Archive for the California Category

Rev-Machine: My New “Super Sonic Blue” 1999 Acura Integra GS-R 5-Speed

Posted in California, Integra, Road Trip on December 27, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (1992 Integra GS-R 3-Door):  251,401

Odometer (1992 Integra GS Sedan):  73,376

Odometer (1999 Integra GS-R 3-Door):  136,246

Life’s too short to drive boring cars, right?

I think this is one of my favorite car commercials of all time.  And it doesn’t even show the vehicle!

Needless to say, the Integra GS-R is all about having fun.  And fun it is.

On June 8, 1999, a businessman in the motion picture industry bought an Integra GS-R with 6 miles on it for his 18-year-old son.  The car had been special-ordered through Santa Monica Acura in Southern California in a rare, two-year-only color called Super Sonic Blue Pearl.  Not only was the car equipped in the highest-available trim level short of the track-ready “Type R,” it was outfitted with an accessory underbody kit and fog lamps.  The MSRP was $22,555.

The showroom probably looked something like this at the time (see Super Sonic Blue Integra at top right).

The Integra stayed with that original owner for over 10 years before being passed along to its next owner.  Time went on, and Santa Monica Acura closed in 2015.  Meanwhile the Integra continued roaming around Orange County and ultimately ended up serving as a daily driver for a resident of Burbank who commuted every weekday to Frazier Park in the Tejon Pass, about a 120-mile round-trip each weekday.  Snowy weather is common there in the winter.

Well, now it’s 2019, it’s the holidays, and it’s my birthday tomorrow, so I’m as excited as that 18-year-old was.  I just bought that car.  And to me, it’s one of the most widely acclaimed sports coupes of the neo-classic era.  It’s time to diversify and evolve the collection of cars in my garage, and while some will not be going anywhere, I’ve decided it’s time to move the 1992 Integra sedan to its next owner so that gives me a space to fill with something a little more fun and a little more modern.  Introducing my latest ride:

I flew from Phoenix to Burbank on Christmas Eve to collect my latest toy.  My flight got in a little after 3:00 p.m. and I was scooped up at the airport curb in a blue Jeep Wrangler by the seller and his girlfriend.  We took care of business a few miles away at their home, and I was off on my way to enjoy the 8,200-RPM redline and the open road.  I got home just a few minutes after midnight on Christmas Day.

As for the plan with this Integra:  It will play a key role in a new YouTube series of restoration videos, much like the 8-episode playlist I’ve already put together on my 1996 SLX.  Feel free to tune in for updates from time to time.  The car looks decent in pictures and video, but I promise you this:  I made a list of 30+ things it needs, and that’s just the beginning.  First order of business was getting it registered and AZ legal which I completed on 12/26.

Things will move at a slow pace here until the 1992 sells and I have a little more financial wiggle room, so if you or anyone you know might be interested in that car, let me know!  Here’s the first in my series of videos on this latest ride.

Initial odometer reading

After a quick clean up of the wheels & tires

“Grand Prix engine,” it was pronounced.  It is really a rev-happy machine.

“The Second Most Fun Car on the Road.”  The photo speaks for itself.

GS-Rs separated by 7 model years.

My friend Ken had a funny comment about my Christmas gift to myself.

Rare sighting of a 1995 Legend SE at my local grocery store.  I left a note!

Other news – thanks to loyal reader Karna for hooking me up with a burlwood shift knob for the RL!

And check out my new garage art.  This one’s for you, Josh.  (See: Fantastic Fives)

And I finally got some of my RADwood posters on the wall.  That room is about done!

Have a great weekend!

Too SLXY for My Shirt: RADwood 2019 Car Show in Los Angeles

Posted in California, Car Show, Road Trip, SLX on December 9, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX): 116,405

Odometer (SLX): 140,616

Odometer (ILX):  221,578

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  572,261

Trip Distance:  353 Miles

“Hmm,” Chris said from the passenger seat as he shrugged his shoulders.  “Sounds kinda scary.”

I was pretty deflated.  I had just proudly pinned the accelerator to the floor in my red brick of an SLX and it did the best it could to get up to highway speed.  Moments later, he gestured the making of a cross against his chest as we both collectively said our prayers that the old SUV would get us safely to Phoenix, still about 250 miles away, across the barren desert at nighttime with intermittent rain showers.

