Archive for the Nevada Category

The New 1992 Integra GS Sedan 5-Speed, Part 2: Drive Home & Initial Cleanup

Posted in Integra, Maintenance, Nevada, Road Trip on June 2, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  560,985

Alas, my adventure from the purchase of this 71,215-mile Integra was not over yet.  This new (old) Integra GS wasn’t quite ready to break free from the cobwebs of long term storage:  Just as I started getting comfortable on my return trip to Phoenix, roughly 100 miles into my trip, the motor started cutting out intermittently on the interstate.

At first it didn’t interfere with my ability to keep momentum, but eventually, even with my foot on the accelerator at full engagement, I was dropping speed – and quickly.  I was about 20 miles north of Las Vegas on I-15, in about 100 degree temperatures, on the shoulder.

I was able to re-start the car a couple of times and limp along southbound in the emergency line, but meanwhile I was doing my research and figuring out next steps.  I HAD to get back to Phoenix somehow that night, still over 300 miles away, for important work meetings the following day.

So, was my best option to tow the Integra home somehow, rent another car, or try and catch a flight out of Vegas?  I got the car to a Love’s gas station and bought a bottled water while waiting for a neon green tow truck, so I had a few minutes to do my research and collect my thoughts.  Look at this call history!

Not how I thought the day would go!

What I discovered was that rental car agencies are not friendly to work with on the phone – and that’s if you can even get someone on the phone at all.  Many were closed at 6:00 p.m.  One wanted to charge me a $300 one-way drop-off fee if I picked up a car in Vegas and drove it to Phoenix.  Another refused to rent to me at all without a round trip flight ticket.  WTH?  I met one slammed door after another.

Southwest Airlines came through for me.  Luckily, there are about 8 departures per day between LAS & PHX.  I was able to snag a seat on the last flight out for the day – departing around 10:30 p.m. – and make my way to the airport after leaving the Integra at the Acura dealership on Sahara Avenue.  My nerves were shot when I got home around midnight.  But by gosh by golly, I made it to those work meetings.

Description of the problem that I wrote on the envelope with the key when I night-dropped the car.

Flying home!

Meanwhile, the Integra GS sat for a week at the dealership, 300 miles away from my home.  Its diagnosis?  A bad fuel pump and a leaking fuel filler line, which of course was discontinued.  It’s a good thing I have friends in high places.  My friend Hy found a used part on Ebay which I promptly ordered and had shipped to the dealership.

I received word on Tuesday that the part had arrived and would work, then awaited an ETA on the car’s roadworthiness.  On Wednesday, I learned they had the wrong fuel pump and a new one would be arriving the next day.  Thursday, they got the right part.  And Friday, it was tested and confirmed good.

After what seemed like forever, I was able to fly back to Las Vegas and retrieve the car.  I took a 7:05 a.m. flight on Southwest on Saturday (really racking up those Rapid Rewards loyalty points!) and was on the ground a little after 8:00, picked up by my friend Dane in his Lincoln – Starbucks in hand for me.  Bless his heart.

We headed directly to the dealership on Sahara and I met up with a friend who works there, Louie, as well as my service advisor, Mitch.  It was a relief to (again) be heading out in my new car and I was optimistic about this latest fix taking care of the issues.  I grabbed breakfast with my Dane and Brandon at the Egg & I before hitting the road.

FOOD!

And smooth sailing it was – I kept things really easy on the car, low RPM, easy acceleration, kind of holding my breath that nothing else would happen in the 300 miles that remained.  When I finally got to my house at 3:00 p.m., I breathed a sigh of relief.

So here’s how the overall purchase timeline worked out.

  • April 27:  Notified of the car being for sale by Jeff
  • April 30:  Cody test drove
  • May 1:  Made offer, which was accepted, booked flight
  • May 2:  Scheduled 90k maintenance with Honda dealer
  • May 7:  Flew to Utah
  • May 8:  Picked up car, had maintenance, started driving home, broke down, towed to dealer
  • May 9:  Identified issue
  • May 10:  Found discontinued / used part, ordered on Ebay
  • May 15:  Part arrived
  • May 16:  Notified of incorrect fuel pump
  • May 17:  New pump installed
  • May 18:  Fuel system passed testing
  • May 19:  Returned to Las Vegas & drove the car home

After getting the car home, I spent dug in and started getting things cleaned up in the same fashion that I did it with my LS.  In fact, it was deja vu.  (I just spent 5 minutes looking at the etymology of that phrase.  Turns out it’s French, and it means “already seen.”  You’re welcome!).  Even the local emissions check station agents looked at me a little funny as I arrived in a new Integra.  “Weren’t you already here?” they asked me.  “Where do you keep finding these cars?!” was the next question.

