Sunday, September 29, 2019

Watkins Glen International

If you are a racing fan, you might know that Formula 1 (the greatest racing in the world) has taken place at multiple locations in the US. Coming up in November, the F1 tour will be in Austin Texas at the Circuit of the Americas, on a track built just for F1 that has become a regular stop over it's short 8 year life. In previous years, F1 has raced at Long Beach CA, Dallas TX, Las Vegas NV, Indianapolis IN, and several other places. Watkins Glen NY has the distinction of having hosted the most F1 races in the USA (20 years), and that's where NMS will be driving next weekend!
Of course we won't be driving IN an F1 race, or in any real race at all, but we WILL be on the track working on driving skills. Look for a ton of info after the event right here, guaranteed to be chock full of photos, nonstop writing, and whatever else general goofiness happens in upstate NY. Here's a short technical update from NMS-North. 
The engineers and data analysis team at NMS-North has been doing a deep dive of long term performance data from previous track events, made the following recommendations for next weekend’s two-day track HPDE at Watkins Glen. For the FIAT Abarth, the team will continue with the Bridgestone RE-71R tire compounds, having found them to deliver good bang-for-the-buck value in both wet and dry driving conditions. The Tire Analysis Team (TAT) predicts that one set of used tires will get the car through the entire weekend, resulting in the need for new tires for 2020 via the NMS Tire Insertion Initiative (TIT). This new TIT for TAT strategy should have the car operating in the ideal performance window well into the future. And just to be safe, we'll haul an extra set of wheels up there to make sure we get  home. 
Under the hood, mechanics are still developing the optimal timeline for spark plug replacement, knowing that they are due to replace all four plugs before the coming weekend. As far as the rest of the mechanical systems, the Integrated Mechanical Brake Analysis Data (IMBAD) engineers have stated that they will be performing their usual semi-Yearly Observation Undertaking (YOU), resulting in the Knowledge of Now Operating Wear (KNOW), thru Information Technology (IT), AKA the NMS-Racing’s “I’M BAD YOU KNOW IT.”
To better fuel both NMS drivers, the driver’s personal trainers and nutrition team is bringing their Better Energy Expenditure Regimen (BEER) and Performance Integrated Zealous Zero Augmentation (PIZZA) diet for the entire team. Our leading experts hypothesize that by combining both BEER and PIZZA, that the team will achieve peak performance, so a full weekend of gathering this data should prove invaluable.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Trailer Tune-Up

As both NMS divisions prepare for their first trip to Watkins Glen International Raceway in up-state New York next weekend, the Southern half has been busy getting the new-to-us tire trailer tuned-up for the long road trip.
Heck, I even bought a spare tire!

The Miata is a fantastic car, but when it comes to hauling lots of stuff, you're flat out of luck. Many grassroots enthusiasts add hitches and bring small trailers along to track days typically carrying the on-track tires and a box of tools and oatmeal cream pies (or whatever equipment deemed necessary to keep the car on track for a weekend).
Old and busted. New hotness.

A few months back I acquired the trailer and noticed it was due for a number of maintenance items. For one, the tires were dry-rotted and needed replacing. Might as well swap out hubs/bearings along the way. On top of that the lights were broken.
Wheel and hub removed. Just about as simple as a '72 Dodge Coronet!

Tires and hubs are a quick job. Jack up one side, unbolt the wheel, unbolt the hub, replace the hub, replace the wheel. The wiring was then stripped out of the trailer, with fresh wire and four pin connector. Old lights remove, new ones installed and some wired were spliced together. Piece of cake.
Wiring and wheels done!

The final step was adding a wiring harness to the Miata. It's like Mazda had no idea people would want to pull trailers with these things! Sheesh. Following a wiring diagram online, it was a simple splicing in of a few wires and mounting the signal box to the car.
Little bit of wiring poking out next to the spare oil.

I took it a step further and cut a hole in the little plastic tray to the driver side of the truck to store the wiring. Nice and tidy. Everything worked the first time. Amazing.
Test fitting. Looks good.

I'll check over a few last items, but the car is ready to hit the road next week!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lemons CMP Fall 2019 Recap

You heard a bunch of updates from our first of two days of racing in the previous post, so I'll catch us up fast and continue through day 2 coverage. Friday morning we got the new graphics on the car while John and Jason set up the suspension modifications and aligned the car to improve tire wear over what we saw during the 24 hour race.
John and Jason work their magic on the alignment and corner balancing

The car got to the track Friday afternoon, handily passed tech inspection and then we loaded back up and headed to Camden for the block party and parade. Everyone had a good time, even if the Hellasweet sign was more popular than the car. I think we might have to start charging for Hellasweet Selfies!
Team Popcopy (we'll tag Luke back in for Road Atlanta when he's not busy with work)

The other benefit of the LEDs we installed on the sign for night pit stops at the 24 hour race was that it makes a really handy flashlight for securing your race car on the trailer at night!
Jason does a Hellasweet job of strapping down the Miata.