We made it.  A bit of wind turbulence and poor visibility (one of my headlights is so dim it barely works at all) were about the only problems we had.  We got home to Phoenix at midnight local time after an exhausting day of celebrating the totally tubular 1980s and 1990s in cars & culture.  This was the third time I’ve attended the ‘RADwood’ show in Los Angeles.  In 2017, I took the Legend, and in 2018, I took the Integra sedan.  I always have a riot when being surrounded by such awesome people & cars.

And this time – in a perfectly orchestrated inconvenience – the event was held up a canyon with zero cell signal.  So, from about 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., I spent the day doing what we all did during the 1980s and 1990s:  Actually making real-life conversation with people.  It was pretty freakin’ awesome.

My trip to RADwood was by way of two very special collector cars:  a 1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby (Greg’s) and a 1998 Ford Contour SVT (Jason’s) – both with 3-pedal transmissions.  Unfortunately for us, and for all other show-goers on Saturday, Mother Nature felt like giving us a few rain showers.  While the downpours held out aside from a little trickle here and there, the mud left me wishing I’d brought my galoshes.  It was so slippery, in fact, that I fell down while helping push a Honda CRX with a dead battery into its parking space.  Good thing I had a spare pair of pants on-hand.

At least the 1986 Preludes owned by my friends Chris Hoffman and Chris Green looked spectacular.

The star of the show – at least for me – was a special project vehicle that I had a small role in bringing to life.  It’s right here, pictured with none other than RADwood royalty Bradley Brownell himself, and my friend & automotive journalist Steve Ewing.

You’ll probably remember my old “Fir Green” 1997 Acura SLX that I picked up a year ago from a friend.  It ran & drove okay, but the transmission slipped in third gear and the seats were thrashed.  I enjoyed it for a few months around town as a Home Depot cruiser.  Its life was about to change, however, when Andrew Quillin from Acura Public Relations asked me in late Spring if I had a lead on any SLXs for sale.  I didn’t know of anything decent offhand, so I said, “You can have mine.”

And so it happened.  On June 18, Acura’s fleet management representative drove away in the green beast from my house in Phoenix and I wasn’t sure if or when I’d ever see it again.  Not only did I see it again, but, it had been transformed into a completely different vehicle.  Over the course of the next several months, the SLX spent its summer in Marysville, Ohio, at Honda’s Research & Development facility, getting a cosmetic facelift and a full mechanical transplant.  Behold:

Engineers James Robinson and Jordan Guitar led a team of people who swapped the tired, 178,000-mile 3.2 V6 with a race-tuned 2-liter turbo out of the Pikes Peak RDX racecar.  But they didn’t stop there.  The transmission was replaced with a push-button 10-speed automatic and the vehicle was equipped with Acura’s signature Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD), plus a fully independent rear suspension.  The only subtle hint that this SLX is something a little different is the hue of Performance Red paint and the side exit exhaust forward to the left rear tire.

While official drag-race numbers have not yet been captured, I’m fairly certain the SH-AWD SLX would smoke my stock example in any performance event.  I haven’t yet driven it.  I only took a brief ride during a mid-November film shoot in the San Diego area.  The result of that film shoot is here, brought to life with the creative mind of Acura’s Zach Vlasuk.

As RADwood pressed on, I connected with friends and colleagues from near & far.  I also got to be the eyewitness (or even acting clergy?) for the official sale transaction of a white 1988 Legend coupe that changed hands from one owner to another during the course of the show.  The Acura representation across the show field was in fact pretty impressive:  Even the award-winning second-gen Legend sedan driven by Rob Pia was in attendance, and it won a well-deserved trophy at the conclusion of the show.

Congrats, new Legend owner Daniel!

I made it through the afternoon without any further mud-slides, and I had a great time rubbing shoulders with the leaders & engineers who brought the SLX project to life.  I even had about a dozen of them sign my dashboard with a silver Sharpie, including Executive Creative Director Dave Marek who drew me a picture!

As for the project SLX SH-AWD, it’s gone on to achieve all sorts of fame by way of automotive media outlets in every corner of the country and even internationally.  Here’s an example of one piece by Jalopnik.  And no, I’m not getting the vehicle back, but maybe I can sweet-talk Acura into a test drive.  After some race training, of course :).