So here I am, one Integra sold, one purchased, and taking a break from running a used car dealership for a little while now.    Here are a few episodes on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.  Get lots of popcorn ready.

Part 2:   Transport Home

Part 3:  Cleanup

Part 4:  Engine Cleaning

Home and part of the family!

That front plate was the first thing to go.

And of course – the next day – a few pics in the backyard.

Engine bay – before

Engine bay – after

Thanks for following along on yet another of my crazy automotive adventures!

Sin City Supercars: NSX “WestFest” 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Posted in Nevada, NSX, Road Trip on April 29, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  110,936

As if Las Vegas weren’t full of enough glitz and glamour already, the Acura NSX Club of America added some eye candy to the mix this weekend with a few aluminum-constructed sportscars in vivid colors like Spa Yellow, Long Beach Blue, and Midnight Purple.  Launched last year as the club’s inaugural signature event for the Southwest Region chapter, round 2 brought out over 45 cars and 65 attendees to Sin City.  And everyone had a pretty wicked good time.

The event kicked off with check-in & registration on Thursday evening at the Gold Coast Casino on Flamingo Road.  Its selection was a strategic decision on behalf of the planning committee in the interest of keeping four-dozen cars away from the Strip.  Can you imagine trying to execute a group drive in any formal fashion while dealing with Strip stop-and-go?  That might have been chaotic.

On Friday, Findlay Acura in Henderson hosted our group for a half day.  There was car show voting, music, a food truck, giveaways, and a photoshoot.  Findlay always rolls out the red carpet for us.  Those who wanted to hit the go-kart track at Gene Woods Racing in the afternoon did so, followed by an open night.  I took the opportunity to catch up with a couple of local friends as well as hang out with Josh of NSX Experiment who’d driven down from Boise.

No multi-day car club event is complete without a driving portion, and that was reserved for Saturday.  But first, we invaded the cars & coffee meet-up at SpeedVegas off Exit 25 on Interstate 15.  SpeedVegas is a facility that offers exotic car track sessions, but it also opens up its parking lot every Saturday morning for anyone and everyone.  And in this case, they even let our group take a few parade laps (at about 25-35 miles per hour only, though).  Still it was a pretty nifty sight to see that many cars lined up and making the rounds.

The rest of the day was spent battling the desert heat and attempting to keep the group together (it was futile, in the end) while we took a 180-mile scenic loop to the old mining town of Nelson followed by lunch at the Primm Valley Casino near the California – Nevada state line.  My poor passenger Brandon probably heard a few curse words as I was being summoned by phone call, text, and walkie talkie with individuals who needed help with directions – despite the fact that they’d been emailed out a week in advance, as well as distributed in hard copy at registration.

Navigation challenges aside, we had a great drive and pigged out at the buffet.  Manager Robin even offered our group discounts on shopping at the nearby outlet mall.  Our event capstone took place on Saturday evening back at the Gold Coast, where a banquet dinner was served up in Salon A and awards & prizes were distributed.  A few lucky club members got things like gift certificates to NSX performance vendors, signed model cars, posters, and other items.  Probably very few went home empty-handed, which was thanks to the generosity of sponsors.

Thankfully, my NSX gave me zero trouble on the trip – this morning’s 4.5-hour return drive from Las Vegas to Phoenix was flawless, and I even had time to wash it down before stowing it away.  Now after having lived out of a suitcase for a full week (work trip + NSX trip), I’m ready to get back to my routine.  I don’t think I’ve ever been grateful to see the walls of my office cubicle, but I actually won’t mind it one bit this week.

Here’s an 8-minute recap video and the rest of my photos!

Headed out from Phoenix.  The total drive is about 300 miles each way.

Boulder City, Nevada

Arrival on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, just off the Strip.

Swag Bag contents!

With a couple of my favorite ladies from the NSX Club of America

Findlay Acura takeover

This plate reads “My Happy Place.”

Car show registration.  There was a section where people could list modifications.  I have none!

Jody and Kelly who work for Honda/Acura.

Yowza!  In April, even.

There’s that Long Beach Blue!  It’s a 2002-05 color.

Love seeing an NSX with “Classic Rod” license plates.

Dinner at Stir Krazy Mongolian with friends Dane and Brandon

Josh let me drive his 2000 NSX to cars & coffee.  It was a pretty different driving experience compared to what I’m used to:  power steering, +20 hp, +1 gear, and a removable top!

My friend Romeo from the Legend club came out to visit.

Photos in Nelson, Nevada

Headed on back to Primm Valley with Brandon

A visit from Sunny & his friend from Salt Lake City who coincidentally were in the area.

Banquet dinner time.  I went with the petite filet and chicken.

