Saturday, January 19, 2019

2018 Annual Round-Up

We had a few changes in 2018 at NMS, mostly that we blogged a bit LESS and drove a lot MORE! While we're not up to the record year of 2016 with 168 posts, we ended up with 97 posts, so, talk about slacking off! However, all that driving made for a pretty good year! Overall the NMS drivers migrated a bit more into driving on track and less driving at autocross, but no matter how you look at it, we had fun driving and even working on cars. Along the way we saw some more vehicles come and go, and that trend is 100% going to continue in the future!

So if you don't mind (and even if you do mind!) here's a look back at our TOP HIGHLIGHTS for 2018. Instead of counting them down, let's just jump in with the biggest, baddest, and best-est highlight of our year. Just don't tell anyone about the blog and let them in on the secret that the bestest bloggiest stuff can be found all in one reading in the annual round-up!

WINNERS! Team Coronautski Wins Class C at CMP!
Brian (red hat) is holding SOME of the prize money, $600 in NICKELS!

1.  The NMS team got together at the same driving event only one time in 2018, at the 24 Hours of Lemons "Southern Discomfort" race held at Carolina Motorsports Park. As the sole event that combined NMS North AND South, there was bound to be some wild stuff going on, and sure enough, it was cataclysmic! The race was scheduled for September and we were both all set to drive in different teams, but then a visit from Hurricane Florence managed to flood every state with the word "Carolina" in it, and the race was moved to November. While it would have been fun to race in the middle of a cross-fire hurricane (you know the words to the Rolling Stones hit Jumping Jack Flash don't you?) the race organizers wisely delayed the event to November, and we got to drive in nice cool weather. If you've ever spent a weekend in hot and humid South Carolina (even in September) wearing all the fire-protective gear that racers wear, well, you'd want to move it to November too!

So, in addition to being our NUMBER ONE event of the year just for the experience of spending the weekend together and driving, Brian's Team Coronautski took FIRST PLACE IN C CLASS, and also finished 16th overall out of 80 cars! This was the team's third Lemons race, and their driving, pit stops, and repairing skills all contributed to a great first place. Brian drove the very first two hour stint on Saturday morning, and had the team solidly into first place in their class, which they held all the way to the end!

NOT WINNERS! Team Altimate Driving Machine
It was a dark and stormy Friday night before the race...

Robert and the Team Altimate Driving Experience were running in the middle of the B Class pack, and had a solid Saturday and Sunday morning, before what we think was an ECU failure stopped the team about two hours short. Still, they finished 44th overall, which is pretty good for a first time Lemons team. Robert was in the car for the final stint on Saturday, made one quick fuel stop and got back in the car, but later had to stop short and return to the paddock due to a fuel leak that was causing some serious headache and nausea, which we can guarantee you is a BAD thing in a race car on a track! After surviving the rookie experience and the fuel leak, the NMS driver was heard to say "Yeah, that was terrible, let's do it again!"

If you need another reason why Lemons racing is crazy and fun, NASCAR driver Greg Biffle was also at CMP for this race, as he drove for one of the other Lemons teams during the weekend. Even the pros want to get in on the Lemons fun! If you think that is amazing, read our next  highlight to see who Team Coronautski ran into at another Lemons race this year!

Hey, and don't take our word for it, check out the 24 Hours of Lemons official CMP Fall Wrap-up Video here: Team Coronautski Hellasweet Again!

Team Coronautski New Year
Team Coronautski September Update
Coronautski Engine Work

Team Altimate Driving Machine Part I
Team Altimate Driving Machine Part II
Shopping for Lemons

2. Probably tied for our #1 highlight was another Lemons race, although this one was much earlier in the year and only had freezing cold and rain instead of a hurricane. Back in February, Team Coronautski got on track at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, and completed their 2nd Lemons race. Besides the on track action, the team members ran into famous racer, driver, and automotive writer Randy Pobst! Even the pros want to hang out with Team Coronautski and do the Lemons thing! Brian had the team in first place while on track, but a late Saturday overheating problem brought about an epic overnight engine tear down and rebuild to replace pistons, head gasket, plugs, etc. Then the team came storming back to finish an excellent 4th in Class C on Sunday!

Epic Team Coronautski Barber Lemons Race Report
Team Coronautski Prep for Lemons Barber Race

3. Another highlight was the chance to get behind the wheel of some new BMWs at the Ultimate Driver Experience. These BMW sponsored events visited six cities across the country this year, and NMS-North was at MetLife Stadium (home of the Jets and Giants) in New Jersey to check it out. One driving event was a mini autocross, and on the one hand Robert drove the fastest time in his group, but on the other hand he hit one cone out on the course and that 1 second penalty means he didn't win.

