Friday, May 29, 2015


Bottom Line Up Front: (doesn't that make it now the TOP line up front?) NMS has been doing a lot of various events lately, and we just wanted to throw down some photos that haven't made it into the blog yet to get caught up. We're not  math majors, so there may not be 50 of them, but here they are:

 Not all cones are orange!

Not all legs have tattoos!

Not all drivers wear shorts!

Not all events take place on sunny days!

If you know that in autocross the many classes have initials like ES, GS, STX, SMF that's good.

Then if you know that Novices in those classes add the letter "N" for NES, NGS, NSTX, etc.

You can figure that the Ladies classes add an "L" to their class for LES, LGS, LSTX, etc.

So this Navy Landing Craft Air Cushioned just might really be for a Ladies CAC category of autocross. I just write the jokes, I don't guarantee they are funny jokes. 

This person is responsible for writing the terrible jokes in the previous photo.

He has been sentenced to wearing a yellow safety vest and a yellow Abarth T-shirt and wearing a radio ear piece for the rest of his life on this deserted island with only 7 cones to keep him company, so we probably won't be hearing from him any time soon.

Before being sentenced to wearing a yellow safety vest and a yellow Abarth T-shirt and wearing a radio ear piece for the rest of his life on this deserted island with only 7 cones to keep him company, he is alleged to have been seen driving this Italian-designed Mexican-built with a US-built-motor.

Key word "allegedly driving" since he was too slow for the radar gun to get a reading.

A yellow Lotus Esprit- spotted outside a recent autocross.

I believe this is the same model that Roger Moore as 007 drove underwater in one of the James Bond movies.

This one seems to not have the optional underwater package, but you might want to check your local Lotus dealer to see what the newer model has!  The new Lotus will retail starting at $89,900.

The Ford EcoBoost Challenge came to Raleigh NC recently, and NMS was there to test their reaction time in the Focus ST.

In two runs against the Christmas tree lights like a drag race, we found that the Focus is fun to drive, but that our reaction time was better measured with a sun dial or maybe a weekly calendar.
Somewhere between Raleigh NC and Carolina Motorsports Park near Kershaw SC, is THE ROCK, also known as Rockingham Speedway.
Just for the chance to say we'd been there, here's a photo of the sign outside the grandstands and track that are still there.

Across the street is a still working drag strip, which was hosting some big event of some kind. Either that day or later this summer they were having a concert with your favorite singer Pink, but we didn't get any free tickets so we headed on down the road.


Brian is just about ready to head back out on track during day 1 of the two day High Performance Driver Education weekend with NASA.

After a few modifications (by few I mean "he's had about 13 different blog posts about all the different mods so far"), things went well over the weekend for the 99 Miata.

Spotted this FIAT 500 Abarth all race prepped for the track at CMP too. You can tell it's ready for action because it's got plenty of cool graphics, and a cool bit of flames on the left end of the red stripe.

With a roll cage and racing seats inside, it looked like fun and sounded great out on the track too!

During the two days Brian drove in 7 different sessions on track, and as you might imagine the only way to get the drivers off track is to wave a checkered flag at them.

Unfortunately, the flag man didn't have the flag visible in this photo at the end of one session, otherwise you can just Photo Shop a big ol' checkered flag in his hands, and while you're at it, put in the Japanese F1 track at Suzuka while you're at it...thanks!

 Gas cans are red,

Some cones are Green,

The white timing system,

Is most accurate I've seen!

(didn't think you'd get a rhyming poem did you!)

Foggy day with FIAT and two lighthouses.

There's a joke here somehow if you remember the FIAT commercial that showed the cars jumping into the ocean in Italy and swimming to the US.

I didn't say it was a funny joke. 

If you're near the Washington DC area, up to a few hundred miles, I recommend you visit Mission BBQ for some of their great food! Not only do they decorate their restaurants with police, firefighter, and military stuff, the one in VA Beach has this awesome tool-box-condiment holder!

 Reminder; June 24th should be the big announcement from Alfa Romeo on what their next car sold in the US will be. In the meantime here's an older Alfa engine, complete with Italian "Olio" oil fill cap.

Another joke tells how the clueless motorist was instructed to remove the "Olio" cap in Italy, but all they could find was the one marked with the numbers 0170.  If you don't get the joke, just look at OLIO upside down. 

Enzo Ferrari
Prancing  Horse
All cars are red
Is the horse Mr. Ed?

Hey, that's two terrible poems today!

I promise no more. 

Good Year was one of the sponsors of the Ford EcoBoost Challenge. 

