Archive for the Road Trip Category

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.

 

Easter Weekend 2018 in Utah; Integra Sedan Update Video; IMSA Race Event Invitation

Posted in Integra, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip, Utah on April 7, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  560,138

Odometer (ILX):  204,370 – Slowly still creeping!

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,545

Trip Distance:  832 Miles

I’m exhausted.  I drove over 4,800 miles over the last 4 weekends in 4 different 24+ year old cars with > 100,000 miles on them – not counting any of the weekday miles that I accumulated on Mondays through Thursdays.  It’s time for a break, for me and for my cars.  The good news is that all of those miles were achieved with little or no drama.  And the other good news is that I’m actually recovering and taking it easy today.

For the Easter holiday weekend, I took the Legend coupe to southern Utah.  On Saturday I had a reservation at the best breakfast restaurant in town:  Grandma’s House.  The menu consisted of crepes with fruit toppings and whipped cream, with a side of sausage and a glass of milk to wash it all down.  It hit the spot.

I attended an annual car show in the city of Hurricane (pronounced hurri-cun if you’re a local) and spent a couple of hours decorating eggs with the nieces and nephews.  A grand ol’ time indeed.  My brother Payton took me for a spin in his customized 2002 Lexus IS300 — a car that I’ve featured here before but that seems to get more and more extreme each time I see it.  Currently its motor produces in excess of 700 horsepower.  Here’s a quick video.

I’ve been progressing little by little with the 1992 Integra LS.  Hon-Man and his talented repair crew dug in wholeheartedly this week and started tackling some of the car’s key needs.  First and foremost, they attended to some of the routine maintenance needs (fluids, primarily).  Without having any records on the car, I’m really just driving blindly here – and because of that, I wanted a careful eye to inspect the key mechanical components to make sure it’s roadworthy.

New (aftermarket) floor mats make the interior a little more cozy.

The electrical issues appear like they could be related at least in part to a faulty fuse box, and for that we’ve sourced a part which will arrive next week.  Everything else is taken care of:  We replaced a few hoses in the engine bay that were extremely soft and old, replaced both axles, and got some of the bulbs working again.  Marker lights, license plate lights, cruise control, and power antenna are all now working again, which is awesome.  The two front tires were directionally facing backwards, so those are fixed now too.  It’s all about those little details.

Yesterday, I took the car to the Arizona emissions station to have the exhaust gases evaluated.  The car passed, and then I went ahead and got registration taken care of, including special “Historic Vehicle” tags (made available to any vehicle > 25 years old).  Finally.  It’s been a long road getting that car purchased, transported, maintained, and formally relocated to its new home.  In the coming weeks we’ll finish up the mechanicals and probably have windows tinted & some dings removed.

Blog buddy Jason Pawela of Driven for Drives came out to Phoenix to visit this weekend and we took the Integra siblings out for a little drive this morning to Dreamy Draw Park off Northern Avenue.

Here is an 8-minute video capturing some of the latest happenings in the progress with the Integra LS, followed by some other photos of recent events and sightings.  Scroll to the bottom for one more feature – an invitation and offer for some free race tickets!  Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

I’ve always liked these Lexus SC coupes.  This 1999 SC300 was in my mom’s neighborhood.

Scenery in Washington, Utah

My friend Ryan who has the Jurassic Park Explorer (see Radwood 2017) will appreciate this.

Sunday morning quick photo at Pioneer Park on the Red Hill in St. George

Two 2013 models:  Dad’s MDX and my ILX

Easter egg hunting with nephew Locke.  That egg was easy to find.

Milestone on the way home to Phoenix on Sunday!

For reals:  Look at the size comparo between a Dodge Challenger and a G1 NSX.

Beauty shots of the siblings this morning at Dreamy Draw Park

Special Feature Opportunity:  Invitation to IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) Races.

OH, NY, CA, GA Acura owners:  I’m posting this invitation from Acura Motorsports that I received. Free race tickets and the chance to show your car:

Acura owners are invited to attend a weekend at the racetrack with Acura Motorsports. At four IMSA race weekends this year, Acura will be hosting an Acura Car Corral, where owners and enthusiasts can display their ride and enjoy the on-track action. Acura will be providing complimentary parking passes for the corral along with weekend passes to the race for the owner and a guest. Space is limited, so passes will be distributed by RSVP date. Acura Car Corral will be present at these four IMSA races:

1. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Showdown; May 5-6, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2. Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, June 30-July 1, Watkins Glen
3. Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, September 8-9, Monterey
4. Motul Petit Le Mans, October 12-13, Road Atlanta

