Saturday, April 30, 2016

FCA Announces Prices on the FIAT 124 Spider

Thanks for reading our blog! Here at the end of April, we're well into the 2016 autocross season! It's been fun so far working on the cars, competing and trying to improve our driving skills, and all of the other car related topics we've been writing about. Today we're just bringing you the most exciting automotive news of the week!

FIAT 124 Spider

We've been waiting for this new car from FIAT for a while, and yesterday the folks at FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) released the pricing details on the little two-seater 124 Spider in this news release: FCA News Release LINK

This car was developed by Mazda and FIAT, so it's the newest version of the MX-5 Miata, AND a reincarnation of the FIAT 124 Spider of old. This gives our favorite Italian auto maker a new line of cars to sell in the US, and it looks to be a big winner!

I think I'll just let you read it for yourself if you're interested, and add that this is great to see prices in line with the Miata! If you are at all interested in a little two seater car that is sporty, sure, you can always spends hundreds of thousands of dollars more on a  Ferrari, or you could spend twice as much on a Porsche Boxster or a BMW Z4, but if your price range is a bit south of $50,000, either a Miata or the FIAT version looks like the bargain of the century!

FIAT Announces Pricing for All-new 2017 124 Spider

  • 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is the most affordable turbo-powered convertible in America with a starting price of $24,995 (MSRP)
  • Lineup includes: Classica, $24,995; Lusso, $27,495; and Abarth, $28,195 (MSRP)
  • 2017 Fiat 124 Spider returns nearly 50 years after original introduction
  • Revival of roadster continues expansion of FIAT brand in North America
  • Delivers iconic Italian style with modern adaptation of original Spider legend
  • Powered by standard proven turbocharged MultiAir 1.4-liter engine for best-in-class 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque on Classica and Lusso; 165 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque on Abarth, available with six-speed manual or automatic transmission
  • EPA fuel economy of 26 city / 35 highway for manual transmission and 25 city / 36 highway for automatic transmission
  • Double-wishbone front suspension and rear multi-link suspension with stabilizer bars, 54/46 weight distribution and tuned electric-power steering system for enhanced handling and fuel efficiency
  • Available with an array of safety and security features, including Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection and ParkView rear backup camera
  • Technology including passive entry with keyless go, Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats and available FIAT Connect 7.0 with Pandora, Stitcher and Aha
  • Available premium Bose nine-speaker system with noise cancelling headrest speakers
  • First 124 units will be available as limited-production Prima Edizione Lusso
April 29, 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - The FIAT brand today announced that pricing for its all-new 2017 124 Spider lineup will start at $24,995 U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), not including destination. FIAT’s all-new roadster is the lowest-priced turbocharged convertible in America.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider revives the storied nameplate, bringing its classic Italian styling and performance to a new generation of vehicles and buyers. Paying homage to the original 124 Spider nearly 50 years after its introduction, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider delivers the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety combined with iconic Italian design.

The roadster will come standard with the proven 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine, the engine’s first application in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The engine delivers best-in-class 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque on Classica and Lusso, 165 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque on Abarth, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission (26 city / 35 highway) or a six-speed automatic transmission (25 city / 36 highway).

“Our mission at FIAT is to deliver Italian design and heritage in vehicles that are fun to drive,” said Olivier Francois, Head of FIAT Brand, FCA – Global. “The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider brings these elements together and comes loaded with open-air fun, stunning Italian design and the proven turbocharged MultiAir 1.4-liter engine.”

Fiat 124 Spider Classica
The Classica model features a dual-tip exhaust, black roll bar finish, and body-color header, side sills and door handles. The vehicle also comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, Nero (black) premium cloth seats, halogen headlamps and LED tail lamps. Inside, soft-touch materials on the instrument panel are highlighted with light silver accents. Not visible are eight points to reduce NVH, including insulation in the instrument panel, center tunnel, convertible top and rear trunk, to name a few.

