Sunday, August 31, 2014

E Street Report from Darlington

This weekend I officially kicked off the hunt for the 2015 season replacement for the Mazdaspeed Miata.  I was co-driving a stock 2001 Miata owned by my friend Kyle, who chairs the autocross program for our region and who has been finishing a solid second ahead of me at each event all season.  

Kyle and I were taking turns knocking out a lot of cones, but he was still consistently about 1 second faster all day.  We each slowed down a little bit to bring the 4th run of our 5 total in without hitting any cones and I wound up with a top time good for 3rd place in ES of 35.8 second.  

During fun runs I knew I could at least match Kyle's best time.  The first fun run I ran about the same as earlier at a 35.5.  Time to keep the right foot down more.  I overcooked the back half of the course and lost a lot of time, no improvement.  I pulled past the timing van and could see Kyle leaning out the window "Do it again!" and it seemed the whole SCR crew was egging me on. Alright, one more.  I lined up at start, focused down through the first stretch of cones and floored it.  This time I managed to keep my right foot down through more of the course and nailed the back stretch to come across the line in 34.2!  Bam! There's the time I needed to see.

After 6 events I'm solidly in 3rd place in ES even though fun runs are showing a pace much quicker than the official points would suggest.  Must keep driving.  Keep learning.  Keep the right foot down!

At Cars and Coffee last weekend I met a father and son who had a Mini Cooper S and I let them know about the Darlington event and encouraged them to come check it out.  Sure enough, they showed up bright and early and jumped right into the mix, getting numbers taped on the car and walking the course.  They both did really well in the novice class and said they were absolutely hooked and would have to come out again.  It was pretty cool to help other people find the sport that the NMS team also has gotten thoroughly addicted to since our first event right there at Darlington almost 2 years ago!  Looking forward to seeing the little blue car out there at the future events.

I took a quick break from running timing inside the van just in time to take a shot of the Abarth crossing the finish line.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

G Street Report From Darlington

Today was a fun autocross event held at Darlington Raceway, and I'll just have to emphasize the FUN part because it seems that almost everyone in my class was driving faster today! You name it, Ford Fiesta ST, Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Si, and a VW Golf GTI, they all went faster than I did. With just a few more points on the day, I'm solidly in 3rd place for the year.

 Oh well, here's a few photos that can be good without being fast! You can find more photos on our NMS Flickr page, linked over there on the right.

Among the cool cars that were driving today were a Dodge Viper, a Lotus Exige, an old Volvo wagon, a kart, about a bazillion Miatas, and one other FIAT Abarth in addition to mine!

Also this nice old Porsche:

Maybe you like the look of an old Lotus 7 type of car:

I felt like I was improving with each run, and for the first 4 that was true as I knocked off a few tenths per run, so while I ended up nearly last in my class, out of all 79 drivers I still managed the 31st fastest PAX time, so well into the faster half of the field.

Here is Brian heading out for one of his runs in Kyle Ray Smith's Miata, and I imagine he'll be posting more info and photos on how his day went over in the E Street class.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dead Man's Curve Update: PAVEMENT!


It's been a few weeks since we showed you the current state of a safety upgrade on Rimer Pond Road.. AKA...Dead Man's Curve Part 1, the section I call Dead Man's Curve, so let's take a look at how it looks now.  The first photo is from right near where I live, just a little reminder that it takes months to make these kinds of changes to roads, but in the end the increased safety should make it all worth it.
Starting in the east, we're going to walk westward (like Columbus sailing the ocean blue) down the graded dirt path, and just maybe we'll find some new fresh pavement along the way! Remember that we're heading downhill here, and up ahead you can see that there has been more grading and clearly showing where the future pavement will be. The old road was straight ahead on the right, close to the tree line. The port-o-let probably won't be permanent!

Ahh, freshly graded dirt!  Great for walking and running on. Judging by the tire tracks, a few of the locals have been driving thru here too. Everybody wants to drive on a new road!

 Still going downhill, approaching what will be a kinder gentler curve, instead of the previous abrupt almost 90 degree tight bend. Safer, faster, smoother, sounds like a new razor from Gillete!

Since we're approaching from farther to the left, yep, it will be a smoother curve, and probably result in cars able to go faster here. As long as the road is designed the right way, faster can be safer...otherwise I guess the national speed limit on interstates would only be 10 MPH.