We had a solid, steady pace all day Saturday and finished the day in 10th overall, which secured us a top of the field start when I jumped back in the car Sunday morning. I was on track to hold position during the long 2 hour morning stint when with less than a lap to go before the lunch break, I got overly-confident through the blind left-hander, Turn 3 and the back end of the car came around on me quicker than I could catch it. The spin was putting me dead center on track on the far side of the blind corner, so I caught the spin facing backwards and managed to steer the car just off track until traffic was clear. I lost us a lap, but kept the car in tact.
John battles heavy traffic to kick off an excellent weekend Saturday morning.

John picked up after the lunch break in 11th position and held strong. We made a driver change and got Jason in the car around 1:30. He started knocking off quick laps and reeled in and made up one lap on the 10th place car.  At 3:00 (one hour to go), Kyle was suited up, and we were just about to call the next pit stop when another car dislodged a tire barrier, incurring a black flag which had all the cars come back to pit road and stop for 30 minutes.
Kyle takes the checker and holds our 11th place finish!

With the delay, Kyle's stint dropped to just under 30 minutes, which meant we didn't need to add fuel and he held us in 11th place to the checker flag. It was an excellent result, completely free of mechanical issues. Tire wear was exceptionally good. Other than my spin, we ran a really solid race! We'll check the car over, but otherwise we're just about ready to hit the track in December in Atlanta, where the full NMS crew will take on the challenge of Road Atlanta!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Lemons Race Day 1 Recap

Team Coronautski, AKA Bunch of Idiots, AKA Team POPCOPY
24 Hours of Lemons
Miata Power

Brian Nixon and his team-mates from Team Coronautski Kyle Ray-Smith, Luke O'Hara, John Fatcheric, and Jason Rucker, AKA "Bunch of Idiots", have finished the first day of the fall 24 Hours of Lemons at CMP in South Carolina in an excellent 10th place overall! Unlike many great driving accomplishments highlighted here on the NMS blog, this 10th place is really good stuff, because it's out of 93 crappy $500 cars that have completed at least one lap. Over the first day's 8 hours of racing, the Bunch of Idiots has completed 183 laps, which means they are only 12 laps out of first overall. Oh, and the Miata is themed as the POPCOPY racer, which is a reference to a funny skit on the Dave Chappelle Show.

Last minute prep before racing on Saturday

From what we can tell from following along on the Race Monitor app (only about 4 bucks for a month, you can cancel any time), they've been lapping without any engine issues, and only stopped for fuel so far, as well as driver changes. The track at Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP) is 2.27 miles per lap, so if we call on our technical analysis team at NMS HQ, they've "done the math" and come up with 415.41 miles covered so far. Compared to this team's previous car, the mighty 72 Dodge Coronet, we'd estimate that the current Miata has gone through about 2 less engines, 8 less tires, and 50 less gallons of gas after 8 hours on the track too! OK, seriously, a lighter, newer Miata will use fewer tires/gas/brakes/engines, so the team has got to be happy with a lighter impact on the old wallet at this point!

The Miata and Team Altima prep for Sunday

Again, turning to our technical analysis team and their super-computer, 415 miles in 8 hours works out to 51.92 miles per hour, so you can tell that the team is tearing up the track. To be honest, that time and  mileage includes the 3 or 4 pit stops to swap drivers and refuel, as well as at least two full course yellow or black flags that has cut down the laps for all the teams. The team's fastest lap clocked in at 2:02.974, so that one lap averaged 66.45MPH. The track does have a few pretty good straights where the car is likely hitting 100MPH or close to it, but we'll have to study the data to give you any more specifics. Keep in mind that all this racing is in traffic with cars that are mostly slower, so there's generally a lot of traffic on most laps.

Friday Night Block Party
All the Racecars

Let's see, in other technical analysis, we believe that the team has run as high as 8th overall, and their current 10th has them just 3 laps out of 7th overall, so we're looking to see them running strong on Sunday and moving up a bit higher.
Ready to Parade into Camden SC for the Block Party

Besides the overall competition, the cars are split into 3 classes, with the Miata in the likely fastest Class A, and in Class A the team is in 8th overall, with a couple of Class B cars somehow in the top 10 too. The Coronet had won the slowest Class C a year ago on this same track, so this is a step up into the faster mo-better cars of Class A. The classification is a totally non-scientific best SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess) from the easily bribed judges, but that's just part of what makes Lemons racing so much fun!

