Test Drive Friday: 2017 “Active Lifestyle Vehicle” (ALV) of the Year Competition

Posted in Arizona, PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on October 21, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  556,095

There’s nothing quite like an ‘unsupervised’ test drive.  When I took off from home base yesterday in the 2017 Dodge Durango SRT with its 475-horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V8, I was grinning from ear to ear.  Fiat-Chrysler representative Scott Brown had just unlocked the beast’s full potential for me just moments before by teaching me how to put it in “Sport” mode.  Who knew that a 5,300-pound, 3-row luxury SUV could have a sporty side at all?  I can assure you, it does.  And I’m sure everyone within a mile radius heard me, too.  The exhaust note belched like a muscle car.

(photo below by Mark Elias)

Each fall, automotive journalists and athletes get together to put about two dozen or more new vehicles through their paces and select winners in 9 categories.  This year was ALV’s 14th, based at the Hilton Phoenix-Chandler and taking place on Friday, October 20th.  There are so many “car of the year” programs around the country, but this one positions itself a little differently:  ALV hones in on the opinions of people who have special and more demanding needs for their vehicles – namely, athletes and outdoorsy types.  Bicycle-hauling capability, then, among many other criteria, is one of the things that each registered vehicle is evaluated based upon.

Things got underway on Thursday night with a dinner at Crust Pizzeria in downtown Chandler, sponsored by Toyota.  Friday was a full day of automotive action, with both on- and off-road drive routes available to give attendees a chance to put the vehicles through their paces.  The Butcher Jones Recreation Area, near the banks of Saguaro Lake, offered a perfect setting with multiple types of terrain to demonstrate each vehicle’s unique handling capabilities. I drove there in a 2017 Honda Fit, the bright blue “jellybean” as Public Relations representative Davis Adams called it.  Nicely equipped for $22,000, the Fit was a delightful little ride with a versatile interior, which is probably what pushed it to the winner’s circle when it was voted the best entry in the Urban category.

See all that leg room he has?  Lounge ready!

Sometimes, though, the joy in the event wasn’t just talking tech specs with the manufacturer representatives, but rather getting to know them better.  Nissan Public Relations’ Jannelle Grigsby, fresh in from LA, rocked out with me to SiriusXM radio station “BPM” at full blast, moonroof open and windows down in the newly refreshed 2018 Pathfinder.  It was great to get to know Jannelle and the many others who came out to teach us about what sets their brand’s vehicles apart from the competition.  Jannelle’s Titan took home an award in an off-road category.

Taking my drive loops up the Bush Highway, I cycled in and out of vehicles throughout the day, driving 17 of the entered 27 in total.  I had my faves, for sure.  The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio had incredible pick-up for a 4 cylinder SUV.  The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, though dressed in minivan sheetmetal, is an absolute riot to drive thanks to its torquey powertrain.  The Volvo XC60 had the best audio system in the whole group, made by Bowers & Wilkins.

And as much of a Honda guy as I am, the 2018 Camry XSE V6 absolutely knocked my socks off.  It feels like so much car for $36,000.  It’s also sporty looking, fast, and loaded with tech features you’d expect to see on a luxury car.  I haven’t yet driven the newest Honda Accord but the Camry is fighting hard for its position in the very competitive midsize sedan market segment.  Representative Chad Moore was understandably very proud of what Toyota’s engineers have achieved.

We were privileged to be in the presence of several elite athletes who cast their votes as well.  Triathlete Lewis Elliot and retired NFL player Mark Walczak participated in the day’s events to contribute their athletic perspective.  At the conclusion of our driving day at 4:00 p.m., I drove the Chevy Equinox back to the Hilton.  It was a super comfortable and easy vehicle to commute around in.

Volkswagen, which had brought out the Tiguan and Atlas, satisfied our afternoon snack cravings with refreshments back at the hotel, and then Kia capped off the night by sponsoring a poolside cocktail hour and dinner.  We got an up close look at the all-new Kia Stinger sedan, glistening in blue paint and drawing a crowd outside from hotel guests who weren’t even part of our program.