 

Drive to Five Review: Nevada Ghost Towning in the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Posted in Ghost Town, MDX, Nevada, Utah, Vehicle Reviews on February 13, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  246,192

Odometer (MDX):  5,756

Trip Distance:  1,056 Miles

I needed a workhorse to travel back to an 1800s mining town this past weekend and Acura gave me just the right vehicle for the job.  After now completing over 1,000 miles in the latest iteration of its 3-row SUV, I can say with a certainty that the latest MDX is a capable, fun-to-drive machine that offers up first class comfort for a trip of that distance.  Do I have to give it back?

This now marks the fourth time I’ve put a third-generation MDX through its paces.  Here are some prior reviews from here on the blog:

Coming up in April, Las Vegas, Nevada will once again play home to a regional Acura NSX club meet-up called WestFest.  Last year, the event brought out over 50 cars and 80 people.  As part of the planning committee, my role is to establish and plan out the logistics of a scenic group drive to be held on Saturday, April 28th.  It’s not easy to come up with drives for a caravan of that size.

Considerations:

  • Where haven’t we been yet?
  • What will traffic & weather patterns be like on the day & time of our trip?
  • What are the road conditions – are they appropriate for a group of sportscars?
  • Are there any tolls or park fees to consider?
  • How can we keep everyone together, or does it make more sense to split the group?
  • Are there places for fuel and snack stops along the way?

As one can imagine, it takes a great deal of effort to coordinate such an activity.  I partnered up with my friends Dane and Brandon, both Las Vegas locals, to take the MDX out on Saturday morning and scout the terrain.  It was the perfect vehicle for our expedition to the desert:  Second-row accommodations are posh, with captains’ chairs and plenty of space all around.  There are of course independent climate controls for passengers in those areas.  Meanwhile, I pampered myself up front with a heated seat heater, heated steering wheel, and convenient cup holder for my iced caramel macchiato.  You’d think we were going to the local shopping mall and not to the middle of nowhere.

Our drive route for the day was about 160 miles and took us 4 hours from start to finish, including our sightseeing and lunch stops.

Nelson, Nevada is one of many ghost towns in the vast expanses of land around the southwest.  It’s nestled in El Dorado Canyon, about 12 miles off Highway 95 to the east.  If you blink, you might miss the turnoff, so it’s a good thing Dane was coaching me from the passenger seat on where to make my exit at Highway 165.  We passed only one other vehicle on the way into Nelson from there.

The two-laner got a little more narrow, a little more rough, and more curvy as we dipped down in elevation toward the Colorado River.  Soon the buildings of the old mining town came into view, along with dozens of old cars left out to the elements with windows down (or broken out) and interiors rotting away.  I parked the MDX in a dirt lot and we got outside to wander around a little, noting how silent it was outside aside from the scuffling sound made from our shoes on the gravel.

We must have been the first tourists in town that day, because an old man came out of what appeared to be the main general store and put away the ‘closed’ sign while inviting us inside.  The wooden building doubles as his home, but he sells all sorts of remnants of the Wild West in there.  My favorite display was an exhibit of some the various films that the town of Nelson has appeared in, including the Kurt Russell classic “Breakdown.”

Luckily for us (and unlike Kurt Russell’s red Jeep Grand Cherokee in that movie), the MDX was didn’t give us any check-engine lights or troubles of any nature.  We snapped a few photos in Nelson before continuing eastward another few miles to where we could nearly drive right to the banks of the mighty Colorado River on a dirt road.  There was a nice paved turnaround spot that I think will make for a perfect photo-op for the group of NSXs at the April event.

Our next destination on the drive loop was Searchlight, Nevada – a teeny spot on the map that (like most small towns in that area) – got its start as a mining community in the late 1800s but mostly dried up by the mid 1950s.  The name came from one of its original prospectors who said, “It would take a searchlight to find gold out here.”

Dane, Brandon, and I rolled onward toward Highway 164 westbound and then over to Interstate 15 northbound.  I hit the gas on the onramp.  For a full size SUV that’s loaded down with technology and comfort niceties, the MDX still scoots down the road with more than ample power.  I observed an overall combined MPG of about 26 despite going heavy on the throttle a few times.  Range on a full tank is in the high 400s.

The Country Club Buffet at Primm Valley Casino, right along the California-Nevada state line, satisfied our hunger before we made our last stop of the day.  Stacked along the east side of I-15 are 7 columns of vividly painted boulders, referred to as “Seven Magic Mountains.”  The massive rocks were cut from a nearby quarry and painted fluorescent colors by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone.  The art installation was opened in 2016 and will be removed sometime this year, so I was glad to get a chance to see it.