The Classica is available in six colors: Rosso Passione (red clear coat), Bianco Gelato (white clear coat), Nero Cinema (jet black metallic), Grigio Argento (gray metallic), Grigio Moda (dark gray metallic) and Bronzo Magnetico (bronze metallic).

The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica with a six-speed manual transmission has a U.S. MSRP of $24,995, plus $995 destination. The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica with a six-speed automatic transmission is $26,345, plus $995 destination.

Fiat 124 Spider Lusso
The Lusso (“Luxury”) model builds on the Classica, with standard 17-inch alloy wheels, silver-painted A-pillar header and roll-bar cover and dual-tip chrome exhaust. The interior features heated premium leather seats in Nero (black) or Saddle and a leatherette-wrapped cluster brow. The lower instrument panel also is wrapped in leatherette, with Piano Black accents throughout.

The Lusso model is available in seven colors: Rosso Passione (red clear coat), Bianco Gelato (white clear coat), Nero Cinema (jet black metallic), Grigio Argento (gray metallic), Grigio Moda (dark gray metallic), Bronzo Magnetico (bronze metallic) and Bianca Perla (crystal white pearl tri-coat).

The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso with a six-speed manual transmission has a U.S. MSRP of $27,495, plus $995 destination. The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso with a six-speed automatic transmission has a U.S. MSRP of $28,845, plus $995 destination.

Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
The all-new Fiat 124 Spider Abarth offers a sportier, more responsive driving experience for performance enthusiasts at 165 horsepower. Features include a front and rear Bilstein sport suspension, mechanical limited-slip differential, front strut tower bar, Sport Mode selector and sport-tuned chrome quad-tip exhaust with the world-renowned Abarth sound. Its aggressive appearance comes complete with unique front and rear fascia, 17-inch Gun Metal aluminum wheels, Gun Metal exterior accents and an available hand-painted hood stripe, offering a one-of-a-kind appearance. Other available features include a Brembo braking system and Recaro seats for added sportiness.

The Abarth model is available in five colors: Bianco Gelato (white clear coat), Rosso Passione (red clear coat), Nero Cinema (jet black metallic), Grigio Argento (gray metallic) and tri-coat Bianco Perla (crystal white pearl).

The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth with a six-speed manual transmission has a U.S. MSRP of $28,195, plus $995 destination. The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth with a six-speed automatic transmission has a U.S. MSRP of $29,545, plus $995 destination.

Fiat 124 Spider Prima Edizione Lusso
To celebrate the return of the classic nameplate, the first 124 vehicles will be offered as a limited-edition Prima Edizione Lusso. Each will be individually numbered with a commemorative badge and available in exclusive Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint with premium leather seats in Saddle. Consumers who purchase a Prima Edizione also will receive limited-edition items, including a matching blue leather bag, journal with pen and a poster showcasing original design illustration with vehicle dimensions.

The all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Prima Edizione Lusso has a U.S. MSRP of $35,000, plus $995 destination.

About FIAT Brand
The FIAT brand stands for discovery through passionate self-expression. That philosophy is embodied by the iconic Fiat 500 or Cinquecento – a small car that lives big. Italian at heart and rooted in a rich heritage, the 500 is sold in more than 100 countries and is synonymous with modern, simple design blending form, function, technology and a pride of ownership that is genuine.

In North America, the Fiat 500 was introduced in March 2011 and was soon followed by the Fiat 500c (Cabrio), the high-performance Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio, the fully electric Fiat 500e, the five-passenger Fiat 500L and the all-wheel-drive 500X crossover. The FIAT brand continues to expand with the introduction of the Fiat 124 Spider, a revival of the iconic roadster that combines Italian style, performance and engaging driving dynamics. The all-new Fiat 124 Spider will arrive at FIAT studios in summer 2016.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Transforming the Miata's Interior

Yesterday, Jason stopped by and played a major part in several car upgrades and maintenance items on the #86 car. We started with an oil change, getting the car back on full synthetic oil now that it has made it over 1000 miles on the new engine build.
Always need more garage space.