Then in November, the BMW folks brought the UDE to CitiField, home of the Mets, much closer to NMS-North HQ, and we signed up for that one too! This time I was determined to win that dang autocross and NOT hit any cones. Well, I didn't hit ANY cones! In fact, I didn't get CLOSE to any cones, because thanks to a very early snowstorm of 6 inches, the event got cancelled that day, and it was the final day of the week long event in Queens. Oh well, it was really fun driving other people's cars at the first event, so,  Thanks BMW!

Oh, and wouldn't it be cool if the Mets played at MetLife stadium?

NMS Drives BMW

4. NMS-South was all over the place doing all kinds of driving. Here's a few highlights besides the Lemons Races already mentioned.

Charlotte Motor Speedway: Track Night in America
Roebling Road HPDE
Road Atlanta HPDE

5. Up north, Robert was able to drive the NMS FIAT at Pocono Raceway for a one day HPDE with the fine NASA folks. This was a highlight because in addition to hanging out with car folks and driving fast all day, the weather kept changing from rain, to just wet, to dry, and back to wet again. While you might be thinking "so what?" the reason this is a good thing is that it gives drivers MORE experience in MORE conditions, so in theory (and reality) I think it helped me learn even MORE than if it had been just a normal sunny day. Other than the passenger window getting stuck in the down position not going back up, and the lightning on track, or the very small bit of going off track, it was a great day! I won't even mention the driving back to New York with the passenger window down, or getting a speeding warning letter from the George Washington Bridge toll plaza folks.

Pocono HPDE

6. Autocross wise, NMS-North reports that driving with the New York Region SCCA was a bit of a change from the previous three years with the Tidewater Sports Car Club, Old Dominion Region SCCA, and before that with the South Carolina Region SCCA. Combined with a new job and busy work schedule, we weren't able to compete for any wins, but had fun driving at some two locations on Long Island. Plans for 2019 are still not final, but with other clubs like the Northern New Jersey SCCA region competing regularly at a larger lot at MetLife Stadium, we just might be heading west a few times.

NY April AutoX
NY May AutoX
NY June AutoX
NY August AutoX

7. Besides driving, NMS visited car shows! With our newly relocated Northern HQ now on Long Island, it was easy to get to these events like the big shows in Philadelphia and New York City.

Americana Manhasset: The Italians
Americana Manhasset
Glen Cove Part II
Glen Cove NY
New York Part III
New York Part II
New York International Auto Show 2018
Philadelphia Auto show 2018

8.  Also speaking of the FIAT, NMS-North has only put about 5,000 miles on the car this year, so this living in New York and having a short commute is a sweet deal for saving wear and tear on the daily driver. Combined with an automotive lift at work, the annual oil change on the FIAT and Camry was as easy as could be this year. A new set of Bridgestone tires lasted all year at 4 autocross events and a full day on track at Pocono too, so we will probably start 2019 on those same tires and save some money to boot. The biggest modifications to the FIAT included installing Koni yellow sport shocks all around, and a new set of lowering springs to try and lower the old center of gravity. These mods put the car into the SCCA's new Street Touring Hot Hatch class, so we can't really compare to how the previous years were driving in H Street and G Street classes. Since we moved to a new region, we'll just say the car if much firmer, just a bit lower, and we're still stuck with the same slow driver behind the wheel.

Abarth Upgrades to STH Class

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What to Watch in 2019

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2019 on the NMS blog! With a new year will come a new year of NMS car related events, so stay tuned for some more track days, Lemons racing, autocross, going to car shows, and whatever else comes along.

Here at NMS North we're considering a big HPDE (High Performance Driver Education) weekend at Watkins Glen in October as a highlight of the year, so while that's a long ways in the future, we've been reading books, magazines, and the entire Internet about many other car stories. This coming week will bring the big auto show from Detroit, formally the the North American International Auto Show. Traditionally held in January, next year in 2020 it will move to the summer time. One big car to be revealed in Detroit will be the NEW Toyota Supra. If you've not heard of it, this car is a result of Toyota and BMW combining forces (which means saving money in the long run), and ending up with the new BMW Z4 and the Toyota Supra. More info at NAIAS

Also in the news is a formula W all women's racing series that will start this year.Kicking off in May at Hockenheim, this race series is aiming to bring more women drivers to the top levels of motor sports, so we wish them luck!  ESPN on Formula W

On January 18 The Grand Tour Season 3 will kick off, and the trailer is now available, along with other info at this link: The Grand Tour Info

Whatever you are up to in 2019, we hope you make it great! Drive safe, and like Junior Brown sings, "if you wanna race, then get on a race track!"