Meanwhile, team members from The Carlab in Orange County tallied up the votes and ALV’s emcee Rosalie Michaels announced all the winners at the conclusion of the program around 9:00 p.m.  Here were the winners:

  • Best Value Extreme Off Road:  2017 Nissan Titan Pro-4X
  • Best Value Family:  2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
  • Best Value Off-Road:  2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
  • Best Value On-Road:  2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Green:  2017 Chevy Bolt EV
  • High Luxury Off-Road:  2018 Ram Laramie Longhorn Southfork
  • Luxury Family:  2017 Dodge Durango SRT
  • Luxury On-Road:  2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
  • Urban:  2018 Honda Fit

Complete vehicle entry list by category:

A few video scenes from throughout the day:

Ready to start a day of driving with Sandra Muñoz (Latinaology) and James Lee (Six Speed Blog)

Our Hilton home base rolled out the red carpet

Breakfast sponsored by Nissan (pictured is Eric Noble from Carlab)

Nina Russin (Carspondent.com) kicking off the activities

With Acura’s Andrew Quillin and the new MDX Hybrid – a fantastic family ride with intuitive handling, impressive performance, and loads of tech

James seems to like the Stelvio!

Let’s just zoom on on his face to be sure:

With Toyota’s Chad Moore and Hannah Johnston in the Camry

Vigor + Civic Type-R in the hotel parking lot.  Finest expressions of Honda performance!  Haha

Catching Up: Acura Day in Torrance, St. George Marathon, & 555,555 Milestone

Posted in California, Integra, Legend, Milestones, TL, Utah on October 15, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  556,062

Odometer (Integra):  241,233

Check this out.  You are looking at 7 friends on a hill overlooking St. George, Utah.  And those two cars – at the precise moment this photo was taken – had a combined 1,111,111 miles on their odometers.  It was a special day on Saturday, October 7th when my friend Josh and I coordinated this meet-up with much anticipation.

I’m so far behind on blogging that today’s post will be more like a newsletter on what you’ve missed.  I just returned yesterday from spending a few days in the Los Angeles area where I took part in some activities at the main office of American Honda Motor Company for “Acura Week.”  Invited by my friend and Acura Public Relations manager Matt Sloustcher, I drove out there Thursday evening and participated in an all-associate Q&A interview.

It was an exciting experience to talk about how I’d become interested in the brand, share feedback on current & future brand direction, and interact with people who are just as passionate about these topics as I am.  Joining me on the stand were Jon Ikeda, General Manager for Acura, and Jeff Conrad, Senior Vice President for Honda.  In all, the ‘formal’ program on Friday afternoon lasted only about 1/2 hour, but the campaign ran a total of 5 days with activities each day designed to educate, promote, and generate awareness for the Acura brand among internal colleagues.  The level of hospitality was awesome.  Thankfully, I didn’t get too tongue-tied.

Just a week prior, I was tasked with two huge milestones of a completely different nature:  I ran the St. George, Utah marathon and I achieved that long-awaited “all-fives” odometer reading on my 1994 Legend coupe, in partnership with Josh who celebrated the same on his 2005 TSX.  It was a rollover more than a year in the making, executed with painstaking precision with the help of a half-dozen friends who wanted to be there for the occasion.  It took a lot of planning to get Josh’s car (700 miles away, in Boise) and my car (400 miles away, in Phoenix) to the same midpoint and pointed toward one another on a closed road within 2/10ths of a mile of each other.  But we succeeded.

There’s much more to come on the “Fantastic Fives” achievement, as a video production is currently underway and you’ll see it soon enough.  For now, here’s a 2-minute teaser!

I recently got to spent an evening with Donny Nordlicht (Cadillac) and Sofyan Bey (Redline Reviews) who were in town for a media event.  Thanks for inviting me out, guys!

I have some special recognition for a couple of friends who went above and beyond the call of duty.  My friend Kyle put some elbow grease into the TL and got it looking shiny and new after our Zion hike, and my friend Hy entrusted his prized TSX with me for a couple of weeks while he performed a full detail on my 1994 Vigor.  The car came back yesterday sparkling better than ever before!  Thanks Kyle and Hy!

Finally, along with my behind-the-scenes look at the Honda main office on Friday, Brand Champion Charles Schnieber told me about some exciting new things going on in the racing circuit.  Check out a video he narrates on Civic performance heritage.

I’ll let the rest of the photos below tell the story.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Westbound at 4k+ RPMs in the Integra on Thursday

Fueling up in Palm Desert

Friends Logan, Davis, and Vince who work at Honda HQ

Acura Week schedule

With Acura PR Manager Matt Sloustcher

The below greeting card was given to all associates at corporate on Friday morning, along with an “A” emblem lapel pin.

