 Infiniti J30
1994 Nissan 300ZX IMSA GTS
1997 Acura NSX-T
1999 R34 V-Tech Nissan Skyline
2007 Infiniti FX35
2018 Infiniti QX50
2022 Infiniti P9 Roadster

Some cars were sourced from owners themselves (a registration form on the JAI website was made available for anyone who wanted to submit his or her own vehicle), but many vehicles came from museums as well as the automakers themselves.

Lists are fun, but you know what’s even ‘funner’?  (I don’t care if that isn’t a word – I’m using it).  Let’s extract some data from these.  A quick pivot table reveals some interesting results.  To nobody’s surprise, 19 out of the 45 cars – or 42% of the overall show field – were Nissan and Infiniti models.  I can honestly say that prior to this exercise, I’d never heard of a Dome.  Toyota, Honda, and Mazda had roughly the same level of representation, ranging from 11% to 15%.

Now let’s take a peek at the years in question.  It appears that the 1990s were the best represented with 15 cars (1/3 of the show field).  The 1980s were surprisingly slim, and the 2000’s cars are arguably out of scope here because I don’t know if they yet qualify for a “classic” designation.  Don’t make me feel older than I already do!  I graduated from high school in 2000 (“Y2K,” better yet), so it’s a touchy subject.

All of this will come into consideration when it comes time (now) to debrief, and then move forward right away for future year planning.  For 2019, JAI will roll onward and become bigger and better as the show field evolves.  I’m excited for the chance to work with Karen and others in any way that I can engage and assist.  Thanks again for letting my humble 1992 GS-R play a small role in making it happen.

And for anyone looking to get into the classic Japanese car hobby, I have a couple of auction links for you today:

1993 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed in Black on Black

1985 Honda City & Motocompo from This DrivetoFive Article

Happy bidding!

Monterey Car Week – 2019 NSX Reveal, The Quail, and Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI)

Posted in California, Car Show, Integra, Misc Travel, NSX on August 27, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  563,515

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  72,199

Kids today will never understand the struggle of juggling 3 of these bad boys in the car during a road trip:  Huge compact disc albums, each holding 96 sleeves for seemingly unlimited playlist material.

How else do you think I was able to stay entertained long enough to drive 500,000 miles?  Little did I know when I picked up Jewel’s “0304” album in 2003 that I would be standing next to Jewel herself at a private concert 15 years later.  It’s one of my faves!  I loaded it back into my 6-disc CD changer just recently for good measure.

There she is, in the flesh!

Once again it was my turn to hobnob with society’s elite – even if just for a day.  As I did last year, I attended some of the “Car Week” festivities along the Monterey Peninsula in the Bay Area of central, coastal California.  The Integra got to ride out there on a transport carrier, but I caught a flight on Thursday afternoon and skipped the drive (I didn’t have time for a 24-hour round-trip adventure, as much as I would have loved to do it).

This year was the first time for a new event called the Japanese Automotive Invitational.  It’s no mystery that there is an up-and-coming appreciation for cars that historically haven’t been considered part of the “classic car” community.  Shows like the Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) and Radwood are designed around capturing some of that movement.

JAI has taken things to an even greater level.  The scene in and around Pebble Beach, California is dominated each August by supercars with six-figure pricetags.  But how cool is it that now a 1992 Acura Integra – an $18,000 car when new – received a VIP invitation to be parked in the same venue?  I was thrilled at the opportunity when it arose.

Last Thursday evening, I attended a private Acura event at the Carmel Valley Ranch.  It took me longer in traffic to drive the 80 miles from San Jose airport to Monterey than it had taken me to fly 800 miles from Phoenix to San Jose.  Gotta love rush hour – but at least I was driving a Ford Fusion Hybrid rental car that pretty effortlessly delivered 40 mpg.

The private grounds of the Carmel Ranch provided an intimate setting for around 100 attendees – select media, Acura enthusiasts (10 members like me from the NSX Club of America), Acura personnel & support teams, and the entertainment.  Four-time Grammy Award nominee and singer-songwriter Jewel Kilcher (better known as just “Jewel”) took the stage and shared her talent with the group – both in dialogue and in song.  Jewel was an engaging speaker and I was a little star-struck to be just a few steps away from her platform.

The star of the show – though Jewel was a crowd favorite – was the 2019 Acura NSX.  Now moving into the third model year of its second generation, the latest NSX is receiving suspension & chassis enhancements as well as a broader palette of available colors.  During Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda’s remarks at the podium, the cover was pulled off a vivid “Thermal Orange Pearl” NSX.  It was stunning from any angle.  I enjoyed admiring its lines while in the company of friends and colleagues.

On Friday, I met with representatives from Motor Trend to assist with load-in of show cars at the JAI show venue.  There were roughly 40 vehicles anticipated, including noteworthy models like the Nissan GT-R, Infiniti Q45, Lexus LS400, and a few Acuras:  My Integra GS-R, a 1990 Legend LS coupe, and a Formula Red NSX.  Over the course of the next couple days, many friends stopped by the display and sent me pictures of/with my car.  I especially loved the phone of automotive journalist Jason Cammisa (bottom right).

My next stop on Friday was The Quail Motorsports Gathering.  For 16 years, The Quail has brought out some of the world’s most famous and exotic vehicles.  Tickets are limited in availability and usually priced upwards of $600 apiece, if that tells you anything about how exclusive the venue is.  But for many, the event isn’t just about the cars.  It’s also about the culinary pavilions and opportunity to bask in an environment of manicured lawns and important (or at least wealthy!) people.  I felt out of my league but enjoyed myself either way.

