Archive for the NALM Category

Company from CA, SLX + NSX Pics, Legend Matching Odometers, & Other Car Updates

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Legend, NALM, RL, SLX, TLX, Vigor on October 28, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  219,230

How was everyone’s weekend?  It’s been busy around here as I’ve been getting back to my routine.  Just two days after returning from the mega Florida trip, I had company in town from San Diego and San Francisco for a few days.  My guest book is spilling over onto page 41 since I bought my house in September of 2016.  Let me know when you want to book your reservation (rental cars are available).

I’ll let the photos tell the story below because there’s really not much else to elaborate on.

Ryan and I took the ‘homeless’ white Legend that I’ve been storing for about a year to brunch.

He has his sights set on the Vigor.  At 6-foot-6, he barely fits in that thing.

We also took the 1992 Integras out for a spin.

I’d like to introduce my friend Michael’s new 1996 Prelude Si.  It’s beautiful!

Ben and Smiley arrived on their way back to the Bay Area from Florida on Saturday evening.

Ryan’s Accord 6-speed was looking extra juicy.

I took the Legend for its emissions test last Wednesday.  It passed the test without any challenges.

Here are the recordings for pollutants since I first registered the car in Arizona about 12 years ago.  In some cases the numbers are questionable or inconsistent.  Actually – the numbers this time were better than they were 2 years ago, for all 3 measures.  Go fig.

I needed to juggle some cars around so I parked the 2 ‘reds’ in the driveway for a few pictures on Sunday.  You’ll see more of the SLX in the coming months as it’s involved in a special project.

Similar gauge layout, vastly different driving experiences.

Do you prefer Formula Red or Radiant Red?

My buddy Chris from Maryland, who has the twin to my Legend GS sedan, knew that his recent trip to Florida would cause his car to surpass mine in mileage.  So we figured out a way to commemorate the milestone.  I took my car to Wendy’s and recorded the odometer after I parked it back in the garage.

The reading was 161,440 at the time.

So Chris, similarly, took his Legend to Wendy’s.

And he captured a picture at 161,440.  At this point, Chris’ car is likely to stay ahead of mine for the foreseeable future.

I took a scenic drive on Sunday in the RL out to Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest.  I was scouting drive & lunch locations for a potential bid to host the 2020 NALM event here in Phoenix next fall.

More to come on that, but here’s a 3-minute preview video to the scenery & venues for consideration.

Have you been following any updates on the special Acura TLX PMC Edition?  It’s a TLX built at the NSX factory in Marysville, Ohio, and they’re only making 360 units.  The first one I saw in person was #026, on 7/26/2019 at Acura North Scottsdale.

And since that one was behind velvet ropes, the first one I actually sat in was #146 on 9/26/2019 at Acura of Tempe.

I’ve yet to get behind the wheel but it’s a pretty cool car because it blends Advance and A-Spec packages which historically have been mutually exclusive.  Have a good week!

National Acura Legend Meet 2019 Recap & Videos: 5,600 Miles Round-Trip to Florida

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on October 24, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,169

Trip Distance:  5,600 Miles

It’s about time.  I’ve been home for over a week from the longest trip I’d taken since 2016, but I’ve been trying to play catch-up.  Below is some event coverage I’ve put together already that you may wish to peruse.

If if you’re more a watcher than a reader, you can fast-forward all the way to the bottom of this post because there are 4 YouTube episodes there for your viewing pleasure a total of about 40 minutes’ worth of runtime.  How about that?  You get to experience a 13-day road trip in a fraction of the time.  You’re welcome.  Haha.

NALM – the National Acura Legend Meet – has led me to various parts over the country over the course of its now-15-year run.  From New Jersey in 2011 to Sacramento in 2017 and Milwaukee in 2012 to Houston in 2015.  Which reminds me, I need to rummage through my closet and see how many prior-year NALM T-shirts I still have.

This year’s voyage was unlike any other.  As time goes on, long-distance road trips get more challenging:  I’m older, the car’s older, parts are tougher to come by, and it’s more and more difficult to break away from work for such an extended period of time.  But the reward – or the juice, as my boss likes to say – is totally worth the squeeze.  In other words, if it’s NALM, I’ll be there.  Plan it in Tierra del Fuego if you want to.  I’ll probably drive there.

