Sunday, October 30, 2016

Congrats to NMS-South!

Jason Rucker and Brian Nixon

Our friends in the South Carolina Region of the SCCA have published their final results for 2016, so congrats to the NMS-South team for their performance in the challenging Pro Class. Jason Rucker took 2nd for the season, and Brian Nixon placed 3rd. The SCR uses Pro Class as an extra category for the best drivers that want to compete against the best. It's voluntary for any driver to compete in Pro, so it takes a certain amount of courage just to leave a standard SCCA class and take on the Pros.

Jason and Brian shared the NMS Miata most of the season in South Carolina, as well as at major SCCA events in Georgia and Tennessee, as well as at Nationals in Nebraska. Congrats to Marty Bull (another Miata driver) for winning.  You can see that Brian placed third by two points over our Miata driving friend Kyle Ray-Smith in a very close battle. Here's the points standings from the drivers that entered a minimum of 5 events:

SCR 2016 Pro Class Total Drops 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 Marty Bull 47 46 10
10 1 8 8 6 2 2
2 Jason Rucker 39 39
3 6
10 10 8 1 1
3 Brian Nixon 28 28 3
6 6 5 6 1
4 Kyle Ray-Smith 26 26 4 8 1

4 8 1
5 Kristopher Mahon 22 20 1 2 1 1 5 5 2 1 4

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How Much Does Autocross Pay?

I am not a politician, but like a politician, I can give you answers to questions like  "How much does autocross pay?" without really giving an answer.

First answer: exactly zero! There is no prize money, no guaranteed contract that gives you a car and gas and tires for free. Just maybe if you're really good and win at the SCCA Nationals you might earn a free set of tires and some discounts on brakes if you win on a brand of tire or brakes that sponsors the event. Even if you are the national champion and win a set of tires, I know that you've spent way more than the value of a set of tires on autocross events. 

Second answer: Priceless! You didn't get any money for driving, but you got "paid" a fun hobby, lots of hours of meeting other drivers and talking cars and driving, made some new friends, and probably been helped by others who gave you free advice or even helped you work on your car for free. You probably work in the car business or through autocross met a bunch of other people that do, and learned a lot of valuable information on driving, setting up your car, or the name of the best mechanic or car salesman in town. 

Third answer: (I'm not good in math, so I lied about there only being two answers) Maybe you won a local event and won a free cup, a t-shirt, or maybe a little trophy or something you can stick in the garage. Even better, maybe you got another sticker you can put on your car, and remember, that every sticker adds 5-10 horsepower! You also probably attended some other car event or car show and got a free key chain or a free magazine for joining the Sports Car Club of America. 

We can't all be the NASCAR Indycar NHRA F1 world champion and make millions of dollars for driving a car, but for those minutes or seconds driving at autocross it probably feels kind of like that, and that's a valuable thing too. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Driver Safety Tip: Head Restraints

Toyota RAV4

A few of our family members were involved in an accident lately, and the good news is that they were checked out by doctors a few days later and don't have any injuries.  Unfortunately their Toyota was totaled. Since they were hit from behind while stopped in traffic, I thought it might be worth a moment of your time to talk about safety, and in this case, head restraint safety.

Back in the old days of automotive design, the seat you sat on was basically just that; a seat. I can remember the driver's seat of our family 1966 Mustang. It was basically a chair with a low back, and certainly the seat had no support above the shoulder. This type of seat would not be legal today, because car seats are required to have head restraints and provide protection from head and neck injuries. Let's just take a minute and talk about what a head restraint does for you.