The MDX stickers at $58,000 as-tested, including Tech & Advance packages with a full suite of AcuraWatch driver-assistance aids.  I found the LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) to be helpful but could do without the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control).  I much prefer to set a cruise speed and have it be maintained – with the Adaptive engaged, the vehicle starts slowing down well in advance of approaching a vehicle ahead, so you have to change lanes very early which isn’t always possible or convenient.  It’s something I could learn to live with, but just an observation.  The only other gripe I had was with the aesthetics of the black wheels.

There’s a lot to love about the MDX.  Those captivating jewel eye headlights with LED turn signals are just as much “function” as they are “form.”  The ELS Studio Premium audio system will knock your socks off.  I set the bass and the subwoofer to maximum levels for optimal punch, and it retained crisp clarity all the way up to max volume level 40.  Sirius XM channel “90s on 9” never sounded so good.  And if it’s solitude you want, a quiet cabin is easy to achieve too.  I sailed along at 75 mph with minimal wind, road, and engine noise.  The MDX’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission keeps the revs low at those speeds.

It was tough to give the keys back after being pampered for 7 days, but I was glad for the opportunity to sample the high life!  Below is a 7-minute video and a collection of other photos from my week with the Modern Steel Metallic MDX.  Thanks, Acura, for the loaner!

Back seat comfort

Fueling up at Circle K in Phoenix

And we’re off!

Rolling into Las Vegas at sunset

5,000 mile milestone!

Arrival in Nelson

The ‘general store’ in Nelson

Loved this 1950 Buick!

Next stop:  Interstate 15

Red carpet treatment!  Brandon & Dane getting the door at Primm Valley

Seven Magic Mountains in the Nevada desert

Brandon’s 1993 Legend L 6-speed coupe

MDX parked in front of Siegfried and Roy’s house in Las Vegas!  See the “SR” on the gate?

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Acura NSX “WestFest” 2017 – Las Vegas, Nevada – May 4-7

Posted in Nevada, NSX on May 7, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  552,434

Odometer (NSX):  107,620

I have to give my friend Tony Ciervo some credit.  The Malibu, California native is the original owner of a 1991 Acura NSX in Berlina Black that’s about to roll 70,000 miles.  Now, that’s not a huge mileage achievement by any stretch, but can you imagine buying a car new and keeping it for over 26 years?  That’s commitment.  “What do you do for a living?” I asked him, noting that I pegged him as a bit of a brainiac/nerd from the get-go.  (Maybe it was the socks w/ sandles he was wearing).  “I’m a mathematician,” he said.  “Go figure,” was my response.  He started laughing.  It took me a minute to recognize the pun that I’d just created.  Gotta love someone with a sense of humor.

The NSX Club of America (NSXCA) has a strong regional chapter in the southwestern United States.  And what better way to round up a few crazy car-people than setting up a meet in the city that never stops partying – a city that receives 41 million visitors each and every year.  Cinco de Mayo weekend saw about 60 NSXs overtaking the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada in a 3-day event called “WestFest,” put on by region leader Les Rowe with the help of a handful of other volunteers.

In attendance at the event were people and cars from an assortment of demographics.  There were members who flew in from around the country and even one guy from Japan.  The cars ranged in model year from 1991 through 2005 when the first generation ended, and we even had a few new, second-gen 2017 NSXs in the mix.  One of them was driven up by none other than Acura’s own Kelly Lynch from the Torrance, California-based Public Relations team at headquarters.  We were glad to have her and her sister Jody joining in for the fun and games.

Our host hotel was a long-time Las Vegas landmark since 1986, the Gold Coast casino with its 87,000 square feet of gaming space.  Conveniently located within the lobby is a TGI Friday’s restaurant and a Java Vegas coffee shop, both of which saw plenty of my business over the course of our event.

For me, one definite highlight was reconnecting with my buddy Fred (above), who I’ve known for upwards of 13 years but who I hadn’t seen for about 10.  At that time, we were both driving Acura Legends and crossed paths at various meets.  Oddly enough, we think the last time we saw each other was at NALM 2007 in Las Vegas.  Here, in fact, is a photo of us together at the dinner table during that event (I’m second from left, and he’s at the far back of the table on the right).  Time flies.

So it seems fitting that exactly 10 years later, we’re back doing the same thing but with NSXs instead.  Fred has a “Midnight Purple” 1995 NSX with over 180,000 miles on it that’s wearing Hawaii plates.  It’s been all over the country, and unlike a lot of NSX owners, Fred isn’t afraid to “daily drive” his.  My kind of guy.

My trusty 1992 Formula Red NSX performed flawlessly on the 300-mile trip to Las Vegas, delivering ice cold air conditioning and as much comfort as can be expected from a 25-year-old, two-seater sportscar.  I did take the opportunity to rock out to the Top Gun soundtrack on audiocassette – specifically, “Danger Zone.”  The car rolled over its 107,000th mile somewhere along the way.