Meeting up with my journalist friend Lance who was lucky enough to get an NSX on loan for a few days.

Hitting up “Fleetwood Square” in Tarzana before heading home.  The building is in the shape of a Cadillac front end, in case you couldn’t already tell!

Last weekend’s trip to southern Utah included a drive through Vegas, including the Strip, which was a somber place to be just 4 days following the tragic shootings.

Friday morning 10/6 in St. George with mom, and with my friend Conor who’d flown in from New York.

Off to see the town in the Legend

“Face-swapping” with my 5-year-old nephew Beckam.  Yikes.

The half-million-milers reunited once again.

St. George Marathon – probably the most scenic 26-miler you could ever run.

Plus, how’s this for motivation?  (And they did deliver on that promise)

Mom (with more energy than she knew what to do with), Josh, Conor, and Jason

Grandma was there with her traditional poster.  I had 2 cousins also running.

Trying to keep up with nephew Beckam when he sprinted with me for a block.

Finish line!

Josh getting the TSX prepped for its showtime.

Quiet on the set!

Anddddd, success!  High five for fab fives.

Looking purdy with all those miles.

Interview session back at my brother’s.

Mom serving up breakfast pre-departure Sunday morning.

More TL-S glamour shots

And my ‘visitor’ at the house for a couple of weeks, Hy’s immaculate 2004 TSX.

Clearly I had the wrong car to be driving by “Legend Cleaners.”

And look what I test drove a few weeks ago:  a Fir Green Mica 1996 Acura SLX Premium.  Oh, boy.  I passed on that.

 

Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) 2017 – Long Beach, California

Posted in California, Legend, Road Trip on September 25, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend sedan):  155,969

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

Hey, look who came home with a second place award!

This weekend, I drove to Long Beach, California to participate in the 13th annual Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) along the banks of the Pacific.  It was not my first time being part of the event – in fact, I guess you could say I’m a bit of a seasoned veteran now.

Unfortunately, the “Neo” show – specifically dedicated to 1980s and 1990s cars – was suspended for 2017 due to a potential venue change, but special consideration was made for 20 spots in the “regular” JCCS show to allow for cars from that era, and I jumped at the opportunity.  There are awards given in a total of 25 categories — 3 of which are specific to Hondas.  By comparison, 8 are Datsun/Nissan and 6 are Toyota, so the Honda representation tends to be smaller at this venue.  I was glad to take part.

One highlight was also the fact that I wasn’t the only second-generation Legend in attendance.  Clarion, known in the aftermarket industry as one of the premier car audio companies, has just completed a build of a sound system inside a very clean 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  Jubal Leierer, Clarion’s Manager of Merchandising and Special Programs, was in attendance at NSXPO earlier this month and told me they’d have the Legend out at JCCS, which was exciting.  I’ll have a special post about that car in the coming weeks.

My trip to Long Beach took place last Friday, September 22nd.  I fought some westbound traffic on Interstate 10 getting out of Phoenix, which is to be expected during the afternoon rush hour.  Saturday morning I had a short 15-minute jaunt from my hotel in Torrance to the JCCS venue at the Queen Mary.  Right off the bat, I ran into a few friends at the registration line.

I was assigned a parking space next to a newfound friend, Daniel, who drives a 1990 Accord coupe 5-speed which he inherited from his grandmother.  It was a stunning blue color.  I also met a guy named Ryan who is the proud owner of a 1988 Daihatsu Charade.  It was the only Daihatsu entered in the whole show.  And it was mint!  Only 56,000 miles and a 5-speed manual.

The oldest vehicle on display was this 1965 Honda T500 pickup truck.

Throughout the day, I wandered around and enjoyed the scenery.  By 10:00 a.m., I was already ready to give the food truck vendor $17 for a grilled cheese sandwich with turkey and avocado.  It hit the spot.  My friends Davis and Joseph came out to say hello – Davis works at Honda in Public relations, and Joseph is a long-time Acura fan who painstakingly restored his 1992 Vigor recently.   During the 1960s, Honda ran a motorcycle ad campaign that said, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.”

Well, I’ll second that statement!

My short video here:

Here are a couple of videos that my Legend made it into.

MotoManTV piece at 19:00:

And 1:39 here:

Westbound drive on Friday evening near Desert Center, California

Crossing over a series of bridges on the way to the Queen Mary in Long Beach

Check out this lineup of ultra-clean Honda CRXs

Meeting Marcus, owner of HeelToe Automotive

Very clean Celica

A whole rainbow of colors on display

Meeting the famous Tim “Merciless” Mings who is based in Duarte, CA and who specializes in restoration of Honda N600, S600, and Z600 cars.