First off, what's up with that name "head restraint?" Mostly, let's be clear that it's NOT a "head rest". It's not there for resting, comfort, sleeping, napping, etc. The head restraint is there so that if you are in an accident, your head is restrained from going backwards and causing serious injury.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a lot of information, based on solid research, about auto safety. Specifically talking about neck injuries, here's the bottom line up front from them:

"Neck sprains and strains, commonly known as whiplash, are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims. In 2007, the cost of claims in which neck pain was the most serious injury was about $8.8 billion, or 25 percent of the total payout for crash injuries.
Head restraints help prevent whiplash. When a vehicle is struck from the rear, the seat back pushes against an occupant's torso and propels it forward. If the head is unsupported, it lags behind the torso until the neck reaches its limit, and the head suddenly whips forward. A good head restraint prevents this by moving an occupant's head forward with the body during a rear-end crash.
Head restraints should be properly adjusted. The top of the head restraint should be even with the top of the head or, if it won't reach, as high as it will go. The distance from the back of the head to the restraint should be as small as possible."

Be safe out there, and check those head restraints please!

Check out the IIHS website for more info on all types of auto safety:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Car Crazy in Tidewater

Car Crazy and Chesapeake Bay = Tidewater Region

One advantage of living in a city with a large population is that it's much more likely that you can find other car fanatics, racing fans, drivers, car dealers, car meets, etc. Exhibit one your honor, is the following link simply titled:

                   Car Crazy in Tidewater

This blog rounds up a big list of all the car meets, shows, events, and anything with the word "car" in it from all around what we call the Tidewater area. This includes not only Virginia Beach and Norfolk, but also Hampton Roads, Chesapeake, Suffolk, and goes all the way up I-64 to Williamsburg and Yorktown. Put another way, there are a LOT of people around here! While that might sound bad, or make you think that there is nothing but traffic here, that's only part of the story.

I'd also like to make a short rant about the Internet! Some of the websites I support, and others I've learned about in marketing classes, really push the concept that you want visitors to your website to STAY THERE!  Here at NMS, this website isn't making us money or anything, so by giving you links and writing about car events, we're pretty much trying to drive you away so that you can learn more, have more fun, and experience more with YOUR car. Rant complete. We now return to our regularly scheduled NMS Blog.
Car Crazy Citroen!

For various reasons, the population density here is nothing like New York or Chicago, so things are spread out all over the region. As far as I'm concerned the traffic isn't all that bad, but that's compared to some other places I've lived like Washington DC. I'll take the traffic here just about anytime over that place!
Car Crazy Corvette!

There is one part of the local traffic that is bad, and that is the fact that getting around sometimes means you have to go over a bridge, or through an underwater tunnel, which also means you are driving on one of the two lane (in each direction) bridge-tunnels. If you're not familiar with this particular little invention, stop by my house sometime and I'll explain it to you. Sometimes the traffic on the bridge-tunnels just has no place to go and yes we get traffic jams. Let's face it, if you enjoy driving a car in the USA, at some time or another you'll hit a traffic jam if you go near any big cities, and even when there's an accident in the middle of nowhere too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Superheros of Autocross: TECH-MAN!

Sure, the other super-heroes of autocross (like Corner Captain, Trailer Timer-Guy, Starter Dude, and GRID-GIRL) get a lot of attention, but everyone knows that TECH-MAN holds far more power than any of those other characters. While Corner Captain can wave his Red Flag of Instantaneous Stoppage, and Trailer Timer-Guy can magically add six cones to your best run time and ruin your day, only TECH-MAN can stop your from even going to the grid, much less starting the autocross.

ONLY TECH-MAN, with his mechanical mind for minutia can maneuver his minions to inspect, inject, and instigate your ignition.


ONLY TECH-MAN, with the eerily exacting eyes can see your silly string-shrouded tie-down straps that couldn't hold a battery in place if your beater-mobile was on the heavy gravity surface of the sun.


ONLY TECH-MAN, with his superior sniffing super-sensing schnoz could possibly detect that your bone dry master brake cylinder just might not be able to stop your car safely when you brake hard going into that big sweeper for the 20th time in one day.

