Thursday, December 31, 2015

Drive Safe in 2016

Rimer Pond Road, Can You See the Hazard Pulling Out?
The NMS team would like to wish you a safe and car filled 2016! We had the entire team together for Christmas last week, and we've enjoyed a lot of things about 2015, but it's time to say so long and look forward to a new year. Let's make safe driving an important part of the next 365 days.

You are probably very familiar with safe driving tips, winter driving tips, and have heard "don't drink and drive" about 10 bazillion times. Does that make you a safe driver? Not by itself, so today I went looking for some new ways of looking at driving safety. A little search on turned up some initiatives to improve driver safety and save lives, not just in the USA but around the world.

First off, the Pulitzer Center folks have this website Roads Kill Map LINK   that is chock full of information on the "Roads Kill" initiative and road safety statistics. For starters, there are over 1 million traffic fatalities in the world every year. Deaths in the US have been declining for decades, but it's still something like 30,000 per year. In New York City, over half of the traffic deaths are pedestrians. That fact should make us look both ways when crossing streets in NYC, but it's even worse in Liberia, where 66% of the traffic fatalities are pedestrians. Also, did you know that Sweden has the least traffic fatalities?

Life in the 21st Century is drastically changing around the world, with many countries continuing to increase the number of vehicles on the roads, whether it's two wheeled motorcycles, or multi axle large trucks. In many countries this has also increased traffic accidents and brought about increased focus on safety. From more helmet laws to increased regulations on driving impaired, as well as safer design of roads and intersections, the issue of traffic safety is much broader than just "don't drink and drive" or "wear your seat belt".

One of my pet peeves about bad drivers (in addition to not turning on lights in the rain, not using turn signals, etc) is the slow-driver-in-the-left-lane guy/gal. Here's an article that points out that every state has laws about using the left lane, and that several states are issuing more tickets for slow drivers that stay in the left lane. Left Lane Article LINK

We wish you a prosperous and safe 2016, Happy New Year, and if you have to drive fast, we recommend you follow the advise of singer-guitarist Junior Brown. In his song "Highway Patrol" he sings "If you want to race then get on a race track".

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Answers to Guess the Value Auto Auction Game!

Here's the answers to prices that these vehicles sold for at auction. Looks like I was way off on some, but totally nailed it on some others. Pretty much like most predictions I make!

WHAT WE SAID: "my estimate is that someone will buy it."
CONCLUSION: nailed it, one for one so far!

WHAT WE SAID: "If it runs, then maybe someone will take a chance on it"
CONCLUSION: That was a very generic estimate on my part, but still correct! 2 for 2!

WHAT WE SAID: "No idea if it will sell."
CONCLUSION: Kind of correct, close enough for the internet, I'll take 3 for 3!


WHAT WE SAID: "Unless there's a couple of hundred dollar bills in the glove box, I don't see this one selling for more than 100 bucks if at all."
CONCLUSION: I still don't know if there were hundred dollar bills in the glove box, so I'll have to say I was wrong on this estimate! We're down to 3 out of 4 correct so far. 


WHAT WE SAID: "Who wouldn't want a beater Mustang for a couple hundred bucks?"
CONCLUSION: Yes, it attracted maybe three bidders, one of which was me, and my last bid was at 400, so some lucky bidder took it for $450. Even with 172,000 miles, a reasonably good buy on this one, and I'll take this as a win on my estimate, now up to 4 out of 5!

WHAT WE SAID: "No interest from me on this one, but I'll guess someone buys it for maybe a thousand bucks."
CONCLUSION: Way off on this one, so down to only 4 of 6 correct. 

WHAT WE SAID: "The engine fluids all seemed OK to me, so I'm thinking this goes for several thousand."
CONCLUSION: Well, I could stretch the truth and say that I mean "several thousand PENNIES", but I missed this one. Oh well, 4 out of 7 right, still batting above .500!


WHAT WE SAID: "This one seemed to be in good shape, no apparent body damage, so this might be going for a lot of dollars."
CONCLUSION:  Based on the auction average sale price in the hundreds, I'm going to give myself credit on this one, and notify Webster's Dictionary that $3600 is equal to "a lot of dollars".  5 for 8, now batting .625!

WHAT WE SAID: "It will be interesting to see if this tank sells at all, but I'm thinking someone will take it for 300."
CONCLUSION: Dang, 50 does NOT equal 300, so WRONG on this one. It's still a tank, but now I'm 6 for 9. 

WHAT WE SAID: " car in the auction" and "This will go for thousands is my thought."
CONCLUSION: Almost nailed it, this car sold as the second highest amount at this auction, only beaten by a very new looking 2012 Mazda 3 at $7300.  7 for 10, my baseball math says that's a .700 batting average!