I stayed with a variety of friends throughout the trip, which took me through 7 states as I stayed on (or close to) Interstate 10 the entire way.  One night was spent in the luxurious garage of Jason from Pawela’s Garage.  A couple of days later, I got to drive the Guinness World Records “Longest Continuous Bridge Over Water” (that’s a lot of qualifiers) which runs 23 miles over Lake Ponchartrain in the New Orleans area.  I’m a sucker for “world’s largest” anything, and most of you know that about me by now.  And I got to meet a long-time blog reader and friend named Carlos in Miami who proudly showed me his stack of records on his 2005 TSX.  Thanks, Carlos!

Key West, Florida is a destination that had been on my Excel “road trip bucket list” for some time now.  It felt like something I should probably cross off since I’d already be in the same state, so my trip was lengthened by 2 days in order to allow me to visit the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States.  And that side-trip was 100% amazing.  Coincidentally, I had a couple of Arizona friends in the area who invited me on a catamaran for a sunset ‘dinner cruise’.  Thanks again for that, Hy and Linda!

I checked in for the NALM festivities during dinner on day two of the event, while everyone was chowing down on tacos at Jimmy Hula’s in Ormond Beach.  My favorite part of the program happened the next day, when our Legends swarmed Daytona Beach – on the beach itself.  Daytona is one of the few oceanfront areas in the country where you can still drive your personal vehicles on the sand.  I guess when you consider I had my Legend in Los Angeles earlier this year, it pretty much drove from the west coast to the east coast this calendar year.

And perhaps as a reward for that achievement, my car was one of five Legends allowed to park inside the showroom at AutoNation Acura North Orlando, where General Manager Rob Breedlove was gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for our entire pack of Legend fans.  He staffed the BBQ grill outside while our group was addressed by Honda Brand Culture Champion Charles Schnieber about the history of Acura and some fascinating trivia.  Thanks Rob!

All too soon, it was time to conclude our festivities with a beachside pizza party & awards ceremony.  I was awarded a certificate for having the cleanest floor mats in the group, which admittedly was a little unfair because the mats I had in the car are only used for shows and I don’t actually daily drive with them!

My last stop before making the marathon trek westward was to visit an Acura enthusiast in Jacksonville named Andrew, who I can only describe as “me, but on the east coast.”  Andrew has a significant collection of cool cars, including a Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline, an Acura Legend, two Acura CLs, and an Acura NSX.  He and his wife rolled out the hospitality in a big way and I felt right at home.

On my way home, I stayed another night with Jason in New Mexico – this time, celebrating a milestone with him.  (We’re kind of making this a habit).  This time, the achievement happened in his now-100,000 mile 2014 Lexus IS350.  I was happy to be able to celebrate with him.

You’re all asking:  How’d the car do?   Well, it delivered 27 mpg and performed pretty flawlessly for its age and miles.  The only maintenance items worth mentioning were a bottle of power steering fluid used up, a pair of new tires installed for precaution (they’d been a worn before I even left Arizona), an oil change, and replacement of a taillight bulb.  My comprehensive fuel log is posted below – totaling about $640 in fuel expense.

And in Excel form for the nerds in the house.

When it comes to adventures, this was definitely one of the most memorable I’ve had.  And I thank you for coming along on the journey with me!

Jason’s garage

“Prada Marfa” – a worthwhile offbeat destination in rural Texas:  It’s a fake Prada store in the middle of nowhere.

This sure felt like a marathon.

Checking out my friend Michael’s TSX Sport Wagon in San Antonio

Dinner group at Flying Saucer in San Antonio

Rolling 567,890.1 on the coupe with 234.5 on the trip meter

Tire replacement needed in Tallahassee – Discount Tire had my size & brand in stock!

Carlos’ TSX and DJ’s MDX in Miami

Headed out on the “Overseas Highway” to Key West – remarkable scenery

My two-night stay in Key West – highly recommended

Southernmost Point!