On Friday, our group was hosted by a dealership called Findlay Acura about 20 minutes away in the suburb of Henderson.  General Manager Kevin Hicks rolled out lots of red carpet for us, including a taco truck, audio entertainment, and these lovely ladies.  We enjoyed spending a few hours at his facility and we were even able to send a couple of club members to the roof so they could capture an aerial photograph of the parking lot.

There was a go-karting event in the afternoon at Gene Woods Racing Experience but with temperatures pushing triple-digits, I opted out.  I spent the evening hunkered down in air-conditioned environments including a bar called Charlie’s where I met a drag queen named Farrah Moan.  I hadn’t heard of her, but apparently she’s kind of a big deal on the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”  Things went smoothly until my friend Tony got his bare foot (he was wearing flip flops) stepped on by her high heel.  That’s what you get, Tony!  Haha.

Despite the fact that most people who visit Vegas don’t stray too far from the Strip, there’s actually plenty to do outside city limits from a recreational perspective.  Club member Chase Heath developed a 200-mile scenic drive route for Saturday’s activity including waypoints at Mount Charleston and Valley of Fire State Park.

I elected to join for just the second half of the drive, so I met up with the group at Aliante Casino for lunch and hopped in with the caravan for the afternoon portion.  But before that, I made a special visit to my friend Jeff’s place.  Jeff has been in my “car family” for well over a decade now.  He went from a 1993 Legend coupe to a 2003 CL and now to a 2008 TL.  It just so happened that my visit fell on his 41st birthday.  He took the NSX for a spin and enjoyed it.

Our caravan of 43 NSXs rolled out for an afternoon in the red rocks of the Valley of Fire.  The scenery feels a bit surreal – curvy roads that cut through vivid sandstone rock formations.  You feel like you’re in a car commercial out there.  We sure enjoyed ourselves and we got plenty of attention in the process.  I just happened to fall in line with 5 other Formula Red NSXs when we got back on Interstate 15 for the trip back to the hotel.

Things concluded in the ballroom at Gold Coast, with our banquet dinner, awards presentation, and closing remarks.  It was truly a memorable event and gets me excited for NSXPO which will be held in September in Wisconsin

I knew I’d found the right spot when I saw a fellow NSXer on the 2nd floor of the parking garage

Not bad accommodations

All checked in and credentialed

Separated by 16 years

May Lee from the NSXCA leadership, me, Les Rowe (SW Chapter leader), Kelly from Acura

Arrival at Findlay Acura on Friday morning

Group shot!

NSXs for days

Back of T-shirt design.  It’s supposed to be a poker chip.

Nouvelle Blue Pearl really pops in the sunlight.

More from dealer day.

With Fred from San Diego.

Group shot

In the NSX with Jeff

Group drive to Valley of Fire

Scenery

Caravan of red NSXers on I-15 south

Banquet dinner venue at Gold Coast casino

Hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride!

Two in One: San Vegas and Las Diego Road Trip Weekend

Posted in California, ILX, Nevada, Road Trip on February 17, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,486

550486

Odometer (ILX):  192,625

192625

Trip Distance:  1,000 Miles

trip_map

Yeah, I know.  Who RSVPs to a birthday party in one state, and a bachelor party in another state, on the same weekend, and still attends both?  You’re looking at him.  And here I am 1,000 miles later to tell you how that all played out.  The good news is that it feels amazing to go from the awe-inspiring 54th floor of the Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip one day, to the picturesque and sweet-smelling Mission Beach of San Diego the next.  The bad news is that coming back to reality bit.  Hard.

This past weekend’s adventure started with me scooping up my friend Kyle at his place in central PHX and us making our way, Taco Bell crunchwrap supreme in hand, in the ILX to Las Vegas.  It’s a drive that takes about 4.5 hours through the picturesque yet pretty barren reaches of Highway 93.  We arrived just in time to join the rest of our gang for a bite to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings before venturing out on the town.

vegas_strip

And I can assure you, what happened in Vegas that night will stay in Vegas.  Well, I take that back.  The group text message with 8 people in it became a dumping ground for all the photos and videos from that night’s debauchery, and they will forever live on in the memory bank of each participant’s iPhone.  But this isn’t the time nor place to divulge any of those details.  Las Vegas Boulevard, known better as “The Strip,” is home to some 62,000 hotel rooms.  Tourists are out on the streets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is seriously no end to the available entertainment and we got our share of it.

group

On Saturday morning, we pulled our acts together in time for brunch at “Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar,” home to some of the best nachos I’ve ever had.  They’re called “trash can nachos” and basically come out in a big tin can that gets dumped on a plate in the center of the table.  Trust me, they were amazing.

vegas_ilx_dash

Snoozing passengers!

sleepy_pax

Kyle, Lance, and I hit the road by early afternoon for the next chapter of our road trip weekend:  a bachelor party in Southern California.  Luckily the drive was a breeze with 95% of it being on southbound Interstate 15.  We stopped briefly in the middle-of-nowhere town of Baker, home to the World’s Largest Thermometer at 134 feet tall.  In typical fashion, traffic was slow-and-go the closer we got to the Los Angeles area, but as dusk settled in, we kept cranking the iPod and karaoke’d to classics like Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” (a song now 20 years old!) to pass the time and the miles.