Windows sticker of an old Z car

With lots of brochures and literature on display

My friend Chris H’s 1980 Honda Accord

Meeting the crew including Zac from Bring a Trailer, one of my favorite automotive websites.

Logan and Davis stopping by to visit

Joseph stopping to visit

This is Joseph’s “Royal Plum” 1992 Vigor.  It’s in great shape for 188,000 miles!

My friend Chris G’s two Preludes:  1986 and 1989.  They have 49,000 and 70,000 miles respectively.

Interior of the ’89 Si

Love this little foam core display board he had up in the rear window.

Pop-up headlights!

“Made in this 80s.  Loved by the ladies.”  This sticker was on a 1980s Nissan Pulsar.

Headed back to the desert via Hwy 91, Hwy 60, & Interstate 10.

Arrival in Phoenix around 11:00 p.m. on Saturday after an easy drive.

“West Rim” 17-Mile Hike at Zion National Park in Southern Utah

Posted in Hikes, TL, Utah on September 18, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,721

Odometer (TL):  101,487

Trip Distance:  900 Miles

For some reason it’s always two days after a hike when the worst cramping and soreness start.  My friend Kyle described the contortions he had to make when getting out of the car last night:  “I twisted out of the car like a geriatric.”  And he’s only 32!  A 17-mile, 8-hour-long hike can really give your leg muscles a run for their money.  I paid for it on my end, too.  But it was worth it.

Having grown up about 45 minutes from Zion, in St. George, Utah, I’ve spent plenty of time in the park but it never seems to get old.  This specific trail – the “West Rim” – was new to me and gave a never-before-seen perspective on some of the park’s 229 square miles of beauty.  Some 4.2 million people visit the park each year, but I’d dare say that most of them don’t attempt a one-day hike as ambitious as the one that we did.

Once again my mountainman (mountainwoman?) of a mother, Tia, reigned athletically supreme as she led our pack of 7 adventurous hikers on a quest through the southern Utah backcountry.  Though technically a downhill hike for its majority, the West Rim trail had its fair share of grades — enough that I guzzled down about 6 bottled waters over the course of the day.  I liked how with each water I finished, my backpack got a little bit lighter to carry.

The terrain on the West Rim took us through many different types of trails:  Wooded forest, singletrack pathway through a field, shale rock, cliffside on sandstone, and a lot in between.  All the while, we were afforded some of the best views that money can’t buy.   Luckily for us, even the weather was prime – with our start temperatures at the Lava Point Campground around 50 degrees and the finish in the low 70s.

We found a consistent pace and alternated who got to lead the pack.  I usually preferred to stay toward the back of the lineup, and wherever space allowed, we usually walked two abreast so we could carry on conversations with one another.  At one point, Kyle and Sandy broke away for an ‘optional’ one-mile out & back side trip to “Angel’s Landing” – a spectacular viewpoint atop a 1,500-foot-tall sandstone cliff to the canyon below.  I’d already seen it, and by the time we got to that decision point, we were already 14 miles into our 17-miler, so I opted to rest my legs.

By the time we finally were within eyesight of “The Grotto,” where a shuttle bus would pick us up and take us to the visitor center to get my stepdad Todd’s truck, we broke into a jog because we were so excited, and because it felt easier on the quads and knees than taking a slower walk.  No pain, no gain!  We finished strong.  And we celebrated:

We were grateful for the chance to refuel our bodies later that evening.  Kyle and Rob and I decided to consume as many carbs as we could, so we paid a visit to an Italian place on Tabernacle Street in St. George called Cappeletti’s.  The lasagna was top-notch.  True to tradition, mom fixed us a breakfast of hotcakes the following morning pre-departure.  There’s nothing like a drizzle of maple syrup to undo all the calorie-burning we’d done the day prior!

Here is a 3-minute video, along with some photos of our weekend!

TL at Sunset in Kingman, Arizona on the way to St. George Thursday night

Mom had left us goody bags

Taking my brother’s 1968 Chevy II Nova SS to lunch.  It has a 525-horsepower “LS3” V8 and 6-speed manual transmission.

Outdoor dining at 25 Main.

Now taking a ride in my other brother’s 700+ horsepower Lexus IS300.  What a beast.