Within 24 hours of picking up my rental car at the San Jose airport, I turned it back in.  This trip was the pure definition of a “whirlwind,” but an enjoyable one it was.  Enjoy a collection of photos and a video below!

I knew I was on the right track when I spotted a 2019 MDX A-Spec ahead of me on the interstate ramp.

Orange was the name of the game in all decor!

Precision Crafted Cocktail, anyone?

Actor Jesse Metcalfe was one of the event’s attendees

An orange so juicy I want to lick it.

Jewel behind the wheel of the NSX.

NSX Club of America Vice President May “May Purple” Lee.

Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda

Automotive journalist Carlos Lago & his wife

I’ll take it!

Nightly stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey

The Infiniti display near Pebble Beach at the Japanese Automotive Invitational

This weather was a shocker, especially when coming from August in Phoenix.

More from the Infiniti display.

My friend Jerry’s 1990 Legend LS coupe at JAI

Arriving The Quail and seeing a lineup of friends’ NSXs

Acura was giving away orange hats at The Quail.

With Charles Koch from Acura Shows & Exhibits, and fellow NSXCA member Ed Somers

With Motor Trend’s Karen Brown at JAI

Couple quick sidebars:  Thanks Jhae for the limited edition pin!

And I saw this 1G CL on craigslist.  Did you know that if you rearrange the letters in an ACURA emblem, it can spell CAR?  (see top left).

Have a great week!

Trip to San Diego, California: Beach Time, Car Time, & 250k Integra Milestone

Posted in California, Integra, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip on July 16, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  250,279

Trip Distance:  801 Miles

I seriously have the worst luck with losing sunglasses.  I’ll never forget the time I left a pair sitting on the trunk lid of my car near Bryce Canyon in Utah a few years ago and drove away.  I realized it a few miles down the road, looped back, and ended up finding them but they were missing a lens that was nowhere to be found.  So I plunked down another $80 on a replacement pair, which I’m sure I lost again.

The most recent casualty was from a massive wave in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday afternoon.  I think I got a little ambitious with how far I wanted to immerse myself.  Next thing I knew, I was overtaken and ended up with eyes and mouth full of saltwater as I went completely underwater momentarily.  The shades were a lost cause, but I’ve learned my lesson:  This time I bought replacements for $14.99 from a convenience store.  At that price, they’re disposable anyway.

Losses aside, this trip was just what the doctor ordered for a few days of reprieve from a busy schedule and some toasty summer temperatures in Arizona.  Some friends and I spent a couple of days in the Hillcrest neighborhood, celebrating a birthday and enjoying the sights and sounds that the city had to offer.  I took the Integra GS-R on this trip – knowing that the Legends will see plenty of use in the next week or so for the upcoming NALM trip to Colorado.  I stopped by the Imperial Sand Dunes, which were completely empty.  Go figure, nobody wants to burn their feet in July out there!

One of the ways I always like to dig up nostalgia when I’m in San Diego is to stop by some of the areas where I lived during the 2001-03 timeframe when I was a missionary for my church.  Even back then, I was eyeballing NSXs.  This one, spotted on June 15, 2001, is evidently still owned by the same person 17 years later.  I just today ran the plate using a smartphone app called MyCARFAX.  The car had 30,000 miles back then, and it has 50,000 today.  It’s a 1992 “Grand Prix White.”

And speaking of digging things up:  The first place I visited this weekend was Ramona, California, where my assigned partner and I lived in a converted horse stable, pictured below, that we lovingly called the “Shack.”  In January 2002, we buried a time capsule there with intention of digging it up 5 years later.  It’s now been over 16 years and I have no idea if or when we will ever exhume it.

The property as it sits today:

Christmas 2001 looking mighty festive.  I was standing in the doorway.

I paid a visit to the temple on Interstate 5 at Charmant Drive – a grand, white, castle-looking structure that is as striking from inside as it is out.  It was built in 1993 and has 72,000 square feet.  The grounds are always immaculate too.

Just a couple of miles away, I met up with a handful of “car friends” at a parking structure on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus.  Included were a nice lineup of Legend GS models owned by my friend Jacob, Mike’s 1989 Prelude, Ryan’s 2018 Accord, Jay’s 2008 Mercedes, and eventually Jorge’s 2011 BMW wagon.

We shot the breeze over burgers & fries at Rock Bottom Brewing on La Jolla Village Drive, and by then it was time for me to hit the highway and make my way back to the desert.  The Integra performed well, achieving its 250,000 mile mark just as I descended the grade from Jacumba to Ocotillo on eastbound Interstate 8.

Enjoy some photos and 2 videos from the weekend below!

Imperial Sand Dunes

Heading up Highway 67 toward Ramona

Lineup of mailboxes in buckets of cement, in Ramona

Roaming around the hills east of Ramona

Arrival at the temple

Jacob’s 1994 GS Legend in Sirius White

Eyeballing Jorge’s 2011 BMW

Ryan headed out on Interstate 5

250k milestone!  (Of course, with the ABS light permanently lit!)

Always liked this old hotel – “Stout’s Hotel” in Gila Bend.  It dates back to 1927 but hasn’t been open since the 1980s.

Lastly:  Continuing the “List your car here” trend.  I have a local contact with a 54,000 mile 1995 Legend L sedan automatic pictured here.  It has been neglected, to be quite honest, but runs and drives well and has super low miles.  Does anyone want to bring it back to its deserved glory?  Contact me.