Monday, September 29, 2014

Adios South Carolina!

I've really enjoyed getting into autocrossing here in SC with the South Carolina Region of the Sports Car Club of America, and last Saturday was another fun event.  As I was leaving Saturday afternoon I stopped for the photo opportunity above as a reminder.

Later this week my job is moving me to Virginia, so the FIAT and I will be looking for more autocross adventures in another region in the near future.  Thanks to all the friends I've met at events at Michelin, Darlington, ZMax, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and around the state of SC.  I hope to get back for another event or two in the future!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Last Days With the 666 Miata

After just less than 3 years of service with NMS, the Mazdaspeed Miata is finally in the hands of it's new owner and future autocross enthusiast.  Selling the car has been a little sad, but I know it's gone to a good new home.  I'll move back to the trusty Ranger for the time being and do some more co-drives to finish up the SCR-SCCA season.  As much as I hated giving up the car, I'm even more excited to search for the next one.
A shot of the Miata just before I drove it up to Charlotte to deliver it to it's new owner.

Coming up this weekend I'll be trying out a 2006 Miata (third generation as opposed to the 04 second generation Mazdaspeed) as #126 to fight it out in C Street while the #77 Abarth returns to claim more G Street points for NMS.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Kind of Car Can Autocross?

Just about any kind of car can autocross!  Here's just one short sample of who has signed up (so far) for the South Carolina Region of SCCA's next event this coming Saturday. With so many classes, you'll see cars like the very popular Miata, Honda S2000, Saturn Sky, Mini Coopers, Corvettes, Nissan 300ZX, Subarus, Scion FRS, Mustangs, GTOs, and more. 

To register YOUR car, head to this website:  Motorsports Registration

As of right now this is who has entered, and you can find this on line, or track it during the coming days as more people register at this website: Entry List Link

Monday morning update: now 35 registered!
Monday afternoon update: now 41 registered!


2014 Tire Town SCR Autocross Championship #7

SCCA - South Carolina Region - Solo

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Michelin Proving Grounds, Mountville, SC
Solo   29 ENTRIES
Street Tire Class   1 ENTRIES

1Parker, Ryan[XP] X Prepared2003Honda S2000
Novice   4 ENTRIES

31Cogburn, Nancy[ASP] A Street Prepared2008Saturn Sky Redline
42Hodges, Andrew[ES] E Street2005Mazda Mazdaspeed MX-5
88Williams, Paul[GS] G Street2005Mini Cooper S
188Williams, Harlan[GS] G Street2005Mini Cooper S
Pro Class   2 ENTRIES

1Simrell, Andrew[SS] Super Street2014Chevrolet Corvette Z51

91Pyanowski, Chuck[SSM] Super Street Modified1987Nissan 300ZX

[BS] B Street   1 ENTRIES

96Sheets, Matt2007Subaru WRX Sti
[CS] C Street   3 ENTRIES

40Carter, Zane2006Nissan BattleTank

90Puryear, Justin2014Scion Frs
162Duckworth, Steven2013Scion FRS

[ES] E Street   3 ENTRIES

86Nixon, Brian2004Mazda Mazdaspeed MX-5

89Ray-Smith, Kyle2001Mazda Miata

188O'Hara, Luke2001Mazda Miata
[FS] F Street   2 ENTRIES

7Kesler, Bob2006Pontiac GTO
13Black, Derrike2007Ford Mustang GT

[GS] G Street   2 ENTRIES

17Arnold, Michael2014Ford Focus ST
77Nixon, Robert2013Fiat 500 Abarth

[HS] H Street   1 ENTRIES

12Mezzapelle, Kelly2007Scion tC
[STS] Street Touring Sport   2 ENTRIES

39FitzMaurice, Kevin1990Mazda Miata

55Jones, Walter1991Honda CRX

[STR] Street Touring Roadster   3 ENTRIES

016McCann, Brian2006Mazda Miata
42Parker, Chad2006Mazda Miata
094Duckworth, Cyndi2008Honda S2000 TM

[SM] Street Modified   1 ENTRIES

77Rucker, Jason1989Toyota supra
[ASP] A Street Prepared   1 ENTRIES

13Cogburn, Randy2008Saturn Sky Redline
[BSP] B Street Prepared   2 ENTRIES

13Fatcheric, John1986Chevrolet Corvette
35Carroll, Matt2006Nissan 350Z
[ESP] E Street Prepared   1 ENTRIES

14Mahon, Kristopher2008Infiniti G37S

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

The friendly folks at Grassroots Motorsports magazine have included a few tips in their November issue for upgrades to the FIAT 500 Abarth. If you can follow the big red arrow in my photo and read the tiny print, it really does say FIAT ABARTH on the cover. Inside the magazine, look for the article titled "Zesty Italian"!

Inside the magazine they talked to a few folks that know a few things about the Abarth, like the Europcompulsion tuners (read more at their website: Eurocompulsion)  and John Montgomery of South Carolina. John works at Benson Fiat and Alfa Romeo up near Greenville, and in his spare time is the president of FIAT Club America.

There are plenty of other articles and lots of photos in GRM every issue, so we can highly recommend this magazine to be on your reading list!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dead Man's Curve Volume 3: Pavement!

While we're signed up and ready for the next South Carolina Region SCCA autocross on September 27th, and waiting for this coming Sunday's Formula 1 race from Singapore, let's take another look at the road work closer to home.
On a cool misty morning I managed to go down the still closed section of Rimer Pond Road and see how the road improvements are coming along. Big news this time, we now have pavement all the way through the construction zone! The road is still closed, and will likely get some more grading, another layer of pavement, and just maybe some stripes, but this is a big step forward! You can click on the photos to get a better view!
Starting on the east end, there you have it, nice new dark smooth pavement!

