Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Take A Breath of Fresh Air!

Left side old, right side new air filters!

Here's a little tip: Check your car's air filter. Then, while you're at it, check the cabin air filter if you have one. I was reminded of this because it was time to change filters on the old Toyota Camry. Since it's still going strong at 160,000 miles, we're just trying to keep it that way. Judging by the amount of dirt and leaves these things collected, it looks like I was a little overdue for checking them. In the picture above are the old and new filters. The only real issue I had was these ridiculous bolts that thread into ridiculously odd nuts to hold the air filter box closed. Even though I ordered a new set, it was just too difficult for my weak skills to get this thing to fasten. For now it's held firmly in place with a couple of zip ties!

On to the cabin air filter for job #2!

This would be the "old" cabin air filter

1: Glovebox is lowered out of the way
2: The two attachment spots that the glovebox just slides into
3: Where the air filter lives, behind the covered opening
4: Extra fun, the glovebox damper came loose, so I had to figure out how to reattach it

New air filter, new gas cap, and hardware for those two items.

Job #3, not really a big deal, but the old gas cap tether was worn and wouldn't stay attached. 

The little tether piece just pops into that opening above it, but it's worn out. 

The new gas cap had this variety pack of fasteners, just figure out which works best. 

New gas cap. Things are exciting around NMS!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Rental Car Review: Dodge Similar!

Artist's Concept for the new Dodge SIMILAR!

A few weeks ago, I went online and rented a car for our holiday season travels. While I was looking at Econo-Boxes, (cheap implements of non-mass transportation,) and Appliances-With-Four-Wheels-For-Cheap, believe it or not the best deal I found was for a "Dodge Charger or Similar!"  Personally, I was really hoping to get the Challenger, because I did a LOT of Googling but couldn't find out ANYTHING about the Dodge Similar. Maybe the Similar is an import? Perhaps the Dodge Similar is a Canadian import! Was the online ad a typo, and I was going to get a Dodge "Scimitar?" A car named the SCIMITAR would make a pretty catchy name, so I can't imagine why the people at Dodge/Chrysler/FIAT/Stellantis would name a car Similar instead of Scimitar. Scimitar is snappy, and better than the Dodge Bowie Knife, Chrysler Swiss Folding Knife, and the Fiat Serrated Bread Knife.

Over the years I've rented a few cars, and usually just drove whatever is the cheapest thing that will get the job done. There's been plenty of Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, and other normal cars. A few times I've even splurged for a Ford Mustang, like in HAWAII or for a wedding anniversary, but I have a warning about this. Once I rented a convertible Mustang for a fun anniversary dinner in Washington DC, and well, it kinda made me want to BUY ONE! So, I did, a new 2004 Mustang GT 40th Anniversary convertible. That car was fun, lasted just fine, and even survived a tornado, but the take-away is that you should be careful what you rent, because then you might want to buy one!

So, back to the Dodge Similar. I still don't know what it is, because we had to change our travel plans and cancel that trip. If anyone out there rents a "Similar," please let me know how you like it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

F1 Fantasy Team Wrap-Up


In a never ending quest to have fun doing car stuff, here's a look at how my Formula 1 Fantasy team did this year on the official F1 website. This competition is open to anyone and doesn't cost anything, so if you follow F1 at all I'd suggest signing up for the NMS Fantasy League in 2023 and giving it a shot.

First off, apparently I've slightly increased my average score per race over the past three seasons of playing this contest on line, with the following results.

            2022     176 points per race

            2021     164 points per race

            2020     160 points per race

For 2022,in a field of 1,599,946 total competitors from around the globe, I finished in 173,678th place! I'm not sure about this, but I don't think there is a trophy for anything below 173,000th place. OK, maybe I'm not the greatest at this game, but at least I beat SOMEBODY! Oh hey, I beat about 89.2% of the people that played the game, how about that! This put me ahead of 1.4 MILLION players, much less the other 7.8 billion folks on the planet that didn't even play the game! How about that! #F1Fantasy


Monday, December 12, 2022

NMS-North 2022 Wrap-Up

As we say adios to 2022, and hola to 2023, here's this year's top ten highlights from the NMS-North perspective. 

