Tuesday, June 29, 2021

NMS Targets Watkins Glen

Pre-COVID driving the Glen in 2019, Kyle Ray Smith as instructor.

In the Pre-COVID era, the NMS crew and several friends met up at a place called Watkins Glen International in NY, and had a blast driving the track for 2 days with NASA Northeast. We're planning to do it again in October this year too. In addition, NMS North has signed up for a Porsche Club of America weekend at the Glen at the tail end of July and August 1. Yes, not one, not two, but a THREE DAY WEEKEND of driving at the Glen! 

Brian doing the track walk, top of the esses at the Glen

What makes this place special? Well, WGI is a really fun track to drive, has left AND right turns, and has elevation that goes BOTH up AND down! Besides that, the Formula 1 guys raced there in the past, and more recently the track has hosted NASCAR, INDY car, and other races today. It's kind of a big deal!

Speaking of BIG DEALS, we love big deals, like at the last autocross when I found a quarter of a dollar in the parking lot. I mean like a George Washington quarter, worth at least 25 cents in real money! Oh, and the really big deal is that as a new member to the PCA, the local region offers a half price event in your first year, so I've cashed in my voucher and will get 3 days of driving for the price of one and a half. My math isn't so great, but they assured me it was cheaper than normal!

Brian wheeling the NMS Miata at Watkins Glen

There's still a month for more drivers to sign up, so for now let's take a look at the Yellow run group to see what cars I'll be on the track with at Watkins Glen. 


2016 Porsche GT4Fri-Sun385

2018 Porsche Cayman SFri-Sun350

2001 Porsche 996Fri-Sun300

2010 Porsche GT3 RSFRI/SAT450

2012 Audi TTRSFri-Sun360
Nixon, Robert2009 Porsche CaymanFri-Sun265

2019 Porsche 911 TurboFri-Sun540

Good news for me, it's not a race, so having the least amount of horsepower doesn't really matter. For each driver, the goal of DE is to improve their skills with personal coaching. Over three days in multiple sessions, over such a long track, I'm sure there's plenty of things I can do to improve! Along the way these faster cars will be passing me up, so that's part of my job, to be checking the rear view mirrors. By being aware of who is around you, and letting them pass in the appropriate place, everyone has a more fun and safer experience. In our group with instructors, I'm sure we'll only be passing in certain areas. 

See you out on the racetrack! Remember, if you spell that word backwards, it's still "racetrack." No, wait, that's wrong, it's RACECAR backwards is RACECAR. See, I told you I wasn't good at math. Or English.  

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Formula 1 Fantasy Strategy

Thumbs Up For F1 Fantasy Picks

This weekend is another Formula 1 race in Austria, and then next weekend will be a 2nd race on the same track. I've been trying to improve my strategy with picking my drivers and team for my Formula 1 Fantasy teams, so I've got a new plan for this weekend. Inspired by the book and movie Money Ball, I tried looking at all 20 drivers, and all 10 teams, and compared how many points each was scoring compared to their budget cost. With that in mind, I totally re-picked my Fantasy Team #1 as follows.

The weird thing with the F1 Fantasy League, is that the scoring is different than in the real races, and the prices of the drivers/teams with your set budget is not always the most logical. With that in mind, I took a look at the Fantasy points standings and values, did a quick calculation of how many points each driver/team have earned for their price, and came up with a ranking of most valuable ratio. Believe it or not, once I used that calculation to pick the best points-per-dollar top 5 drivers and the best team, the budget was exactly how much I had available! With no further ado, here are the top 5 drivers and 1 team based on the current F1 Fantasy League standings, heading into the first Austria Race: 

1-Lando Norris

2-Max Verstappen 

3-Pierre Gasly

4-Sergio Perez

5-Mick Schumacher


1-Red Bull

Real Formula 1, or Fantasy Formula 1?

Driver wise, Norris is NOT leading the real F1, Pierre Gasly is nowhere near 3rd place, and Mick Schumacher hasn’t even scored one point in real life yet, and much less made the top 5. However, the Fantasy game isn’t real life, and hopefully my calculations will pay off for
my Fantasy team. One drawback to my team right now is that with Red Bull as my constructor and BOTH of their drivers on my team, I’m really counting on them to continue their outstanding performance. At the last race in France, the Red Bull drivers finished 1st and 3rd, so that was their best drive of the year, putting both drivers on the podium. The McLaren guys also had a great race, finishing 5th and 6th, so maybe they’re the team to pick if they keep progressing. 

