Sunday, December 29, 2019


Happy New Year 2020!
Robert, Julie, and Brian Wish You the Best
From the Circuit of the Americas F1 Race. 

With the holidays here once again, let's pause one moment and recap some highlights from NMS-North from 2019. While we didn't get that call to move up to drive in Formula 1 like we were expecting, there were some other fun events this year too. Now that I think about it, this entire blog got started as a year-end wrap up, after we'd published a little booklet on our first year of autocross in 2013. Oh well, we'll probably just keep doing it next year too, so you have been warned!

1. Probably the top feature was driving for two days at Watkins Glen. Taking even the FIAT onto such a famous course, and one that has awesome corners and elevation changes, was just 100% fun. The only reason to say this is only "probably" number one, is because of #2 below. 

Drove at Watkins Glen, Bucket List CHECK!


2.  Outside of actual driving, another memorable experience this year was attending the F1 race weekend in Austin TX. Normally, just being in Texas is great enough (thank you, BBQ) but having a weekend jam-packed with the sights, sounds, and smells of racing was a lot of fun. 

NMS North with Alfa Romeo Formula 1 Driver
Antonio Giovinazzi. 


3.  Yes, it is tons of fun to drive a car (why else would you have one?), it's fun to look at other people's cars. I don't mean to break into the garages of the rich and famous, but to visit your local car show, Cars and Coffee, or an automotive museum near you. Topping my chart in this category, the Simeone Foundation Automobile Museum in Philadelphia. Well worth your visit, Dr. Simeone's collection is all about race cars, and I was lucky enough to have a Saturday off work when they brought out some of the cars to drive around their parking lot, with this event also hosted by F1 announcer Will Buxton, and all around great driver David Hobbs. Another noteworthy entry here, the Father's Day Ferrari Cars and Coffee not far from my house.

David Hobbs and Will Buxton signing their books


OK, the car show category is a big one, so I have to mention the annual show hosted in the spring on the campus of the US Merchant Marine Academy, and the big New York International Auto Show held in Manhattan.

4.  Beyond driving our own cars, driving someone else's car is sometimes even more fun. Mostly when it's a brand new shiny car. Or even better, a brand new shiny car with big horsepower! Hey, or even, (stop me if I'm dreaming) someone else's brand new shiny car with big horsepower and they tell you to drive it like you stole it!! Yeah, now we're talking! Sign me up for some of that! Oh, which I did at two events this year, thanks to Lexus and BMW!

Adam Andretti talks Lexus


Photos or It Didn't Happen? I was 4th Fastest out of 21 Drivers
on the Autocross Course. 

5.  Autocross wise, I pretty much took the year off and concentrated my fun on all those events already listed. My autoX in 2019 was packed into one weekend in March with Brian down in North and South Carolina, driving his BMW at ZMax with the Central Carolina Region (SCCA) in Charlotte, and with our friends in the South Carolina Region at Darlington. Somehow Brian managed to be faster in his own car, but I had a great trip with the entire NMS squad (yes, all two of us!) and seeing some autocross friends from my time in the Carolinas. Yes, there was BBQ involved also, and that South Carolina mustard based BBQ sauce still hits the spot.

All in all, 2019 was a fun year with some great memories made, so I hope you will get out there and do your own fun stuff in 2020 too. Coming up in the near future we'll take a general looks at NMS plans for next year, so for now we're putting 2019 down in the books as another busy year.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanks For Auto Racing Day!

Austin Texas, Formula 1 cheering for Ferrari, Haas, and Manor. 

Everyone here at NMS knows that you're busy celebrating this big holiday this Thursday, so  will keep this message short, and wish everyone a HAPPY THANKS FOR AUTO RACING DAY! 

(BMW paint job on a Nissan Sentra, with custom cowbell air intakes)

Remember, Race Car spelled backwards is still RACECAR!
Especially if you're watching 6 time world champion Lewis Hamilton #44.

Friday, November 22, 2019

NMS South Clears Out Home Base

This fall has been busy with Watkins Glen, F1, and Lemons but between all of that, I sold my house. Frequent radio-man and crew chief, Phillip was able to purchase his first home, complete with a fairly good size shop out back. NMS South will be renting and splitting space for at least the next year while I figure out the next longer term home for the Miata division.

NMS South, 2012-2019.