I hope you enjoyed playing the "Guess the Value at Auto Auction Game!, and might consider checking out an auction near you soon. It's fun, usually free, and you just might find a bargain like the Mustang that I might have gotten for 500 bucks if I'd bid just one more time! Thanks to my friends Bill Snow and Michael Moore for attending this auction. 

 A few more photos from the auction are below. 

Crowd gathers for the first item 
Auctioneer standing on the truck, ready to start
I'm all signed in, Bidder #88 today!
Bidding in progress

Thursday, December 24, 2015

So You Want to Autocross With the Big Boys and Girls?

What's the name of that FIAT again?

So far in our autocross adventure dating way back to 2013, Nixon Motor Sports has competed in local and regional SCCA and other club autocross events.  In 2016 though, we will crank it up a bit and take on some stiffer competition. Within the SCCA, that means entering some of the big events that the national SCCA organization sponsors. This is where it gets complicated, because in the national event level, there are various flavors of autocross (or "Solo" as the SCCA terms it) that go by Championship Tour, ProSolo, and Match Tour. One thing they all have in common is sponsorship by Tire Rack, and we have found Tire Rack to be a great company if you're looking to buy tires.

Left to right: NMS Miata, Brian, NMS FIAT

The 2016 schedule for these events was just released this month, so you can see the full list below. For more details, you might want to check out this link: SCCA 2016 national tour and prosolo events LINK  These are all autocross events that attract several hundred drivers at each competition. Drivers compete in several runs on Saturday, then more on Sunday on a different course, and the combined best times determine the winners.

Brian at Carolina Motorsports Park

While we won't be quitting our jobs and traveling the entire USA to hit all these events, just doing one or two will be a good test against national champion level drivers, so we'll continue to keep you updated on this new challenge for the NMS team.For me in the FIAT, I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up at the bottom of the standings at these kinds of events, but I'm sure the experience will be worth it.

Tire Rack ProSolo Championship
April 8-10: El Toro, California
April 29-May 1: Crows Landing, California
May 6-8: Wilmington, Ohio
May 13-15: Washington, D.C.
May 27-29: Lincoln, Nebraska
June 3-5: Mineral Wells, Texas
June 10-12: Swanton, Ohio
July 15-17: Packwood, Washington
July 29-31: Wilmington, Ohio
Aug. 5-7: Blytheville, Arkansas
Sept. 2-4: Finale at Lincoln, Nebraska
Tire Rack Championship Tour
March 4-6: Moultrie, Georgia
April 22-24: Crows Landing, California
May 27-29: Lincoln, Nebraska
June 24-26: Washington, D.C.
July 1-3: Bryan, Texas
July 8-10: Packwood, Washington
July 22-24: Wilmington, Ohio
July 29-31: La Junta, Colorado
Tire Rack Match Tour
April 1-3: Oceanside Showdown, San Diego
May 13-15: Thunder Valley Showdown, Bristol, Tennessee
June 10-12: Heartland Showdown, Topeka, Kansas
June 17-19: Iron City Showdown, Birmingham, Alabama
July 15-17: Heavy Metal Showdown, Wampum, Pennsylvania

Monday, December 21, 2015

2016 South Carolina Auto-Cross Schedule for NMS!

Brian Nixon, AKA: NMS-South

Thanks for reading the Nixon Motor Sports Blog! Believe it or not, we're now over 300 blog posts, and planning to continue writing about car related topics in the future!

Speaking of the future, the South Carolina region of the Sports Car Club of America South Carolina Region LINK  has announced their 2016  schedule as follows below. NMS-South driver Brian Nixon plans to drive at all these events, and NMS congratulates him on being re-elected as Autocross chair and for all his work behind the scenes in setting up this schedule for 2016.

In addition to these SC Regional events, Brian plans to also start competing at a higher level in various national level events, to include the national SCCA Championships in Nebraska in September. Leading up to that there will be several major events in Georgia, Washington DC, and Ohio that we might squeeze in also.

Notable additions to 2016 include the SCR returning to Myrtle Beach for a few events, and the return of the season ending "War on the Shore" combined event with our friends around Savannah GA in the SCCA Buccaneer Region. 

When the schedule for NMS-North is released we'll add more dates to this schedule on our 2016 page.