On the team side, Red Bull is the highest scoring team in real life, and since they lead Fantasy world in points-per-dollar, just maybe they are priced right. One interesting note though, is that while Red Bull leads the Fantasy pack, they are very closely followed by the cheaper McLaren team. If my driver budget had been a bit more I could have taken McLaren over Red Bull and not given up too much in the team department. In the worldwide F1 Fantasy standings, my best team is currently placed 299,500th out of 921,700 contestants, so let’s call that the top 33%. In all the USA players, I’m on 26,900th place from 88,500 or so players, about the top 30%. No danger of winning any prizes then!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Do COBRAS Migrate?

A classic COBRA

You've likely heard of the famous migration of the Monarch butterfly, as well as other animals that migrate. The famous "Snowbirds" that migrate annually from their homes in the warmth of Florida and Texas that migrate back north in the summer is another famous migration. The famous swallows that return to San Juan Capistrano in California are world famous, while in Hinckley Ohio, it's the buzzards that return in April every year. Last week we drove through Hinckley while touring the northeastern Ohio area, so that reminded me of another famous migration that you may not have heard much about. 

London is the home of an annual migration that is loud and thunderous, and for one weekend each summer totally disrupts the local population. No, not London England, London Ohio of course, and the annual June weekend of the London Cobra Show. 

To tell you the truth, I've never been to the London Cobra show, but I have been to the Rattlesnake Round-Up in Oklahoma! Yes, a bunch of snakes all in one place is a sight to see! While Rattlesnakes can be dangerous, the Cobras in Ohio are fairly harmless, they're very popular, and you can build one yourself!

OK, you can't build a snake unless you're a mad DNA wizard microbiologist, so the London Cobra Show is all about the Cobra cars made famous by Carol Shelby in the 1960s. One reason to check out the link TODAY is that TOMORROW is the drawing for a new Cobra built by volunteers, with all the proceeds going to charity. Check it out... https://www.londoncobrashow.com/

Monday, June 21, 2021

NMS Announces Big Mid-Season Upgrade

After 4 autocross events up north, and even though we're leading our small class of cars and standing in 6th overall for the club championship, NMS-North announces a huge upgrade to the 2009 Cayman. Right up there with a super-duper-charger, ultra-sonic hyper-drive, and absolute zero friction tires, this improvement is sure to lower our times by a good 75% OR MORE. For the first time, here on this blog or the entire world wide web, we are proud to reveal this monumental improvement to the #77 autocross car: 

Yes, a new set of re-usable vinyl numbers to stick on the car! This upgrade to the old numbers was required because we peeled the old ones off in the wet, and NOW that we've read the instructions, we know NOT to do that again! 

In the meantime we'd been running a home-made set of 77 magnets that work just fine in dry and wet conditions, but now we've gone for the big upgrade! With the blog web address added, we think it's pretty groovy too. Hopefully the funky font is OK and  you can tell it's 77. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Let's Go To The Video!

The Porsche dash gives you tire pressure read outs, 29 front and 30 rear

Brian has been doing a lot of NASA Time Trials on track this year, and up north I've mostly done autocross.  We both try to shoot video of our driving, and then review it later to learn why we're so slow. I mean, we try to learn how to go faster! While any video is never as good as the real thing, it does show you what in the wide wide world of sports we're talking about all the time, and I hope it helps show you how much fun YOU can be having by driving too. Heck, maybe it inspires someone to think "I can drive faster than those knuckleheads!" And that's OK too!

Most driving events are all about beating the clock

Here's a few laps of Brian in the NMS Miata, time trialing his way around Road Atlanta last Sunday. Not a wheel to wheel race, he's just driving by himself and trying to improve his single lap time. Remember, racing is like golf, the LOWEST number wins! Check out Brian's YouTube Page at this link: NMS SOUTH YOUTUBE


Up in New York, I was in the Cayman doing the same thing, but on a smaller scale in a parking lot course defined by orange cones. Same idea: MAKE THE CAR GO FASTER! This video and others are on my YouTube page too: NMS NORTH YOUTUBE

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Cars and Coffee: Porsche Style

We've hit some GREAT weather so far in June in NY, and it was much appreciated at the Cars and Coffee hosted by Gold Coast Porsche. Thanks to the Porsche folks for hosting, and providing bagels and coffee for a big crowd that turned out on June 12th. I bet I'd never been in a Porsche dealership before, so I can now tell you that it was a nice looking place, plenty of nice new cars to see, and lots of space. Enough architecture, let's look at the cars!

Porsche 911 Turbo S. That stands for Fast!

I don't even know the year or exact model of 911, but I love the color!

This cool sticker was on a Porsche 718 Cayman

Well shoot, this isn't even a Porsche, it's a Ferrari!

Ford GT, not a Porsche either!

Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Orange is A-OK with me!

Porsche 911 Targa. 

Porsche Boxster Spyder. Spelled with a "Y"!

Porsche Cayman S, with an after market clear engine cover, very nice!