To RSVP for one of these events, e-mail Kyle Ginty at kginty@chargegf.com with the following information:

– Name and name of guest
– Event you wish to attend
– Vehicle model/year
– Mailing Address
– Phone Number

 

Best Hits of the 80s & 90s – Round 2: “Radwood” Car Show in Sonoma, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip, Vigor on March 26, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  110,907

Trip Distance:  1,542 Miles

The front desk clerk at the Motel 6 in Sylmar, California raised his eyebrow and gave me a perplexed look.  “So it has no plate?” he asked as he was reading the paper I’d filled out to get a parking permit.  “No – that is the plate.  Five-C-Y-L.”  “Oh,” he said.  “And it’s an Acura Rigor?”  I had to correct him.  “No, it’s a Vigor.  They stopped making them in 1994.”  “Ahh,” he said, “I used to have a 1994 Civic.”  In my mind I rolled my eyes and felt like saying, “just give me the room key.”

I got another dose of the magnificent 1980s and 1990s this past weekend on my trip to a car show that suits precisely those model years.  This was thus the third time I’ve driven between Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area in 3 weeks.  I’m getting to know that Interstate 5 corridor like the back of my hand!  This time, the purpose of the trip was not to buy or transport a purchased car, but rather to meet up with some friends at a celebration of all things “rad,” at Radwood 2018.

Sonoma Raceway has been around for 50 years and is nestled in the southern Sonoma Mountains at a landform called Sears Point.  It has a 2.5 mile long course and capacity for 47,000 spectators.  This weekend, the facility played host to a wide array of cars from the decades of yesteryear – complete with the wardrobe and music that go along with that era.   Here’s a link to my post about the prior Radwood show, held in Anaheim last December.

This marked the longest trip I’ve taken in my Vigor in the nearly three years I’ve owned it, save the initial drive home to Phoenix from Denver when I bought it in July 2015.  I’m happy to report that the car did remarkably well.  I departed Phoenix on Thursday afternoon and had rainy weather throughout the westward trek to the Los Angeles area.  Then I headed north on Interstate 5 to the 580, the 680, the 780, and on to my final destination for the evening in Vallejo, only about 15 miles east of the Sonoma racetrack.

My drive took me across the Benicia – Martinez toll bridge across the Carquinez Strait.  There are a lot of waterways in the area — something I’m not very accustomed to since I live in the desert.

In Vallejo, I met up with my friend Jay who’d flown in from San Diego for the occasion.  He rented a 2005 Honda S2000 on Turo which we took to dinner along the waterfront at an Italian restaurant.  I did a quick parking-lot wipe-down of the Vigor before bed and it ended up getting rained on again overnight anyway.

Saturday morning, Jay brought over some thrift store apparel finds:  A vivid multi-color Wrangler button-down and a “California Lovin” blue hoodie.  If you’re going to attend a vintage car show, you have to look the part.  He also loaned me some pretty tubular Ray Ban sunglasses.  My friend Jason took his wardrobe to a whole new level, complete with a copper wig.

We timed our arrival at Sonoma just right in order to roll in with my friend Chris from San Francisco who brought his black 1994 Legend GS 6-speed.  The car show was broken up into a few different parking areas, with “Radwood Royalty” being a paved lot and everyone else staged on a grassy hill next to it.  Things were a little muddy thanks to the prior night’s rain but luckily the clouds held out and things stayed dry all day.  The wind, however, got chilly and I was extremely grateful to Jay for giving me that hoodie.

As was to be expected, there was a very vast array of automobiles from two to three decades ago.  I would say the German brands dominated the field, with a lot of very clean “E30” 3-series BMWs including my friend Aaron’s exceedingly rare “IX” all-wheel-drive model.  I saw a car called a Bitter for the first time, and I kind of chuckled that it had the same interior color as my Vigor – and even called it the same thing (“Cognac”).  My preferred picks of course were some of the Honda products, including two very clean third-generation Preludes (this one showing off its four-wheel-steering feature).

It was great to reconnect with friends again and catch up over taco truck food and classic music.  There were a lot of accolades for the Vigor and its quirky powertrain combination.  I made sure to display the window sticker and sales brochure, and I popped the hood to showcase that 176-horsepower, 5-cylinder powerplant proudly.

Coming locally from the SF Bay area was my buddy Shervin, in his 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD.  It had 205,000 miles on the odometer and a massive binder full of receipts.  Shervin dressed the part of a successful 1980s professional in a business suit, and he accessorized his car with some period-correct items like cassette tapes and some Avery business card templates.  He sure knows how to show up to a board meeting in style.