Monday, December 31, 2018

How I Spent My Winter Vacation


Did you ever have to write a report in elementary school at the start of the new year about your summer vacation? Do you remember anything about hearing any other classmate ever read theirs? Are there any top selling books based on a great summer vacation? Well, Jaws probably counts!

We loaded up the mighty Camry, fresh on it's new set of brake pads, filled up the tank, loaded up the presents for relatives, and headed out to PA, OH, MI, IN, and back thru OH, PA, NJ, and NY to complete the circuit. I didn't count the miles, but it was more than 50 and bigger than a breadbox. Along the way we enjoyed scenic vistas on I-80, had a great Christmas, and had a great time. I really enjoyed the driving, lots of cruise control interstate time to observe the driving habits of Americans in their natural state too, and if I was Santa I'd be passing out a lot of Driver's Education Text books!

It's an easy concept to drive on the highway, but let me just offer a few top tips to round out 2018, tips that should make every day driving safer for all of us.

1. If it's dark, raining, and/or foggy, turn your lights on! Yes, I'm talking to the dozens of folks I saw driving in rain or dusk who might have even had their daytime running lights on, but NO BRAKE LIGHTS, so it's hard to see you in reduced visibility. Hey, didja know that many states have a law that says to turn on your lights (all of them) when your windshield wipers are on? FACT!

2. If you need to exit the interstate, and we'll assume here that your exit is on the RIGHT like probably 95% of them are, then why don't you consider (I'm being polite here), moving into that right hand exit lane well before the actual exit? I'm talking mostly to the Jeep driver somewhere in Ohio that passed me on the left and then immediately cut back in front of me to cross over to the right hand exit. No, I wasn't impressed with your idiotic double-lane-shift at the least second, so I'm happy that I was able to get out of your way. Oh, and thanks for the nonverbal communication you sent my way after driving like an idiot!

3. Some general winter driving tips: SLOW DOWN when it's icy, clear ALL the snow off your car (not just your front window), and make sure your windshield wipers are working. Along the way on our trip we noticed our wipers were kind of doing a C- "blah" job, so we visited the AutoZone store in Clarion PA. After buying some new wipers. our friendly AutoZone guy Tyler offered to put them on the car for us. He had those blades on so fast, I'm sure he's done hundreds of them before, and we just wanted to thank him and point out what great service we got! And, the new wipers work great, and made the rest of the trip much more visible!


4. On this trip we managed to focus on visiting the family, but as you might imagine, there were some automotive highlights and trivial tidbits of driving fun too. While we didn't see a ton of billion dollar cars on the road, we spotted this truck that might have been hauling millions of dollars worth of cars!


On I-70 outside of Dayton Ohio we passed the exit for Brookville, which would be fun to visit again some day and check out the folks at Brookville Roadsters. If you need any parts for your Ford Model A, or in fact an entire A body, they can take care of you!


On the opposite (East) side of Ohio on I-80, we've always noticed the big Lordstown Ohio GM factory right along the road, and you've likely read about this and other plants in the news lately since GM is planning to halt production at several locations like Lordstown (home of the Cruze). In a way our trip around the Midwest could have focused on a lot of the USA's auto industry, since the factories and parts suppliers are all over the place. You might have  heard of a place called "Detroit" too.


Back in PA, we passed the exit for Pocono Raceway, and while we didn't get to hit the track this time, we filled up on gas at this exit and helped the local economy a little bit at least.

Just north of Indianapolis and the famous Motor Speedway, we had some awesome pizza with my brother and his family, and just as a reminder of the Indy 500 found this framed race car in the men's room. I didn't check the ladies room, but I'll guess there was a race car in there too. People in Indy love their race at the Brickyard.


On the journey home, we spotted an exit for Tallmadge Ohio, and you might recognize that name as the home of Summit Racing. If there is something that makes your car go faster, the fine folks at Summit probably have it in stock! They are also located right on the interstate in Eastern  Ohio, and while we didn't visit the retail store, we managed a quick photo.


On the final leg of our trip we were just a few miles from  home, had just survived the George Washington Bridge, and then we spotted this car. I think it's a sign that I need to buy a Porsche! Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2019!