Oh, and across the parking lot is Lamborghini of Long Island. 

This happy car is an Austin Healey Sprite, usually just called a Bug-Eye. 

Oh, and next to Lamborghini is the Bentley and Rolls Royce dealer. 

Acura NSX. Love the car more than this particular color. 

Then an Aston Martin joined the party. James Bond was not sighted. 

This older 911 had a cool fuel filler in the front. 

Porsche GT3 RS with pink accents

More custom graphics, big wing. 

I learned that you can lease this Porsche Taycan for $889 a month!

Porsche Gold Coast, on Long Island, NY

Porsche Taycan, all electric

Dodge Viper, 10 cylinders of American power

Thanks for visiting, Ruby on the left and another Porsche Cayman in white. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

June Autocross Report

Hello, is this thing on?

The Metro NY Region of the Porsche Club of America returned to autocross action at the Nassau Coliseum on June 13th, and NMS can report that the #77 Cayman enjoyed a perfect day weather wise! Driving wise, my goal remains to finish in the top 10 for the year on PAX time, and while we're waiting for the official results, it looks like 5th or 6th on the day for NMS, so that should keep me right in the top 10 for now. 

This classic Porsche 911 in orange was very, very nice!

There were a few challenges with the timing software, so instead of 10 runs as planned, each driver ended up with only 8, but that's still plenty of driving. For me personally, I had 3 runs where the timing was off, so I was lucky enough to get 3 additional re-runs, giving me 11 times to drive the course. While some autocross courses are pretty short, say 40 seconds or even less, today was really fun because it was over a minute on every run. I believe the FTD, or Fastest Time of the Day was a Porsche 911 Turbo S in 61.458 seconds.

FIAT Abarth 124 Spider
Pretty sure this was the fastest Italian of the day
Pretty sure it was the only Italian car of the day!

 My best time was a bit slower than that, but at 65.081, I think I made some good improvements with my driving, as well as experimenting with some lower tire pressures in an effort to use more tire. This left me less than a second behind the very quick driver in a another 09 Cayman that won our class. My car says to start with cold pressures of 30 front and 31 rear, and that's pretty much what I've done in the past 11 months of driving it. However, I noticed that I had not been seeing any wear down the side of the tire to the little triangle that shows you how much tread you can use. Guided by that info, I drove the morning 5 runs at about 28 front and 29, and then in the afternoon lowered it about two more pounds, and that gave me my best times. 

Also fastest Swedish car of the day
And only Swedish car of the day

I was also happy that my final three runs were very consistent, as in 65.081, 65.099, and a final run of 64.843. Unfortunately that last run also included a DNF on the scoring system, so somewhere I must have missed a cone, but for the life of me I don't know where. Maybe I can review my in-car video and spot it, but I'm thinking my camera wasn't on for the last run too! Oh well. Instead of worrying about all the small things, and the "coulda-woulda-shoulda" factors that might have had me drive faster, it was a fun day chock full of driving, great weather 75 and sunny, and then cloudy with a breeze, and about 68 drivers. 

Porsche Boxster

Friday, June 11, 2021

Packard Museum

National Packard Museum, Warren Ohio

I have to confess that I'm an automobile fan, a museum fan, AND a fan of automobile museums. Recently I had the chance to visit the Packard Museum in Warren Ohio, just outside of Youngstown and not too far from Akron. Youngstown has at various times been the home to some serious car factories and steel mills, and Akron remains the home to Goodyear tires. Not far from Akron I also happened to drive by the home of Matco Tools too, so you just never know what you might find while traveling around. 

Some guy at Matco Tools HQ, Stow Ohio. This was Memorial Day weekend, so I didn't visit anyone or buy any tools!

Since this is a blog and not a book or an encyclopedia, I'll just recommend you read elsewhere for more details if you're interested in the history of the two Packard brothers, their automobile business, as well as their other business ventures that also involved electrical components and selling some of their business to a Mr. Thomas Edison. The Packards built cars for only a few years in Warren, before they also sold the business to some new owners who promptly moved the Packard car business to Detroit. 


The museum showed some basic highlights of the Packard family business, highlighted by some great automobiles from the early days around 1900, to the later models built in Detroit into the 1950s. Let's take a look!

This next car had a lot of photos and literature to demonstrate that Packard was an elegant automobile, built to compete with the Rolls Royce models.  1937 Packard. 

This blue Packard was modified to serve as an ambulance for the Air Force. 

This next car in a nice gold color is a Packard Pan American. The triangular logo showing North and South America, with the script letters is just a unique touch!

Next up, a 1955 Packard Caribbean, snazzy paint, and oh by the way, this one was purchased by Howard Hughes! You can read about it in the 2nd photo.