Sunday, February 27, 2022

Lucky Dog Race: Day 2 Results!

Luke O'Hara mans the extinguisher while Kyle Ray-Smith refuels the #287 in the rain. 

The Sunday race at Carolina Motorsports Park was held in 7 hours of rain, BUT, we're happy to report a PODIUM FINISH in Class B for the Bunch of Idiots, with an outstanding 2nd place in class, and 6th place overall! 

Now, you might be wondering why in the world would three guys get together and want to spend a nice Sunday driving for 7 hours in the rain, so here's a little secret: Because it's a lot of fun! Oh, and once in a while you do pretty well and take home a Lucky Dog trophy! 

Lucky Dog 2nd Place trophy in B Class!

All three drivers had a tough day dealing with the wet, the spray, reduced visibility, and lap times about 15-20 seconds slower than in the dry on Saturday.  Luke kicked it off at the start from 8th place on the first lap, and quickly moved up to FIRST OVERALL during his first stint. He and Kyle did the majority of the driving today, with Brian taking the wheel for an hour in the afternoon. The team performed a strategic fuel stop just before the end of the opening two hours, and then managed the rest of their pit strategy to perfection and were just 1 lap out of 1st in B class at the end of 7 wet hours. 

Congrats to the team for a solid performance over two days and 14 hours of racing. Brian reports that after Sunday's awards ceremony they carried the trophy back to their spot and noticed that one of the car tires was basically flat! So, let me say HUGE congrats to the team for a solid performance in finishing on the podium with a  leaking tire! Lucky dogs indeed!!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Lucky Dog Race: Day 1 Results

Left to right, Brian, Kyle, Luke. 
AKA: A Bunch of Idiots Race Team

At the end of 7 hours of racing today at Carolina Motorsports Park, the Bunch of Idiots ended in 12th place overall and a solid 4th place in their Class. The team started the day having qualified right around 20th out of 40 cars that set times. From that mid-pack start they steadily moved up all day long, running as high as 2nd in their class at one time, before finishing just off the podium. Congrats to drivers Luke O'Hara, Kyle Ray-Smith, and Brian Nixon!

Driver Brian Nixon pointed out that the Lucky Dog Racing series has some unique rules to make the racing even up and down the field, and some of these rules likely impacted the standings. One big example is that for each track, there is a fastest lap time that drivers are not allowed to go faster than, so from following the timing on line I saw that several of the fastest cars were all running 1:50 laps, so they were being careful not to go beyond the fast lap limit and get penalized. 

Another safety rule is that pit stops for fuel must be a minimum of 5 minutes long. While that might not make sense in a race where you want to do everything as fast as possible, safety is a little more important. With the 5 minute rule, each team should easily meet all the fuel handling and driver swapping safety rules. The last thing you'd want is a fire, or a driver going back out on track without all the harness and other safety gear in place. 

Sunday's race will be a brand new race, so good luck to the Bunch of Idiots. The weather is looking like rain, so keep that Miata on the track! You can follow along Sunday on the Race Monitor App from your app store for just a 99 cent subscription, then you can cancel it anytime. Racing on Sunday goes from 9AM-11AM Eastern, an hour of quiet time at the track, and then the race continues from Noon-5PM. Full details at LUCKY DOG LINK

Friday, February 25, 2022

NMS Goes Lucky Dog Racing with Bunch of Idiots!

 NMS-South has announced that this weekend, February 26-27 that the NMS Miata will be on track again, with 7 hours of racing Saturday and 7 hours of racing on Sunday at the Lucky Dog Racing Series.This will be the first time for the purple Miata running the Lucky Dog race, so the team has been prepping with some new brake pads and rotors, and swapping to the race spec tire Hankook RS4s. 

Brian will be driving along with Kyle Ray-Smith and Luke O'Hara, so we wish these guys the best of luck. Oh, and one other cool thing about this weekend is that professional driver Randy Pobst will be there! Randy will also be driving in somebody's car, actually probably several people's car for a 1 hour stint, so stay tuned to see if Randy jumps in the #287 Miata with the Bunch of Idiots!