You can see above that the construction guys have parked their vehicles like this on the weekend to prevent traffic from coming thru here. Not 100% effective, and I'll show you why in a few more photos when a driver snuck up on me! Up ahead you'll see the new pavement!

(cue DREAM SEQUENCE music, as the following image appears.....)

Artist's concept for a new Formula 1 race, the

(fade out dream sequence music, return to regular blog post....)

Right about here we're at the lowest part of the section, heading uphill. The corner up ahead is still going to be partially blind, meaning we can't see all what's coming up. Can you smell the ashphalt?

A quick glance to the right shows you the small lake close to the road. Scenic view while I'm walking, but not recommended for viewing while driving a tricky bit of road.

At the top of the hill, we have an improved view of the next curve to the right!  The old road is now over on our left.

 A quick look to the left as we go by the church. I guess they will have to extend their driveway since the road is now farther away.

Just over the hill and now we can see the end of the construction zone...and the day I was taking this photo was 1 day BP (Before Pavement) right about here the guy kicking up dust came up from all the new road we just walked. Not sure how he got his SUV and trailer thru the tractor that was blockinthe road, but he did it!

Day 1 AP (After Pavement)

The latest word I've seen is that the road will open again in October, so that will certainly make life a lot easier for those of us that have been taking the detour for several months.  At least the guy that cut thru the construction zone put the "ROAD CLOSED" barriers back in place after he went through!

One last look back, and yes Virginia, there is new pavement down there!


Monday, August 25, 2014

It's Autocross Week!

It's Monday and that means there's only a few more days until NMS hits the pavement at Darlington for more SCR-SCCA autocross on Saturday!  Over the weekend I put some time in with a few other club members to run through the registration and timing/scoring software and system so there will be even more of us ready to support the events and keep things running smoothly. I plan to continue on stepping up and taking a more active role in the club to help run these great events, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

This weekend, with the #86 Miata still for sale (and sadly back to looking naked without it's stripes and numbers) I'll be co-driving another Miata in E Street to continue the 2014 points campaign so look for the blue #189 car out there!  The Abarth will continue to run without any modifications from the last event and look to score more points in the G Street class. You can see the current standing on our cleverly named "standings" page listed above. (Hint: we're both somewhere in between 2nd and 4th place)

Yesterday was the F1 race in Belgum, the first race after a few weeks of their summer break and it was a great way to get back into thinking about driving fast after having EVs on the brain last weekend.  Unlike some F1 teams, the NMS drivers will continue to not crash into each other this weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Report on Columbia Cars & Coffee, August 2014: HOT!

 At today's monthly informal Cars and Coffee in Columbia, it was hot! Like the lead character in Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues" would say, "hot...Africa hot".  As James Brown would say, "HOT-TUH!"

Here's a few highlights, but first, from last weekends electric vehicle day, on the left is the front end of the BMW i3.  Sorta familiar grille openings, but, well, a bit funky. I also saw the James Brown movie this week, so his music is still playing at my house!
 On the right, a very nice Ferrari 360 with manual shifters and a small removable roof section.  I think most of these models didn't have these two features, so it was cool to see this particular car with these options. The owner was very friendly, so I enjoyed sharing some Ferrari talk with him.

Another Ferrari wheel, they just look great to me!

You can click on any of the photos on this page and get a much better view!

Here's the NMS FIAT Abarth up front, and a nice old VW bus behind it.  I think more people looked at the VW than the Italian too.
 Always nice to see a Lotus like this recent model. It's a bit out of focus, but I wanted to include the shot as a reminder that the engine is in the back here.

Here's the front end of the Lotus, you can probably see the one windshield wiper, and the tow hook in the center of the front grille.

Kyle DeGennaro and Brian Nixon discuss the new look of the NMS Mazdaspeed Miata, now without it's racing graphics on the side, hard top installed, and ready for sale.  You can request more info from us, or check the Columbia SC Craigslist ads if you want to take this 2004 Miata home with you!

Here is another Miata, this one belongs to our friend Kyle DeGennaro, and you'll find him at South Carolina Region autocross events also.  I like the contrasting colors of the hard top and the body.

Who doesn't love a Mini Cooper?

As mentioned, it was hot today, so this was enough C&C for me, and I headed home to catch the Formula 1 qualifying from Belgium.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Electric Vehicle Test Drive Reviews

On Saturday the 16th of August we visited the town of Blythewood's Electric Vehicle (EV) Day, and got to test drive the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and the Chevy Volt.  Just so you know, all three of these cars had a nice driving feel, may be eligible for up to $7,500 in a  federal EV income tax credit,  and can be bought or leased.