Radwood was the only car show I’ve ever attended that had giveaways allocated by way of thumb wars and rock-paper-scissors.  The “Best Japanese” award ended up going to a very clean Nissan Pulsar Sportbak.

I sadly gave back the borrowed Ray Bans and hit the highway southbound, going as far as Buttonwillow, California that evening (only about 4 hours away).  The Vigor proved itself as a pretty good road tripper with comfortable revs and a surprisingly quiet cabin considering it has frameless door windows.

I checked in at the Motel 6 around 9:00 p.m. – my third night in my third M6 of the trip.  If there were such a thing as a Diamond Platinum Preferred Motel 6 member, I’d be top dawg.  But when’s the last time you saw a window-mounted climate control unit that looked like this?  I guess the motel was last remodeled about when Radwood-era cars were new.

The final stretch to Phoenix was on Sunday, with just one more stop in Palm Desert for a bean & cheese burrito and an energy drink to fuel me up.  It was a whirlwind trip, but what Drive to Five adventure isn’t?  Thanks for coming along and enjoying some of the great 80s and 90s with me!

Traditional stop in Desert Center.  I go there with all my cars!

Fueling up in Palm Desert at Chevron.

Taco Bell for lunch in Buttonwillow.  Does it look familiar?

It should.  Because I was just there with the Integra sedan six days prior.

Northbound on Interstate 5 at the split with I-580.  I took this same route last year when I went to Sacramento for NALM 2017.

Westbound on I-580 toward Dublin.

Met up with my friend Brian at his office.

Jay’s rental S2000 that we took to dinner.  It was a fun little ride for 13 years and 133,000 miles old!

Waterfront view from dinner.

Having some fettuccine alfredo with Jay.

Arrival at Sonoma with Chris and his friend Alfred in my sideview mirror.

Pretty good shine on these old rides.

Remember the Mitsubishi 3000 GT Spyder?

And better yet, remember the 1980s Chevy Nova?  Someone actually restored one of these and I love it!

View overlooking the venue.

My friend Chris who flew up from LA for the occasion.

Driving home through some misty fog on I-5 southbound.

The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 2: Getting My New 1992 Integra Home

Posted in Arizona, California, Integra, Road Trip on March 22, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,325

Few people probably get excited about 25 year old Acuras like I do.  But anyone who follows my blog knows how anxious I must have been after completing the purchase of my latest acquisition to get it home and in my garage.  The only problem was, it was located about 800 miles away in another state.

Before I left Auction City in Redwood City, California on the Saturday that I bid and “won” the car, I had arranged for transport via a broker called Montway.  The rate came in at $570 door-to-door to Phoenix and because of the frequently traveled cities between which the car would be transported, I was assured by a representative that dispatch would likely happen within 48 hours and the car would get picked up early the next week.

If only.  48 hours came and went.  72 hours came and went, and not a word from the shipper, who’d told me I’d be receiving an email as soon as it was assigned.  So three days in and it still hadn’t even been assigned to trucker.  I called and emailed them.  On day 4, I was told, “We are working to find a carrier.  I’ll call around personally.”  On day 5, “Your order is now in priority status,” whatever that means.

Each time I inquired as to the status, I was getting the runaround, and my patience was wearing thin.  The Integra was parked at an auction facility that needed it gone – and I didn’t want people messing with it (knowing there would be another swarm of potential bidders coming in soon and not wanting them to touch it).

Finally I received a break on the afternoon of day 5 (Thursday) when Montway called.  “We’ve found a carrier,” they told me.  “He can pick up the car on Monday and his rate is $770.”  I was floored for a couple of reasons.  #1 – Monday would have been 9 days after I placed the order for immediate pick-up.  #2 – The quoted rate was over $200 more than I was already told the transport would cost.  I told the representative, absolutely not.  Cancel my order.

And right in the middle of trying to host my brother, his wife, and 3 kids at my house for the weekend, I was forced to book a last minute flight from Phoenix to San Jose so I could go pick up the car and drive it home myself.  It seemed more than a little crazy:  Flying out alone, trusting a 26 year old car that had been driven only 20 miles in the last 2 years (according to Carfax records), and attempting a 12-hour, 800-mile drive home.  But I’m not right in the head.

I boarded my Southwest flight on Friday night around 9:30 and was in my motel in Sunnyvale, California by a little after 11:00 p.m.  I didn’t sleep well that night in anticipation of the following morning’s events.  It’s worth mentioning here, this was the third time I’ve flown into San Jose airport to drive a new car home:  The first was the Legend coupe on March 26, 2003.  The second was the NSX on December 17, 2011.  That must be a good area to buy cars from.