Here’s my 5-minute video on this year’s RADwood, and a few photos follow.

Westbound in the SVT Contour

Barrett-Jackson is one of many sponsors & participants in the growing RADwood movement.  Pictured here is Matt Ferguson from Public Relations.

If I were to cheat on Acura, it might be for one of these.  Love it.

Resto-mod SLX sporting custom floor mats, wood trim, reupholstered leather, and a push-button transmission.  But – don’t worry – the tape deck stuck around!

My co-pilots Jason and Chris

Acura senior executive Jon Ikeda was out enjoying the party, too.

Even the former owner of the green SLX, Wyatt, popped in to say hello.

And now – if you are interested – here are a few shots from the filming of the reveal video, and a behind-the-scenes look at some of the effort it took to produce.

Three SLXs in one place!  That never happens.

That engine is more than meets the eye!  And you should hear it!

Setting up a camera mount on my Radiant Red

“For sale by owner” – come and get it!

Actress Amy McRoberts

Andrew from Acura – one of the main brains behind the operation.

Old and new in a San Diego garage

And lastly, since I’m too lazy to put these in their own blog entry, I wanted to thank and recognize a few people who have visited my house in the last few weeks including automotive journalists Clint Simone from Motor1 and Sofyan Bey from Redline Reviews.

I also hosted some fellow Acura friends including my friend Leon who was in town from Los Angeles.

I hope all my readers had a nice Thanksgiving.  I spent it in southern Utah with my RDX-driving friend Shaun and with many of my family members.

Grandma

Mom (and her 2016 RLX)

And the newest member – 1-year-old Ava Mae, inside her Escalade.

Have a great week!

Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge in Yuma; San Diego & LA Quick Trip

Posted in Arizona, California, ILX, Road Trip on November 23, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  220,586

Trip Distance:  866 Miles

Sometimes it’s when you least expect it that interesting roadside attractions pop up and call your name.  I was about halfway from Phoenix to San Diego on Wednesday afternoon when I spotted a neat looking bridge off to the right side of Interstate 8 in Yuma, crossing the Colorado River.  I’d been making good time on my 6-hour trip and had a few minutes of daylight left, so I figured I’d take the next exit and give it another look.  As it turns out, the detour was totally worth the effort because I got to learn about a 104-year-old historic landmark.

This was also the second time I’ve found a noteworthy bridge in Yuma.  The other one was the abandoned Bridge to Nowhere that I blogged about five years ago.  Who would have thought that you could find such cool water crossings in a city that’s smack dab in the middle of the middle of the desert?

This bridge ended up being the “Ocean to Ocean” bridge, constructed in 1915, which crosses the Colorado River at the Arizona-California state line.  It’s a narrow roadway that over time became both structurally at risk and also functionally obsolete, since it was bypassed in 1956 by a newer roadway nearby on 4th Avenue, and then again by Interstate 8 in the 1970s.  Today it serves as a one-laner and carries a road called Penitentiary, named after the historic Territorial Prison State Park nearby.  A railroad trestle bridge runs parallel to it.

From 1988 through 2001, the Ocean to Ocean Bridge was closed to automobile traffic because of structural deficiencies, but a $3 million restoration project allowed it to be made safe once again for automobiles.  And even though my visit was short, it was fun to get to experience it.

The rest of my CA trip was action-packed with a night in San Diego and then a night in Hollywood.  The LA Auto Show’s press/media days concluded Thursday and I made it to the area in time to participate in an after-party at a place called Doheny Room on Santa Monica Boulevard.  The gathering was an annual reunion of about 40 auto-journalist friends of mine.  It was great to see old friends and make a few new ones.

That’s a picture of me with Sofyan Bey of Redline Reviews and Aaron Bragman of Cars.com.

I stayed at the InterContinental Hotel that evening in downtown Los Angeles which, at 73 stories, is the tallest building west of the Mississippi and has 889 guest rooms.  My friend Brian and I were on the 58th floor and the view was stunning.  My ears popped a few times from the pressure change when going up and down the elevator.  Cleverly, the lobby is actually not even on the floor/ground level.  It’s on floor 70.  So as a guest, you have to first go all the way upstairs to appreciate the view before you can proceed to your hotel room.  I thought it was pretty cool.