 Also available today was the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but since we didn't drive it we won't say much about it, other than letting these photos speak for themselves. If a picture is worth a thousand words, just think of the time we're saving you by NOT reading about this creature! Here's their website: i-MiEV   which states that this car's list price starts at $22,995.

On the right photo I was trying to show the skinny front tire. To state that you can see the tiny amount of space under the hood goes without saying!

Here's a peek inside the Mitsubishi. From looking at their website ("America's Most Affordable Electric Vehicle") I think they want us to spell it with small letter "i" and capitals for the rest, so "i-MiEV" which must stand for "i-Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle". Do I need to ask if they have a gasoline model named the g-MiGV?
Sounds like a Russian fighter jet!

The first car I drove and rode in was the all electric Nissan Leaf. They started advertising the Leaf well before it was on sale, and you might remember the TV ads during the Tour de France with Lance Armstrong talking about it.

After test driving it, I'd seriously consider buying the Leaf if my commute was not too long, and wanted to save money on gas. It drove easily, and other than mileage range I have no complaints.  Without going into detail on the costs, I think that's the main point of whether or not you might want to buy an EV.  The Leaf, like all the EVs has all of it's torque available when starting to move, so unlike a gas powered car this gives it a fun-to-drive get-up-and GO experience  every time. From the short bit I've driven hybrids like the Toyota Prius and the Ford C-Max, the EVs score big points in this area for driving fun.  Here's the Leaf website: Nissan Leaf  which tells us that  the Leaf starts at $28,980.

Here's the view from the back seat of the Leaf, and you can see that it's plenty tall inside, and it felt just fine back here.

My favorite car of the day, (but just barely over the Nissan), was the BMW i3.  I assume it's built in Germany, but no matter where it is built, it is now available in the US. Our demo guy pointed out that a lot of the interior (dash, seats) was made from recycled material, so along with not using gas, that's a plus for BMW. At their big factory in Greer SC, BMW makes their SUVs (X3, X4, X5, X6), and also use a lot of energy conservation such as generating power from land-fill methane emissions, and other environmentally friendly ways of generating power in the manufacturing of thousands of vehicles. You can read more about their factory in the US at this link: BMW US FACTORY 

For more info on the i3 go to this link:  BMW i3  and notice that the i3 lists starting at $41,350.

The front doors open normally, but there is also a smaller door in the rear to make access to the back seats easier. This 2nd door is hinged in back, like the recent Mazda RX-8 or an old "suicide door" Lincoln from the 60s.
 On the right you can see the wheel covers on the BMW, designed to reduce drag and improve mileage.  I think this car had the Bridgestone Ecopia tires built for less rolling resistance, again for better mileage also. They are pretty narrow tires, so you may not want to be doing serious auto crossing and drag racing on these tires! Brian might have pushed it a little going around a right hand corner on the test drive, so while the engine noise isn't there, the tire squealing noise works just fine!

BMW  also has an awesome and really expensive all wheel drive hybrid, the i8 for only $135,700.  While normal people can't afford the i8, the i3 is downright cheap compared to that!If you're familiar with the BMW model numbering system, you've probably just realized that so far there isn't an electric or hybrid i1, i2, i4, i5, i6, i7, and i9.  Don't worry, I'm sure the Bavarians will get around to building all those eventually.
 Here you can see the dash, and that the shifter is up on the column.  Maybe you can tell that the top of the dash is recycled material, and the seats are made from recycled plastic too. They felt fine to me, and you can get leather seats as an option.
Brian is driving on the interstate here, and this car was, well, just like driving a car! Just a little road noise, maybe a bit more than the Leaf, but that road noise doesn't include the car's electric engine! The torque to accelerate onto the highway felt good from over here in the passenger seat too.  One other detail in this photo, you can see a "grab-handle" up above the driver's position. Hmmm. Over on the passenger side that makes sense, but I wonder how many drivers will be going so fast that they scare themselves and have to grab onto that handle?

To be honest, the reason you see handles like this on both sides of some cars has to be that the car can be built with either right or left hand drive.  At least let's hope that's the reason!