Additionally, we've been struggling with the alignment settings almost since getting the car.  We diagnosed the issue as worn out bolts and washers that hold the alignment settings in place. All eight were swapped in and I'll get the car another appointment to have the settings dialed back in.  Hopefully it'll stick this time!
Old alignment bolts and washers.
Moving to the interior, we decided it was time to try out the car without the heavy rollbar adding weight at the top of the car.  While we were in the car, we took the opportunity to swap in some black carpet (in place of tan), and black cloth seats (in place of tan leather).  The tan cloth was a bit dirty and had that hole from when the gas pedal went through it in Virginia Beach last year. Big thanks to Kyle for sourcing all the "new" interior pieces and keeping it in budget.

The first step is removing all of the interior and existing carpet.  Despite high hopes, there were no hardwood floors underneath. 

We did make 60 cents and managed to vacuum out more dirt and crud that was under the carpet.  Only a few small rust spots, so we applied some more rust neutralizing paint to help keep it under control.  

Jason works the carpet under the center console.  The black carpet and seats were pulled from other Miatas a junkyards and somehow we managed to get some pretty good condition and relatively clean pieces.

The final result is a much more toned down interior.  Hopefully a little lighter weight with the removal of the rollbar and slightly heavier leather seats. A new black wind blocker was installed just behind the seats.  Previously we couldn't keep the wind blocker in the car because the rollbar interferes with it. The final piece was replacing the center console with a later car's version that features two real cup holders.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On this Date in NMS History: April 27, 2013

Brian Nixon #86
Robert Nixon #77

Thanks for reading this blog from the Nixon Motor Sports Team! While our team has a long proud history of never driving in NASCAR, Formula 1, Indy Cars, NHRA, LeMans, or any other events you've heard of, we like to write about our auto crossing and act like we're world famous. Mostly we like just about anything car related, and appreciate getting behind the wheel and working to improve our driving skills.

GoPro Motorsports 
In our long proud history (or did I already mention that), the NMS team has existed since way back in 2013. I don't know if that's in dog years, cat years, or if that's the last time I saw a good movie, but it's been fun sharing what we know about autocross and getting to know more friends while we have been at it around South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio. 

Our long proud history (is there an echo in here?) started at the Darlington Speedway (oddly enough located in Darlington SC), the Nixon Motor Sports team made it's first appearance in autocross on this day in 2013. The team entered a Mazda Miata and a FIAT Abarth in the Novice class, and managed to finish smack in the middle of their fellow novices. Encouraged by that result, we moved on in all future events to compete in the regular (non-novice) classes, and the rest is NOT history!  The full results of that first event are at this link from the South Carolina Region of the Sports Car Club of America at: RESULTS LINK 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Results from the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research!

FIAT at Fort Story lighthouse
On Sunday the NMS FIAT Abarth took part in an autocross with the Tidewater Sports Car Club, which was  held at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR). On a beautiful day in NC, my driving research concluded that I sure hit a LOT of cones! Although on my last of five runs, I did NOT hit any cones. The reason I didn't hit any cones was because I went too fast in one section, lost control of the car, and despite hitting the brakes, slid right off the track and into the grass! No injuries, just a bit of mud on the car, but no super duper fast times either! Come to think of it, I must have hit a bunch of cones on my way to explore the great beyond, but the DNF over-rules the cone count!
Arriving at NCCAR

Here's the unofficial times for my drives below. Keep in mind that most of our events are on pavement only big enough for a 35-60 second drive time, so this huge driving course of 95 seconds for me was a blast! Besides being bigger and longer, much of it was on the NCCAR test track, so the speeds were higher than most autocross events. I'll say that's one reason I hit so many cones, because I was having too much fun! I mean, because I was going too fast, which is the same thing as having too much fun!
NMS driver at NCCAR

Not sure of the overall standings, so I'll just be happy with having a great day driving fast! That's pretty good!