We close this time with a shot of Brian in the #86 Miata on track at Carolina Motorsports Park a few weeks ago. If you check out the details from way over here off the track, you can tell that the track has a lot of safety features such as the sandy run-off area to slow any out of control cars, plenty of tire walls around solid objects, and even the markers sticking up on the inside of turn one here that Brian is entering.

Keep safe!  Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Odds and Ends and Tire Safety Week!

We hope you survived the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500, and Coca-Cola 600 from last Sunday! NMS has basically been sleeping and resting since then to recover from all the on track action, (and going to work) so with no earth shattering events going on let's get caught up on some odds and ends.

First off, congratulations to NMS driver Brian Nixon for being named chairman of the autocross competitions in the South Carolina Region of the Sports Car Club of America! He has gone way out of his way to donate his time and energy to helping their autocross events run smoothly, and like all the other volunteers that work hard to put on driving events, he does it because it's fun. Way to go Brian.

Also, IT'S NATIONAL TIRE SAFETY WEEK! I had never heard of this before receiving the following email from Cooper Tire, so I'll take their word for it, and add that of course I totally support driver safety for everyone.

     "As the road trip season begins, Cooper Tire recommends checking your tires
      before you head off on your next adventure. Be sure to check your tire's
      pressure and tread and inspect your tires for cracks, punctures and bulges. It only
      takes a few minutes and will give you peace of mind.  After all, your tires are
      the only thing between your vehicle and the road, so make sure you check
      them and know before you go!  For more information, visit COOPER TIRE and click on safety."

How do you know what the recommended tire pressure is for your car? It's easy, there should be a label or data plate somewhere on the driver's door or the car around the driver's door. While some cars have the same recommended tire pressure on all four tires, some cars (like the FIAT Abarth) have different pressures from front to rear.

Do you like to take surveys and tell people exactly what you think? Do you follow Formula 1 racing and have some opinions on how to make it better? Well if you answered YES and YES, then do we have a deal for you! For exactly NO CHARGE, visit this link below and take the F1 Grand Prix Driver's Association 2015 survey!  GPDA SURVEY LINK

A few tips on the survey, it IS fairly long, but covers a lot of your opinions, so hopefully that means it will be a great way for fans to voice their opinions on a lot of F1 racing topics. I give the drivers a lot of credit for reaching out to fans and asking what they think, so what do you have to lose other than a few minutes of clicking on the computer?

Looking ahead to the future, Nixon Motor Sports (yes, both of us) will ALL (2) be driving in Virginia Beach at the same event for the first time this year on Father's Day June 21 in the next Tidewater Sports Car Club autocross event. We'll report on that later, so stay tuned to see if the Miata VS FIAT showdown 2015 results in faster times for the Japanese or the Italian car in the latest battle of "LOSING COUNTRIES OF WWII AUTOCROSS BATTLE 2015"!!!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

NMS Upgrades Summer Performance!

Sun Screen Canopy!!!
While the NMS team is getting into the HOT time of year, all the way from Virginia Beach Virginia to "Famously Hot" Columbia South Carolina, today Nixon Motor Sports announced the acquisition of a new shade-rendering-light-weight portable-device that will be used in upcoming autocross events. The average auto-cross or track day can have us outdoors from say 7AM to 5PM in the hot summer sun, and in addition to drinking plenty of water and using sunscreen, it's mighty nice to have just a little bit of shade once in a while too!

Canopy framework or world's strangest fence?

Above ground kiddie pool or terrible trampoline?
Remember that most autocross events are held in large parking lots. Large parking lots with no shade. No shade but with lots of sun and heat reflecting off of the concrete or pavement. Concrete and pavement that gets warm! And by "warm" I mean "really darn hot"! Maybe not "120 degrees for 6 months like when I was in Iraq hot", but they didn't exactly have any autocross events going on there so I came home!

So, the canopy makes for a nice place, mostly for the driver to sit out of the shade for the short amount of time that we aren't busy prepping the car, shooting photos, working the course, driving the car, or otherwise engaged.

And on the rare rainy day, it just might provide a bit of what scientists call "dry".

At NMS South the blue canopy has served us well at many events, and Brian likes to stabilize it with a sandbag at each corner. That might sound like overkill, but at one event this year I saw a non-stabilized canopy like this get blown up against a very nice blue Subaru that instantly was modified into a "very nice blue Subaru with a foot long scrape in the paint where the canopy leg gouged it thanks to the wind".  On a related note, the national news tonight showed a story from Florida where a surprise gust of wind blew a bouncy house (with some kids inside of it) up into the air! The kids were mostly OK but had a heck of a scare and maybe a few broken bones. You can't mess around with the wind when you're outdoors.