Yes, we all owe a big thanks to TECH-MAN for keeping us all just a little bit safer, happier, and faster!          
                 THANK YOU TECH-MAN!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Virginia Autocross Report for October

Tony Mester: A Man and his Mazda!
At the AUTOCROSS CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, AKA Pungo Virginia, the NMS Abarth returned to action with the TSCC on Sunday and in a field of 74 drivers managed to...


..wait a minute. That car does not look like a red FIAT....
2nd in STF, 10th in PAX

The NMS Abarth managed to sit still all day and watch as I got to co-drive Tony Mester's awesome Mazda 2 (AKA: SLO-DOS) in the STF class. Big thanks to Tony for sharing his car with me, I had a total blast on the autocross course with 4 runs with his great handling car, and managed to take 10th overall out of 74 drivers! This was my best ever PAX performance, so man that was fun! Before you start thinking I was really fast or anything, Tony took 8th overall, so he wins the Mazda 2 showdown and takes 1st place in STF class on the day.

Over in the G Street class, well, there wasn't anyone driving today, so since I'd wrapped up the GS title for the year, my focus has been on overall placing in the club.  So maybe the FIAT wasn't the fastest Italian car of the day...on the other hand, no other Italians drove either! With 10th on the day in the Mazda, my estimate is that this puts me in good shape to stay in the top 20 for the year, with only one more event to go.

Here's my video:

In case you missed all those capital letters in the first sentence above, Pungo is not really the center of the autocross universe, but they do host a lot of events there every year on a fairly small bit of concrete. The fun part of this weekend was to not only drive on Sunday, but to also help out on Saturday with getting the weeds trimmed and course cleaned up from hurricane Matthew and all the flooding it brought to our area. With the mighty Mazda this course was pretty much on the gas just about all the time, and with the suspension making it possible to rotate the car into every corner, it was a lot more gas pedal time than I'm used to in the gigantic FIAT! And YOU thought you'd never see the words "gigantic" and "FIAT" in the same sentence!

Thanks to the Tech volunteers!

On pure raw time, I placed 23rd out of 74 drivers, so again my best performance ever, not counting all those victories I have on the Formula 1 computer game, and of course Tony was faster than me in raw time too! Right now Tony is in 5th for the club championship, and he's just over 1 point behind Steve Fehr in his Porsche Boxster. You can find all the current standings at the TSCC link: TSCC Points.

For all the photos from Pungo, check out my photo album on Facebook: OCT 16 CAR SHOTS

Camaro vs. Mustang

Mustang vs. Camaro

Friday, October 14, 2016

It's JAGUAR Time Again!

Brian: Jaguar F Type
A couple of years ago (actually it was a very long time ago, way before we even had this blog, way back in 2013) the NMS team attended the Jaguar Drive Alive event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Coming up later this month, the Jaguar folks are back with a similar event, this time titled The Art of Performance. This event will be held over three days up near Washington DC at the Dulles Expo Center, Friday October 28 thru Sunday October 30. To be honest, that's really in Virginia, where Dulles International Airport is located, but that's still in the Washington DC area.
Yeah, it's a nice car!

If you attend, you'll be given the chance to drive various models of fine Jaguar automobiles, so if you've never done so, this is your chance! When we drove them in Charlotte the Jaguar folks kept telling us to drive faster, brake harder, and then they told us to REALLY DRIVE FASTER! I mean seriously, how often do you hop in someone else's brand new $75,000 car and they beg you to drive it like you stole it? Maybe if you are a professional car tester-outer for a big magazine or TV show, but the rest of us don't do that every day.

Brian: Just shopping
The Drive Alive event had several short bits of driving, and we enjoyed them all. First was the road test, just cruising around on normal roads for a mile or two to get the feel of the Jaguars. Then we jumped in another Jaguar and did a couple laps of their autocross circuit like in the photo below with the big JAGUAR sign. Then another hop into another Jaguar for the straight-ahead-floor-it-I-MEAN- FLOOR-IT and then REALLY BRAKE HARD test. Whew! After that, we also did a short all-terrain test to get the feel of the awesome all wheel drive and other stability controls that were incredible at helping us drive on wet, on sandy, up and down hills, and even braking while keeping the car totally under control. The entire experience was first class, complete with dozens of new Jaguars for people to drive, a nice display of other Jaguar cars, food, drinks, etc.