I dictated a shopping list to my 6-year-old niece.  Can you decipher this?

It says:  hamburger, pita bread, trail mix, and water.

Morning of the hike!  Aunt Jodi dropped us off at the trailhead.

Six bumps on a log

 

Starting out at a brisk pace

Taking a breather and eating some snacks

Following a few signs toward the destination – with mom in the lead

Approaching “Scout Overlook” near Angel’s Landing

Panoramic views.  See the road at the bottom of the canyon?

Side trail to Angel’s Landing

Headed on down

Dinner spot that evening

Lasagna!!

Departing mom’s on Sunday morning after breakfast

Riding in the backseat of my own car

Side note – I checked on the model car project!

Quick Introduction: “Carvana” Headquarters in Tempe, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, PAPA on September 14, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  240,067

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a vending machine eat your quarters!  If you’re like me, you might have an unlucky relationship with them.  One Phoenix-based company called Carvana has made buying a used vehicle a lot like buying a Snickers.  (Photo credit:  Carvana)

The Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) received an invitation from Director of Communications Amy O’Hara to get a behind-the-scenes look at Carvana on Wednesday, September 6th at the company’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona.

Carvana came about as part of DriveTime, but was spun off and currently operates as a standalone company.

The idea?  Simply put – to make car buying “not suck.”  Give people back their Saturdays, take away the stress and haggling, and ultimately, give people the power to make a vehicle purchase online as simply as they’d make a purchase on Amazon.com.  So far, it’s working.  Launched in 2013, Carvana now has over 7,000 cars in inventory, has expanded to 36 markets and 6 vending machines, and has been ranked in the top 5 on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies.

The car buying process starts with a simple online search application where customers can narrow down their selections and find a vehicle that fits their needs.  From there, the financing (in-house), purchase, and even trade-in can be done online.  When the new vehicle is delivered, the trade-in gets picked up.  Seriously it’s a one-stop-shop operation.  Delivery can also be via one of the 6 vending machines (our closest here in Phoenix is Dallas) and Carvana offers $200 toward the outbound flight of the buyer if they elect to fly in and drive home.

Putting to rest any concerns about satisfaction, Carvana allows buyers a seven day, money-back guarantee so they can drive the vehicle they’ve purchased and find out if it really fits with their lifestyle.  Just for kicks, I searched for an Acura RLX.  There are 3 available.  Amy told us that buyers save on average $1,400 compared to Kelley Blue Book Retail values.

Amy showed our group around the Carvana headquarters overlooking the Rio Salado area.  It’s a large, modern, and open floorplan completed just a few months ago to house the roughly 600 colleagues who work there.  Employee perks are pretty sweet, too.  Among the neat features were a pickleball court, multiple refreshment areas (fully stocked!), and even a “library” equipped with comfortable leather couch and a secret bar that hides behind a rolling bookcase.  “When can I move in?” I felt like asking.  (Sorry, no photos of those special areas were allowed).

Carvana takes great pride in the people who it employs and who it serves.  There are two separate walls in the facility that are plastered in Polaroid-like images of happy customers taking delivery of their vehicles, and another wall dedicated exclusively to moms.  That’s right, a mom wall, showing photos of Carvana employees’ mothers taking delivery of their cars as well.  It truly does feel like a family atmosphere rather than an office or workplace.

Here’s a 30-second video showing a little about how the vending machine experiences goes.

To someone like me who has never purchased a vehicle “sight unseen” the thought of carrying out a complete automotive purchase process online is a little unsettling, but after seeing all the buyer protection in place and learning of the thousands of satisfied customers Carvana has picked up in its mere 4 years, maybe the company is on to something!  Many thanks to the Carvana team, and specifically to Amy, for letting PAPA pay a visit!

(Oh, and since we already asked:  No – you can’t shake the vending machine and get a free car, sorry)

 

NSXPO 2017 – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Posted in NSX, NSXPO on September 11, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,713

Odometer (NSX):  108,654

Trip Distance:

  • 2,912 Miles (Southwest Airlines)
  • 120 Miles (Chevy Spark Rental)

I had a family reunion this past weekend.  My “car club” family, that is.  For the third year in a row, I attended the annual gathering of Acura NSX owners & fans called NSXPO.  In 2015, the event was in Palm Springs.  In 2016, it was in Orlando.  And this year, it was in the Milwaukee area.  While I would have loved to have driven my car the 1,800 or so miles from Phoenix, I opted rather to take a redeye flight and rent a powder blue Chevy Spark for a few days.  It got the job done.