NMS will utilize the latest in canopy technology with it's latest summer upgrade, say hello to the 5 pound canopy weight! One set of four weights should anchor the canopy in anything up to Hurricane force winds, a category 4 tornado, and against the fire breath of Godzilla should be invade the east coast during an autocross.

The FIAT might blow away, but the canopy will survive!!

Enjoy your summer and beat the heat, be safe, and get out there driving!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Scenes From Brian's Track Day

Brian outside the #86 Miata off the track!
Last week Brian posted about his two days of driving at Carolina Motorsports Park, and our team photographer was also on hand to walk the grounds, check out the other cars, and watch some of the on track action while taking these photos too. If you think autocross drivers are really into their rides and have a lot of gear, well, you need to check out some track events near you and see some of the rigs and cool track cars! You can still get on track with your daily driver that gets you to and from the track, but there is just a whole 'nother world out there of track car fanatics with the trailers, RVs, extra tires, and tools to prove it!  Enjoy the tour!

I believe this is a Legends car 

Spotted this new Mustang with the Stig license plate somewhere in North Carolina!

Nissan B210

Formula car and trailer, and a couple of RVs

Camping on the trailer and enclosed trailer

FIAT Abarth ready for the track

How to cool the engine, BIG FAN VERSION!

Brian at the finish line of one driving session

How to cool the engine, BAG O'ICE VERSION!

Are race tires sticky? Check out the rocks!

Carolina Motorsports Park May 16 2015

Yes, if I had a Viper I'd have a Viper trailer!

Ariel Atom. Basically two seats with an engine!

Ariel Atom

Hoosier makes great racing tires!

FIAT Abarth

Brian in the #86 Miata on  the track!

Sponsors: Hawk brakes, Toyo Tires, NASA racing

The #86 Miata doesn't sleep, it only rests, in the shade...


Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 24th Triple Header: Focus on Monaco

Brian at Carolina Motorsports Park
Coming up this Sunday May 24th is the annual Triple Header of motorsports with just about an all day marathon of auto racing starting with the Monaco F1 race, the Indy 500, and then the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte!
Monaco is the glamorous movie-star jet set rich yacht-owning type of F1 race, so it's a blast to tune in and see this one every year, but to be honest, the track is so narrow and has limited passing opportunities that the real race is in qualifying. The pole position car should win this race; here's some unique things to the week:

-- Remember that at Monaco only, the first day of practice 1 and 2 is on THURSDAY not Friday. The principality of Monaco being totally shut down for the race means that they move practice to Thursday and re-open the city streets on Friday from what I know. If nothing else, after I win the lottery I'll attend this race, and this schedule should give everyone an extra day to party on Friday with no racing!

-- The TV schedule in the US is also different, since Monaco is such a big deal that the race on Sunday will be on regular old NBC! The schedule that I could find is below, so don't get frustrated watching the pre-race show on NBCSN Sunday and then forgetting to change to NBC for the race!

-- Of course F1 isn't the only show in town this weekend, since with Memorial Day (and I hope you get a few days off and remember the real reason for Memorial Day) we also get the INDY 500 and the Coca Cola 600 from Charlotte on Sunday! My first assignment in the Army was at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis (now closed), so it was always fun to be out at the track during the month of May, and since I'm in the band we'd get to march around the track on race day, and sometimes play the National Anthem before the race. Anyway, you can pretty much spend all day Sunday watching about 1200 miles of racing in these 3 races!

-- Nico Rosberg of Mercedes has won the last 2 Monaco races, including last year when he either accidently or on purpose went off course at the end of qualifying and ruined Lewis Hamilton's shot at getting pole. Nico just won the last F1 race in Spain, so with the tight circuit, I'd have to guess that either he or Lewis will be on pole, and right now Rosberg is probably the favorite.

--For my money, just seeing one practice and one race on NBCSN cable TV isn't enough, so at least with the NBC Sports Live Extra App you can also see the other practice sessions, and get other camera views too, and this app is FREE, so I highly recommend it.

--Also for my money, it's worth buying the F1 app. Yes, F1 is a big money hungry machine, but to see the live timing of all the sessions, and get even more background videos and interviews and stories, the official F1 app is a good deal if you're a big fan.

Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix 2015
All times Eastern
NOTE: The actual race is on regular NBC

4:00AM Practice 1 NBC App/F1 App
8:00AM Practice 2 NBCSN TV
Saturday May 23
5:00AM Practice 3 NBC App/F1 App
Sunday May 24

Monday, May 18, 2015

Track Time!

