Sunday, September 30, 2018

Trans Am Car Show

Burt and Sally Were There!

The other day we posted about the 100 Trans Am salute to Burt Reynolds, and somehow we ended up going to that car show on Saturday! We'll assume they started the day with 100 Trans Ams, but by the time we got there things were thinning out in the middle of the afternoon. Here's a look at some of the rides we spotted at this free car show on Long Island, and we hope your weekend is chock full of automotive goodness too!


Challenger R/T


Pontiac GTO
The Duke Boys 

Most Orange Trans Am of the Day!

More Trans Am Goodness

Newer Trans Am, Daytona Pace Car


Mustangs Come in Many Colors

Bumble Bee Cobra Replica

Cobra Engine

Oldsmobile Ornament
Nice Flame

Remember: Long Island Needs a Dragstrip!

Plymouth Road Runner

Matts GTO

Front Row Parking for the Abarth!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

100 Trans Ams: Salute to Burt Reynolds

Trans Am, Virginia Beach Cars and Coffee

Famed movie star Burt Reynolds has passed away, and most likely you've heard of a little movie of his called Smokey and the Bandit, where he drove a Trans Am. This popular combination did a lot for both Burt and the Trans Am, kind of like how Magnum P.I. (either the original with Tom Selleck or the new re-boot that started Monday Sept 24 on CBS) and his Ferrari, or James Bond and his Aston Martins go together.

Check out this article that talks about the 100 Trans Am salute to Burt coming up on September 29th on Long Island: NY DAILY NEWS

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hey Buddy, Wanna See Some Trabbies?

Trabant Photo Courtesy the Spy Museum

This post was almost about cats, because my auto-correct wanted Trabbies to be Tabbies. This post is NOT about cats. Car cats I WOULD write about would include Jaguars, Panthers, and Cheetahs.

So, back on topic, Trabbies, more formerly known as Trabants, the infamous cheap cars built in East Germany during the cold war. What made them special? Well, that they were one of the few cars built in East Germany, but also that parts of the body were made of some recycled cotton material called Duroplast.

What got me thinking about Trabants was an upcoming Trabant event in our nation's capitol of all places. If you want to see some Trabbies, head to Washington DC on November 3rd. The Spy Museum will be holding their 12th annual Trabant Rally from 10-4. They claim it's the only Trabant event in the US, so unless you're in Europe, this would be a cool car event to see! For more information, check out the website at the: SPY MUSEUM

I trust you know how to Google "Trabant" for more information on how they were built and why they are so unique, so I'll just share one informational video from Aging Wheels: TRABANT

For a super-quick look at the Trabi, check out this video too: MOTOR WEEK

OK, I know, sometimes you get trapped in a YouTube mode and can't stop watching videos, so here's one more. This one is AWESOME, from 1965, it shows Trabants being made in the factory in Zwickau (East Germany), has cool 60s background jazzy music, and is narrated in German! TRABANT FACTORY

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lemons Update

Even though the September Lemons Race in South Carolina was rescheduled, on the positive side, NMS-South has survived Hurricane Florence, and work has continued on the Team Coronautski Dodge Coronet. Also positive, NMS-North and the Altimate Driving Machine Nissan Altima have more time to prep their hunk-o-junk race car too! The Lemons race will now be held on the weekend of November 3-4, still at Carolina Motorsports Park. Team Coronautski has not made any public statements about their possible collusion with Russian automobile racers, and they did not return any NMS inquiries. More to follow as the Russian investigation continues.

More good news, considering the weather in South Carolina for drivers wearing protective gear, November should be A LOT COOLER weather-wise! Plus, maybe there won't be any hurricanes then either! If you're interested in actually trying this type of racing with a crew of fellow crazy drivers in a cheap $500 car, the sponsors of the 24 Hours of Lemons have a new guide to being a team captain, so we direct your attention to the Lemons Team Captain Toolkit at this link: TOOLKIT

While in general it's a very loose set of rules, Lemons racing is very strict on the safety issues, so it's important to know that beyond having a car that (hopefully) runs and go around the track for 2 days, that you really do need a built in roll cage, electrical cut-off, racing seats and harness, and all the safety gear and fire-protective gear for all drivers. Even having ridiculous fun for cheap should still be safe.

The NMS team has been focused on this Lemons race for most of 2018, so there's more car news to come, and just maybe we'll throw in another autocross or two before the year is over. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From Bad to Worse to Worserer

Kyle rolls the car through tech inspection Friday morning. 
Team Coronatuski made a massive push over the last week to piece together and re-build the engine that couldn't hold it together during testing last month. The car fired up Thursday night at about 10:00 pm and by 1:00 am the car left the shop. After a few hours of sleep, the purple Dodge was fueled up and back at Carolina Motorsports Park in time for the 8:00 am driver meeting.