The other car I drove was the Chevy Volt, and it has been selling for a few years now, so it really felt like a normal car, drove smoothly, and offered plenty of torque. The Chevy seemed a bit larger than the other cars, and we learned that it has several modes for driving that will vary the amount of mileage you get by managing the engine and climate control systems. Unlike the all-electric other cars, the Volt also includes a small gas engine that will kick in to recharge the electric motor, and that extends the range of the Volt to much farther than the other cars. Bottom line, if you like the idea of a electric vehicle but want a car that can also be used for long distance trips and not just short trips, the Volt would be a great option.

In summary, after just a little experience driving three EVs today, I liked them more than I thought I would, and I'm sure the manufacturers have hit the nail on the head in making these electric cars drive just like what we're used to with our gas and diesel cars. We've only scratched the surface on these cars as far as all their features, so I hope you'll take the time to learn a bit more about all the other features they have (rear view cameras, bluetooth, low maintenance with no oil changes!, etc).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The NMS #86 Mazdaspeed MX-5 Could Be Yours!

After just over a full year of autocross, I've finally decided the Mazdaspeed Miata is not the right car for me if I want to continue to grow as a driver and be competitive.  It's an excellent car and I have absolutely loved having it for almost 3 years now, but there are a few things holding it back with the specific classes in the SCCA for autocross.  There are a number of classes I can compete in with various modifications, but at this time in my life I do not want to dedicate that amount of time and money.  It has potential to be an absolute killer car between it's looks (I still believe this is THE BEST looking Miata ever made), and the power potential.

I'm also very interested in getting out on a real track and trying out performance driving at a little higher speed, but I'm just not prepared to take the shiny red car out there where something might make it less shiny. Finding a cheaper, older Miata so I can afford to add the rollbar, harnesses and racing seats for all that added safety is looking like a good possibility.  I'm looking into some other options for the 2015 season as well.

I will be co-driving a friend's 2001 non-turbo Miata at the upcoming Darlington SCR autocross on the 30th and hopefully getting at least one fun run in with another friend's Scion FR-S.  There's a lot of car options out there and I'm hoping to make the most of the remaining autocrosses this season to figure out which one will be best for me.

Until I do find my next ride, I'm in search of a new home for the turbo Miata.  Hopefully someone else will fall in love with this car too and I'll be able to focus on preparing another car for next season, but in the end it is a terrific ride, so if all else fails it may be back in the NMS stables for 2015.  Take a look at the ad and feel free to get in touch with any questions:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Current Thoughts on Electric Vehicle Day in Blythewood!

OK, did you see what I did there?  "Current" thoughts on "Electric" vehicle day?  I pride myself on having almost a 5th grade level sense of humor, so I hope you got a CHARGE out of that one!  Some might even say it was SHOCKING!

The owners of this blog would like to apologize for the previous paragraph. The writer of that paragraph has been CHARGED with....

The real owners of this blog would like to apologize for the previous apology.  It will not happen again.

Or maybe it will.

This Saturday will be Electric Vehicle Day in my hometown of Blythewood SC, so you can visit this website for a bit of info: blythewood-electric-vehicle-demo-day.  At the website you can also get a free ticket to the event, although I'm sure you can show up and check out the cars without one too.  The city wants you to know that they have installed five car chargers at three locations in town (two hotels and one gas station), and from 10AM-2PM you can come out and see the facilities, as well as test drive some electric cars!  Just head for the Exxon, the Holiday Inn Express, or the Comfort Inn on exit 27 of I-77 in Blythewood, north of Columbia. These charging stations will be open 24/7, and they are free!  Maybe I can take my guitar amp over there too and use their electricity!

Scheduled to appear are the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.  We are hoping to test drive as many of these EVs as possible, and give you a quick review of our findings in a future post. As auto makers continue to improve their electric vehicles, the range and performance of the cars seems to be increasing, which will increase the market for real people that might find them practical, and maybe even make them more affordable as the technology matures.

I've test driven a hybrid car before, and at least for those few minutes was totally underwhelmed by the lack of power, but of course power is not the main point of a hybrid or electric car. Brian is likely to some day post something about his experience with a hydrogen powered car, so I'll leave that topic to him.  One thing that should be interesting with the electric cars is that they should have all their torque available from the get-go, unlike most gas powered cars, so that should be fun to experience a bit of acceleration on Saturday.

Stay tuned for another ELECTRIFYING  report soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

7,000 Page Views = Get a Free T-Shirt!

      Brian Nixon in the 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata ready to drive some laps at....????

Time to reward all  our loyal NMS readers and give away a freebie!

To win a t-shirt, be one of the the first two people to respond in the comment block to this page and correctly identify where the above photo was taken.... will receive a really cool and awesome and free t-shirt that we picked up at some car show....somewhere...sometime this year.