Looking through the corner, I'm entering turn 8 at 60mph and accelerating with the gas pedal to the metal...and I know I should have been going faster!
Finally, after months of work and preparation, it was time to go out and drive the 99 Miata on the track.  Thursday evening was spent getting the new track-capable brake pads, fresh rotors, and high-temperature brake fluid in the car. Going fast is only fun if you can also STOP.  With all the maintenance out of the way it was time to join up with the NASA (National Auto Sport Association) folks out at Carolina Motorsports Park just down the road for some fun!

Carbotech XP10 brake pads purchased from Panic Motorsports.  This is the brake pad set up the pro Spec Miata drivers use on their cars so I know I've got the best brakes for the car.  They're redish colored so you know they stop FAST.
Friday the car was loaded up with camping gear, extra fluids, tools and food. Similar to an autocross, you have to check in with the folks at registration and then head over to the tech station to get the final OK that the car is ready to go on track.  As a novice on track, I'd be participating in the first level of 4 HPDE (High Performance Driving Education) groups, so I got the green HPDE 1 sticker slapped on the windshield.  The goal of the HPDE groups is to learn how to drive on a track and push your car to the limit in a safe way under controlled conditions.  The key is that these sessions are not RACING, but still driving as fast as you can.  Avoiding contact with other cars and keeping everyone safe is a top priority...hey, some of us need to drive our cars home at the end of the weekend!

Helmet and car, ready to go!

The NASA group runs mostly two day events, and generally each HPDE class gets four twenty minute sessions on track each day between races, qualifying sessions, and time trials groups.  With so much going on, each day kicks off just about as soon as the sun comes up with crews and drivers preparing their cars for the day.  Because there's so much going on, many people choose to camp out at the track.  This weekend I was hanging out and camping with good friend of NMS, Kyle, who has been instrumental in getting the car ready as well as a few other Miata drivers.

Blue car, check.  Red car, check.  Blue car with red stripe, double check.
 My Saturday started with classroom training, then meeting with the required in-car instructor, then going out for the first time on track.  Everyone started pretty slow to learn the best line to take through all the corners and worked on getting faster all weekend.  Things went pretty smooth for me all day, other than one low speed, on-track spin in the morning.  I now know not to down shift if the engine has dropped too many revs. Nothing worse than a spin at an autocross since the traffic behind me wasn't going very fast and was able to drive around.
View into turn 8 at CMP.  Coming in at over 80mph these 100 feet markers go by quick!
 Walking the track again Saturday night, I got to take a close look at everything at a slow speed now that I had a few sessions driving it.  Above is my favorite corner, turn 8.  This is at the end of a medium length straight at the far side of the track.  To the left you can see the "2" marker.  There are markers like these generally starting at 400 feet from each corner so you can have a visual reference to how many feet you are from a turn.  This lets the driver have consistent markers to judge when to brake and turn-in.  This particular turn is fun because it's coming up a little bit of a hill and there is a slight amount of banking or camber as you go through the corner, so it really holds the car on the track and lets you carry more speed.
They got hot, but didn't give up an inch all weekend.  Those guys at Panic know what they're talking about.
 There's those brakes again.  With powerful braking comes a lot of heat!  Those rotors are getting multi-colored due to all the heat that builds up during the sessions.  In fact, everything heats up when pushing the car hard on the track.  Below you can see the tires looking a bit melted on the surface and lots of other tire rubber and debris (or clag for you F1 fans out there) sticking to the tire.
The sticky autocross tires held up pretty well throughout the weekend.
 By Sunday I was braking harder, accelerating harder, and turning sharper to really push the car hard.  I ended up having an over-heating issue and had to miss the final session of the weekend.  I caught the spiking temperature gauge and brought the car back to the paddock during the second session to let the other Miata gurus in camp take a look.  We tried a few easy fixes, took it out for the third session and even though I managed the over heating with early shifting and a little coasting, the problem wasn't solved, so we opted to play it safe and get the car home instead of risking anything on the final session.  We've got a few ideas to try out, but everything ran completely smoothly on the drive home so it really is only an issue when the car is pushed to it's limit for a long time.
The car was in the sun, but I was in the shade most of the weekend, so luckily we don't match!
All in all it was still an awesome experience.  Everything I've learned autocrossing for the last few years really paid off and I was reeling in and passing cars that had much more power than my little car!  There certainly are dangers in driving on the track, but thanks to groups like NASA and SCCA, there are very safe ways to get out there and learn how to handle your car properly at speed.  I can't wait to get out there again and continue to improve.  I would strongly encourage everyone to check out NASA and the HPDE program no matter what you drive.  It is a great way to learn how to handle your car and be a better, safer driver and have a TON of fun.