In typical LA fashion, traffic on Friday was hectic and it took me 45 minutes to Uber the 8 miles to retrieve my ILX in West Hollywood.  Parking the car at InterContinental would have been valet-only, and it would have cost me $46.  So I opted to ditch it in a residential area for the night.  Once I finally got behind the wheel again, it was a pretty straight shot to find Interstate 10 and take that all the way home to Phoenix.  My only pit stop was for a brief lunch stint in Palm Springs at a terrific taco place on Palm Canyon Drive.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Oh, and here are the fuel stats for the trip.  The ILX rolled 220,000 miles and achieved about 31 mpg overall.

San Diego night stay with my friend Ryan who has a 6-speed Accord 2.0

Working my way home on Friday afternoon

Long Beach Weekend: 2019 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) at Marina Green Park

Posted in California, Car Show, Del Sol, Road Trip on September 26, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (del Sol):  89,349

Trip Distance:  777 Miles

This was a fun way to break up the work week:  My friend Chris invited me to meet up and check out / test drive his very rare model year 2000 Acura Integra Type R.  The car had 48,000 miles on it and handled incredibly.  Like many ‘B-Series’ powered Honda cars, the Type R loves to rev.  Its tachometer goes up to a sky-high 10,000 RPM.  I appreciated the opportunity!

I’m starting to become a ‘regular’ at some of the Southern California car scene activities each year.  The Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS), now in its 15th year, has been a tradition of mine since I started going in 2014.  Back then, none of my cars were eligible because the cutoff for model year eligibility was in the 1980s.  It’s since been modified, and anything up through the mid-1990s is permissible.

The Key Lime del Sol made the trip this time.  This was the first time it’s made an out-of-town voyage since I brought it to Phoenix from Salt Lake City back in May.  I’m happy to report that the car did great.  Here are write-ups from my prior trips to JCCS.  With the momentum behind the event (growing so much that it had to change venues last year) I’m confident it will be a “thing” for many years to come.

I had a special guest at the house last Thursday afternoon:  My friend Ken from Pennsylvania rolled into town in his vintage 1981 Honda Accord.  His dedication to the event was impressive – even in the face of a breakdown somewhere in Wisconsin, he was able to put a spare fuel pump to use the following day and be back on the road without much time lost.  Driving with an old car in adventure to say the least.  It’s best to live by the Boy Scout motto:  “Be Prepared.”

By the time Ken and I made it out of Phoenix during rush hour, then completed our trek across the desert, our arrival in Torrance at the Holiday Inn was a little before midnight.  The next day, we toured the Honda Collection open house (which I’d visited just recently in July).  I enjoyed a night out with a few local friends before tidying up the del Sol and calling it a night.  My wake-up call on the show day itself always comes very early – in this case it was 5:40 a.m. so I could be at a meeting point in Long Beach by 6:45.

(Why they had this sign up for the “14th” annual 2018 event from last year, I’m not sure.)

This was the largest JCCS in the event’s 15-year history.  Over 400 vehicles were displayed in organized fashion at Marina Green along Shoreline Drive.  The Honda section, as in prior years, was headquartered on the west end of the park.  Luckily I rolled in around the same time as some of my closest colleagues so I got to park near them.

A few particularly cool vehicles caught my eye throughout the day.  I enjoyed my friend Chris’ 1988 Dodge Ram 50 pickup truck.  A Dodge at a Japanese car show?  Yes.  That’s because his Dodge was technically just a rebadged Mitsubishi Mighty Max.  Which reminds me, speaking of rebadges, I think the SLX will make a JCCS debut next year.

At the conclusion of the show, some friends and I dined nearby at the Islands Burger restaurant and hydrated after a day in the sun.  The del Sol got me home safe and sound to Phoenix later that evening.  Until next year!

Rolling 88,888 miles at 88 miles per hour.  I pictured Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future:  “When this thing hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious shit.”  Well, I didn’t see any of that, but it was still fun to celebrate.

Visit to the American Honda main office

Inside the museum with David and David

Lineup awaiting in staging lanes

Running into friends from all over

My friend Ryan’s 1988 Daihatsu Charade – love it

My buddy Logan

Dave Heath from Honda who works with Auto Shows & Exhibits

The Honda display was nicely laid out

Ever seen a lifted Lexus LS400 on mud tires?