Straight section, a gradual cure downhill, nice view with the trees and no lines on the road. This will be a great improvement in safety with better visibility than the old road! 

Here's my favorite part, soon to be a gradual curve to the right that goes down,  then up, then down again up around the bend! 

Even the small and wicked FIAT Abarth couldn't fit through this gap, so the road is definitely closed!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

National Drive Electric Week 15-21 September!

A few weeks ago we attended the Blythewood Electric Vehicle Demo Day and wrote about test driving electric cars such as our favorite electric, the new BMW i3, shown here with Brian Nixon behind the wheel:

We're going to try and follow that up with some more electric car news at the Columbia SC National Drive Electric Week Event on Saturday, September 20, 2014. This event will take place at the Lincoln Street Garage, 820 Washington Street, Columbia, SC 29201 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

As part of the 4th annual National Drive Electric Week, this will be one of many events in over 100 cities coast to coast this week. Over 200,000 new plug-in vehicles have been sold in the United States to date, and several new models are coming soon. Just today I read that Tesla will be installing a few hundred recharging stations in China, so the electric vehicle bandwagon seems to keep gathering steam. Well, not steam, or gas so let's say momentum!

Here in Columbia the event will consist of:  event t-shirts, electric vehicle test rides, event giveaways and electric vehicle informational packets. That all sounds like my favorite flavor: FREE! 

Cars  such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt,  Mitsubishi iMiEV,  Ford Fusion Energi, 
and other models will be on display and available for test driving. we've driven all of those but the Ford, so look for a report on the Fusion Energi from NMS. 

For more info on this event in Columbia, the website link is: or you can email the point of contact at this email address...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Formula E: First Race!

Have you heard of Formula E racing?  If not, check out their website at this link:  Forumla E

While most auto racing is focused on huge horsepower, high speed, and thrilling performance created by burning a lot of gasoline, Formula E will be state of the art high performance electric cars. These cars will not be electric cars that are already available, but full on race cars with bodies built by Dallara, the makers of Indy and other race cars. Some of the other heavy hitters and big names in auto racing are also supplying parts and expertise to this series, such as F1 companies Williams Advanced Engineering providing the batteries, and electric power trains coming from McLaren. Tires will be provided by Michelin, so with standardized chassis and other components you can see why it's a "Formula" type of race, meaning all cars have to meet the same specifications. Throw in technical partner Renault and there are some serious players behind this new series!

Formula E plans on holding ten races in cities such as Miami, Long Beach, London, Berlin, and the opening race this weekend in Beijing China. Each race day will have two practice sessions, qualifying, and then the race. With the time difference from here to China (without drilling through the center of the Earth), you can tune in on Fox Sports1 at 3:30AM this Saturday for live coverage, or sleep in and watch the rebroadcast on Sunday from 1-2PM. If nothing else, remember our favorite website for tracking motor sports on tv:

Several of the twenty drivers are experienced in Formula 1, Indy Car, and other top level racing, such as Bruno Senna, Nick Heidfeld, and Jarno Trulli. With two drivers in each of ten teams, it should make for an interesting season.  According to the website, there will be a race about once a month from now into next summer. The Long Beach race will be in California on April 4th 2015 with free admission, so it looks like they are working hard to bring this new electric racing to fans.

To be honest I've just learned way more about Formula E by spending some time on their website for a few minutes than I'd heard anywhere else, so now it's starting to sound interesting. Why not check it out?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday in America

Apparently something called "football" has started again, so I imagine that's what most folks are doing in the US today. My college team got beat yesterday, so that's just about all I want to say about that!

Here at NMS in South Carolina, we got the day off to an early start because it was Formula 1 race day, live from Monza Italy on the NBC Sports Channel. They've been doing a good job of bringing us coverage of all the F1 races this year, and with the time difference, the TV coverage came on live at 7:30am, with the race at 8am. That is way better than some of the other races from around the globe that get carried live here at 2am!  For more info, click on the Official Formula 1 Link.  If you don't know what team to root for, why not pick my favorite team Ferrari!

Not a great day for the Ferrari team, with Fernando Alonso retiring with mechanical issues with his car, and Kimi Raikkonen finishing in 9th place on the day. Hope they do better in two weeks in Singapore.

This afternoon, it was on to oil changing time on the Toyota Camry!
OK, back from the store with a new oil filter and a couple extra bottle of 0W-20!

Just get the car up a bit so I can crawl underneath...

Drain out the old oil... 
Take out the old filter, and...
Well crap! Turns out I bought the right oil filter for a 2011 Camry HYBRID, but I don't have a hybrid and now have to go back to the store and exchange the filter! Several minutes later...
After draining the oil, this silver plug (round part with square slot for 3/8th wrench) comes out to get at the filter
NOW we have the right filter. 
The black filter holder still has the old filter in it, the silver part on the right is the special tool to take this thing off. 
This car takes an internal cartridge like this, not a normal good old easy to use kind!

Other than my mistake of buying the wrong filter, it's not a complicated process, as long as you have a 15mm socket for the oil drain plug. 

Do real mechanics do stuff like buy the wrong parts?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

TODAY: The New MIATA Unveiling: September 3rd 2014!

The most popular car in autocrossing has to be the Mazda Miata, now celebrating it's 25th anniversary. In honor of this accomplishment, the Mazda folks have a special world wide unveiling of the 2016 Miata scheduled for TODAY, September 3rd.  It won't be on TV, but you can catch it on their special YouTube website from anywhere in the world at the following link:

YouTube Miata Unveiling

Over the years the Miata has gone through several generations of updates, but remains a really great and fun car if you're looking for a convertible two seater.

Tune in on line tonight at 9PM Eastern, 6PM Pacific time to see the next generation of Miata.