Improvised fuel cooler. We routed the fuel through the spare aluminum line
 up front to catch some breeze.
Testing started off discouraging when the car suffered from fuel starvation and over-heating during the first session. We got creative and built an on-the-fly fuel line cooler out of spare parts we had on hand. It wasn't pretty, but it immediately solved the fuel issues.  Heat still plagued the car and we had just started working on addressing it with our remaining 3 track sessions when smoke poured from the car, forcing Kyle to pull to a stop and wait out the session from a safe location while things cooled down.

Always good for a little comic relief, Jason provided some remaining disaster 
relief water from a few years ago to top off the radiator.
Completely let down all our hard work was failing again, we loaded on the trailer and dragged the car back to Jason's. Diagnosis immediately showed head gasket failure, and with one cylinder head removed we saw even worse news.  Two of the four brand new forged aluminum pistons (the ones we bought to help make sure the engine was extra-strong) were melted in several spots.

Melted piston. You can see the two areas missing around the edge 
where the piston rings are showing through.
The team took a tough vote to press on with one last attempt to get the car ready and stay on track to race. A friend of a friend in the area had a factory-original 1972 Dodge 318 motor in an old Ram Charger that had been sitting in his yard for a couple years. We made a deal to haul it all away for $500 with the plan of plopping that engine in our car in whatever shape it was.

$500 buys one 1987 Dodge Ram Charger with a 1972 v8 motor.
Sunday morning, the team converged on the Ram Charger at 9:00 and got it loaded on our trailer. After a quick breakfast stop, the two vehicles were side by side and the swap began. Thanks again to Phillip, Jonathan, and Ward for stopping by and lending hands to make the swap happen!

About 10:00 Sunday night we finally line up the engine and slide
 it onto the transmission.
Today is Tuesday. The engine will be fired up (hopefully) for the first time in 2 years this evening. Hurricane Florence (currently Category 4, leaning toward 5) is barreling toward the SC/NC coast and threatening to ruin the race weekend with landfall Thursday night. This is the third time we've removed and replaced a motor in the car in the last month.

Shooting one frame per minute, here's a look at our Sunday. 

Stay up to date with us at

It's going to be a wild ride.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Long Distance Racing Hurricane Prep

24 Hours of Lemons Racing

By Long Distance Racing I mean that I live in New York and next week will be racing in South Carolina. For that, it sounds like I need a big old packing list to help make sure I don't forget anything. Let's see, maybe I should make a list of items to take with me on the plane. If I was going to drive to the event I could throw in a bunch of tools and other nice-to-have stuff too, but for the baggage allowance, this might be enough. The other part of long distance racing is the Lemons race itself, about 8 hours on Saturday and then another 5 hours on Sunday for our team of 5 drivers. For me personally that should be two driving stints, one long one Saturday and a shorter time on Sunday, lots of good old "seat time" trying to weave through traffic on course at Carolina Motorsports Park. 

--Driver Safety Gear: Helmet, balaclava, head and neck restraint, racing suit, Cool Shirt, gloves          Nomex socks, racing shoes: All this stuff should fit into 2 free bags on Southwest Airlines, so at least I don't have to pay extra for that!

--Other clothes for time off the track, shorts and t-shirts for SC! Judging by the latest hurricane predictions from NOAA and the folks at I better throw in plenty of rain gear. 

--GoPro camera to capture the madness

--Money for food, ice, gas, drinks. Going out of town for a weekend of "cheap" racing costs money!

--Copy of Lodging reservations and rental car: It's amazing how sometimes it helps to show them in writing if you have a reservation!

--Boarding passes for air travel, either paper or on the phone, maybe both

--More money for other stuff, in other words, credit cards

--Camping gear for sleeping at the track, since I might stay there or go to the hotel, we'll see how it goes depending on weather and if we're fixing something on the car all night!

And speaking of weather...

As of right now, Tropical Storm Florence is heading for landfall sometime Thursday, possibly in or close to South Carolina, so it will be important to follow the weather for the next week. At a minimum we will get some rain along the way, worst case scenario our flight or the entire race could be affected by Florence turning into a hurricane and going overland towards Carolina Motorsports Park. So far I think our flight into Charlotte will be OK, it's far enough inland that the risk of weather won't be as bad as flying into Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, or Florence SC. 

Driving in the rain at the race wouldn't be all bad, just makes for a wet weekend and sloppy conditions around the campground. Once you realize you're going to be out in the rain all day, well, you're just going to be wet all day, so it's not the worst thing in the world!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Crunch Time for the Coronet

$100. 44 years old. 280,000 miles. Yep, Lemons Approved!
This past weekend Team Coronautski gave up their three day holiday weekend to crank out a ton of last minute work on the purple beast. In testing about a month ago, the car was down on power and suffered from over-heating. Extremely discouraging for a complete fresh engine build (since we somewhat blew up the motor at our second race in February).

Luke and Kyle carefully torque down the main bearings with the "new" crankshaft installed. 