Another Uber bright and early on Saturday morning took me to Auction City in Redwood City where I shook hands with Edward Lauber, the owner, who said, “I hear you collect Acuras.”  My car was pulled around to the front and I was sent on my way at 8:30 in the morning.  I only had 1/8th of a tank of gas, so my first stop was a Chevron on Marsh Road before hitting Highway 101 southbound.

Here’s where things got interesting.  I accelerated onto the onramp and got settled in.  I pulled out the cigarette lighter to insert my phone charger and the entire assembly was a little bit loose.  I jiggled it around a little and could sometimes get the phone to take a charge for a second, but it would not stay charging.  My battery life was at 22%.  Great.  I advised a few people that I would likely be unavailable by phone for most of the day after it died.

I was pleased at how the Integra handled at freeway speed, with revs < 4,000 RPM at 75 miles per hour, unlike its counterpart the GS-R.  Road and wind noise were not bad, the engine sounded healthy.  Then I made an attempt at the cruise control.  No dice.  The light on the “master” switch illuminated, but the system would not engage.  Shoot – I had 12 hours ahead of me and my right leg was not happy about it.

Over the course of the next 730 miles, I made a list of 13 weird electrical things going on with the car.  Some were quite puzzling.  My favorite was this:  When you activated the left turn signal, after it flashes 5 times, it started flashing the “Door” light in the instrument cluster, the clock, and the rear window defrost button.  How are those things even related?

At this point I was fairly confident there is something wrong with the entire system.  And the longer I stared at the dash, the more I noticed things about it.  Nooks and crannies all had water spots in them, white in color.  It’s almost like someone sneezed milk over the entire dashboard at some point.  Was a water-related incident to blame for the fact that all the electronics were on the fritz?  Likely.

But the good news is that I sailed along in comfort and style on Highway 101, Highway 152 toward Los Banos, and then I-5 southbound without any mechanical issues whatsoever.  The clutch, brakes, and gearbox were perfect.  The A/C blew cold.  The windows, locks, and headlights all worked.  So for that I was extremely grateful.  Here is my list of other things I noticed:

  • Radio antenna would not go up.  It went up during the auction, I remember noticing it.  So did something get disconnected or broken in the week the car sat there afterward?
  • The radio itself is a quirky thing.  Sometimes it doesn’t work at all; other times I get sound from just 1 speaker.
  • The Intermittent wiper speed does not work.
  • The clock reset itself to 1:00 twice during fuel stops.
  • Once I heard the “open door” chime when no doors were open.
  • Sometimes the clock is “fuzzy” / fizzing in and out.
  • The dome light doesn’t turn on.
  • Marker lights and license plate lights don’t work.

I think we have a real project on our hands – and I’m not even sure that I care to address most of those, as long as the car runs & drives well.  And it sure does.  It survived extended highway miles, a steep grade up the Grapevine north of the LA area, and 3 different segments of gridlocked traffic all with constant A/C running.  Meanwhile my right leg got accustomed to being permanently set on the throttle.  I took Highway 210 to Highway 57 to Interstate 10.  Then I could finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

By now, it was around 4:30 p.m. so I figured it was time to go find a way to turn my dead phone on so I could check messages and let people know that I was doing okay.  I stopped at a Starbucks in Palm Desert, California for that.  I was able to use my laptop battery to send a charge to my phone and get it back up to about 20% life remaining before I headed out again.  Dusk came around 6:30 and I was crossing into the Arizona state line, and by 8:30 I was pulling into my driveway in Phoenix – exactly 12 hours after leaving Auction City earlier in the morning.

It was a relief to be home.  The known issues with the Integra were the least of my concerns.  I got home safe and sound, and that was all that mattered to me.  My brother and his family were still at my house so I enjoyed the evening with them and relaxed.  A little later on, I pulled the car in so it could be parked with the rest of the collection.  It fit in nicely.  And of course, I had to wear my “Just one more car.  I promise” T-shirt for the occasion.

Now what?  Come back for my next post as I begin to address some of the car’s issues – both cosmetic and mechanical.  On the to-do list will be a few visual enhancements:  OEM floor mats, rear mud guards, dent removal, factory exhaust tips, etc.  And I plan on putting historic license plates on this one for sure.  It has earned them!  Here is a video capturing 13 minutes of the adventure.

Text from my friend calling me out on buying another car

Firing up the Integra and getting ready to roll out

Lunch stop at Taco Bell in Buttonwillow, California

Starting to see the final stretch through the desert

Good thing I didn’t need any fuel from these pumps in Desert Center

Dusk as I roll into Arizona

Kid-approved!  I arrived home to my brother’s family who was still there visiting.