New York: First look at the new Nissan Z

10: NY International Auto Show
            This year's show was fun since it was sorta after Covid! Even though the show was a bit smaller than pre-Covid, and with a lot of the Jacob Javits Center taken up by indoor electric car driving opportunities rather than new cars to see, there was still plenty on display. The growth of the electric car side of the business showed that people still love cars, and there is plenty of change still to come. 

Kaiser Darrin at the Malcolm Pray Achievement Center

9: Epic Cars and Coffee
             One thing my local Porsche club does extremely well is visit interesting automotive locations. Julie and I visited with some other club members and had a great day at the Malcolm Pray Achievement Center in Bedford NY. 

Plymouth Road Runner Superbird

8: US Merchant Marine Academy Car Show
            This year's car show where I work was a lot of fun, because unlike the previous year when it was held in a parking lot (thank you again, Covid) this year we returned to the very scenic campus grounds, with cars displayed in the large space basically surrounded by the barracks and academic buildings. I got there early and parked right by Wiley Hall, former home to Walter Chrysler, so that gives this show a great bit of automotive background. Look for this event to return in mid-May 2023. 

Guess who got to drive the BMW i4 M50?

7: BMW Ultimate Driving Experience
            I've attended the BMW UDE several times in a couple of different locations in New York and New Jersey, and it's always fun to drive someone else's brand-new car in a situation where they are asking you to go faster! Our local 2022 version at Tobay Beach was the first national event this year, and just happened to be in the same location as a lot of Porsche Club of America autocross events. Oh, and yes, I do enjoy driving other people's 500+ horsepower cars, even if it's in a parking lot!

McLaren F1 at the Audrain, driver sits in the center of 3 seats!   
           They only made 106 of these, and now I've seen 2 in person, both in museums. 
              A McLaren F1 sold at auction in 2021 for over 20 MILLION DOLLARS!

Porsche 918 Spyder at the Newport Car Museum.   
                         I believe they built 918 of these, I've seen maybe 4 in total. 
                  Want to buy a used one? Plan on 1.5 MILLION DOLLARS and up.

6: Audrain Car Museum and the Newport Car Museum
            In one trip, Julie and I headed to New England and managed to visit two very nice museums that we highly recommend if you're in the neighborhood. In fact, they're both in the Newport Rhode Island area, so it's easy to catch them both. You might know the Audrain from their many videos with Donald Osborne and his friend Jay Leno. At any one time they have a small exhibit on display, but it is always well worth it. 
            The Newport Car Museum takes a different approach and displays the huge private car collection of one guy. This museum just opened in 2017 and is well worth your time if you like any kind of car at all. From a room full of Shelby and Mustangs, to American cars from the 50s, to super cars, and even a Tiny Tikes car, it was a blast to visit!

5: Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum
            If you're around Hershey Pennsylvania and looking for something besides chocolate to sink your teeth into, let me suggest the AACA Museum. Focusing on older US models, I really liked this visit. 

Lemons Car Theme: "Themes Are for Suckers"

4: Lemons race at CMP and the Friday Night Block Party
            My only track time this year was a blast, thanks to the Bunch of Idiots team at the Carolina Motorsports Park 24 Hours of Lemons race in their 1990 Miata. We didn't bring home any trophies, but I really enjoyed several practice sessions on Friday, and then taking my turn in the race on Saturday and Sunday. As the "out of town guy" and not-really-a-BOI-member, it was nice of them to let me just show up and drive. This race is still the only Lemons event in the country where on Friday night all the race cars gather for a car show in the local city, in this case in downtown Camden SC for a block party. Now that's a fun way to spend a weekend!

June Autocross: Stay Hydrated!

3: My personal best driving event this year was in a full year of autocross with the Porsche Club of America, NY Metro Region, and once again I landed in the top 10 for Porsches on Pax Time for the year. That was my goal for 22, so it was great to hit this target for the 2nd year in a row. In June's event I turned in my best placing ever, finishing 2nd on PAX for the day, and at the end of year my unofficial points count says I finished 4th overall for Porsches, another personal best. 