JAGUAR sign on the autocross
If you want to sign up (and we very highly recommend you do), then go to this link: JAGUAR DC Art of Performance

JAGUAR thinks of everything!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Autocross Car Preview

Factory Five and 2 Mustangs = AMERICA!

A quick look at the drivers signed up for this coming weekend's autocross with the Tidewater Sports Car Club shows that we have cars from companies based in several countries. Leading the way are Germany and Japan with 22 entries each, followed by the home team USA with 16 drivers. After that the numbers drop quickly to only 2 Korean car drivers and then 1 from England and the NMS FIAT from Italy. Of course not all these cars are built in their company's home country, so I guess you could count my FIAT as a Mexican car if you want.

Morgan = ENGLAND!

By taking out the driver names and what class the cars are entered in, here's the car info by country. The German entries show a bit of variety with some Porsches, some VWs, and a majority of BMWs.
Down in the Japanese listings, it's a LOT of Mazda Miatas. This brings up one of the common sayings that crops up when car fans talk about the best car to autocross, or to drive on a track, or to modify. The saying is that "Miata is always the answer" because they are so popular and handle well. Even with the Japanese vote split among Infiniti, Subaru, Honda, and Nissan/Datsun, the 12 Miatas make this one model the autocross car of choice.

Volvo = SWEDEN!

Here in the USA there are a variety of Mustang models, and I've included the Briggs Kart and the Factory Five as Americans also. I'm still working on the best way to joke about the WWII winning USA/England team having less popular cars in autocross than the WWII losers of Germany/Japan/Italy, so if you have a good idea of how to say that in a funny way please let me know.
Porsche times 3 = GERMANY!
The Morgan roadster is an awesome car to see on the autocross "pitch", and we might even have another English car driving on Sunday if the Lotus and old Mini show up. So far I haven't seen any Jaguars, Aston Martins, or McLaren cars at an autocross, but I'm sure they are out there. Maybe James Bond takes his Aston Martin out for a spin when he's not busy saving the world.
Datsun/Nissan = JAPAN!

Last but hopefully not slowest, our lone Italian representative is the NMS Abarth, so as long as no other Italians show up I'll be gunning for Fastest Italian of the Day. Just to refresh your memory, the other Italian cars that you can buy in the US right  now tend to be faster and way more expensive than my car, so it would be great to get behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, or Lamborghini too.