Unreal sunsets on our dinner cruise

I stopped by Acura of Pembroke Pines on my way back through the Miami area, and one of the individuals I met was Jon in his gorgeous Monte Carlo Blue NSX

Sean stopped by too – he’s a NALM veteran, as he and I attended the first event in 2005 together!

Sunrise view from host hotel, Coral Sands Inn, in Ormond Beach

Daytona Beach scenes

Chris and his 1994 Legend GS 6-speed.  He authored the last post on this blog.

“World’s Most Famous Beach”

No car club event is complete without plenty of good grub.

Dealer day photos

Presentation from Charles, with my Legend in the foreground

Houston meet-up with Josh and Mark

Home at last!

For your viewing pleasure!

Episode1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Guest Post: Chris’ Day 1 NALM 2019 Experience at Daytona Beach, Florida

Posted in NALM on October 23, 2019 by tysonhugie

Greetings, blog readers.  I arrived a day late to this year’s NALM so I invited a colleague, Chris Miller, to write about his experience that first day leading up to my arrival.  See below for his words and photos.

My complete write-up on my 5,600-mile trip, and a series of 4 videos, are pending in the coming days & weeks.

Thanks for reading!

_______

NALM 2019, departure from Maryland to Florida and Day 1 Activities

It’s hard to believe 2019 marks the 15th annual gathering known as the National Acura Legend Meet.

This year was no different, 20-plus Legend enthusiasts and a few spouses came from all over the country, and even Canada to gather in Ormond Beach FL, just a few miles north of Daytona Beach.  The drive for me this year was relatively easy:  Get on I-95 South a mile from my house and take it to the Ormond Beach exit, 872 miles away.  I had to work on Monday so I drove to DC, worked till 3:00pm and drive to Fayetteville NC for the night.  Tuesday I drove from Fayetteville NC to Floral City FL to visit the famous Legend Land to visit the famous Legend Savior himself, Alan Jackson.  Wednesday morning Alan, his wife Nancy, and I convoyed the 2 hours from Floral City to Ormond Beach via back roads through Ocala National Forest.

This year’s hotel was the Coral Sands Inn off Route A1A which is their main coastal road and was right on the beach with views of the ocean from every level. Wednesday night dinner was at Lagerheads about 4 miles north of the hotel.  The special that evening was Mahi Mahi tacos which I found to be very tasty with a little kick.  The veranda outside Thomas’ room was the place to hang out afterwards and catch up with old friends and our little Legend family.

One newcomer this year was Avery Tulak who lives in British Columbia.  I spent some time talking with him about his travels to Florida.  It started with a 7 hour drive from B.C to Seattle and then a 5.5 hour flight to Florida.  Avery doesn’t own a legend…yet.  He does have an RL, a Vigor and an Integra in his stable and knowing he was on the hunt I informed him of a famous NALM quip: For the right price, every Legend in the lot is for sale.  We welcomed him to our event and ensured he got to ride different Legends throughout the events.

Thursday morning we went down the street to Alfies for breakfast at 7:45.  We were the first and largest group in the restaurant and my breakfast choice, along with a couple others, was the French toast with Bacon.  It must’ve been 6 slices cause I could barely eat it all.

At 9:30 we gathered across the street from the hotel to stage the cars and we promptly departed for Daytona International Speedway just a few short miles down Interstate 95.

Once we arrived we were greeted by our tour guide for the morning. We loaded into tram-like cars behind his pickup truck and we proceeded around the perimeter of the track on a road just above the jersey walls.  Our tour guide gave us a brief history of the track since it first opened in 1959.  The speedway is known for the most prestigious race in all of Nascar, the Daytona 500 which is held in February.  The complex is not only home to 2.5 miles of nearly 200mph races, it also houses road races, motocross and superbike competitions on smaller tracks within the complex.

Our tour guide shared an impressive amount of knowledge with us during our tour.  He told us how many light poles were erected, the number and wattage of the bulbs used during night racing and other interesting facts.  He told us that when it comes to re-paving the speedway it takes over 6 months from start to finish.  When they repave the speedway all the asphalt is ground up and hauled off, right down to the dirt.  You wouldn’t think paving would take 6 months but a great deal of the effort is the preparation.  The protective fencing above the jersey walls and safer barriers has to come down.