You can learn all about Lucky Dog races across the country at their website: LUCKY DOG

Their Facebook page also has info on what they are up to: LUCKY DOG FACEBOOK

One other fun part of the weekend format is that the two days with 7 hours of racing each day are considered two different races. The Saturday session starts with a qualifying session before getting down to racing, so that mixes it up from the 24 Hours of Lemons races.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Audrain Auto Museum SUPER Car Exhibit

Audrain Auto Museum, Newport, Rhode Island

Since I'm lucky enough to live in New York and see some fancy cars, I'm also lucky enough to be close to New England and visit some fancy car museums too. Heck, there's car museums all over the place in the USA and around the world! Over the President's Day weekend my wife was nice enough to say we could visit two museums in Newport Rhode Island, so that's exactly what we did. We did some other fun things and visited historic Plymouth Massachusetts, so while it wasn't totally all about cars, there were a LOT of awesome cars. Oh, and now that I think of it, I did NOT until just now think about Plymouth MA and the Pilgrims being in any way related to the old Plymouth brand of automobiles. Honest! I won't even mention it!

Our first stop was at the Audrain Auto Museum. On the day we visited they had just opened a new exhibit about Super Cars. Several of the descriptions of the cars on display got into the topic of what makes a car a "Super" car, so I'll just say that I think it's up to the observer. One person's Super car is another person's NOT super car! This exhibit was not gigantic, but every vehicle on display was the kind of unique ride that you'd go out of your way to see. As I like to say, here's something you don't see every day! All these cars were in one room, and they pretty much hit all the brands you'd expect from Super cars, and one that I wasn't familiar with before seeing this display. If you like Bugatti, Ferrari, Ford, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Tesla, then there's something here for you. There was also one motorcycle from Ducati!

1967 Lamborghini Miura. Mr. Lamborghini was born under the sign of the Bull, so that
explains their cool logo. The Miura is named for the Miura Cattle Ranch in Spain, and their history of bull fighting animals. 

The Miura is sometimes considered as the car that started the Super
Car craze. V12 power, plenty of aluminum in the body, and magnesium wheels
all keep the weight down and performance UP!

2020 McLaren 620R, and of course "R" stands for "RACING." This is one of only 225 produced.  

With a 3.8 liter twin-turbo engine, this car offers more than 600HP and weighs just over 3,000 pounds. 

1994 McLaren F1. This is only the 2nd one I've ever seen, and besides 
performance, it's known for having three seats, with the driver in the 
middle just ahead of the two passengers on either side! The body is carbon fiber, and this is one of 68 that were built, not counting a prototype. OH, and one other thing, one of these sold at auction a few months ago for (take a deep breath) $20,000,000!


McLaren F1
The other F1 I've seen was in a museum also. Go figure!
Top speed of over 240MPH. If you like this car, then you should know that the designer Gordon Murray is now building his own cars too!

Released in 1987 to celebrate 40 years of Ferrari, the Ferrari F40 was probably the first car to hit 200MPH. This one is from 1991.  

F40, it's hard to miss that wing! The engine features twin turbo-chargers added to the V8 power. 

This is a 2020 Ford GT "69 Heritage Edition', the modern take on the original Ford GT40s that eventually won at LeMans as seen in the Ford Vs. Ferrari movie. This new version
has also won it's class at the 24 Hours of LeMans. 

Besides the battery tender plugged in, you can tell that this thing
is built for aerodynamics at high speed. The seats are fixed, so the steering wheel and pedals all move to adjust to the driver!

Here's the car I'd never seen or heard of before, the 1992 Vector W8. The dream of Jerry Wiegert to build a US super car came true, although the company didn't last long. 

They only built 17 of these, and it went 242mph. Super Car

This is a 2003 Ferrari Enzo. After the F40 they had built the F50, and then 
came this little number named for the founder, Enzo Ferrari. I think this shows that not all Ferraris are red too! 

Naturally aspirated (no turbo, no supercharger) 6 liter V12 engine

Monday, February 21, 2022

Another Easy Fix!

SPOILER ALERT! (it's a joke)

The NMS team is your average bunch of Joe's trying to keep their cars running, mostly because you can have a LOT more fun in a vehicle that runs than one just sitting in the driveway! Anyway, long story short, my car started making an odd noise a few weeks ago, and I was thinking maybe it was just from the cold weather, or maybe because I wasn't driving it much. The noise would go away after driving a while, but that noise just didn't sound right. 

At least it wasn't one of THOSE sounds that tell you to get your credit card out because it's an expensive sound. After concluding that part of the noise was from turning the steering wheel, a little bit of Internet searching turned up low power steering fluid as a probable cause in my model. I'm happy to report that today I filled the power steering fluid up to full, and the noise has gone away for now. Yes, the fluid level was low, so I feel real smart for letting that happen in the first place, so my only defense is that with my mid-engine car, just checking the fluid is a little harder than your average car. That brings us to the following lesson, just in case you might need this particular bit of automotive knowledge in filling the power steering fluid that is NOT located in the front of your car. 