HINT: The name of the track MIGHT be hiding in the photo.

HINT #2: "CHARLOTTE'S" Web is a children's book.

Hopefully you wear a medium size shirt, because that's what we're giving away!

Family members of NMS are not eligible to win, but any comments from family members just might keep you on the Christmas card list this year.

We will ask the winner to separately send us their mailing address, and promise that we won't use it to flood you with junk catalogs, job applications, credit card offers, or any other spam and unwanted stuff, just one freebie t-shirt.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

September 11th: Give Blood!

It's been very sad today to read about an on track fatality last night in New York, so NMS would like to add our condolences to family and friends of the driver killed during a dirt track race last night.  We all need to keep safe at all times, on the road and on the track, or anywhere near vehicles.

Coming up September 11th will be the annual Red Cross blood drive held at Darlington Raceway.  Donating blood is one way to remember 9-11 as a memorable day in our nation's history, and also is a great way to help other people too. Here on the NMS blog, we try to talk about the present and the future so I won't talk about where I was on 9-11, other than to say that like just about everyone else in our country, I'll never forget.

On a happier note, for those that donate on September 11th, you can then take YOUR car and drive a few laps on the track behind a pace car. NMS did this last year with the mighty FIAT and had a lot of fun doing it, even if NASCAR doesn't seem to have any Italian cars in their races.

As a safety note, the nice folks at Darlington Raceway and the Red Cross will make sure that everyone that gives blood is feeling fine and is able to safely drive on the track.  If you give blood and feel a little unsteady, they'll have plenty of liquids and goodies available too.  The Red Cross will be taking donations from 8am-8pm at the track, and you can find out more about it at their website too: Red Cross Blood Drives Darlington LINK

For more information on this great event from the Raceway, please visit the Darlington Raceway website: Darlington Raceway Website

Here's a nice shot as the sun was going down that Brian took on the track while we drove after last year's blood drive.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

After 50 Years, Can't We Make "Dead Man's Curve" Safer?

The old rock song "Dead Man's Curve" by Jan and Dean tells the story of the dangerous part of the road outside of town that has claimed many victims in car crashes. This song came out in 1964, and while I don't know how many times I've listened to it, well, let's just say that 50 years of this dangerous road is ENOUGH!  

Unless it's the only road to get to a great BBQ joint, it sounds like a place to avoid if you ask me!  Looking deeper into it, a little research of 20 years of accident reports down at the highway patrol office now reveals that the number one reason of crashes at Dead Man's Curve is unsafe speed. Going too fast around the curve results in loss of steering control, exceeding the cars lateral grip limits, cars going off the road, and way too many accidents.

Can Dead Man's Curve be made safer? Here's a quick review of what has been done in the past.  The SLOW CURVE AHEAD sign with the big arrows and blinking lights that the county put up a few years ago hasn't helped any. The annual list of most dangerous roads in America still has Dead Man's Curve at #1, so that kind of repeated publicity isn't slowing anyone down. Even that summer when trooper Jones camped out down there every Friday and Saturday night didn't lower the accident count.

So much for the made up world of the song, let's talk about the real world now.  Just maybe, the basic design of the road is the problem. The narrow two lane road that goes near my house is one example of a dangerous curve, and this summer the county is making some improvements to make it safer. I thought it would be interesting to try and figure out what they are doing, understand why it will be safer, and walk along the road to shoot some photos to see what is up.

Here is a road near me that we will analyze a little bit:

Starting on the right side and moving to the left, around the curve around the lake, then up toward the top is how we'll walk the road.  From the photo above it just looks like a big ol' curve, but once you see the elevation changes and how narrow it is, the danger is easy to see as you drive it.

So, again starting from right to left, it's a couple hundred yards downhill (green arrow, gaining speed), a right hand curve, and then uphill (red arrow), and a sharper right hander transition to downhill (green arrow again), then uphill straight ahead at the last red arrow pointing up.

Ready?  Let's walk the road and see what we can learn:

 1.  In the photo above, we're heading down hill on the narrow two lane.  By narrow, I mean that you can see that there is maybe a couple of inches of road outside the white line. Keeping your car on the pavement is usually easy when you've got a bit of shoulder if you need it, but there is really no margin for error here. The pavement is mostly in good shape, but on the right side the hazard is a lot of trees. Sure, they give us oxygen, but they tend to get in the way and don't interact well with moving cars when a car leaves the road. The road really hugs the tree line on the right all the way thru this stretch, and that also cuts down on the visibility. This is what makes this curve dangerous is that most of it is blind: you're driving into it with no idea of what is coming ahead. Imagine driving a bad stretch of road at night or in rain. That doesn't  help.  Let's go down by those orange barrels next.