The banking around the curves is 31 degrees and to keep the paving equipment from sliding or tumbling down the bank they have equipment that runs along the perimeter roads alongside the paving machines with safety lines tethered to them.  We weren’t allowed on the banked curves but we were allowed to get out and walk the start/finish line which is banked at a mere 18 degrees but proved to be a little difficult to climb.  We also got to tour a few buildings in the infield which houses the press corps and we got a group photo taken inside Winner’s Circle.  After a short elevator ride we went up to the grandstands to get a view of the entire speedway.

Our last stop was the Daytona Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum.  Inside the entrance is Denny Hamlin’s Toyota which won the Daytona 500 this past February. It’s tradition for the 500s winning racecar to be put on display in the museum for one year until the next 500 winner is crowned.  The car is displayed in the same condition as shown on t.v., soda, champaigne, confetti, and all kinds of asphalt and debris still clinging to the paint.  The only thing done to the car is it’s drained of any remaining fuel.  Inside the museum is the famous Hudson Hornet, cars from Dale Sr., Jeff Gordon, as well as a few funny cars, dragsters, and even a couple boats.

The next event was a short scenic drive and photoshoot in the local area but I decided I’d head an hour south and take a tour of the Kennedy Space Center.  While watching the various multimedia exhibits and IMAX presentations I was keeping an eye on Tyson’s location.  I knew he was heading north from Key West and I wanted to convoy north to Ormond Beach with him as our dinner that night was at Jimmy Hula’s.  There’s something neat about following the coupe version of your car going up the highway; especially when we share the same car color.

Yes, I’m almost as nerdy as Tyson is in some respects.  We fueled up at the Exxon station and headed north on I-95 through a nasty rain storm that lasted a few miles.  The first day or two of NALM was very windy with scattered heavy rain showers reducing visibility to ¼ mile or less.  We made it to dinner a little late but I enjoyed a Rice Bowl with Chicken similar to what you’d get at a Chipotle.  Tyson feasted on a couple Tacos after making his rounds and saying Hello to the gang.

With Kevin

With Tyson at Daytona Beach

One of many NALM meals

View from the hotel

With Tyson

NALM 2019 Registration is Live! Legend Anniversary, HPJ Visit, & Tucson NSX Event

Posted in Legend, NALM, NSX, Road Trip on March 31, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  565,337

Odometer (Legend sedan):  160,602

The time has come!  The National Acura Legend Meet, otherwise known as NALM, is accepting participant registration for its 15th annual event.  Launched in 2005 in Dallas, Texas, NALM has been held in 14 cities around the country and this October will have its first event in Florida.  Here is a blog what shows photos and videos from each year / location.

Hosting this year’s event will be Alan Jackson, Alex Alperovich, Chris Miller, Thomas Stinson, and myself.  The festivities will kick off on Wednesday, October 9 in Ormond Beach along the Atlantic coastline, with a full roster of activities concluding on Saturday evening with a dinner and awards ceremony.  For me it’ll be a 5,000+ mile road trip, but I’m up to the challenge and excited to drive Interstate 10 end-to-end across the country.

Here is the registration link on Google Forms.  The cost is $85 through the end of August, and the fee includes a T-shirt, NALM-sponsored food events, access to all activities, lanyard with name badge, sticker, and awards/prizes.  Keep an eye on the forums for more information about schedule and other announcements.

Special thanks to Jason of Pawela’s Garage for some awesome graphic design including the above logo & below announcement!

There are all sorts of anniversaries taking place.  I’ve now had my Legend coupe for 16 years and put around 470,000 miles on it.  I decided to drive it to work on the anniversary date, March 26, and snapped a photo before heading to the office.

Current odometer:

I was pleased to share the anniversary date with Patricia, the original owner of the car, who reported that she was enjoying her time in South America and wished me another happy “sweet 16.”

I also heard from Acura General Manager, Jon Ikeda, who wrote a very nice and meaningful email about how proud he is of the vehicles themselves as well as the people who manufacture them.  This guy knows what’s up!

Mom even made cupcakes for the occasion.  Thanks, mom!