For the first time in almost 7 years, the small one-car space was finally cleared out. It saw a ton of use but never really had the elbow room needed for a car hobby. Below, the Lemons Miata and Phillip's Mustang share the new garage with room to spare. Step one was an epoxy coating on the floor to provide years of easy cleanup.

Current home. 
This past weekend the team inspected the Miata and found everything in excellent condition. An oil change is due, but otherwise the purple machine is ready for its third race at Road Atlanta in December.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

NMS Does BMW: Ultimate Driving Experience!

Our friends at BMW were back in New York City with their Ultimate Driving Experience this week, and once again it was a blast to drive their cars! It's just hard to beat the offer of driving someone else's brand new 382 HP car, while they keep telling you to go faster! In this case, with a pro driving coach that was helping me go faster on a little autocross circuit.

Welcome to Citi Field, the BMW flags are flying!

This year, the BMW team brought out the M340i, and I can vouch that it's a really fun car to drive! When I visited early on Sunday morning, they had 4 courses going full blast, with three identical cars at each one, each car with it's own instructor. Also at Citi Field there was a driving day for teenagers to learn more about car control, and other spots where BMW let you experience their SUVs like the new X7, and test drive a variety of their cars on the street around the big stadium complex.

Inside the various tents (heated, which was nice on a cold day!) they had other displays of vehicles, BMW race cars, and info on their performance driving opportunities in SC and CA, and the European delivery experience, (just in case you want to give me a new BMW for the holidays and let me fly to Germany for free to take delivery!) Hey, they even had some free coffee made to order, snacks, and bottled water! Thanks!

I've got a free coffee, and a lanyard with a badge. Let's do this!

Let me get this straight, you want us to drive your new 382 HP car and go
as fast as we can? Well allrighty then!!

Group 1, your cars are waiting. There were 4 separate courses running at the same time!

A few highlights

Hey, they come in blue! Let's go Mets!

There was also some golf event going on inside Citi Field.
I don't think they had as much fun as we did!

Full disclosure, I was 4th fastest out of my group of 21 drivers.
The instructor was a big help. 
Here's a video of the course we drove. This has the 3 instructors going very slowly, explaining how to drive the course, and then they put their feet down on the loud pedal and go much quicker around the little loop. I'm sure they were way faster than me!

BMW i3 electric. I've driven this model before, it's my favorite
electric vehicle. 

More cars available to drive. 

I skipped the SUV mountain climb event, but it looked like fun. 

You won't lose your car in a parking lot of black/silver/white cars when
it's this color!

X drive is BMW speak for 4 wheel drive. 

Don't forget that BMW makes motorcycles too!

Front end of the BMW M340i models that we drove.
The silver trim spices up the blue a bit. 
The higher performance flavor of BMW is Alpina. you can see this one
starts at $142,800. 

Alpina B7, 600HP!

Alpina B7 with a 21 inch rear wheel. 

Alpina interior. 

Next up, the Z4 sDrive M40i.

This looks to have the same engine as the M340i. 

Did you know that BMW is The Ultimate Driving Machine?

Z4 center panel
Reminder, a gift card for driving at one of the BMW performance
centers is a great gift idea!

Thanks for the coffee!


X7 back seats

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Sunday Sunday Sunday, it's RACE DAY! Before telling you about our race day experience, we'll mention again that everything is bigger in Texas. So big in fact, that just up the road from Austin, on the same day, the NASCAR teams are competing at the Texas Motor Speedway. "Just up the road" in Texas means about 240 miles, because Texas is a big place! I've got my tickets, I've got a parking pass, I'm wearing a Ferrari shirt and a Ferrari hat, so let's go to the track!

One really great thing about TEXAS is that some of the roads around Austin have 80mph speed limits! What could be better than that? The road that has an 85 MPH SPEED LIMIT!

After driving to the track for the third day, I didn't really need to read the signs, but it was great to see this one again anyway. 

Here's the main entrance sign. 

On the entrance road to the parking lots.

Walking over to the go-kart area. I'd entered a contest to win a free kart race but didn't win. However, my friend from SC Adam Powlas won a race, so we wanted to see him drive and meet up with the rest of our friends early in the day!

If you visit COTA some other time of the year, you can pay to drive one of these awesome Audis on the track. Makes a great Christmas gift for blog writers!

Here's Adam on the track. For the people that got to do karting for free, they held a drawing for a free bicycle, and he won that too! Adam is the owner of the Nissan Altima that I drove in a Lemons Race last year, so he's a fast driver. 