Kyle, Luke, and Brian with the Lucky Dog CHAMPION Hardware!

2: Brian teamed up with Kyle and Luke on three different weekends, on two different tracks, and in six different races, to WIN the Lucky Dog Racing League Southern tour! These guys have done a good number of other races, autocrosses, time trials, and other driving, but this year they kicked it WAY UP (that's more than "a notch") by driving and wrenching with the best of them to win it all. One example was the final two-day weekend of races where they spent Saturday night replacing the clutch on their Miata and got out on track the next day with no issues. 

Katie and Joanna

Alicia and Brian

1: OK, not car related, but I'm going with two weddings this year as the toppermost of the toppiest uppermostest highlights. Wedding #1:  Katie and Joanna in January in Chicago, and Wedding #2: Brian and Alicia in November in South Carolina. When both your children get married in the very same year, after waiting for Covid to slow down, well, that's an awesome highlight, and it sure made 2022 a great year! Thanks for following on the blog!

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Launching the 350Z on Track!

350Z at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta

NMS-South is proud to announce that the Nissan 350Z car has completed it's initial two day weekend on track at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. In multiple sessions over the weekend with NASA-Southeast, Brian reports that the Z car is running strong. Despite a bit of rain on Saturday, and some fog on Sunday, he was able to complete the sessions in the High Performance Driver Education group 4, along with fellow new-Z-Car driver Kyle Ray-Smith. 

With a solid car to start this project, NMS plans on entering Spec Z Car racing with NASA in 2024. The next steps in this build will be what Colin Chapman of Lotus called "adding lightness," as in removing weight from the car and stripping out non-racing parts like carpet, interior, AC, radio, etc. After that we'll have some roll cage installation, as well as safety gear (race seat, harness, fire system, electrical cut-off, etc) to look forward to also. 

350Z cars last weekend:  #67, #89, and #86

NMS and other friends plan to have enough Z cars rolling to be a regular part of the NASA weekends in 2024, so you will definitely be seeing more of this and other cars in the future here on the blog. Unconfirmed rumors are that NMS-North will also be getting in on this Z car craze that is sweeping the nation. OK, maybe not "sweeping," but getting more Nissans on track is the goal!


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

NMS Moves to Ferrari in 23?

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NMS-South with Ferrari F40

According to anonymous sources, who were speaking off the record, on condition of anonymity, or maybe I dreamed this, the Ferrari F1 team will soon announce a new team principle, allegedly from the USA for 2023. Our sources say that NMS-South chief engineer Brian Nixon will be moving to Italy and taking on this new job in the near future. While this report is not confirmed yet, possibly not true, maybe not even CLOSE to reality, and quite possibly 100% total fabrication, we do know that after four years, Mattia Binotto today announced he was leaving Ferrari at the end of this year. 

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When asked for comment, the newly wed Nixon replied that "I love Italian food" and, that we could "...quote me on that." It is further speculation that his preference for red automobiles (Miata, BMW, whatever) played a key role in being offered this new position.

Well, that seems very conclusive to me, and once again we have a really good shot of more Americans moving into the highest level of motorsport. The Williams F1 team have already announced that American driver Logan Sargeant will be driving for them in 2023, so why not have someone from the USA as the head of the famous Scuderia Ferrari? With one team (Haas F1 Team) based in the US already, and American ownership of F1, it only makes sense for the Ferrari team to jump on the US bandwagon. 

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NMS-South #86 on track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Headed to Italy?

Some other sources have reported that Ferrari will name an in-house replacement, like maybe even someone with actual F1 experience, or who speaks Italian, and maybe even someone that already lives there, but our money is on NMS-South packing up the Miata and heading to Europe next year. 

Friday, November 25, 2022


Groomsmen doing their best "pose like it's an ad for the new watches." Nixon brand watches provided by NMS-South. 

Since you can't be driving on a track or at an autocross event EVERY day, sometimes it's fun to just take a trip. We just wrapped up an epic road trip to attend Brian and Alicia's wedding in South Carolina, and what better way to get there from New York than to drive? Don't answer that, it's just a rhetorical question. Driving is better, and if nothing else, the TSA doesn't bug you. 