Come back soon for my next write-up and a video on getting the car cleaned up!

End note: Do I have any Gen 1 Prelude fans in the audience?  This 1982 model belongs to my trusty mechanic, Tait at Hon-Man Auto Care.  It has only around 100,000 miles on it and is going up for sale.  Let me know if you’re interested!

NSX Performance Driving Event at Honda Proving Ground – Cantil, California

Posted in California, Integra, NSX, Racing, Road Trip on January 1, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  557,630

Odometer (Integra):  245,708

Odometer (ILX):  203,182

Odometer (Legend sedan):  156,131

Odometer (NSX):  109,664

Odometer (Vigor):  108,672

Trip Distance:  874 Miles

Happy New Year!

I haven’t been to a theme park since 1994.  This is a picture of 12-year-old me (in socks & sandles — that fashion was OK back then, I think) with my brother Bentley trying out the mini golf course at Disneyland in California.  We got our fill of roller coaster rides, cotton candy, and entertainment.  Fast forward 13 years and I think I found an “adult” Disneyland.  It’s a 45,000-acre playground in the middle of nowhere in the California desert, and it’s called the Honda Proving Center.  I got a behind the scenes look at this magical place on Saturday, December 9th.  It may just be the happiest place on Earth.

It’s not every day you’re sitting in the driver seat of a $180,000, 573-horsepower supercar with a professional coach in your passenger seat.  Doing 118 miles per hour on cruise control on a 7-mile-long high-speed oval track.  And getting to the straightaway and having the coach say, “Ok, put the gas to the floor and hold it there.”  My eyes got as big as pie plates.  “What?!”  “Punch it.”  I obeyed, and we shot to 155 miles per hour – a personal land speed record for me – in a matter of a few seconds.  By the time I’d completed two laps and we exited the track, 80 miles per hour felt like idling through a school zone.  My sense of speed was completely out of whack.

My track time was part of an “NSX Drive Experience,” made possible by special invitation by some of my friends at Acura.  It catered largely to folks who are long time brand advocates or potential NSX shoppers.

My track experience credentials prior to this event were pretty pathetic.

  • I did a 105-mph open-road race in 2007 & 2008 (Bonneville 100 in northern Nevada)
  • I did an SCCA autocross course in 2009 (NALM – Branson, Missouri)
  • I drove on a road course in 2010 (Miller Motorsports Park – Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • I 1/4-mile drag raced my car in 2016 (Atlanta Dragway – Atlanta, Georgia)

Needless to say, I’m still very much a novice when it comes to putting on a race helmet and getting out on a racetrack.  That changed to a small degree this weekend when I took advantage of the opportunity to experience 2 hours in the seat of a Nouvelle Blue Pearl 2017 Acura NSX.  And my coach – professional driver Ken Hill – actually said my skills were pretty impressive.  “Quick hands,” he told me.  I’ll take it!

I drove out to California City late Friday night in the Integra, whirring at 4,500 RPM all the way to the Riverside area, then on up the Cajon Pass to Victorville on I-15, then taking two-laners the remaining 80 or so miles to my hotel, the Best Western.  Roads were lonely and it was a clear night for the 7-hour drive.  The following morning, I made my way north to the entrance to Honda’s facility in Cantil – a nondescript turnoff after miles and miles of nothing but telephone poles, where a white sign and HONDA in red block lettering guided me in.

Honda has owned the property since 1990 and it was used by the company’s Research & Development team for its first 20 or so years.  It went through a $28 million renovation in 2015 as part of a conversion from “durability” testing to “dynamic” testing as its focus.  Today it’s a closed course that allows test engineers to put prototype vehicles through their paces.  I saw a couple of vehicles in camouflage while behind closed gates, but any photography was of course strictly prohibited.

The session kicked off with Acura Senior Manager John Watts and pro driver Ken Hill giving us the lay of the land – some NSX model-specific background, the story on the facility, and some safety briefings along with a description of what we were about to experience.  Our “class” of 8 or so people was able to see inside the building’s operations center, with its wall full of TV screens capturing surveillance of every jackrabbit or tortoise that moves on the property – along with each and every vehicle, of course.

My first of four track experiences was the oval, followed by a demonstration of a zero-to-100-mph-to-zero acceleration and braking exercise.  Ken showed me how to activate the NSX’s “Track / Launch” mode by holding the selector knob to the right for 5 seconds.  The power and grip that this unleashed was unreal.  From a dead stop, 60 miles per hour came up in only 2.7 seconds, my helmet deeply planted against the headrest.  We rocketed to 100 miles per hour, then clamped down on the brakes.  The carbon ceramic brake equipment brought us to a sudden and controlled stop.  Nausea anyone?  It’s a good thing I wasn’t doing this on an empty stomach.