The Arizona region was happy to have a special guest in our presence earlier in the week:  Jason “HondaPro” Richmond of Chicago was passing through the area and joined a Taco Tuesday meet up at Dos Gringos in Tempe.  I stopped by to greet everyone briefly.

Over the last 7 years, Jason has been a traveling “brand advocate” for Honda – meeting with dealerships, training their staff, and building a massive social following / community for brand awareness.  Here he was chatting with Chris Sadowski, who recently completed a right-hand-drive conversion on his 2G Integra.

Jason’s Civic Type-R is the only one in the country painted yellow.

Yesterday morning, I made the 2-hour drive to Tucson bright and early in my NSX for an event hosted by Chapman Acura.  The dealership provided hospitality and refreshments for about 20-25 cars including a surprisingly high volume of second-generation (2017+ NSX models).  When the group split a little after 10:00 a.m. to make a Mount Lemmon run, I headed back to Phoenix.

Halfway to Tucson at ‘Picacho Peak.’

Thermal Orange Pearl 2019 model front & center.

Both of these ones were rebadged as Hondas.

Love the aero treatment & wheels on Adrian’s Formula Red car here.

The SLX is chugging along and occasionally even gets freeway use.  I dared take that top-heavy box to 75 miles per hour the other day.  Haha.

Also, I am continuing to make enhancements to the house / showroom.  I recently added $14 worth of LED strip lighting to the glass showcase.  Fun little upgrade!

February News: NALM 2019 Announcement, ILX M/T Stats, & More Guests

Posted in ILX, Legend, Maintenance, NALM, NSXPO, SLX on February 18, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  565,101

A friend sent me a snapshot of an article with a “then and now” comparison.  It talked about how the average cost of a car in 1982 was $5,967.  His comment was, “You still pay that price.”  He’s not wrong!  Haha.  I love my garage full of $5k oldies.

I recently got my hands on some pretty sweet data recently regarding the breakout of ILX automatics to manuals.  My fellow Acura geeks won’t need this history lesson, but for the benefit of everyone else:  The ILX entry level Acura sedan launched in mid-2012 as a 2013 model, slotted below the TSX in the hierarchy.  There were three available drivetrains:  a 2-liter automatic, a 1.5-liter hybrid with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), and a 2.4 liter with a 6-speed manual transmission.  I ordered my ILX as a manual and took delivery on June 12, 2012 with 16 miles on the odometer.  It was #00082 on the production line.  The rest is history.

In the years following the ILX launch, “take rate” on the 6-speed manuals was never very good.  Some surmised that it might be as low as 3-5% of overall sales.  To nobody’s surprise (but much to my own disappointment), the manual option was dropped when the car was first refreshed for the 2016 model year.  Newly-released information from Acura indicates that over the 2013 + 2014 + 2015 model years, only 2,786 cars were sold with a manual transmission.  That works out to about 4% of the overall volume, which was right in line with predictions.

What does it all mean?  Nothing, really, other than the fact that I can feel sort of exclusive in driving a “rare” model.  The vast majority of car buyers today don’t want to be troubled with a third pedal.  Chew on that data for a little while.

I had a couple of action-packed recent weeks, with my dad being here in Phoenix for a trade show, travels to southern Utah for a birthday party, and some out-of-town guests.  Keeping you up to speed on current & upcoming events:

Registration is now open for the 3rd annual “NSX WestFest” event in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It will be held April 11-14 and promises to be one of the best NSX events of the year aside from the annual NSXPO.  This year’s NSXPO is slated for October in Washington D.C.  More to come on whether I’ll be able to make that cross-country drive / flight / teleportation.

It’s also been announced that this year’s 15th annual National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) will be held in October as well and headquartered in beautiful Daytona Beach, Florida.  Here’s the official posting from the AcuraLegend.org forums with the latest information.  Lodging and registration details will be posted on March 1.  I’m looking forward to the journey – I haven’t missed a NALM since the event started in 2005.  This will be one of the longest trips in the history of my 1994 LS coupe, at roughly 4,500 miles round trip.  I’m even thinking of starting the drive from San Diego, California so I can make it a true “Pacific to Atlantic” adventure.