20       SCCA Starting Line School, Darlington SC
21       SCR Points Event  #1,    Darlington, SC

13     SCR Points Event #2,      Florence Civic Center

17     SCR Points Event #3,      Myrtle Beach, SC (location TBA)
30     Evolution Performance Driving School, Phase One, Darlington SC

1       Evolution Performance Driving School, Phase Two, Darlington SC
21     SCR Points Event #4,    Michelin Proving Grounds, Laurens SC

11    SCR Novice Autocross School, Test-N-Tune,    Darlington SC
12    SCR Points Event #5,  Darlington SC

17    SCR Points Event #6,   Florence Civic Center

14    SCR Points Event #7,   North Charleston Coliseum

1      SCR Points Event #8,    Myrtle Beach, SC (location TBA)
22    SCR Points Event #9,    Michelin Proving Grounds, Laurens SC


5      War at the Shore Autocross (with Buccaneer Region) Roebling Road, Savannah GA

Can you guess this secret location? HINT: Rhymes with "Darlington"

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Guess the Value Auto Auction Game!

Welcome to our new NMS Blog Game: Guess the Auto Auction Price! I'll give you just a little info on each of these cars and trucks, and ask you to guess what price they went for at auction. This is a quarterly auction on a Naval Base in Norfolk VA, and these autos have been abandoned on the base. There is no guarantee that they run or have all their parts, so let's get started! Enter your best guess on any of these in the comments section below, and in a future blog I'll reveal the prices if you want to see how close you came.

First  up, a jacked up 87 Jeep Wrangler. It looked to be in well worn condition, but the seats are filled with all kinds of odds and ends, auto parts and miscellaneous "stuff".

Just the big ol' wheels and tires, big rack on top, and lack of a roof has "fun" written all over this thing! Just the wheels are probably worth something, so my estimate is that someone will buy it.

On the right of this photo, in front of the Jeep is a 93 Subaru Impreza. I didn't look too closely at this one, but it looked to have been sitting outdoors for a good amount of time.

If it runs, then maybe someone will take a chance on it, and get into some four wheel drive goodness.

Probably not me though!

OK, now we're talking here, a 2003 PT Cruiser! You can tell that at least the hood works!

Might have upgraded wheels, and the body seems to be OK.

But seriously, do you know how many used PT Cruisers are out there on car lots today? According to the latest survey, there are exactly "One Giant Boat Load" of these things for sale all over the place. No idea if it will sell.


Clearly we have a little bit of front end damage on this one, which I think is the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix. Now if it was damaged in the back, and the front engine and drive train were OK, then you'd be in business with a good long as you found another one that was damaged in the front, so that between the two cars you could do some repairs and end up with maybe 1 that was in good shape! Unless there's a couple of hundred dollar bills in the glove box, I don't see this one selling for more than 100 bucks if at all.


Sorry for the sunshine, but this 1998 Ford Mustang was worthy of a photo.

It's a six cylinder, and old enough that I could see the odometer (non electronic) which read 172,000 miles. Other than being 17 years old, it looked to be OK under the hood, wheels and tires OK, so it will probably attract some bidders.


Who wouldn't want a beater Mustang for a couple hundred bucks? Speaking of Mustangs, I've been reading about the Factory Five cars that you can build in your garage. They come with a fiberglass body, and then you just have to add the running gear from a Mustang. Hmmmm.

I noticed some missing piece of cowl around the windshield wipers, but would estimate the wheels alone are worth 200 bucks, so we'll just have to see how this one goes.

 Ah, the classic Neon. This one is a 2000 Dodge version, and I can tell you from my experience with owning a 1995 Plymouth Neon, that these were not too bad cars when new. Mine even survived three years driving on the Autobahn in Germany, so honestly, a perfectly OK small car.

No interest from me on this one, but I'll guess someone buys it for maybe a thousand bucks.

Perhaps a more luxurious brand sparks your imagination! If so you are in luck, because the auction has a 2003 Jaguar S Type, which I believe is from the days that Ford owned Jag, and these cars were suddenly a common every day sight in the US.

This one looked to be in good shape, but I don't know the mileage. The engine fluids all seemed OK to me, so I'm thinking this goes for several thousand. The driver's door has a very solid "THUNK" when you close it too, no extra charge!


Maybe you're a truck person, and would like a used 2003 Chevy Avalanche. This one seemed to be in good shape, no apparent body damage, so this might be going for a lot of dollars.

Not in the market for a tow vehicle at NMS at this time, but who knows, someone will likely walk away buying this one.


I didn't look around the 1990 Mercury GRAND Marquis very much, but I'll guarantee you that it has some awesome looking fake wood grain all OVER the dash!