2.  Now we're farther down the hill, and here you can see the fresh grading on the left, which is where the new road will go. This does a couple of good things, like getting us away from the trees on the right, and opens up the view ahead just a bit so that drivers can better anticipate what comes next. It will also make the upcoming curve a bit more gradual, and that should mean safer. Amble on down by the white water truck with me.
 3.  Still going down  hill, now over where the new road will be. Looking ahead, you can probably tell that the road will curve to the right, thanks to the opening in the trees, the newly relocated power lines, and the curve of the road.  Now just imagine your line of sight if you were under those trees on the right, on the other side of the white truck, where the road used to be.  You would see even less ahead of you, so this wider curve looks like a great improvement for safety!  Next stop, a bit closer to the piece of cement culvert up on the right.

4.  Past the truck, now we can see more of the curve, and that we will be going uphill soon. All the downhill up to now would be great if you were a race car driver, since this adds to the speed, but for everyday driving, it probably adds another hazard to an unaware driver. At the bottom of the hill, the road goes over a creek that drains a pond on the right. The end result of that is that the road will remain pretty narrow down here at the low spot, since I don't see any signs of a new big fat wide bridge being built.  Even making the road safer is still limited by the hills and water in the area. Onwards to the bit of orange fencing up there.

5.  Now we're at the bottom of the hill and looking up. The road is a bit straight here, so that's safer than the curve we just came thru, but now we're realizing that after this uphill bit that the road will curve to the right. Again, with all those trees on the right our vision is limited. The drivers in NASCAR don't have to worry much about the road ahead, since they're driving the same route hundreds of times in a race, but for the rest of us we get one chance to go down this road safely or we (cue the music) "...won't come back from Dead Man's Curve". 

 6.  This view above is very similar to #5, but now that we're approaching the crest of the hill, our vision is further cut down and we can't see over the hill at all.  Unless you noticed before now, there is a church on the left at the top of the hill that adds to possible traffic ahead. This part of the road always made me slow down, since there just might be some other driver coming at me from the other direction, and he can't see me either. The narrow road means that if the other guy is even over the center line a bit, my day is about to get really bad. The good news now is that the right side of the road has also been opened up, lots of trees taken out, and the ground there has been smoothed out, so I can see a lot more in front of me here. Let's get up to the highest point next.

 7.  Now we're at the highest part of the hill, closing on the church entrance on the left, and those earth movers over on the right have really leveled things out. I'm not sure yet if the road will be in a new location over there, or where I'm standing as it has been. This was the sharpest part of the curve before, so hopefully they make it a more gradual bend, which should make it much safer. Previously the section on the right was also higher and filled with trees, so again, much worse for seeing what's up ahead. Take a few more steps with me to the church entrance on the left past that tractor. Final stop ahead, down to the next low spot ahead.

 8.  Right at the church entrance now, and of course this makes life even more interesting driving on this blind curve with the added risk of slow moving cars entering or exiting the road. On top of the blind curve, bad visibility, slow traffic, and oncoming traffic, the one last hazard in the worst part of the curve has been on the inside lane- the pavement had a series of potholes.  Sure, one pothole in the middle of a 10 mph parking lot is something you can avoid, and one pothole in the middle of the interstate can also be missed because you have other lanes to use, but ONE pothole right where your tire HAS TO BE on this blind-curvy-hazardous spot is really bad! I've hit the pothole a few times and can always feel the car losing grip and sliding a bit sideways (and into the oncoming lane). All new pavement will take care of that problem!  Oh, one more hazard:  the uphill to the apex of the corner then dips downhill as you are in the middle of the curve, which tends to throw off the balance of your car and affect the suspension and all that cool gravity/physics stuff that comes into play with operating a car safely.

9.  So we've made it around the corner, and are now ready to head uphill, so other than pointing out that the entrance to my neighborhood is up there on the left (which adds more traffic into the Dead Man's Curve section), herein ends the tour of the construction that will make just one little part of the world a little bit safer!  I don't know how much this construction costs, but after seeing several cars off the road in this particular curve over the last five years, I'd say it's tax money well spent!