Robert Nixon2013 Fiat 500 AbarthRed97.339+295.445+197.018+dnf95.885+1128.719+dnf

First run of 97.339 seconds, and I hit two cones, so with a 2 second penalty each that equals 101.339 seconds. Must try to avoid cones!

Second run of 95.445, and I hit only one cone this time. Add the 2 second penalty, and my time was 97.445, a whopping (about) 4 seconds faster! OK, better, but let's not hit those cones!

Third run I was pushing it even faster, well out on the course without hitting any cones, and guess what? Yep, hit a cone and then totally couldn't finish a Chicago box move, and that adds up to a Did Not Finish (DNF) for missing a maneuver. Two more runs to go, and it's REALLY time to not hit any cones in the next run.

Fourth run I was concentrating on not hitting cones but still going fast, while at the same time slowing down for the 3 or 4 Chicago Box elements. Going pretty good, and then BAM right before the finish I hit a cone! With a time of 95.885 plus a two second penalty, that adds up to 97.885, a bit slower than my best run so far. Without hitting the cone I would have improved my time a couple of seconds! Back in the grid to wait for the final run, and I was thinking that I just HAD to get a clean run!

Fifth and final run, and man it was fun! I was hitting a pretty good time, missing cones, and then sure enough, trying to go just a bit faster I lost control of the car out on the track part of the course. As I flew into some cones I knew that it was too late, so I hit the brakes, and still kept sliding helplessly off the pavement and into the grass. No blood, no foul, just a messed up run and no more chances to drive today. After backing up and getting on course I just drove on through the finish line, and figured that maybe next time I'd back of a bit and get a clean run at the next event.

Cars on grid ready to drive!

All in all, a blast to drive this course that was part regular twisty-curvy autocross, and part higher speed on a track. The full results should be on line (TSCC website on the right, in our LINKS section), and we'll see how I did overall. As the only GS class car, taking first in class doesn't mean a lot, so if I'm in the top half of all drivers that will be fine with me.

This was the first autocross event at NCCAR for the Tidewater Club, so I hope that we will return there next year. For NMS-North, we'll return to autocross action again in May, and hope you drive safe and have fun too!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

NMS Introduces New Driver!

Artist's Rendering #277 GSN

From their secret driver training academy somewhere in Virginia Beach (that would be the one in the state of Virginia), the NMS-North team announced today that they have signed Michael Moore to an exclusive contract to drive the #277 FIAT Abarth in the Novice class at the next Tidewater Sports Car Club autocross. Anonymous sources tell us that the #277 car looks a LOT like the NMS #77 car, but with what looks to be a hastily scrawled numeral two in front of the 77 and a letter "N" for Novice written with some type of painter's tape.

For his first autocross, Moore will be piloting the Italian car in the Novice GS class, which will provide the team's technical department with double the amount of performance data to analyze on how the car performs when driven by different drivers. When asked what impact this would have on the car itself, the NMS chief technical director stated that he believes "well, uh, mostly that means we will go through more fuel and tires, since it will be twice as much driving." When asked to provide greater detail to our faithful readers and fans, he stated "I reckon we'll be bringing another chair to sit on in the paddock, and might throw a few more water bottles in the cooler." This comment was followed with some incoherent mumbling that sounded like "Rxplefft....dumb reporters".