Primitive but predictable, the Motel 6 on 2nd Avenue in downtown San Diego was our resting spot for the evening.  We had just enough time to freshen up there before heading to dinner and a night out on the town at Oxford Social Club in the Gaslamp District.  I felt like a true A-Lister there:  VIP entry, special reserved seating, and a meeting with the owner himself who came over to shake our hands.  The lights and music raged onward as we celebrated the upcoming wedding of my friends Wade & Rustin until the wee hours.

Speaking of, this is what happens when you’re part of 2 massive group texts and you put your phone away for a few minutes.  Ugh, the anxiety of unread messages.  I put both threads on “do not disturb.”

unread_texts

And what California trip would be complete without a stop at the beach?  My phone told me we were a mere 14 minutes from Mission Beach so we saddled up in the ILX and went to check it out.  The smell of a fresh sea breeze and the sound of crashing waves will never get old.  We wandered northbound along the sand for a little while before looping back to meet the rest of the gang in Little Italy for brunch at a spot called Prepkitchen.

ocean_front

tyson_lance_kyl

The final leg of this epic weekend journey was the stretch of Interstate 8 that links San Diego with the Phoenix area, an oft-desolate road that runs parallel to the Mexican border.  Kyle took the wheel from the halfway point in Yuma onward, which was great because I needed some time with my eyes off the road.

The gang in an elevator

elevator

View from the Cosmopolitan hotel room

vegas_view

Soaking it all in, with Lance

lance_tyson

This was the burger I had at Guy Fieri’s restaurant.  I liked the fries better!

burger

Stop in Baker, CA with Kyle along I-15 southbound.

baker_sign

Gas prices there, ouch!

baker_gas

World’s Tallest Thermometer – 134 feet tall – indicative of the highest temperature ever observed in Death Valley nearby.  Notice it was only 67 degrees at the time of our visit.

baker_thermometer

Continuing on down Interstate 15

i15south

California’s inspection stations have never caused me too much delay.  I just get waved through.

california_inspection

i15

Ahh, the beach!

pacific_ocean

Looking northbound alongside the sidewalk at Mission Beach in San Diego

bech

ocean_front

Fuel and bathroom break in Gila Bend, AZ on the way back to Phoenix Sunday night

sunset

Check out this story about my friend Steve who flew across the country recently to buy a minty 4th generation Honda Prelude and drive it all the way back to Arizona!  Congrats, Steve!  I’m looking forward to seeing the car when you visit tomorrow.

And finally, does anyone out there want to be my twin?  This Legend coupe is up for grabs in the Los Angeles area!

twin

Have a great weekend!

2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada: Ludacris Legend, Galpin ILX, & World Record Volvo

Posted in ILX, Legend, Milestones, Nevada, Road Trip, SEMA on November 5, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  540,089

540089

Odometer (Ludacris’ Legend):  246,080

246080

Odometer (ILX):

145112

Trip Distance:  616 Miles

scottsdale_vegas

Viva Las Vegas!  Or was it “Lo$t Wages”?

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has been around since 1963 and is a huge trade group centered around the automotive aftermarket industry.  It’s grown to a colossal size with over 6,300 member companies.  Its largest trade show, held every year at the Las Vegas Convention Center, occupies more than a half-million square feet of space.

SEMA week puts every “car geek” into a candy store.  Its full week of activities bring every participant the sights, sounds, and yes – even smells, of the automotive industry.  I’m talking about these scented Little Trees, and they’ve been around since 1952 when this first version on display was created.  What’s your favorite scent?

1952_tree

This wasn’t my first SEMA rodeo.  Here are write-ups from years prior:

This year’s show included some special components which I was excited to see:  The Acura display booth contained the now-fully-restored 1993 Acura Legend sedan that belongs to 20-million-fan music artist Ludacris, as well as a highly modified 2016 Acura ILX in vivid Sunburst Yellow with a host of performance and cosmetic upgrades.  Legends and ILXs?  It’s like they structured show content around exactly the type of content that would interest me!

tyson_with_legend

My friend Chris described the SEMA experience as “It’s like being at the mall on Black Friday.”  It’s overwhelming to be among the crowds, with all the suppliers clamoring for your business with “Look at me!” signage and fanfare.  Another friend, Nina, calculated that if you walked the entire floorplan of the 4 gigantic convention rooms plus the outside areas and the adjoining hallways, it would be the equivalent of completing a marathon.  I’ll have to throw on a GPS watch someday and validate that claim.  My legs believe it.