Hosting this year’s event was a team led by RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham, a seasoned and highly awarded race driver and the newly-appointed President of the NSX Club of America (NSXCA).   RealTime’s operations have always been based out of Wisconsin, which is convenient since one of the nation’s premier racetracks is located about an hour north of Milwaukee.  It’s called Road America and goes by the title “America’s National Park of Speed.”  Now after 60 years, the 4-mile course is home to over 400 performance driving events annually.

It seems that with each year, the size and scope of NSXPO expand.  Now covering 4 full days and two half-days, the event drew participants from across the United States as well as internationally.  Many drove great distances to attend.  Schedule wise, I missed out on the Road America events on Wednesday & Thursday, but made it to some special tours on Friday and the Concours d’ Elegance on Saturday.  Best of all, I reconnected with over 40 friends, all while enjoying great weather & food.

Thanks to a late evening dust storm at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, my delayed flight to MKE caused me to arrive at the large Osthoff Resort at a pretty crazy hour:  4:04 in the morning.  I found the suite I was sharing with my friend Jhae and crashed out for a few hours.  Venues for Friday’s activities were laid out in a logistically favorable order – working our way south with our first stop at RealTime Racing in Saukville.

Lunch was picnic-style in the town of Mequon on the western shores of Lake Michigan, a body of water so large it felt like we were perched along the ocean.

From there, we made our way to the RealTime Collection Hall, established in July 2016 and now extensively stocked in vintage and collectible Honda & Acura automobiles and memorabilia.  My heart of course is partial to the two Acura Legends in the collection, but perhaps my favorite car now is the 1981 Honda Accord Limousine which was stretched 42″ and comes complete with a Betamax video cassette player and two telephones.

Check those amenities!

Capping off the night in style and class, we took over the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown.  The architecturally distinct and ultra modern building made a picturesque backdrop for the 100+ NSXs lined up along the front driveway.  We enjoyed a banquet style feast inside from 5 different food stations while a silent auction was going on.

My rental car didn’t even get moved on Saturday, which was nice.  Our activities centered around the Osthoff Resort.  Catching up on sleep from the prior late night, I didn’t creep out of bed until nearly noon – just in time to grab a burger & brat along the banks of Elkhart Lake and wander out onto the dock.  I ran into Acura President Jon Ikeda and Acura NSX Project Leader Ted Klaus while checking out the cars parked on the lawn for the Concours d’ Elegance (Jon is at right here).

Around 4:00, fellow Arizonan Jhae Pfenning and I helped coordinate a drive around the historic race loop that was once a professional race circuit on public roads before the construction of Road America.  Cocktail hour started at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Libelle Ballroom, and dinner kicked off an hour later.  I enjoyed sitting among a few Wisconsin locals at my table.  David Hobbs, British race driver and NBC sports commentator, addressed the congregation while we dined.  It was announced that the 2018 NSXPO date and location will be September 27 through October 1, in the San Francisco area.

My departure day was Sunday, but I squeezed in a visit with a few local friends before hitting the airways.  First was my friend Michael who drove his family all the way up from Chicago (about a 2 hr drive) to have lunch with me in Glendale.  It was great to reconnect with him (and his Vortex Blue TSX).  And the next was with Ryan who’s local to Milwaukee and who I’ve known “online” for a couple of years but hadn’t met in person.  He brought his red TL out for the occasion.  Thanks Mike and Ryan!

Mike’s TSX

Ryan’s TL

My 3.5 hour flight home was made shorter by the fact that I was seated next to friend and colleague Chris Willson.  Chris runs a Chandler, Arizona-based NSX & S2000 performance facility called Science of Speed and holds a leadership role as Treasurer with the NSXCA.  We touched down in Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday to a brisk 100 degrees.  Home, sweet (hot), home.

My hat goes off to the NSXPO 2017 planning committee for the countless hours of effort invested in pulling off what truly was a “September to remember.”

A 6-minute video and some additional photos follow!

Leaving the Integra at PHX airport East Economy lot (4 days of parking cost me $44 – ouch)

Dashboard of my Chevy Spark LT.  I rolled 26,000 on that thing.  This was my 2:08 a.m. arrival.

I found Waldo!  Waldo, Wisconsin that is (population 503).