It will be interesting to see if this tank sells at all, but I'm thinking someone will take it for 300.
 Better view of the Mustang. Maybe a little bit of the cowl around the wipers was missing, but again, for a 98 Mustang, looked OK. If you want more Mercury Grand Marquis info, check out this recent letter from a listener to the Car Talk radio show: Grand Marquis on Car Talk LINK


No kidding, this might be the best car in the auction, a 2008 Honda Civic Si. The body and everything under the hood looked to be in good shape, it still had the owner's manual in the glove box, and as an Si it has more horsepower than the base model.

Honda has a great reputation for building dependable cars, and if this car needs any repairs the parts will be easily available.

This will go for thousands is my thought.


Not for sale, but outside the auction lot we spotted this nicely refinished Plymouth Road Runner.

Beep Beep!

We'll be back soon with the results of the auction.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tidewater Sports Car Club 2015 Awards Dinner Report

FIAT 500 Abarth posing in front of the Curtiss P-40E

The members of the Tidewater Sports Car Club TSCC LINK held their annual dinner at the Military Aviation Museum LINK on a lovely evening (find your own link for recently, and your NMS-North team was there to capture all the happenings and report on the latest autocross news in Virginia Beach. Or maybe we were there for the delicious dinner! OK, we also were there to stroll around a bit and see some awesome WWII aircraft in the museum. Maybe we were there to win a door prize too! If YOU are near the Virginia Beach area and are looking for an interesting way to spend some time, we can highly recommend this small aviation museum. You'll probably see something you've never seen before!

MIG-3 description

By "see something you've never seen before", how about the ONLY flying MIG-3 in the world! In the first photo above you can also see the only flying Mosquito in the world.

Here's the description (click on the photo for a larger view) and the next photo is the plane in the museum. 


After reading the description above, now I know that "MIG" stands for Mikoyan-Gurevich, the makers of this aircraft!

If you are interested in engines, it has a Mikulin AM35-A that cranks out 1,350 horsepower, and flies up to 39,400 feet.

My math isn't always accurate, but I'm thinking that's about 1,190 more HP than my FIAT.

Back to the dinner! The TSCC put on a great event in a nice location, and threw in the opportunity  to have your picture taken in front of the museum aircraft. There were lots (and I mean LOTS as in "every member won something") of door prizes, a free dinner, and then the awards to the class winners and overall club champion for 2015. Thanks to all the volunteers that make this club the biggest autocross group in the area!

News wise, we are happy to report coming home with the 1st place hardware in the G Street category for the year, and as usual will admit that the NMS FIAT was the only car that ran in enough events to be eligible. Still, as Yogi Berra meant to say, "first place is still first place, especially if you're in it". 

Regardless, we'll note that this is the first class championship for the NMS racing team, and we're looking forward to be driving again in 2016, and promise that we'll be having fun whether it's in first place, last place, or somewhere in between the two at the end of the year.

Overall I stood 29th out of 73 club members in all the classes this year, so in 2016 my goal will be to get into the top 20.

Thanks to the TSCC for providing a great evening and nice prizes. With the GS champ jacket I just need the temperature to cool off so that I can wear it!

Also in the good news department, we walked home with a door prize, a great gift card to OG Racing, so we'll be doing some shopping with them in the near future. You can check them out for all your racing needs at this link: OG RACING LINK

Other door prizes included various gift cards to Tire Rack, tools like some tire pressure gauges, jack stands, wheel guns, and the very popular Go Pro camera. Did I mention the chicken, shrimp, and BBQ were all delicious? Since this is a car blog and not a WWII aircraft blog, here's a few more vehicles you can see in the museum.

1950 JAGUAR XK 120 (because it could go 120mph)
See next photo to see this car in the museum
See previous photo for info on the Hanomag-Kurier Staff Car
British Daimler "Dingo" Scout Car
German BMW R75 motorcycle, sidecar, and trailer

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Today's Press Conference at Nixon Motor Sports

As announced on our blog two weeks ago, the Nixon Motor Sports team held a press conference today, so we'll summarize the highlights below. For background on who NMS is and what they've done in the past, you can click on all the other pages of this blog. HINT: It won't take you long to read!

NMS drivers Robert and Brian

--Plans for 2016: NMS categorically denied that they were purchasing the two time defending Mercedes-Petronas F1 team and replacing triple world champion Lewis Hamilton with NMS-South driver Brian Nixon. "That's basically an untruth", stated Brian Nixon when asked point blank if NMS was cashing in some old soda bottles and selling their organs to buy the Mercedes team. He followed that bombshell up with "Next question, genius".

--Latest Car Developments: Brian went on to state that development work on the 99 Miata engine has been "on schedule", and that with a rebuilt motor that NMS will once again be competing at the top of the standings in E Street autocross in 2016. Until the car suffered an engine failure in competition mid-way through the 2015 season, Brian was in the hunt for a class win, and even though he still ended in 3rd place on points, that was in running only half the season before the engine issue. "With a full season on an engine that actually works, we're looking to be competitive for more wins this year, and that should add up to a good battle for 1st overall."