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I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday night after an uneventful 4.5 hour drive from the Phoenix area in my Legend.  I met up with long-time friend Tommy who’d made a similar distance from LA that same afternoon.  Later in the the evening, famed HondaPro Jason (pictured with me above) made his arrival into the McCarran Airport from a Chicago flight.  Jason has made a name for himself as “THE” Honda guy over the past few years since his YouTube channel launched in 2012.  Today, he has 32,000 subscribers and 27,000 followers on his Facebook page.  Jason’s flight arrived around midnight, so I played Shuttle Driver for him as well as for Jeff of Temple of VTEC.

entrance

Tuesday’s two key events for me were two Honda press conferences:  The first was at 9:30 a.m. to showcase Honda’s latest news in off-road / Baja racing with an all-new Honda Ridgeline pickup truck, scheduled for its first race in less than two weeks.  The second was a 20-minute presentation at 1:00 p.m. by Acura Senior Vice President Jon Ikeda as well as Creative Director Dave Marek.  Jon and Dave introduced two exciting vehicles to the crowd of media and industry personnel who were assembled there.

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The first car was Ludacris‘ 1993 Legend, newly reborn since a June 2015 accident left it damaged on the right rear quarter panel.  I had some Q&A time with Dave after the conference and received some insights into the specifics of the build.  His intent was to bring the car back to its former glory as well as add a few touches to make it even better.  He succeeded in every aspect.

leg

omteropr

Among improvements to the Legend are the following:

  • H&R Springs
  • Eibach Camber Kit
  • 18 Inch Rays Wheels on Bridgestone Potenza Tires
  • Wilwood 6-Piston Front / 4-Caliper Rear Brakes
  • Fresh Paint and Leather
  • Pioneer AVIC 8 / ONEX Head Unit with Apple CarPlay
  • Alpine Subwoofer

The second car was a vivid orange 2016 ILX, outfitted with a body kit, an aggressively modified suspension and custom wheels – as one would expect at SEMA.  The details extended to the interior where the stitching on the seats and steering wheel was matched in the same orange color.  The ILX, which was customized by Galpin Auto Sports,  will be given away as part of a charity event for the Ludacris Foundation which since 2001 has provided tens of thousands of hours into service projects and youth development activities.

ilx2

I had to stop and catch my breath for about 20 minutes while I charged my phone and scarfed down a $13 piece of pepperoni pizza in the food court.  Then it was back to battle where I wandered around to see a few more sights and meet up with friends.  By 4:30, Jason and I departed from the hustle and bustle to prepare for an exclusive evening activity with the Honda and Acura executives.  We were able to participate at an intimate dinner at MGM Grand’s “Hakkasan” Nightclub with a dozen or more of the company’s highest-ranking leaders.  They were incredibly approachable and I enjoyed the dialogue and the food!  Honda threw a big “soiree” later that evening out on the dance floor, and hundreds of people came out to party.

dinner

hakkasan

On Day 2, I woke up to rare rain in Las Vegas and made my way to the AAPEX Show, similar to SEMA and containing a lot of the same content, but located at the Sands Convention Center several blocks away.  The main reason I needed to drop in was that I’d learned Irv Gordon was in attendance.  Irv achieved fame by logging over 3,000,000 miles on his red 1966 Volvo P1800.  That feat was enough to put him in the Guinness Book of World Records.  In fact, he’s been the world record holder since 1998 when his car had only 1.69 million miles on it.  I wish I’d met Irv, but sadly the Castrol booth only featured his car.

irv_volvo

My last stop before skipping out of town was next door to Castrol at the Car-Freshner display where I got a whiff of the new 2016 scents.  The product specialist on duty invited me into a phone booth of sorts, where I pressed a button and the smells activated.  My favorite was definitely “Copper Canyon.”  Now, if only they invited “scratch & sniff” computer monitors so you could all be smelling it with me!

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My Legend rolled 540,000 miles on the way home to Phoenix.  Fitting, since it was also November 4th of exactly 4 years ago when the car rolled 500,000 at Acura’s red-carpet party.  Thanks for joining for this year’s SEMA trip.  Enjoy my photos and a short video below!

Here’s a pit stop on Highway 93 where I stopped between Kingman, AZ and Hoover Dam.  Irv’s picture on top, mine on bottom!