Primary colors?  I think we were just missing blue

Dinner group before my return trip to Phoenix

Last but definitely not least:  The automotive journalist community is pretty small, and is better described as a close-knit family.  Recently, a colleague of mine named Miles Branman in the Southern California region was injured in an accident.

One of the media organizations (similar to PAPA, that we have here in Phoenix) called MPG (Motor Press Guild) has launched a series of auctions in fundraising support of Miles. Among the items up for grabs are some some exclusive collector items donated by Acura.  Check these out:

These are all one-of-a-kind finds, and they’re for a good cause!  The auctions end next Thursday, October 3 at 5:00 Pacific.

Thanks for looking.

“Car Week” 2019 in Monterey, CA: Type S Concept, Japanese Automotive Invitational

Posted in California, Legend, TLX on August 20, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  217,821

Every week for me is a “car week,” right?  As I motored along Highway 101 near San Jose, California last Thursday afternoon in my rental Dodge Caravan, I spotted this beauty:

It was meant to be.  That Alabaster Silver 2007-08 TL Type-S (and my formerly-owned blue one) was the last of its kind.  When the TL was redesigned for the 2009 model year (its “fourth generation”), the Type-S nameplate was retired.  Now a decade later in 2019, it’s about to make a comeback.  And the event I was headed to was specifically to celebrate the rebirth and to showcase what the Type-S of the future will look like.

The Carmel Valley Lodge just outside Monterey is an exquisite country club that hosted a private reception for Acura senior leaders, designers, and invited guests for the unveil of the “Type S Concept” – a highly talked about model that reflects the brand’s return to an emphasis on sportiness and performance.

Matt Sloustcher, Public Relations, and Jon Ikeda, Vice President, kicked off the commentary from the podium next to the concept car which had a sheet over it at the time.  At 7:00, the dramatic unveil was carried out and the crowd responded with a hearty applause.

Ikeda described this type of reveal being “Like having a designer’s pants pulled off; all of a sudden everyone sees everything and it causes anxiety about what kind of reaction they’ll have.”  I liked that analogy.  Ben Davidson, lead designer for the Type S, shared a few insights over the mic about what inspired him during the development process.  (Ben is pictured at far left below).

I was honored to be among the attendees to get a first in-person glimpse of the car which had been revealed in electronic media form just a day prior.  It had a nice presence – new signature “chicane” headlamp and taillamp design, a grille inspired from the Precision concept car, and of course the Type S badging on both front and rear.  I’ll be anxious to see when and how the Type S concept is transformed into a production car in the coming months and years.

This was our group from the NSXCA along with some of the Acura leadership team.

The Type S was on display the following day at the Quail.  I didn’t make it out for that, but it looked like an impressive display!

Another highlight of my weekend was getting to attend the second-annual “Japanese Automotive Invitational” in Pebble Beach.  The Infiniti and Lexus brands are turning 30 years old this year, and Motor Trend partnered with Infiniti to celebrate and recognize the milestone by bringing together a carefully curated field of vehicles for spectator enjoyment.  Last year my Integra GS-R was there.  One of the vehicles on display this year was my 1994 Legend GS sedan that I’ve had for 11 years now.  It looked good out there.

On the final day of my Monterey visit, I made my first visit to the WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.  I’d heard of Laguna Seca many times before, but this time – thanks to an “alumni” event sponsored by Bring a Trailer – I had a reason to pay a visit.  My minivan was definitely the lamest vehicle in the spectator parking lot, but that was okay.  I got to see & shake hands with some of my heroes from the BaT community including Zac Beatty who has been with the site since its early days.

All too soon, it was time to work my way to the San Jose airport but before boarding my flight, I made one more visit.  I stopped by the home of my friend Kevin who’s a die-hard 2G Integra fan.  Kevin currently has two of them.  He and his wife (and pets!) were extremely hospitable for my drop-in.

The “Car Week” festivities never seem to disappoint.  It was rewarding to get to reconnect with old friends, make a few new ones, and witness firsthand what the future holds for automotive design.  Thanks for coming along for the adventure!

Acura-themed bevvies!

Hanging with Andrew from Acura Public Relations, and his wife Katie

Type S looking mean and muscular

My coworker said the headlights reminded her of Knight Rider

With Marcus from HeelToe Automotive

Marcus, and Jon Ikeda

Visiting with friends who were about to send their 1979 Mercury Bobcat (named “Bob”) to auction

Infiniti display at Pebble Beach for the Japanese Automotive Invitational

My friend Greg’s Datsun

Coffee named “Q45”!