We made our way to a small autocross track where I tried my hand at keeping an NSX inside some painted white lines while dodging cones, and finally went to the Winding Road course which is a true simulation of what a curvy mountain road might look and feel like.  The road itself has a few tricks up its sleeve, like a steep hill that makes you feel like you’re going to launch the car, and a decreasing-radius turn that catches a lot of people by surprise.  Ken and I took several laps and with each one, I became more and more comfortable with the car.  This picture is not me!

My heart raced and my palms were sweaty but I gained confidence and continued to be blown away by the NSX and its capability.  My skills were so good, in fact (patting myself on the back here), that I caught up to the car in front of me and we had to pull off the track to wait for them to get more of a head start.  After this segment, we went to a reception where lunch was served and iPads were available for surveys and NSX Build Configurator access.  All participants were provided a poster and goody bag for their participation which was a nice souvenir to take home.  Organizers even offered to top off my fuel tank prior to departing, but my Integra was already sitting at full capacity.

It was a dose of reality to get back into my 4-cylinder, 160-horsepower, 244,000 mile Integra to start heading home but my nerves needed a break anyway after so many thrills.  I had just one more sight to see on my drive home, so I made a special point to visit the “Musical Road” off Highway 14 on Avenue G in Lancaster, California.  It’s a road paved with grooves in it that when driven across, plays a song.  I tried it at 60, 45, and 75 miles per hour.  Check out the video below for what that ended up sounding like!

Many thanks to the folks at Acura for such an awesome event.  More to come in the next couple of weeks as I play catch-up on current events and get 2018 off to a timely start!

Late night arrival into California City

Chilly day the following morning!  The Integra took an extra crank to start.

Departing my Best Western

Long and lonely road to get to the proving ground

Made it!

Parked next to a “Still Night Pearl” 2018 TLX A-Spec.  I knew I was in the right place.

With my friend Curtis from Acura’s agency

Pre-drive briefing in the lobby

VIP status!

Photo on display from Mr. Honda’s visit to the facility in the early 1990s

2018 RLX out front

Detail on the different driving experiences available at the track

Heading out in the afternoon!

Arrival at the Musical Road in Lancaster

Visiting my friend Jerry in Palmdale who has a 1993 Integra GS sedan

I thought this spot on the top of a pass on Highway 138 was pretty cool.  Mountain Top Cafe.  It’s been there since 1940.

Descending toward my junction with Interstate 15.

“Mormon Rocks” along the San Bernardino National Forest.

Swag that I brought home!  Nice shirt + some reading material.

I sent a text message to Ted Klaus, project leader for the NSX, and thanked him for building such a magical machine.  He had a nice reply!

It made me appreciate my generation 1 NSX even more.

I liked this image showing the NSX, Vigor, and Integras.  Missing Legends!

A couple of weeks ago there was a ‘twin’ to my Legend coupe (one VIN apart, in fact, #833 and mine is #832) for around $2,900.  I was tempted to grab it and keep for eventual restoration.  Or spare parts!

Speaking of blue NSXs, I wanted to share this sweet one that ScienceofSpeed in Chandler, Arizona built for this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.  Shout out to my friend Erik for sharing the pics.

When was the last time you saw a 1989 Honda Accord SE-i coupe?  This beauty has only 42,300 miles on it, and was recently acquired by my friend Kai who is doing some mechanical restoration work on it.

The local Arizona NSX Club of America chapter members got together last month for a holiday dinner at ScienceofSpeed.  I got to park my 1992 indoors next to our dining tables.

It was nice to reconnect with the 20 or so members who came out.

That Audi R8 on the lift was a little out of place!

Talk soon!

Best Hits of the 80s & 90s: “Radwood 2” Car Show in Anaheim, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip on December 3, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  557,148

Trip Distance:  356 Miles

Let’s take a moment to appreciate my fashion sense in this photo from circa 1990.  I’m pictured at left here with my two brothers.  Rolled up jean shorts?  Check.

Popped collars, fanny packs, and porn-staches greeted me upon arrival to “The Phoenix Club” yesterday morning just a few miles from Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  It was almost as if I’d gotten stuck in a time warp and traveled back in history 20 years.  When I saw this Delorean a few minutes later with license plate “BKNTYME,” my suspicions were confirmed.

Yesterday’s event was the most brilliantly-executed and exciting car show I have attended in years.  It was something different, and something very “me.”