During the trip we watched Formula 1 qualifying, and saw Haas driver Kevin
Magnussen take his and the Haas F1 Team's first ever pole position!

So, what would be the best way to drive from here to there? Clearly NOT I-95 down the east coast. Nothing personal against New York City, the Jersey Turnpike, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, or even South of the Border, but come on! We've driven I-95 enough to not want to do it again, so we headed west. 

We visited the art museum in Columbia SC and saw these Andy Warhol prints of Chairman Mao. 

Our first leg took us to the exciting hamlet of JFK airport to pick up the European extension of NMS, Katie and Joanna direct from Amsterdam. It would have been fun to drive to Holland and pick them up, but we just didn't have time to take the boat. So, from JFK we have to "Escape From New York", as Kurt Russell might say (or make a movie with that title.)  This brings up the most traffic we encountered, which (SURPRISE!!) was in New York City!

Cheapest gas on the trip was in South Carolina, $2.98. 

But seriously, it gave me a great opportunity to get a photo of the sign as you leave Brooklyn, so FUGHEDDABOUTIT!

Long story short, the wedding was great, the trip was wonderful, and to be honest, it is really fun to drive!

Sneak peek at future projects, Nissan 350Z Spec racing. His and Hers if you will!

350Z Rehearsal cake, with burning rubber? YES!

Spotted at the rehearsal dinner: all the FIRST PLACE trophies from the WINNING Lucky Dog Racing League "Bunch of Idiots" team!

The happy couple, Alicia and Brian. Family is what it's all about. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

November Autocross Report and Season Wrap-Up

Porsche 914

I was going to post a photo of a pita sandwich and title this IT'S A WRAP, but, let's just say that today we finished up the 2022 autocross season with the Porsche Club, and we had GREAT weather for November. It was 70 degrees at Tobay Beach on Long Island, and we had a very fun course full of 63 drivers today!  For the day, I managed to take 1st out of 3 drivers in my class, 8th fastest Porsche on PAX time out of 22 P-cars, and 10th on PAX out of all 63 drivers. That overall is a bit misleading, since the non-Porsches don't get a modified PAX time, so it's modified (assisted and faster) for the Porsches vs. actual (RAW) time for the other brands. So in overall RAW time, I managed 31st fastest out of 63, and I'm always happy just to be in the top half of that category. 

Porsche Boxster

Season-wise, I managed to compete in 11 events out of 13 events, and unofficially placed 4th overall on PAX time for Porsche cars. In my very small class of S05 that usually only had 2 or 3 of us at each event, I managed to win all the events I attended too. If there was a competition for Who Had The Most Fun, I'm willing to bet I'd be in the running for that prize too, and that's what any event or hobby is all about.  

Porsche 911, bring your own autocross tires!

The club held events at both Tobay Beach and the Nassau Coliseum, and we also took part in the multi-club 2-day Zone 1 Porsche Club event up in Ayer Massachusetts. This was my first time at this event, and my first 2-day autocross weekend, so it was lots of fun! At another event in October, we had the annual Top Ten Shootout, where the top drivers took turns in the same car to see who was the fastest. In a very close battle, I just missed out on 10th and last place, finishing 9th. 

Porsche 911 GT4

Today's event was a great example that you can autocross pretty much any car out there. There were a lot of Miatas, at least 3 Subarus, a Tesla, multiple BMWs, and even a Ferrari 308! Hey, don't take my word for it, here's some photos of the cars, and a video of my best run of the day. We took 5 runs in the morning and another 4 in the afternoon. 

My Best Run of the Day

Lotus Exige, fastest British car of the day!

If you put stickers on your car, make them good ones!

I learned that these wheel centers are made to look like center locks


You can autocross a Jaguar! 2nd fastest British car of the day!

Ferrari 308, Magnum P.I. not included! Fastest Italian car of the day!

YES you can autocross a Tesla. It's scary quiet when it launches!

Sorry about the shadow, but this orange 914 looked awesome!