Classic Car Forum at the Inn at Spanish Bay, with remarks from leaders from Mazda, Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti

Night out in Monterey with Jay and Chris

Type-R sighting at Laguna Seca

Quick Retreat: Exploring Southern California with Vigor [Featuring the Honda Museum!]

Posted in California, Road Trip, SLX, Vigor on July 17, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  114,000

Trip Distance:  856 Miles

I was pulling up to the emissions check station for the 2-year smog check in the 1994 Vigor this morning when the odometer turned exactly 114,000.0 miles.  Small miracles like that have a way of making my day.

Then I extended my arm to rest my elbow on the window sill while waiting for my turn.  I’m pretty sure I got a second-degree burn from the temperature of the surface.  This Phoenix heat doesn’t mess around:  It’s like opening up the clothes dryer, crawling inside, and setting the timer for 40 minutes of permanent press.  But that’s OK.  We have the refuge of various refreshing beaches within a half-day’s drive.

My friend Dillon was paying us a visit from the east coast, all the way from North Carolina.  Dillon is a long-time friend and fellow automotive enthusiast, so he was a great road-trip companion for the roughly 900-mile weekend trip to Southern California.

Our trip took us first to the exclusive and private Honda Collection Hall, located just a block from the American Honda corporate office in Torrance.  I’d heard that it would be open for an informal open house / reception, and since Dillon and our other accompanying friend Joseph had never been inside, we decided to check it out.

My favorite artifact in the museum was the Laurel Blue Metallic 1990 Accord LX on display with over 1 million miles on it.  That’s right – we were in the presence of high-mileage royalty:  “Million Mile Joe’s” car, which made it that distance on its original engine and transmission.  Joe was recognized with a parade and a free car, but unfortunately has since passed away.  His Accord lives on under the caretaking hands of the curators of the museum.

Here is a video on the MMJ Accord.

No trip to CA is complete without its share of traffic, and we were dealt a hefty serving of it.  It took us about 4 hours to go the < 200 miles from Los Angeles to San Diego where we’d be spending the remainder of our weekend.  But the company was enjoyable and the cooler temps made for a prime opportunity to put the windows down and enjoy the scenery as we rolled southbound, with occasional views of the Pacific Ocean from Interstate 5.

We met up with another Vigor owner, Ryan, for lunch on Saturday as well as Mike with a Mustang and Jason with a Civic.  It was a rare sight to see the 3 Acura Vigors in one parking lot together, and in fact, during some photos at the stadium next door after lunch, we even (unintentionally) parked them in proper order, from model years 1992, 1993, and 1994.

All said and done, the trip was just what the doctor ordered to cool us down a bit.  Here is a 9-minute video celebrating the 4 years I’ve owned my Vigor (since 4th of July, 2015) as well as highlights fro the California adventure with Dillon and others.  And below are some other news updates from in and around the garage.

In other car updates, the RL got a wax job and is looking great for 210,000 miles.

Recent visit from a few friends.

Supporting my friend Ethan from Hello Road with a T-shirt.  Give his channel a look!

I loved this del Sol ad that I found on Facebook.

Cruising the ‘Sol with my buddy Kurt.

Musical cars.

RL at a housing development called “The New Legend.”  Fitting.

Tail end of Joe’s car

A couple great cars in the museum

Beach time near Belmont Park

Dropping off Dillon at Sky Harbor on Monday night

The ‘new’ (red) SLX is coming along.  I’m getting mixed reactions from followers who have kept up with the progress so far.  A few have said that the vehicle would be better suited as fire kindling in the backyard given its condition.

Others are 100% supportive of continuing with restoration efforts to see what I can make of it.  I don’t intend to go all-in with effort & expense.  At this point the objective is just to ensure roadworthiness and make it look decent enough for a Radwood car show.  I’m pretty much there.  I showed it for its first time two Saturdays ago, at the Scottsdale Pavilions show on July 6.

Dining out while at the show.

Here are 2 more episodes from my YouTube if you haven’t seen them already.

Engine detail

Nice results!

New wheels

12+ new hoses thanks to Hon-Man

Should I have gone this direction with the rebuild?

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!