The next event will be held at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research in Garysburg NC, and the non-members Novice class registration currently looks like this:
210Johnson, ChrisD Street Prepared2003Volkswagen 20th Anny GTINorfolk, VA 
277Moore, MichaelG Street 2013Fiat AbarthNorfolk, VA
311Patchin, AlexanderB Street 2003Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMGVirginia Beach, VA 
313Patchin, DavidSuper Street Modified 2002Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMGVirginia Beach, VA
You can find more information on this facility at this link: NCCAR LINK

The NCCAR Facebook page is at: NCCAR FB LINK

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

NMS South - Myrtle Beach Wrap Up

Saturday SCR returned to Myrtle Beach for the first time in a few years. Jason took the car to 5th overall (3rd in class) and I followed behind in 13th for the day and 8th in class. The blue Miata of Team Too Tall pulled in for a 10th and 17th PAX finish. 

The real positive on the weekend was during fun runs when the Miata drivers teamed up with a third ES Miata to drive each other's cars. We analyzed set ups and found a few minor differences that we liked and disliked. The NMS South team now has another upgrade package in the pipeline for debut at the Thunder Valley Showdown in Bristol, TN next month.

China F1 Predictions Scorecard: I've Had Better!

Your NMS Prognosticator. Ferrari courtesy of Patrick Gray

Last week we made 4 very bold predictions before the race in Shanghai, let's go to the scoreboard and see how well the ol' crystal ball was working!

1--We said "Ferrari will WIN" and we were not correct. Vettel took a great 2nd place, but that's not quite winning!  We correctly stated that Mercedes was due some bad luck, and that mostly came true with Hamilton starting last, suffering damage, and finishing 7th, but we'll be tough graders and say we missed this one. No partial credit this week.                                                      

2--NMS predicted "Haas will continue to score points" and we missed that one too. We correctly stated that both Haas cars would finish for the first time, but they were not in the points this time.

3--Last week we wrote that "McLaren-Honda will see Alonso come back from missing the last race due to injuries, and I'll go way out on a limb and say he scores points too." Well, Alonso did complete the race, and he did OK, but did not score any points. If I could grade this on a curve I'd be 3-0 at least partially right on each prediction so far.

4--The prediction: "Between Manor, Renault, and Sauber in the "pointless team battle" so far,  it just might be Manor that finishes ahead of these teams." The result is shown below with the Manor, Renault, and Sauber teams taking 6 of the last 7 places in the race, led by Sauber as best placed of the "pointless" teams.
Hey, look at it this way, you can't get better than PERFECT! 

Better luck next time in China on May 1st!


16 Marcus Ericsson

17 Kevin Magnussen

18 Pascal Wehrlein

19 Romain Grosjean

20 Felipe Nasr

21 Rio Haryanto

22 Jolyon Palmer

Monday, April 18, 2016

F1 Show Coming to CNN: The Circuit

NMS hopes you had a great weekend, and that possibly you did some driving yourself! If not, then like most of us you might have spent some quality time watching NASCAR, IndyCar, or F1 on TV too. Yeah, it was a tough weekend watching the F1 qualifying live at 3am Saturday and the race from 2-4am Sunday, but since I had to get up and go to work anyway, a little sleep isn't a big deal!

This week Brian should be posting an update from the South Carolina Region autocross held on Saturday April 16 down in Myrtle Beach. SPOILER ALERT: Out of 131 drivers in SC, Brian and co-driver Jason Rucker did VERY well! 

Up north here, NMS has an event with TSCC coming up on Sunday the 24th, and I've just been told that NMS-North will hold another press conference later this week to make a big announcement. That might mean 2-for-1 night at Sonic Drive-In, or maybe something to do with autocross. With those guys who knows?

The Cable News Network (CNN) will be bringing us some cool shows about famous Formula 1 drivers, starting in April with their series "The Circuit".  CNN LINK

Here's the schedule of shows coming up Friday and Saturday, and I'll give you the CNN TV Schedule Link too. It's not the most user friendly website, but the first CNN LINK above has a short video with highlights from the show that will spotlight three time F1 champ Jack Brabham!

The Circuit

Amanda Davies presents CNN's F1 show: 

--Apr 22: 11:30am ET/8:30am PT   and 6:30pm ET/3pm PT

--Apr 23: 3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT   and 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT

CNN Searchable Schedule LINK 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Need a Used Car? Used by 2 World Champ Drivers with 10 World Championships?