It would be the car’s longest trip since Alaska in 2006.

Daytona looks beautiful!

Here are some assorted pics from over the last few weeks.  This is my friend Mitch from Indiana.  He is a long-time fellow Honda & Acura enthusiast who was recently featured last month in an article by Hagerty about his restoration process of a rare Zanardi NSX.

I had dad’s MDX in town for a couple of weeks.  Tech has come a long way since the 1997 SLX!

Sedan out to dinner.

And a couple other random beauty shots on my way to work.

Legend sighting at the parking structure of the Phoenix Convention Center.  Name that color!

I finally sourced some “bumper plugs” for my 1992 Integra sedan.  Here in Arizona, we don’t have front license plates, so I needed something to cover up the unsightly holes where the bracket would attach in other states.

Helping dad set up his booth at the convention center – before.

And after.

Went and saw the latest LEGO movie, courtesy of Chevrolet, with James and Abigail.  Go check it out!

Legend coupe in for an oil change.

And a fairly clean bill of health – just leaks noted for the power steering & oil.  I already knew about those.

Check out my “safari sunroof.”

Got Branson’s Legend out for a little spin.

Road trip back to Utah in dad’s MDX.

Visiting niece Ava Mae.  Beckam had blue hair that day.

And celebrating grandpa’s 88th birthday.

Late night meet-up with my friend James who has a Moroccan Red 2007 TL-S 6-speed.

Little bit of EGR carbon clean-out in the Legend, courtesy of my friend Shaun who paid me a visit from SLC.

Shaun at the wheel of the GS.

And doing a little junkyarding.  We pulled the center console vent trim out of this 1991 LS.

Donald stopped by to join the party in his Vortex Blue 2009 TSX.

My 1990 Honda Accord EX, recently sold on Bring a Trailer, (finally) goes away tonight and is headed to Dallas, Texas tomorrow!

More to come on that soon!

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 3: Dealer Day, Banquet/Awards, & Return Trip

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 25, 2018 by tysonhugie

As Cher said in 1989, “If I could turn back time….”

If you could turn back time, to what year would you set your destination?  For me, it might be sometime in the early-to-mid 1990s.  I was a fresh teenager at the Woodward Sixth Grade Center, reading Dirt Wheels Magazine and studying up on ATVs, putting miles on my Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike (pictured below in 1996), and playing games like Myst on our Packard Bell home computer.  Life was good.

It was around that time, some of Acura’s best sellers were gracing its showroom floors.  For just one day, Pikes Peak Acura in Colorado Springs chose to re-create such an occasion.  On Saturday, July 21, Manager Joel Archuleta swung open his facility’s doors for six Acura Legends to take over the spots previously occupied by ILX, TLX, RDX, and MDX models.  And the commotion drew quite a bit of attention from both staff members and customers alike.  Adding to the already-nostalgic feeling within the showroom, I requested that the satellite radio channel be changed to 1990s music, and it was.  Perfect.

On display in front, we had the two “twin” Legend GS sedans, my VIN 21413 and Chris’ 21268, configured in identical equipment, and within a few miles of each other in odometer readings.  More on that car in a future article.  Here’s our photo with Joel.

Behind the receptionist desk, we had two generation 2 LS coupes:  Mirel’s black-on-black 1994 LS 6-speed and Ben’s white-on-black 1992 LS automatic.  Capping off the ends of the showroom were Leon’s 1995 LS coupe and James’ 1988 base model sedan.  James’ car drew a great deal of attention as it was the most highly modified vehicle in the spotlight, with eye-catching custom paint, suspension, and other upgrades.  It was also the only first-generation car in attendance.

One of the highlights of having our “dealer day” was seeing a few random local owners come out of the woodwork, including Jesus in a black G2 coupe and Seth in a Desert Mist 1994 Vigor GS.  We welcomed both of them like family and invited them to join us upstairs for our catered lunch.  Dealership personnel cast votes on their favorite car, and the award was granted to Chris for his Legend GS.  Our time in the limelight was short-lived, and by noon we were rolling back out the doors and returning to home base in Woodland Park.