Tidewater Sports Car Club October Autocross Entries by Country of Origin

2010 Porsche Boxster S Germany
2003 Volkswagen 20th Anny GTI Germany
1999 BMW M3 Germany
2010 Porsche Boxster S Germany
1999 Porsche 911 Germany
2005 BMW 325ci Germany
Volkswagen Golf TDI Germany
1997 BMW 328is Germany
1995 BMW M3 Germany
1994 BMW 325is Germany
2012 Volkswagen Golf R Germany
1973 Porsche Germany
2009 Volkswagen GTI Germany
2008 Volkswagen R 32 Germany
1993 BMW 325i Germany
BMW 323 Germany
1995 BMW 325is Germany
2003 BMW 330ci Germany
1995 BMW 325is Germany
2008 Volkswagen R 32 Germany
2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Germany
2014 BMW 328i Germany
1990 Nissan Skyline GTR Japan
1991 Mazda Miata Japan
2015 Subaru STi Japan
2006 Mazda MX5 Japan
2002 Mazda Miata Japan
2011 Mazda 2 Japan
1991 Mazda Miata Japan
1997 Mazda Miata Japan
1991 Mazda Miata Japan
2001 Mazda Miata Japan
1994 Mazda Miata Japan
2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata Japan
1994 Mazda Miata Japan
2005 Infiniti G35 Coupe Japan
1997 Mazda Miata Japan
1973 Datsun 240Z Japan
1995 Mazda Miata Japan
1995 Mazda Miata Japan
1979 Honda Civic Japan
2000 Honda S2000 Japan
2004 Mazda Miata Japan
2001 Mazda Miata Japan
2012 Ford Shelby GT500 USA
2014 Ford Mustang USA
2016 Ford Shelby GT350R USA
2014 Ford Mustang USA
2012 Ford Shelby GT500 USA
2015 Ford Fiesta ST USA
1996 Chevrolet Camaro USA
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 USA
1985 Ford Mustang USA
2003 Ford Mustang Cobra USA
1991 Ford Mustang USA
1969 Chevrolet Camaro USA
2006 Firstkart Briggs USA
2002 Chevrolet Corvette z06 USA
2002 Pontiac Trans am USA
2015 Hyundai Elantra Korea
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Korea
1958 Morgan RDS England
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Italy

Monday, October 10, 2016

Important Election News! Here's Who I'm Endorsing!

ATTENTION AMERICA! Coming up soon is probably the most important vote of your life! You've probably heard about it on the TV, on the Internet, maybe watched some of the debates so far, and had some conversations with your friends. This important election has been on the news pretty much non-stop lately, and it's been all over the Internet too!

Well, let me just get down to business and tell you who I'm endorsing, and ask for YOUR vote also. 

2017 FIAT 124 Spider

In the election for BEST LOOKING NEW CAR OF 2017, NMS-North is endorsing the FIAT 124 SPIDER!

FIAT 124 Spider

This election is sponsored by The Car Connection in their Driver's Choice Awards. 

Feel free to vote. Go back to the website and vote every day! As they used to say in the early days of America with the rigged elections, "VOTE EARLY, and VOTE OFTEN"!

FIAT 124 Spider

Drivers Choice

FIAT 124 Spider

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Formula E: Hong Kong

Formula E race from last season

Starting on Sunday October 9th is the 3rd season of Formula E Formula E. Since it doesn't rhyme with "NASCAR", "Indycar", or "Formula 1", maybe you're not familiar with Formula E! I tried following it a little bit in the first year, but to be honest I only watched part of a couple races and kind of lost track of what they were doing. In an effort to get some more fans, here's some of the basics...

Far far away, in a pretend land called "anything not in the USA", there was a governing body of international racing called the FIA. Of course that's funny right there, because a governing "body" implies that it doesn't have a head, which is where something that scientists call "brains" lives! So the FIA invented a new kind of racing where the cars don't have gas burning engines, because the cars would be powered by electric motors. At this time you should just stop worrying about how the electricity in the electric cars was generated, because somewhere along the way that power was likely converted from something like burning gas, nuclear power, or maybe the blowing of the wind.

If you're looking for a team to root for, how about Andretti, Renault, or Jaguar? Maybe a familiar driver name is your favorite, so you can cheer for names like Prost or Piquet, since both of their fathers were world champions in Formula 1. Here's more info on the teams and drivers: Teams/Drivers

One unique thing about Formula E is the Fan Boost, where you can go on line and vote for one driver to get an extra boost of power during the race, like the "Push to Pass" feature of Indycars. Each race also features something no one else has, and that's in the pit stops. Each driver has to stop once during the race, and switch cars! This happens because they are using up their battery power in about half the race, so a bit of the strategy is how they manage their power and battery life.

You should be able to catch the races on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, or on their Fox Sports Go app. 
If you don't stay up and watch the Hong Kong race in the middle of the night at 3:30AM, you can catch it Sunday afternoon at 4:30PM eastern time on Fox. 