1991-1992 Benetton Ford F1 Car

 If you need a spare car, you know, just for tooling around on the weekends, specifically on a track at a high speeds, you might want to check out the little beauty in the story below! Going up for auction on May 13th with NO RESERVE, this is a Formula 1 Ford Benetton race car that was race driven from 1991-1992. A "No reserve" auction is auctioneer talk for "we'll sell it for the highest bid no matter what it is, even if it's ten cents... but we really think it will go for $200,000.00 or more".

What's up with the 10 world championships? Well, this particular little model (would look great in your garage by the way), was driven in 1991 by 3 time champ Nelson Piquet, and then driven in 1992 by a new member of the Benetton squad, a certain Herr Michael Schumacher from Deutschland, who would go on to win 7 world championships of his own! That little pedigree, combined with the fact that this particular automobile was also raced by 0 time world champion (but still famous F1 British TV commentator) Martin Brundle, makes this a very cool car indeed.

"Hey honey, could you run to the store and pick up some milk?" takes on a whole new meaning when you know you could accomplish the task in a V8 730 horsepower fire-breathing F1 car!

Winding Road LINK

Thursday, April 14, 2016

NMS Test Drive: Dodge Dart

2015 Dodge Dart

The other day I got to enjoy a business trip from the NMS North HQ in Virginia Beach all the way to an undisclosed secret facility somewhere 6 hours away, and my means of transportation was the incredible 2015 Dodge Dart SVT rental car from our friends at Enterprise! The route was mostly Interstate, so let's take a look at this fine steed from the rental stables at our favorite local airport that goes by the name of ORF. Seriously, did the Department of Aviation Facility Funny Naming Department or whoever controls naming airports lose a bet and come up with these cute little airport acronyms? ORF sounds like a dog with an accent, or maybe a character in the next Pixar film for kids.

Moving on to the automobile in question, check out this baby!

Snow Tip of the Day: Always Carry an Ice Scraper!

It was fully equipped with stuff like "wheels", "seats", a "steering wheel". It was powered by a "motor" that ran on "gas". For a smallish but not too smallish but certainly not-big form of transportation, the Dodge Dart was a success. It got me from point A to point B, and then back to point A, racking up about 1,000 trouble free miles.

Along the way I got to see the message telling me that it had 3% of oil life left, then 1% and then the message that it was time to change the oil. I passed this info on to the guy that gave me my receipt at the end of the trip, so I'm sure that by now they've changed the oil on that baby! You wouldn't want to rent a car and read that it already is overdue for an oil change would you? Do the rental car folks know about these secrets that their cars might be revealing to customers? Can I write another question in this paragraph?

Without Snow
Overall, the car was fine, a nice mid-grade appliance, but not an earth shaking Lamborghini, nor a 7 passenger people-mover. With the passenger seat all the way back up front, only a small person would have wanted to sit in the back seats, so I'll rate the size of the Dart as in between our Camry and Abarth.

One issue that popped up was while using cruise control. First let me that I LOVE cruise control! So on the Dart, when you have cruise on and you're descending (or going downhill) a big hill, it goes fine for a while but then will over-rev the engine. Now maybe I'm not supposed to use cruise control on big hills, but other cars I've driven have always managed to just coast on steep grades, so there must be some computer-lifeforms in this particular automatic transmission that doesn't play well with others when the "others" are "big hills".

Conclusion: On the Nixon Motor Sports "Appliances and Toasters" scale, I'd rate this a firm 5 out of 10, which translates to: I won't buy one, but if it was in the bright orange color I'd think it looked cool.