Looking into the car from the rear, we need to remove that net and the 
carpeted piece under it to start getting to the engine. Easy. 

No carpet, so now we have to remove the aluminum engine cover, 
which means removing 5 Torx bit screws. 

Here's a T30 Torx bit, and away go those screws and the engine cover!

NOW we're looking at the engine, and finding the fill cap for the 
power steering fluid is pretty easy. 

Well, it's dirty in there sitting on top of the engine, so I cleaned this off a bit. Hey, you'd 
be dirty too if you'd been sitting on an engine since 2009!
No obvious signs of leakage here, so later I'll check underneath, and the steering rack and 
tie rods in the front where the actual steering takes place. 

The filler cap has this little dipstick on it, clearly marked MAX and MIN. 
I saw NO fluid on the stick at all, so prepared to fill with fluid. 

Thanks to the FCP Euro folks in Connecticut, because I had just ordered 
fluid (and some brake fluid) the day before, and the nicely packaged goodies arrived
the next day with standard shipping!  That's quick service, so I guess it's nice to live close to their store!

My owners manual said to use the Pentosin brand power steering fluid, so that's 
what I got. While the reservoir holds 1 liter of fluid, it took much less than that
to get the fill mark up to where it should be. The brake fluid will come in 
handy when I flush the brake lines later this year. 

Hopefully truth and justice and running cars will win out again with this simple maintenance step. I'd like to thank the Internet, FCP Euro, and my owner's manual too! Oh, and if you need a drop or two of power steering fluid, stop by some time and we'll top you off!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

3 Weeks to Autocross Kick-Off

July 2021 Autocross; Don't Hit That Cone!

Now that's we've got that dang Super Bowl out of the way, and things are warming up even in New York, it's time to look ahead to the 2022 season of Autocross driving for NMS-North. From their Headquarters on Long Island (which really IS a LONG island by the way), the team has announced another season in the Porsche powered 2009 Cayman, riding on OZ wheels shod with Hankook RS4 tires. For the most part we'll be riding on ATE brake pads in front, and looking to maintain position in the top 10 on PAX for the year. 

The #77 car will be driving at events at Tobay Beach and the Nassau Coliseum with the Porsche Club of America, specifically the NY Metro Region, so there will be tough competition all around with various years of Caymans, Boxsters, and a good number of 911s also. At a few events last year we saw some older Porsche models also, including a 914 that had a 911 Whale Tale grafted on the back! I'm not sure if this will be the year we see an all electric Porsche Taycan competing, but I'll bet they would do well in autocross competition. 

Before we get to that first event on March 6th, the NMS mechanics are scheduled to complete an oil change, oil and air filter changes, and take a good look around the car for anything else that might need done. On the top of that list is a spark plug change, and other than that the car seems to be running fine anyway. Later in the summer we're looking at some time driving on track, so a brake fluid flush will put us in good shape for that, as we continue to check the tread remaining on the tires, with a new set likely due before 2022 finishes up in November. 

Driving at autocross events is a TONS of fun (that's exactly 2,000 pounds of fun then, I'm sure that saying "tons" of fun just sounds more fun than "909 kilos of fun")

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Bunch of Idiots Update

As we announced recently, the NMS drivers will be joining forces with the Bunch of Idiots racing team for the Lemons Race in South Carolina in April. For me, this will only be my second Lemons race, and it's been since 2018 when I drove that first time at CMP, so I'm really looking forward to spending more time on track. We are planning on driving the 1990 Mazda Miata, car #289 again, so look for more updates over the next few months. 

Oh, and if you didn't know, MIATA stands for Miata Is Always The Answer, when anyone asks what kind of car is reliable, fun to drive, good to race, has lots of spare parts available, is easy to work on, etc. 

If you're still not sure what Lemons racing is, here's how the organizers sum it up: 

    "Endurance racing for $500 cars."

    "Yes you can race."

    "Racing shouldn't just be for rich idiots. Racing should be for all idiots. That's where Lemons comes in."

As you can tell from all of that, Lemons racing is all about having fun, but they are very serious about the safety aspect of the cars and driving on track. For another great example of their sense of humor (which I really appreciate) here's an email that gets sent to each driver when they register for an event: 

    "Los Angeles, CA -- Today Motor Trend reported that Robert Nixon, against the advice of mental-health professionals, will compete in the 24 Hours of Lemons -- the wheel-to-wheel car race for heaps that cost $500 or less. Nixon's team -- the unpromisingly named "Bunch of Idiots" -- hits your local track on 04/23/2022 to 04/24/2022, where therapists and junkyard operators are already standing by. 