So, the idea of electric powered cars racing has now gone through two complete seasons, with races held all over the planet. Similar to Formula 1, the teams in Formula E have two cars in each race, and therefore two drivers for you to cheer for or hate. One thing that might get your attention is that for this season from October 2016 into August 2017, there will be one race in the US! This race will be in the New York City area on July 15-16 next year. If you want to get on the email list for info on tickets for this race, here's the link: Formula E NYC

Here's the full season schedule:

Hong Kong October 9, 2016
Marrakesh  November 12, 2016
Buenos Aires  February 17, 2017
Mexico City  April 1, 2017
Monaco  May 13, 2017
Paris  May 20, 2017
Berlin, June 10, 2017
Brussels, July 1, 2017
New York City, July 15-16, 2017
Montreal, July 29-30, 2017

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Return of French Cars to the USA: It Could Happen.


According to Autoweek, we just might see the return of French cars to the US market some time in the future! As fans of all things automotive, we say Bon Jour, or whatever it is they say in France! The PSA company plans to slowly move into the US market by starting with rental cars or cars to support their Uber type of car service.

PSA is the name of the company that includes these three French car brands: Peugeot, Citroen, and DS. There is a long history of building cars and racing them in France, so we'll throw in a quick salute to four time Formula 1 champion Alain Prost from France!

Peugeot was founded in 1810, and last sold cars in the US in 1991. You just might see one once in a while, but probably not every day. Somewhere in the NMS blog I remember seeing a Peugeot 308 at a car show in 2015, and then I saw one parked in my neighborhood last year. The car show one I understand, but I think the one near my house was owned by a foreign military officer stationed here in the US.

Citroen is another French auto maker you've maybe heard of, but again, they haven't been sold here for a long time. The company was started in 1915, and has a long history of building cars.  In addition to building cars, they also support various racing series in Europe today. See, that's the kind of stuff we need more of today, maybe like if Ford and FIAT and Chevy would all sponsor more racing and auto crossing!

The third auto brand of PSA is newcomer DS, which was just started in 2015. Let's just say they've never sold any cars in North America, so we're not likely to see them any time soon either.



Friday, October 7, 2016

Remember Those British Top Gear Guys? They're BACK!

Yes, coming on November 18th, on Amazon, you can see them in their new show titled The Grand Tour. From what I can tell on the Amazon website, you can watch the show if you are an Amazon Prime member The Grand Tour

Those three blokes from the greatest car show ever (the British Top Gear, certainly not the US version) are back in a new show that will be streaming on Amazon. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and "Captain Slow" James May will be back with their unique brand of comedy slash entertainment slash lunacy slash car talk. Look for a new show every Friday.

Check out their...Trailer

If that's not enough to get your motor revved up, well, here's another bit from an upcoming show:


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mustang Update

A few months ago,  NMS North brought home a "fixer-upper" 2000 V6 Mustang from an auto auction. While we don't like to discuss money, let's just say that it cost less than 226 dollars! Of course it doesn't run, but that is what makes it a bargain! What fun is a brand new shiny car that you don't need to work on to get it running? Ha!!

In case you forget what a Mustang looks like, here's a few at the October Cars and Coffee in Virginia Beach:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Here's Our Free NMS Packing List!

Did you bring it? I thought YOU brought it?

We've only been auto-crossing for a few years, but a couple of  little items that come in handy (even if you think you don't need them) is a packing checking list, and a final check list before competing. You've probably experienced that feeling when you pack for a trip or just to go to work one day, and you get to your destination and then you find out what you are missing. Not a great feeling is it? One good thing about auto cross drivers is that when you forget something, or something breaks, there's probably going to be someone to help you out, loan you the thing you forgot, or at least make you feel better by laughing at you!

Feel free to print these and use them, add or delete what might not apply to you, or make your own. If you feel inclined to send us any spare car parts, money, or unclaimed lottery tickets, well, that would be OK too!

Is it over there? I thought you said you brought it?