Archive for the Nevada Category

RADwood Las Vegas 2019: Hip on the Strip

Posted in Car Show, Legend, Nevada, Road Trip on April 30, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  161,272

Trip Distance:  606 Miles

Greg and Jennifer Davis hit a home run with their wardrobes at last Saturday’s “RADwood” 1980s-1990s car show in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Greg’s “1991 NBA Finals” cap looked brand new, and Jennifer’s T-shirt showcased none other than Pee-wee Herman, who from 1980 through 1992 had one of the most widely-recognized voices in homes across America.  I grew up watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse on Saturday mornings, complete with its talking chair and flying bicycle.

Paul Reubens, who portrayed the iconic nerdy character as the star of the show, is now 66 years old.  Isn’t it crazy how time flies?  For folks like me who grew up with our eyeballs on big-box Magnavox TV sets and who played in the yard with MicroMachines, it’s fun to reminisce about the cars & culture that surrounded us during that era.

RADwood is a venue that specifically showcases that kind of culture.  On Saturday evening in Vegas, I attended my fourth of such an event, and in my fourth different vehicle.  For prior write-ups, here are blog entries from the others I’ve been to:

Each show has had its own unique style and flavor thanks to different venues, timing, and extracurricular events.  The Las Vegas Convention Center hosted this one – the same massive show hall that serves as home base for the SEMA convention each year.  I rolled into the show in my 1994 Legend GS sedan, alongside my friend Dane in his 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T.

Brandon M, Brandon H, Dane, Tyson, Jay, and Ryan

My favorite vehicles weren’t necessarily the most eye-catching or exotic.  Instead, they were everyday vehicles that simply don’t usually get preserved to the level that these were.  I fell in love with a red pearl 1990 Toyota Pickup extended cab 4×4 at the Barrett-Jackson booth that was so clean, you could eat off the undercarriage.

I also struck up a conversation with the owner of an exceptionally pristine 1987 Acura Legend L sedan in Florence Blue.  The Legend, as it turns out, was a family heirloom from the owner’s father who cared for the car from new until he passed away in 2015.

His son has now gone to great lengths to restore and preserve it, complete with paint work, new leather, and a mechanical freshening.  It looked so pristine despite having 180,000 miles on it, and the period-correct “Golden State” California license plates really completed the overall look.

I had a short conversation with Brad Brownell from the RADwood leadership team.  “This is a litmus test for future events in this area,” he said.  In just the few short years since the event first kicked off, it has gained strong momentum.

The group’s Instagram following is approaching the 30,000 mark and there are events in the works for locations across the country and even in Europe.  I can only hope that Arizona gets its chance in the spotlight, and that they’ll allow me to show my entire fleet!

I recorded some of the action on my Sony Hi-8 Handycam in the below video.  I had hoped to capture footage using this 1985 Quasar VHS camcorder that I inherited from my grandmother, but I can’t get it to stay powered up.

Greg and Jennifer took home a well-deserved award for their 1991 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, pictured below.  That award, in fact, was shaped like the “Aggro-Crag” obstacle that was part of the Nickelodeon TV series “Guts” which ran from 1992 through 1995.  Take me back!

Below are a few additional photos from a RAD afternoon in Las Vegas!  Thanks for reading!

Vegas-bound, and stopped for a photo on Legend Ranch Road off Highway 93

This was the write-up that I displayed with the car

Get Rad!

Ethan Tufts, who handles some of RADwood’s social media as well as his own site, linked here.

Loved this Porsche!

A visit from mom, and from Sunny from Salt Lake.

Exceptionally nice looking BMW M5.

Cruising the Strip after the show, as seen from my friend Jay’s Mercedes-Benz.

And some fun on the drive home:  My friend Chris in Baltimore and I have “twin” cars, and since we were both on the road at the same time on Sunday, we decided to stage some similar photos.  YooHoo beverages included!

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

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

Odometer (NSX):  115,508

Trip Distance:  1,100 Miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Group shot from WestFest on Friday

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

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

With some lovely ladies inside the dealership.

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

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

Best fajitas in town, thanks to Michoacan restaurant.

Jeff, Tyson, Nick, Brandon, Romeo

Saturday morning on the escalator with Chris and Nick

Valley of Fire drive

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

Banquet dinner back at Gold Coast

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

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

Arriving at the Acura Long Beach Grand Prix with Andrew.

Headed to the Pit Suites

Woot woot!

Andrew and his wife Katie

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

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

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

Events throughout the day

Thanks for coming along!

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

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

Odometer (NSX):  114,545

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend road trip in this old thang?  Why not!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over and out.

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!