    One relative, on condition of anonymity, described Nixon's family as "...saddened but unsurprised" by the news. "Unfortunately, we've come to expect such lapses in judgment," the source told MT.

    Friends, coworkers, and relatives interested in staging an intervention and/or watching Nixon do something incredibly embarrassing can find more information on Lemons' race-info page."

I don't know about you, but that kind of stuff is just hilarious!

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Tool Box

OK, I know, it's winter and kind of slow in the car driving world, but things are starting to slowly warm up as the days get a bit longer too. We've already had the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, a few of those Formula E races, the F1 teams are revealing their new cars but not driving them yet, and we've even been to a new car show. Locally though we won't kick off autocross until March, so we've been staying in the garage and making sure the cars are ready to go. Other than cars, what's in the garage? Well, some tools, so I figured I'd show you my miniature tool collection. I'm not a full time mechanic, but it's still nice to be able to do SOME work on the car at home. 

Top drawer, random stuff like knives, scrapers, etc. 

#2: 1/4 inch socket set, tire repair, and odds and ends in the handy Altoids tins

#3: small 3/8 socket set, easy to grab and take on trips

#4: 3/8 sockets, shallow and deep, Torx bits, adapters

#5: 1/2 inch sockets and ratchet

#6: Ratcheting wrenches in SAE (inch) and metric. Almost never use the SAE set, 
so my advice is to just buy metric tools until you have to buy SAE. Ratcheting
wrenches are just way more fun than the non-ratchet kind!

#7: Non-ratcheting wrenches, SAE and metric

#8: Old torque wrench, hammers, level, combo wrenches, and
my trusty Willard Nixon model 6 foot folding wooden ruler with holster!

Bottom/Junk Drawer: Big C clamp and a bunch of random stuff. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Northeast International Auto Show

VW ID.4 electric

For the first time in a while (thank you Covid) we were able to attend a real car show! Providence Rhode Island was the place, and with just a bit of snow on the ground, it was a great day for seeing plenty of new cars from a lot of manufacturers. We last visited this show in 2020, so that must have been just before things started closing across the country. At that time the two coolest new cars were the mid-engine Corvette as well as a new Ford GT500 Cobra. While we still haven't bought or driven either of those cars, here's a few highlights of what caught our eye in 2022.

Ford Bronco
We've seen a few out on the roads by now

Ford Bronco
Just like the old Bronco logo on the seats

Ford Bronco Sport

Ford Mustang Mach E electric
Still pretty new, still pretty weird to call it a Mustang

Ford Mustang
This was a hard top GT model, priced around $53,000
That's a LOT more than my 2004 Mustang was 18 years ago

Ford F150 Lightning electric truck
you'll notice no engine under the hood, so you
can store stuff in the FRUNK (front trunk)

Ford F150 Lightning side view

Ford Ranger Tremor edition
This was the only Ranger on display
I've been interested in the "new" Ranger, thinking ahead to 
needing a tow vehicle some day. 
With the tow package the Ranger can haul 7,500 pounds

The Ford Ranger starts under $30,000, but this 
one is a Lariat and Tremor package, so $47,000 

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger Tremor

This is the actual inside door of a new vehicle!
Any ideas? Check the next photo...

Ford Maverick. 
We've just gotten used to the new Ranger truck, and BAM, 
Ford comes out with the smaller Maverick truck!
This looks like the right size if you don't need a big honkin' truck. 
Still not a fan of bringing back the Maverick name, for those of us that
remember the small Maverick car of the 70s. 

Another new Bronco. These were getting lots of attention. 

Ford Bronco Sport. Ford seems to have gone all in on SUVs and pickups, 
as judged by the newish Ranger, Maverick Bronco, Bronco Sport, etc. 

This Bronco Sport starts at $28,000, just a few options plus
delivery charge and you're at $32,000

Don't be fooled by the Ford logo, this is a Nissan Frontier. 
Looked like a nice truck to me!

Our lovely model checks out the Nissan Frontier. 
Unfortunately they didn't have any of the new Nissan Z cars on display

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, love the red!

Jeep Gladiator interior

It's a Jeep! It's a Truck! It's a Jeep truck!

Ram Power Wagon 

Ram Power Wagon. It's got a Hemi. 

This thing is a rolling billboard so you'll never forget what kind
of truck you bought. 

I liked the Ram Power Wagon logos and the cool storage boxes built
in to the side of the bed on both sides. 

It's not a McLaren. It's not a Ferrari. It's a built in the USA
Chevrolet mid-engine C8 Corvette!

Chevy Corvette. 

Chevrolet Camaro. More goodness in red!