NMS North and South on land, US Navy on water.

--In the other half of the NMS garage, Robert stated that he would continue with the same 2013 model FIAT Abarth, and that he "hopes to repeat" his 2015 championship in the G Street class. The NMS driver said that "I'm keeping things basically the same, but will upgrade the tires, and we're announcing that we want to thank Dunlop and Tire Rack for the past two seasons of great tires, but in 2016 we will be wearing Bridgestones."  When asked to clarify, Nixon went on to say: "Of course, if some other cars with drivers actually enter the GS class then it might be different, but as long as I'm the only car in the class I think I can win it again... probably".  Regardless, holding down "Fastest and Only Italian Car of the Day" at every event is also another goal, again, as long as no other Italian cars show up!

1st place.....(out of 1)!

--New in 2016: NMS-South further stated that they were targeting a trip to Lincoln Nebraska in September for the Sports Car Club of America National Solo (autocross) championship. This event has been attracting somewhere around 2,000 of the best drivers in the country, so this marks a big step forward for the NMS team. Brian will be looking to work with another driver in the number 86 Miata at this event, and with 10 months to go, will be looking to continue to improve the car and upgrade a few more components while competing and gaining more experience.


--New in 2016:  NMS announced that NMS-South and a team of other drivers have been secretly working on a race prepped 70s Dodge Coronet to enter into future LeMons Endurance Racing. The LeMons series is designed to be low budget and on a race track enduro events. If you have a sense of humor, check out the LeMons website: 24 Hours of LeMons   This car has pretty much everything it needs to race, but will be getting some upgrades during 2016 to ensure it's safe and race ready.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

SPOILER! Motor Trend Car/Truck/SUV of the Year!


Motor Trend magazine annually picks their Car of The Year, SUV of The Year,  and Truck of The Year. This latest copy of the periodical rolls all three into one gigantic issue as seen in the photo above. I encourage you to go out and buy the latest issue, or even subscribe, or just attend one of their car shows soon and get a free one year subscription like I do! Either way, the Motor Trend folks pretty much cover all things automotive.

In describing their Car of the Year process, they state that they limit the competition to new or newly updated 2016 cars, and put a price cap of $150,000 on cars under consideration. I'm in no position to really nit-pick a bunch of professional journalists, but one of the cars they evaluated was a Mercedes AMG that with options priced at $152,000 and change. Believe it or not it got a great review and was chock full of awesome performance! At the price of more than 4 average cars ( average retail of new vehicles in the US is now about $31,000 or so) I should hope it's a nice ride!

Anyway, from reading so many magazines, one thing that I appreciate is when the reviewer finds a new or funny way to describe a car. There are already too many articles that state a car was fast, quick, handled like butter, or just lists the top speed, 0-60 times, and can quote the gas mileage, so a unique turn of a phrase always catches my eye. In this issue of MT, one of the reviewers describes an automatic transmission in a car with this great phrase, that the transmission is always changing gears, and "hunts more than Ted Nugent"! That's funny right there!


Just to get to the bottom line, their Car of The Year is the 2016 Camaro, the Truck of The Year is the Chevy Colorado, and the SUV of The Year is the Volvo XC90. In honor of our NMS 1999 Miata, I must also let you know that Motor Trend states that the new Miata was just one point shy of taking their Car of the Year title, so we'll take that as a resounding "Miatas still rock"! They also considered the new FIAT 500X in the SUV category, so way to go FIAT!


If mainstream American car mags aren't your thing, branch out a bit and try these two that are a bit more specialized for particular automotive interests, Hemming's Sports and Exotic Car, and Forza. While the former typically focuses on foreign sports cars like the Jaguar XK140 on the cover, this issue also includes an article on the Honda Insight, a more recent and less sporty/exotic car than the Jag. On the other side of the coin is the all Ferrari FORZA!

TOP GEAR................................CAR

Speaking of British imports (like the Jaguar), if you've got a few more dollars to spend on your search for automobile education and reading enjoyment, try these British imports; Top Gear and Car. The Top Gear caught my eye for the awesome looking orange McLaren on the cover (another British import on my list-to-buy-when-I-win-the-lottery), while Car features the red Alfa Romeo Giullia. One of each would look great under my Christmas tree, I thank you very much! My wife even liked the look of the McLaren, so if you can only buy one super car this year for me, make it that one!

Feel free to check out the Motor Trend winners, or go pick your own winner.