Radwood” was a contrast to go from the white-collar LA Auto Show media days which I attended earlier this week, with its forever growing ego-contest and snooty “the coffee at our booth is better than yours” attitude, to a venue where cutoff jeans are appropriate, Bud Lights are readily available, and Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” is blasting on the loudspeaker.  I loved every minute of it.  I only wish I’d invested in a slap bracelet, Hypercolor T-shirt, or some stone washed jeans ahead of time so I could better dress the part.  One smart attendee was even taking pictures with a disposable camera!  You know, the kind that you “click,” then have to manually advance the film.

This event was born as a small show in 2016 in the Bay Area catering specifically to the era of vehicles produced from 1980 through 1999.  Now in only its second year, the event shifted venues to a place with far more capacity and still sold out well in advance.  Thanks in part to clever partnership with Jalopnik, Clarion, Japanese Nostalgic Car, Bring a Trailer, and many other sponsors, the word was spread far and wide.

Attendees traveled from all around the country to attend.  One attendee – Peter Monshizadeh – drove all the way from Overland Park, Kansas, and entered three vehicles in the show:  His Dodge pickup truck, which was towing a trailer with his Nissan 300ZX and a period correct motorcycle.  That’s dedication.

And who could forget automotive journalist extraordinaire Jason Cammisa running around in booty shorts that would make Richard Simmons jealous.  This was a sight to behold.  Jason’s immaculate BMW E30 station wagon, among many other “feature cars” including my friend Chris Hoffman’s CRX, was on display in the main tent area near the stage.  Jason ended up taking home an award – a 1985 Nintendo game cartridge glued to a plaque, of course – for his Bimmer, and it was well deserved.  His enthusiasm added to the fun and atmosphere of the program.

I was in good company in the Honda/Acura family.  My friend Rob Pia proudly showed his immaculate, 130,000-mile 1994 Legend sedan in glistening Cashmere Silver Metallic, and next to him my friend Chris Green parked his award-winning 1986 Honda Prelude with only 50,000 miles on the odometer.

I had the privilege of meeting a couple of ‘new’ Legend owners, too, and had some friends stop by who live in the area.  Cars from all regions were accepted and recognized.  Even the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville parked in our row with nearly an entire keyboard of buttons on its steering wheel attracted lots of attention.  Another guy named Tyson who drives a beautiful black 1997 BMW M3 introduced himself and his car to me – complete with a period correct cassette tape sitting on the center console.

But how about this?

Perhaps one of my favorite vehicles was Ryan Glass’ 1992 Ford Explorer, which started life as a pretty ho-hum Eddie Bauer edition but has been extensively and painstakingly converted into a Jurassic Park movie icon.  “Spared no expense,” were the words that came to mind as he described to me the custom wrap, brochures in the back seat, bumper and taillight protector guards, and even a pair of velociraptor-spotting goggles on the passenger seat.

As the day carried on, I reflected on how much I appreciated the laid-back and friendly vibe at Radwood.  I hope the event continues its great momentum and carries on for years to come.  I’m already starting to brainstorm ideas for next year’s trip, and it might have to be in the Vigor since I didn’t see one this year.  Now if I could just get ahold of some Reebok Pump footwear.  Below are some more pictures and a short video!

I knew the day started off right when I saw this pay phone outside my motel in Orange, California.

I put my custom wheelstand to use that my brother hand-built for me out of aluminum.

Roll-in shot, thanks to Chris in the 1986 Prelude.

Photo with Rob in ‘vintage’ motif.

Ran into my friend Grant with his beautiful Mercedes SL.  Check that fanny pack, too.

One of two super clean generation 1 Legend coupes on display.

And another.  Becki was awesome!  How much Aqua Net did she need for her hair?

Visit from Penny.

Shooting the breeze with Jalopnik’s Andrew Collins.

A visit from Fred and checking out the Clarion Legend coupe.

The aforementioned 1991 Bonneville!  With a “LeBra” on the front, of course.

Love me a big-body Benz 560 SEC.

Original owner 1990 Honda Civic 4-speed manual with over 300,000 original miles.

Just $6,635 MSRP for this thing.  I think he got his money’s worth!

My friends Felix and Matt

Love the 1990s Mitsubishi Eclipses.  What happened to Mitsubishi?

Good NSX representation, too.

Sweet CRX, but look what’s on the roof.

That’s right:  Boombox and some cassettes!

Reconnecting with the man himself:  Matt Farah and his now-969,000-mile 1996 Lexus LS400.  I drove this car a couple of years ago and blogged about it.  It’s on a quest to hit a million miles.

Oooh, love this old 5-series BMW.

2G Integras with a super clean 3G Prelude.