Stay tuned for a more complete wrap up from NMS driver Brian in the next few days, and the thrilling conclusion of how this thing turns out on Sunday. If this 24 Hours of Lemons doesn't make sense, don't blame me, go check it out on their website: 24 HOURS OF LEMONS

Thursday, September 5, 2019

NMS South Checking In

It's been a busy summer here at the Columbia, SC branch. The sad news first is that the home base of 7 years will soon be going on the market, so a lot of time has been dedicated to painting and some small maintenance tasks around the house. Fortunately, friend of the team, Phillip is about to buy his first home and is on track to close on a nice location with plenty of driveway and a nice sized detached shop! The NMS South stable will relocate and rent with Phillip while I look into my long term plans.
You could soon own this vintage piece of NMS history!

The happier news is we're only about one week away from our favorite race of the year, the Lemons South Fall race a CMP, complete with block party and parade! Can't wait to see everyone out there on Friday the 13th as we take over downtown Camden for our third year in a row!  The purple Miata is going to be sporting a new theme and is pretty much ready to get back on track after one last round of maintenance this coming Sunday.
Soft top out, getting some cleaning done.

As previously announced, we're taking on Watkins Glen in a few weeks and I've been sorting a few items on the #86 Miata. The soft top failed in the South Carolina sun a few weeks ago, so I've stripped out the entire unit, saving a hefty chunk of weight. The AC system was just serviced for the long trip and I've done some small adjustments to the harnesses and vacuumed out the interior (max weight savings!). The only task left is to install a new set of lights on the tire trailer and splice in a wiring harness so I can be legal when we make the trip to NY.
The window seals had been going bad and when the adhesive holding the glass in finally gave up on me, it was time to take one step closer to full racecar. 

I can't wait to wrap up house work and get back to playing with cars in the next few weeks. Much more to come as we head into fall!

Monday, September 2, 2019

NMS To Drive Watkins Glen

Spotted at POCONO last year with NASA Northeast

The NMS drivers will be meeting up in October at the historic Watkins Glen track in New York! This legendary track has hosted everything from Formula 1 to NASCAR and IndyCars over the years, and on the first weekend of October, it will be the home of NASA Northeast. With two full days of different driving events, races, time trials, and practicing, there will be a lot of miles put in and plenty of fun to be had!

NASA sponsors fun driving events
The NMS FIAT will be practicing with the High Performance Driver Education beginner group 1, with an instructor to be named, along with all the cars listed below. Keep in mind this not racing, or I imagine the Porsche Boxster and Aston Martin Vantage would tend to be faster than the rest of us! My point of listing the cars in HPDE 1 is that ANY car can get on track and have fun!

Looking at the more advanced HPDE 3 group below, you see more track-like cars, so those drivers are more serius about having fun on track, like Brian Nixon's Miata. 

FIAT 500 Abarth
NMS Driver Bob Nixon states that he's done HPDE events with NASA at Carolina Motorsports Park and Pocono, so he's looking forward to taking on the challenge of Watkins Glen and it's elevation changes (and corners of course). With multiple driving sessions each day, the drivers will be working to improve their racing line at this epic track, and continuing to improve their road handling skills. 

NASA places a big emphasis on safety, so even though this is not racing, drivers must wear helmets and only pass in certain places so that everyone is predictable and safer. 

The NMS Miata of Brian Nixon will be driving in HPDE group 3, so that group will be able to pass at will, as the drivers generally are on their own and don't require having an instructor on track. 

Driver Class Car
Stefano Viti HPDE1 Chevy Camaro SS2
Jennifer Skripchuk HPDE1 Mazda MX5
Christopher Russell HPDE1 Volkswagen GLI
Steven Phelps HPDE1 Honda S2000
Robert A. Nixon HPDE1 Fiat 500 Abarth
Christopher Keeny HPDE1 VW GTI
Pierce Kazilionis HPDE1 BMW M5
Richard Hedderick HPDE1 Chevrolet Camaro
Henry Fishbein HPDE1 Mazda Miata
Vicki Fischer HPDE1 Mazda MX5
Liam Fischer HPDE1 Toyota 86
William (Bill) Fischer HPDE1 Porsche Boxster
Phil Fisch HPDE1 Mazda Miata
Howard Finch HPDE1 Aston Martin Vantage
Robert DeLuca HPDE1 Ford Fiesta ST
Driver Class Car
nawshin basher HPDE3 Honda s2000
Christopher Ziotas HPDE3 Acura Integra
Jim Unrein HPDE3 Chevy Corvette
Brian Nixon HPDE3 Mazda Miata
Sean McElgun HPDE3 BMW M3
Jeff Levitt HPDE3 BMW M3
Alexander Kanfer HPDE3 BMW M4 CS
Dan Hagenbuch HPDE3 Mazda Miata MX-5
Adam Glogowski HPDE3 BMW 335i
John Fatcheric HPDE3 Pontiac Firehawk
Matthew Cohn HPDE3 BMW M3
Jason Burns HPDE3 Chevy Camaro Z28