We disassembled the motor to find the main and rod bearings were completely worn out and the crankshaft heavily damaged after just an hour on track. A local machine shop checked out the block and verified it was in good shape and cleaned it out. Meanwhile we sourced a "new" crankshaft in the form of an entire motor for about $100 up in Ashville. Fortunately all 318 cubic inch (or 5.2 liter) Dodge/Chrysler motors have interchangeable crankshafts from about the mid-1960s all the way through 2002, so this 1974 unit with 280,000 miles was up to the task.

Kyle and I installed the top end. Starting to look like an engine again.
New bearing sourced, and the grease-caked motor disassembled, we scrounged what we needed and re-assembled our motor. I helped where I could, which mostly came in the form of picking up heavy motor pieces and carefully putting them in place. It is pretty awesome taking a pile of a hundred metal bits and slowly putting them together in sequence to reveal a device that carefully and precisely controls tiny explosions several times a second.

The master fabricator (and gracious shop owner) Chuck teaches Jason how to braze the boxes used to expand our oil pan.
We've always struggled with dropping oil pressure through hard cornering and in light of our most recent engine malfunction, Jason lead the effort to enhance our oil pan. The idea is that adding two small metal boxes at the bottom of the pan will allow us to carry an additional quart of oil down low where the pump picks it up. On top of the additional capacity, we welded in some strips of metal along the sides that should help prevent as much from sloshing up the side and away from the pick up tube for the oil pump. All of this should keep more of that precious lubrication and cooling capacity flowing through the motor in the corners on track.

A touch of paint dries on the modified oil pan. Yep, even our spare parts boxes are purple.
While Jason was melting metal and Kyle, John and Luke were putting some final touches on the motor, I got to work back in the car sealing up all of the holes in the floor with aluminum tape. Being a classic piece of Detroit muscle, the Coronet is suffering from massive rust all over the car. There is enough metal left to keep the car structurally sound, but holes in the floor risk letting in exhaust fumes, which are a huge safety concern during endurance racing. We've made due in the past with duct tape, but we take our safety extremely seriously on the team and decided to patch the floors completely.
The floor is now sealed with some roofing tape. An entire 33' roll of it to be exact.

If all goes well, we'll be back out on track this Friday for a final test before our third race next weekend. It's coming down to the wire, but we have an awesome team who will make sure we beat the pants off a certain Nissan Altima at CMP!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Gearing Up for Lemons

Coronet Gearing Up

The NMS drivers are working hard this Labor day weekend to gear up for the Lemons race in two more weekends. Here at NMS-North, that means that with a brand new head and neck restraint system that we had to adjust it to fit our body, and also install the anchors in the driver's helmet. This wasn't too difficult a job to tell the truth, certainly several degrees of difficulty lower than Brian and the Coronet team that was stripping down a junkyard engine to get some more parts into the Dodge, and doing some work in the oil pan to keep things lubricated!

Silver Anchor Blending in With Stickers

Both of these projects seem unrelated, but both will contribute to a safer and smoother running weekend. In the case of the head/neck restraint, safety comes first, even with cheap-o Lemons cars, so in the very small chance of an accident, all drivers are required to have the latest spec head and neck restraint,  helmet, fire suit, gloves, shoes, socks, roll bar and cage, fire extinguisher, etc. In other words, it's the kind of safety gear you are happy to have, but hope you never need, like the air bags on your car. Which reminds me, race cars don't have air bags, so that's one reason why there is all this other safety gear to keep you in the seat, in the car, and away from any possible fire.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Proof We Drive Fast!

This week I got this awesome bit of mail that let me know that I was speeding going through the toll plaza on the George Washington Bridge in New York City. Key highlight here is that it was just a warning, not a ticket, and there is no fine. However, it states that if I speed in the toll booth area again I might lose my EZ Pass. That certainly has my attention, and I hereby resolve to be a safer driver and obey the speed limits in the toll plazas.

One detail of the letter was that it told me I was going 33mph, but it didn't tell me what the speed limit was at that particular toll plaza. Depending on which web site you read, well, it looks like there are different speeds posted at different locations, so I need to pay attention to the posted signs at the toll spots.

On the other hand, the other key point I'd like to make is that for the first time in my short experience of being a New Yorker, there was NO TRAFFIC ON THE GW BRIDGE! This was about 8am on a Sunday, coming back from Pocono Raceway, so it was a huge shock that I was not sitting in stop and go traffic before and after the EZ Pass toll booth! Man, it was awesome to just roll up to the bridge, go the length of the Cross Bronx Expressway, and drive all the way home to Long Island. I may never again hit that stretch of road with no traffic, so it was pretty fun! The other fun part of that weekend was going the other direction super early on Saturday, thru Queens and the Bronx and actually being able to see Yankee Stadium without fifty tons of traffic all over the place.

So, my NMS tip-o-the-day: if you have to drive in New York City, make it early in the morning, but don't speed, even in the toll plazas!