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With Acura Public Relations Manager, Jessica Fini

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Having a seat in Ludacris’ Legend!

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Creative Director Dave Marek, myself, and Public Relations’ Allie Mayer

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Dave explains the ins & outs of the Legend build with some Legend fans

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I presented this note to the Acura team and asked them to leave it inside the car somewhere for Ludacris.

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Close-up on those beefy front brakes

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Galpin ILX rear 3/4 view.  I dig that spoiler!

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The 2017 NSX in “Nouvelle Blue Pearl.”  Stunning!

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Other sights from SEMA:  This “Car Capsule.”  Who else desperately wants one of these as much as I do?

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Very clean Toyota Supra

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Monster truck outside

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Meeting up with my buddy Joey from the Atlanta area

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Acura VP Jon Ikeda

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RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham, and my friend (fellow Legend owner) Tommy

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This was my first time seeing the newly-launched 10th-generation Honda Civic sedan.  Nice!

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Pretty wild custom Honda HRV

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Cruising down the Vegas Strip.  4.1 miles long, with 62,000 hotel rooms!

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Walking over to the nighttime event at MGM Grand

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Romeo and Lou, fellow Legend fans

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Rainy morning at my motel on Wednesday in Las Vegas

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Getting up close & personal with Irv Gordon’s 3-million-mile Volvo

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And lastly, that awesome Car-Freshner booth!

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2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas: Quick Visit

Posted in Car Show, ILX, Nevada, Road Trip on November 10, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,768

531768

Odometer (ILX):  103,446

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Trip Distance:  1,133 Miles

overall_weekend

Vegas + Cars = Fun.  Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the entertainment capitals of the world, but add on top of that the fact that the city plays host once a year to one of the biggest car conventions on the planet, and the fun factor skyrockets off the charts.  The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show is a place for vendors to display their wares – and anything that’s automotive-related is fair game.  Some 60,000 domestic and international buyers are expected to visit the 4-day show each November at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Over the next few blog entries, I’ll share with you the highlights of a 4-day, 1,133-mile trip through Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California.  This first one will include just the SEMA piece.

My friend Justin and I hit the road on Friday morning in the ILX to make our way to Sin City for this year’s show.  Drive time was only about 4.5 hours – not too painful at all.  We found our way to the convention center on Paradise Road and parked the ILX, shuffled our way indoors along with hundreds of other people who were also arriving for the last day of the show.  Right off the bat, I ran into my friend Nyko from Local Motors who had a booth outside next to a huge Meguiar’s display.  My main focuses for the SEMA show during our short visit were to meet up with my friend Jason and to document the Honda / Acura booth so that I could share it with you all.

convention_center

The eye-catcher this year was the “Andaro Blue” customized 2015 Acura TLX, built by Galpin Auto Sports. It featured:

  • Aero body kit with new front and rear bumpers, side skirts and deck-lid spoiler
  • ADV5.0 M.V2 SL custom wheels with gunmetal inner and liquid smoke outer – 19×9+38 Front/19×9+35 Rear
  • Pirelli 245/40/19 P Zero Tires
  • RSR Sport SI Series suspension kit with fully adjustable coilovers featuring 36-way damping adjustment
  • Wilwood Superlite 6 Piston Caliper with 14″ Vented Rotor Front Brakes
  • Wilwood Superlite 4 Piston Caliper with 14″ Vented Rotor Rear Brakes

Have a look at this beauty.  A camera simply cannot do justice to how eye-popping that custom color was in person.

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tlx2A

tlx3A

tlx4a

tlx5a

Indeed I did find “Honda Pro” Jason there at the show – standing among several highly modified Honda Fits in the Honda booth.  I’ve introduced you to Jason before here and he’s a fellow high-mile connoisseur, having logged over 200,000 miles on his now-sold 1997 Honda Civic EX coupe.

tyson_jason

The rest our short visit was spent wandering around wide-eyed and trying to soak in as much as possible.  I managed to find my brother and his wife in the show, as well as connect with a few friends who were also there for the occasion.  Below are a few of my other pics from the day!

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Vegas-bound!

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Highway 93 northbound, approaching Hoover Dam from the Nevada side.

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With Nyko from Local Motors.  He and his company were part of the ALV program last month.

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Feasting my eyes on the Galpin-modified 2015 TLX.

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Overview of the Acura booth.

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A few PHX-based friends who we ran into at the show.

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Heading up an escalator to eyeball some other vendors.

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My sister-in-law and brother, with a wildly-modified, 6-door stretched Dodge Ram pickup.  No, it’s not street legal.

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Lexus booth with a couple of RC coupes.

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Toyota concept car.

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Next up:  An action-packed hike in southern Utah’s Zion National Park.  See you soon.