My friend Derek, repping a Mazda 929 sedan.

Late night drive home to Phoenix!

2017 “AutoMobility” & Los Angeles International Auto Show

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip, Vehicle Reviews on December 1, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  556,770

Trip Distance:  379 Miles

Greetings!  I’m jotting down a few words here from the Media Center at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  LACC is now pretty familiar turf for me, as I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of times.  Here are write-ups from my prior LA Auto Show visits:

I had to miss 2016 due to work engagements, but I still made it to some of the social eventsRedline Reviews‘ Editor-in-Chief Sofyan Bey was kind enough to extend an invitation to me so I could be a part of the festivities this year.

After two full days about about 10 miles walked between the South Hall and the West Hall to see all the latest and greatest, I can tell you there is a lot of change brewing in the automotive industry as a whole.  Personal mobility is taking on a whole new dynamic, as technology speedily moves toward an increased focus on autonomy.  As cars become faster, safer, and more efficient, similar strides are being made in self-driving technology.  It’s no mystery, though, that I’m a driver.  Is “automobility” something I should dread or embrace?

My trek to LA started on Tuesday afternoon from Phoenix in the Legend coupe.  It’s a tried and true road warrior, and certainly a more comfortable cruiser than the 1992 Integra I drove to Utah last weekend for Thanksgiving.  The closer I got to the epicenter of the 13-million-resident LA metro area, the more congested my beautiful open roads became.  I was delayed about 35 minutes on I-10 nearing Riverside thanks to a combination of accident + commuter traffic.  Gotta love it.  In all, the 379-mile one-way trip took me close to 7 hours.

Wednesday was a jam-packed day of press conferences, kicking off with a BMW presentation around 8:30 and a stampede of journalists migrating from one booth to the next throughout the day.  Some of the big news this year?  Oh just a few highlights that stuck out to me:  Lexus coming out with a 3-row RX SUV.  BMW launching a convertible i8 and new M5.  Mercedes has a new CLS.  Mazda’s next-generation 6 sedan is out.  Subaru has launched its biggest SUV yet, a 3-rower called the Ascent.  Nissan’s “Kicks” replaces the Juke, and Hyundai has its own new cute-ute called the Kona.

600 horsepower, all-wheel-drive BMW?  Hotness.  Not to mention that color.

Jeep’s Wrangler comes back again looking about the same but with a completely new chassis and lots more tech.  Kia debuts its new Sorento, Infiniti shows the QX50, and Lincoln ditches its alphanumeric naming conventions for traditional names like its new Nautilus (replacing the MKX).  That’s a step in the right direction, don’t you all agree?  It was a slow-ish show for Honda & Acura, with no formal press conferences but still plenty to look at inside the respective booths.  I can’t begin to squeeze two full days of automotive news into a few paragraphs here, but check out Redline’s YouTube playlist on the auto show for a glimpse at some of the sights and sounds we enjoyed.

The vehicles on display at LAAS are only part of the appeal of the event.  It attracts some of the world’s renowned auto journalists.  Our team ended up seated in the Media Center right behind most of the Jalopnik staff, including Andrew Collins who I can thank for this awesome piece he put together about a year ago.

The after-hours activities this year were just as entertaining, with a Hyundai-sponsored party the first evening at Novo night club, and a social event in West Hollywood the following night at Doheny Room where I connected with a few fellow journalists.  All too soon, it was time to again part ways with those colleagues.  The Redline team flew out Friday morning and I made my way (90 minutes to drive 38 miles – thanks again, LA!) toward Anaheim for a car show to be held Saturday morning.  More on that to come in a future post!

Acura booth with the redesigned 2018 RLX on display

Don’t mind if I do hang out here!

I admired some of Honda’s hardware while in the booth.  These dozen or more awards are just from this year’s LA Auto Show alone!  There are boxes and boxes of things like this sitting at the corporate office in Torrance.

Fellow car geeks Brian and Chris

Some of you may recognize this ‘other’ Brian – none other than the famous Brian Cooley from CNET.

Quick shot with the Redline team (Sofyan, Peace, Rob) and Honda’s Davis Adams.

Street parking the coupe in West Hollywood!

This might just be the best motel parking space I’ve ever had.  Huge.

Bonus:  A few pics from last weekend’s Thanksgiving trip to Utah

Brother’s redoing his living room and said I could park in it.  Why not?

My nephew Locke

Cruising around some of my old stomping grounds

HUGE shout-out to blog reader Eric who had this custom embroidered Polo shirt made up for me, with the date of my 555 milestone from back in October!  Thanks, Eric!

Over and out!