Peter addressing the group at RealTime

Such a colorful weekend

Couple of imposters in our midst…

With Craig who drove all the way from California in his 57,000-mile NSX

Complimentary colors

RealTime Collection Hall (RTCH) with TLX-GT

Honda Heaven

Photo with Peter, May Lee, Chris Willson at RTCH

NSX lineup at Milwaukee Art Museum

NSXs for days!

Okay, sure!

Peter C and John Watts, from Acura

Morning view on Saturday from the balcony of my room at the Osthoff

Very special (and rare, 1 of 2) 1998 NSX Zanardi Prototype

Hand-controlled 2017 NSX

Check that stick shift lever!  It actually controls the throttle & brake

Anybody hungry?  Brownies for lunch.

Dock extending into Elkhart Lake

Text from Peter when I dropped him a note thanking him for the hospitality.

Rolling 240,000 on the Integra on my way home from the airport

Labor Day Weekend 2017 – Palm Springs, California Trip & TL 100,000 Milestone

Posted in California, Road Trip, TL on September 5, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,713

Odometer (TL):  100,468

Trip Distance:  542 Miles

Cue the confetti.  We have another 100,000-miler in the house!

It’s rare for me to own a car with “only” an odometer reading of 5 digits.  In fact, the lowest mileage car I’ve ever owned aside from my 2013 ILX that I got new, was my 1994 Legend coupe that had 95,000 miles on it when purchased in 2003.  That car has come out of hiding a few times in recent days, and several of you have asked why I haven’t posted any updates.  Check out this sunset last night at the Phoenix Financial Center 19-story building on Central Avenue.

The Legend is still trucking along, and the building itself is legendary in its own way.  Constructed in 1964, it was designed to look like a computer punchcard.  My favorite story about its construction is that (Legend has it!) there is a time capsule within the building that was supposed to have been removed in 2012 which has never been found.  We’re now 5 years beyond that date!  I’d be tearing the place apart to find it.  Here’s the story of what I did this Labor Day Weekend.

Nestled at the eastern base of the 10,000-foot-tall San Jacinto Mountains, there’s a city in Southern California that’s made a name for itself as a popular weekend destination.  Palm Springs is home to 44,000 people and some of the best mid-century architecture in the country.  I’d be crazy to not take advantage of a 3-day holiday weekend, and it seemed like a perfect destination.  On Friday afternoon, a friend and I hit the highway and headed westbound to see what the city could offer us.

Luckily for me, my 2007 Acura TL was about to pass a pretty big milestone.  It took the car 10 years to rack up 100,000 miles.  I had to pull over about 30 miles east of Quartzsite, near the Arizona-California state line to celebrate and capture the occasion on video.

We rolled into the Hard Rock Hotel on Indian Canyon Road and valet parked the TL before going out on the town.

The next day was primarily spent lounging next to the pool, despite the fact that it was 104 degrees outside and we had little shade to work with.  One of Palm Spring’s roadside wonders is the “pink door house,” so we made sure to stop there on the way back to Phoenix on Sunday morning.  Bubble gum pink, it sure is.

More pics below from the weekend’s shenanigans.  Coming up later this week:  A flight to Milwaukee for this year’s “NSXPO” annual Acura NSX meet-up.  No, sadly, I won’t be driving out there.  But I’ll at least enjoy whatever festivities I can from the comfort (or discomfort?) of a rental car.

Roadside stop in Quartzsite with my copilot

Palm Springs in all its glory, set against the San Jacinto peaks

Our hotel for 2 nights

Best coffee (ahem, “koffi”) shop in town!  They have 3 locations.

The frozen white mocha hit the spot.

Other news:  I got to check out & drive my friend Daniel’s 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec last week!  It wasn’t my first time behind the wheel of such a car (see Maryland trip) but I greatly enjoyed a more thorough test drive.

Daniel’s car accelerates, handles, and looks like a true sports sedan.

I must say I don’t mind it one bit!  Give it a clutch pedal and I’m sold!

Another shot of the Legend + PSC building last night.

Road trip to Tucson & back today with coworker Amanda for work.

Lastly, remember how some Hondas of old had “5 speed” badging like this?

A friend told me about these $9.99 Amazon emblems that say “6 speed.”  I got one.  As a joke, I promise.  I’m not going to install this permanently!  But I thought it would be funny to mock up with Scotch tape for a picture.

The TL needed a quick pic too!

Have a great week!