That afternoon, we took the cars to Woodland Park High School and held an informal car show and voting.  There were a few fun categories, like “Least Visor Sag,” and “Cleanest Floor Mats,” but my favorite was one called “Least Idle Smoke.”  In my 14 years attending this car meet, this was the first time I’ve participated in a “smoke-off.”  The concept is straightforward:

  • Park the cars in a lineup
  • Fire up the motors
  • Let the cars idle for about 10 minutes
  • Proceed down the row and have someone rev each car to similar RPM
  • Evaluate which car emits the least blue smoke

It was kind of funny, really.  I mean, these cars are 23 or more years old.  Even the lowest-mileage car in attendance, Leon’s 1995 coupe LS with 145,000 miles on it, let out a puff of smoke.  Oil burning is a common thing.  You’ll see what I mean in the video.

That evening, our NALM concluded with a BBQ banquet, raffle, and awards ceremony at the Country Lodge.  Every attendee received an item, and some received multiple.  Best of Show went to Chris for his Legend build, Longest Distance Traveled went to Alex from Florida, Best Interior went to Leon, and other awards were given.  It was the perfect capstone to an adventure-filled few days in Colorado.

Meanwhile, James L and I prepared for a long return journey ahead to Arizona the following morning.  We hit the road at our anticipated 7:00 departure time and made only a few stops along the way, including a prime photo op along I-25 southbound near the “Highway of Legends.”  Thanks to some walkie-talkie communication, we were able to stay in touch for the entire 850-mile stretch.  Sean, my skydiving friend who I mentioned in Part 2, bought us lunch in Albuquerque at a restaurant called “The Range” off Interstate 40.

Tired but fulfilled, we got back to Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. local time.  Until the next NALM!

It’s 1995 all over again

Me with my GS

Group shot

Looking spiffy

Chris’ car.  Notice how we even swapped out our plates for Pikes Peak ones!

Mirel’s car

Matt and Jesus’ cars

Dinner at Woodland Country Lodge

Home, sweet home, in Arizona on Sunday night

Until next time!

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 2: Pikes Peak Ascent to 14,115 Feet!

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Day Distance:  56 Miles

Some people love heights.  Take my friend Sean, for example.  He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is an optometrist by day but an avid skydiver on the side.  I had the opportunity to meet up with him for lunch on Sunday while passing through his area.  “So how many dives have you done?” I asked him, expecting to have him say maybe a hundred.  “Over five hundred,” he told me.  Holy smokes.

My interest was piqued, and I continued to interview Sean about what that must be like.  He told me that typical free-fall velocity is around 120 miles per hour, but he’s been known to get up to about 190 before (“The wind noise was deafening,” he said).

Sean is a thrill-seeker, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his cars.  He drives a 2017 Honda Accord and a base model white 1991 Acura Legend that he’s had since he was 16, which was over 19 years ago.  That’s some loyalty and dedication.  I’ve known Sean since the first National Acura Legend Meet in Dallas, Texas in 2005.

Speaking of heights, there have been only a couple of times in my life when I’ve conquered a “14’er.”  That’s Colorado-speak for a mountain with a summit of over 14,000 feet in elevation.  One of them was when I drove Mount Evans back in 2013.

For that trip, my anxiety was pretty mild:  I was driving a 1-year-old car (my 2013 ILX) with fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

This latest feat was a little bit of a different story:  I was about to attempt climbing a vertical mile straight up into the air over a 19-mile stretch of road. But this time, I was in a car with 562,000 miles on it, that burns oil, leaks power steering fluid, and has an original engine, transmission, and clutch.  Heaven help me.  If there was ever a time I put faith in my old trusty Legend to get me there safely, it was on Friday morning at the base of the road.  We arrived at 7:00 a.m., a full 30 minutes before the gates opened, and had some time to prepare for what was to come.

Ten of the 11 Legends that started the ascent made it to the top.  Combined, they had 2.4 million miles on them.  The only one that didn’t make it was Alex’s 1994 LS coupe (pictured above) which experienced a transmission problem with its recently installed 6-speed.  Luckily, it happened before we got to the areas with little or no room for pulling over.  The road gets pretty gnarly.