Still morning, waiting for the 1PM race, so we're walking around checking out the sights. Yep, it's still like being at a State Fair!

We got to our seats for the Drivers Parade, where we'll see the drivers riding around the track well before the race, just to wave to the fans. Part of the preparation of any race is making sure the racing surface is in good shape, so in addition to having the safety car and medical car doing some laps, these street sweepers came out to scrub the curbing. 

Then this guy was cleaning the center parts of the track. As he passed us, some piece of debris came loose and landed on the track. Trying to be funny from way up in the grandstad, I yelled out "HEY YOU DROPPED SOMETHING" but the only person that heard me was some lady walking to her seat, who started looking around thinking she'd dropped something. I told her I wasn't yelling at her. So much for my comedy career. 

One of the observant track workers retrieved the debris. Those guys and gals put in some long days. 

Here comes the driver parade. Most of them were in pure USA cars like this Corvette and some old pickups. 

I read later that one of the parade cars didn't start, so here you see two of the F1 drivers that teamed up in the same car. 

In the next two photos is something you don't see everyday, now 6 time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes. If he wins another championship (like next year probably!) he'll tie the all time record of 7 currently held by Michael Schumacher. 

So the drivers parade ended, and there was still some time before the race. We decided to wander about some more before going back to our seats in the sun. Here's the view inside the soccer stadium. There were always people just hanging out there on the grass, or up in the stands. There was one big video screen in the stadium, so this was a nice place to get away from the bigger crowds walking around. 

Next we returned to the Military Outpost for a few free beverages, and at this time the pre-race events started over at the start/finish line. On the screen here behind the bar the Cowboy Cheerleaders were doing a routine. The University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band had also played. 

Now we're ready for the race, with a refreshing Ziegenbock beer and a bottle of water and a Diet Coke. 

Sitting at turn 12, ready for Ferrari to win the race! My companions are wearing Haas hats, so we'll root for them too!

Some skydivers landed just past turn 12, so that was fun watching them float down. 

Right on cue after the National Anthem we had this flyover from some Navy aircraft. 

Let's get thing going!

Here's just a few shots during the race. I'm not a professional photographer, so mostly I wanted to just enjoy the race. First, pole sitter Bottas. 

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren's Lando Norris

Daniel Ricciardo for Renault

Ferrari driver Sebastien Vettel. This is almost a "rare" shot, because he had a suspension failure and had to retire on lap 8. His car came to a final stop just out of our view. 

So during the race, one of the highlights was that even though Hamilton was leading a lot of it, his team mate Bottas switched to newer tires, and started reeling in Hamilton. In this video, you can see the two McLaren cars go by, and then the crowd standing, anticipating the pass coming down to turn 12. If you look at the video board across the track you can see Bottas make the move, and then right after that they both come into view. With this pass, Bottas won the race, and Hamilton went on to finish 2nd. Bottas easily made the pass way before the braking zone, but it was still exciting to see. 

Near the end of the race we saw Haas driver Kevin Magnussen have a brake issue, and go straight at the corner, and he had to retire the car down in the gravel. The yellow caution flags for this meant that we didn't see any more passing, but this was only at the end of the race. The other Haas driver also finished out of the points, so it was a tough day for the home team. 

Here's the scoreboard of the final top ten. This shows Kvyat of Toro Rosso in 10th, but he was then given a penalty and Racing Point's Checo Perez took 10th. 

On the cool down lap here's a bunch of the drivers for the final time in Texas. Here's one of our favorite drivers Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo. 

Carlos Sainz, McLaren.

Daniel Kvyat for Toro Rosso.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull. Max took 3rd in the race.

Race winner, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point driver from Mexico. 

Williams driver George Russell. 

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, AKA "The Hulk".

Whew, it was a tough weekend, having to goof off and have fun all the time! We really enjoyed spending the weekend at COTA, eating TX BBQ, seeing old friends, watching the racing, and all the other things we did. Ferrari didn't do so  hot in the race, and our American Haas team didn't get any points, but it was still a great weekend!

Brian gives us his best smiley Dan Ricciardo smile. 

After the race, the track was opened up to fans. most of them walked over to watch the podium awards, but we just went out here at turn 19 for a quick visit. This is looking back to turn 18, and in the upper right you can see the elevation at turn 1. Thanks for following along on the blog!

That's my take on the race. Check out the official Formula 1 video recap for more.