PLUS: For the latest press release on the 2016 Dodge Dart, check out  this story: Dodge Dart LINK

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Top PAX Miata

Jason working the little red machine through the cones on Sunday.
Sunday Jason and I took the Miata down to Hutchinson Island outside of Savannah for a little more seat time.  The good news is Jason took top PAX time of the day for the event! Major win for the little red car. The bad news is I was quite a bit behind and couldn't stop hitting cones all day.

Some new vinyl work on the rear bumper.
I'm still getting used to the car again and find myself making mistakes trying to keep the car at it's limit and not wimping out too much.  I suspect it's going to take a few more events before I really start feeling the car again and can piece together all the good stuff I'm doing into a single run and see some results.

Even with a poor performance, I was learning a lot each lap and pushing the car in different areas.  It's all about putting in a solid performance in Lincoln in September!  Onward and upward! Next stop is Myrtle Beach with SCR-SCCA on Saturday.

Monday, April 11, 2016

F1 China: April 17: Predictions!

Well race fans, the third round of F1 2016 comes up this weekend from Shanghai China! Good news- with the NBCSN Live Extra App you can watch the race anytime you want! Bad news- if you want to watch it live, it's still at 2AM Eastern Sunday morning!

After totally nailing one prediction about rookie Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 10th in this first ever race, I'm going to go CRAZY this time and make more predictions. These aren't just boring and safe predictions like "Oh, they'll probably have a race" and "Some cars will be faster than others", but some REALLY GALACTICALLY CRAZY PREDICTIONS that will likely all be wrong! Buckle in, here we go!

I enjoy following the sport, rooting for my favorite teams (Ferrari, Haas, Williams) and drivers (Bottas, Vettel, Kimi, Rosberg), and all the other drama and politics. Mostly I think it's all about the coolest cars in the world duking it out on tricky race circuits that turn both left and right! Feel free to join in and discuss, argue, disagree, etc. That's what makes it fun.

Last week I read that the Ferrari dealer in Washington DC was having a race watching party at their dealership, so I'm thinking that would be a great way to watch a race, with a bunch of other fans. Ideally not in the middle of the night, but oh well, that's why the word "fan" comes from "fanatic".

So, let's make some crazy predictions here. These are all very hopeful and crazy, so I'm likely to be wrong on all of them:

1--Ferrari will WIN! Mercedes is due to have some brake problems or screw up their tire strategy, or forget to tell their drivers to not smash into each other or something like that, and Ferrari has a DNF and a DNS in the two races so far, so the Italian squad really needs to turn this around. 

2--Haas will continue to score points! In China, this means again with Grosjean in the top ten PLUS they will get Gutierrez to the finish line also. More than just finishing, they should be close to getting BOTH cars in the points. 

3--McLaren-Honda will see Alonso come back from missing the last race due to injuries, and I'll go way out on a limb and say he scores points too. This is a tough one to predict right now, since we likely won't hear about an official medical OK on Alonso until Thursday.

4--The battle at the back of the pack might see some clarification, so thanks to China's long straights, the higher powered cars should have an advantage. Between Manor, Renault, and Sauber in the "pointless team battle" so far,  it just might be Manor that finishes ahead of these teams. Based on the speed trap in Bahrain, the Mercedes powered Manor cars hit 333kph, while Sauber trailed at 329kph, and Renault was last at 324kph. 

While flat-out top speed at one spot on one track in one race is not the only story, it might apply in China. For what it's worth, here's the top speed trap results from each team in the Bahrain race. You can read the results for yourself, but I thought it was interesting how the Williams and Force India cars are at the top of the list, but certainly they are not winning the championship. Overall the Mercedes engine takes 4 of the top 5, and Renault takes the bottom 2, so that part seems very clear.

 ENGINE                  TEAM               DRIVER               KPH

Valtteri Bottas
Force India
Nico Hulkenberg
Romain Grosjean
Pascal Wehrlein
Lewis Hamilton
Scuderia Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari 2015
Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen
Felipe Nasr
Jenson Button
Renault TAG Heuer
Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo
Jolyon Palmer