In Alex’s absence, I took the lead and set the pace for the group, alternating mostly between 2nd and 3rd gear but sometimes dropping to first on the hairpins.  A/C was off (it wasn’t needed anyway) and my eyes were glued to the temperature gauge.  With each passing mile, a sign marker on the side of the road told us our progress.

By 10,000 feet, we could start to see ourselves approaching the tree line.  The curves continued, and the road narrowed.  Eleven, 12, and 13,000 feet came and went.  By the time we passed 14,000, I gripping the wheel and wishing I’d left my sweatshirt on (windows were down).  The temperature dipped to the mid-40’s – roughly 1/3 of the temperature back home in Phoenix this time of year.  I wasn’t prepared for this!

My eyes were so laser-focused on the road ahead that I paid little attention to the drop-offs alongside me.  Alan, who was right behind me in his 1993 coupe, got on the walkie-talkie, “Hey, get a little closer to that edge!” he said.  “No thanks!” I responded.  Finally we arrived at the summit house which offered a respite from the chilly temps and winds, though being primitive in appearance.  The summit house, in fact, has been largely left in its current state since construction in the early 1960s, and it shows.

Inside, we found ourselves surrounded by typical gift shop garb:  T-shirts, coffee mugs, magnets with names on them.  You know, it’s really rare to find a magnet with the name Tyson on it.  Just saying.  I picked up a hot cocoa for $1.25 and a couple of fresh, hot donuts.  Apparently those donuts are a Pikes Peak famous tradition.  And they did hit the spot.  Our group had about an hour to kill by wandering around the summit.  In the back of the building, the views were spectacular:  Near 360-degree perspective showing the landscape below (albeit, through smoke and haze since the wildfires are really prevalent this year).

Also present is the track for a cog railway, which is currently out of service but slated to reopen around the same time as a new, modern summit house.  Here I am with Ken (New Jersey), Alex (Florida), and Waseem (Michigan).  Oh, and Alex’s dog KA8 (pronounced Kate).

A few people had elevation issues:  I watched as some stumbled or struggled with balance.  The elevation gave me a little sinus pain and you could definitely tell the air was thin because it was easy to get winded or fatigued from even just a little hiking around.  But the cars, thank goodness, all started and ran just as well at 14k feet as they had when we started up the hill at around 7k.  And speaking of the cars, someone from the staff got on an intercom while we were wandering around, “Remember to use your lowest gear when going down the mountain.”  They then went on to give instructions on how to find a “plus/minus” setting on most modern automatic vehicles.  Chris found himself some great underwear to take home as a souvenir.

And then it was time to crawl back down.  I stuck to 2nd gear most of the way, easing off the brakes as much as possible.  We were slowed down considerably a couple of times due to groups of bicyclists taking over the roadway.  At one point, we even pulled over when it was safe to do so and let them get a good head start on us so we could enjoy the road at a more comfortable pace.

At about the halfway point, there was a mandatory brake check (shown above).  A ranger stopped each vehicle and used a temperature gun to find out brake temps.  Any vehicle in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit is asked to let them cool down before proceeding.  The record low temp in our group was Waseem in his rented BMW 5-series with 140 degrees.  Second place?  Me, at 154 degrees.  That’s how it’s done!

There was a reservoir just prior to mile 7 that offered a nice backdrop of the Rockies for our photo op, and then it was back to base camp at the Woodland Country Lodge until the next NALM activity!

Oh, and as for Alex with the broken-down coupe, there is a happy ending:  Miraculously, he was able to source a used 5-speed transmission at a junkyard in Denver and swap it in a few days later.  As of this posting, he is back on the road and well on his way home!

Here is a video capturing some of the action!

Reading material distributed at the entrance station.  Our group had a $10/car discounted entry fee.

First pull-out to regroup at Crowe Gulch, with Leon in the background.

Vintage postcard showing Pikes back in the day

Our group at the summit

Taking a break during the descent

Photo ops near mile 7

Stay tuned for more – in the next episode, I’ll take you inside Pikes Peak Acura where the clock was turned back to the 1990s all over again!  Also, check out this video that Skydiver Sean put together from our meet-up in Albuquerque!