Friday, September 30, 2022

September Autocross Report


I like this very orange Porsche 911 GT3R

The highlight of last weekend was NMS-South and the Bunch of Idiots winning 2 races and the season long championship in the Lucky Dog Southern Endurance Cup, but up here in NY, Nassau Coliseum was the place, and Porsche Club of America autocross was the event. NMS-North once again took first in the S05 class (OK, only two drivers in the class) and a pretty good 7th overall PAX, and 6th for Porsche cars on PAX. This keeps the #77 Cayman smack dab around the middle of the top 10 for the year, although we're waiting to see the official results with points from the two day event in Massachusetts to be included. 

Ruby Red Metallic

The weather was great, with only a few sprinkles that didn't really impact the times as far as I could tell. This was a really fun course to drive, with some big sweepers, one complete circle, and a couple of slaloms. After the first run or two I tried driving it without braking, and almost made it! Of course there is nothing wrong with using the brakes, but our research lab tells us that braking tends to make the car go slower. This would be the opposite of rule #1 in autocross: Make The Car Go Faster. 

Porsche calls this interior Sand Beige

We all got 10 runs on the day, split up by 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Here's my morning run times:  

47.239: OK, you've got to start somewhere!

46.124: This run felt good and put me in the top 2 at the time, but a lot more drivers to go

46.748: Slower? Yep, slower.

45.715: Ah, dropped another 0.4, hopefully more to come in the afternoon. 

After driving 5 times, I got to work on the starting grid, and sure enough, plenty of other drivers were going quickly too! Well, let' go to the afternoon's driving:

46.266:  Not too far off the morning, let's go faster!

45.396: Hey, about 0.4 faster than the morning, this might be fun!

46.201: Wrong. Slower. Not having fun. Not at all. 

44.925: Ah, more like it, my fastest so far, glad to get into the 44 second range, one more try to go!

44.722: Hey, a little bit faster, and suddenly autocross is fun again! 

While I was happy with my time, the fastest time of the day (FTD) was a Miata in 41.411. 

My PAX adjusted time was 41.412, while the fastest PAX of the day was a Boxster in 40.048. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Bringing Home the Hardware

Photo Credit: Adam Babington Photography

This weekend wrapped up the six race endurance race series for the Bunch of Idiots in the Lucky Dog Racing League's Southern Endurance Cup. We duked it out at CMP in February to pull in points for a 4th and 3rd place finish. In May we battled through the intense heat in Atlanta at AMP to snag points for a 5th and 4th place finish. With three different classes and the season points based on cumulative points regardless of which of the three classes you compete, that left us in 3rd overall for the season!

The car, not realizing what is about to hit it Saturday morning.

Saturday morning someone leaked oil heavily on a few turns on the track and ended the qualifying/practice session early to clean it before we could go out. That left me to take the race start on completely cold tires and brakes. Cruising behind the pace car I noticed turn three still showed a visibly darker patch and I suspected some remaining oil. As the double file pack took the green flag and went full speed through one, then two, then three, I started to ease back waiting for cold tires to meet oil slick. Sure enough the BMW just feet in front of me hit the spot and went into a spin. I immediately was able to ditch into the grass on the right side of the track and avoided contact. A quick glance in the mirror before I rejoined the racing surface had a ballet of cars spinning and swerving behind. Whew. Survived the start. Head down and drive. 

Luke took over and cranked out hot lap after hot lap before bringing it in for a flawless pit stop to send Kyle out. Mid-way in Kyle's stint the clutch was starting to slip and we knew we had a real issue on our hands. A fortunate full course yellow allowed the clutch to cool and Kyle managed to get the car through his full hour and forty minutes and up into first in class. I continued to gently shift my way for the final hour and a half to take checker and take first place in class C! Our first win in the Miata!

Borrowing the tech shed's flat floor and lights, we got to work Saturday night.
Over dinner we searched for parts online and re-checked the championship points standings. Our win moved us into second overall for the season. If we could win Sunday and the overall leader finished 6th or lower we still had a shot to win it all. That was a super outside chance since the overall leaders are friends of ours in an early 90s Civic and are great racers. They kicked off the season with three consecutive wins. We knew we needed a good effort just to stay on the season podium. 

Saturday night we sent Luke to Columbia to buy a new clutch and flywheel and borrow a transmission jack from friend of the team, Phillip. While he was away, Kyle and I got the car on jack stands, swapped in new front brake pads and rotors and got the transmission out of the car. While we were removing the exhaust I noticed one of the two hangers had nearly ripped itself free of the welds. We got real lucky it didn't break on track. A quick call to the nearby race prep shop had us lined up to get it re-welded at 6:30 Sunday morning. 

The flywheel surface was glazed and causing the slipping.

We got Luke to bed so he'd be fresh for first stint Sunday while Kyle and I kept working into the night. By 2:00 we had everything back together and working. If there was a trophy for team working on their car the latest, we would have won it this weekend too. 

At 6:30 I was back up and took the exhaust to get welded up. When I got back to install it in the car, Luke already had it up on jack stands and he got to work with Kyle swapping the clutch hydraulic master and slave cylinders to make sure they didn't have any issues during the race. With five minutes until the driver meeting at 8:30, we had the clutch bled and ready to go and the exhaust back on the car. 

"Five minutes until driver meeting" 

With 3 minutes to go before the 9:00 start we had Luke strapped in and headed to grid. All credit to Luke for cranking away some great laps with a fresh clutch and brand new front brakes we didn't have time to bed in. We made it until the hour break at 11:00 without incident. Unfortunately for our friends in the Civic, they had serious motor issues and dropped out of the race after only a few laps that morning. 

Photo Credit: Adam Babington Photography

Inexplicably the season championship was swinging in our direction. The overall third place team was looking to handily win the race overall so if we didn't win our class, they would jump us. If we won, we'd still be able to take the overall W. We were sitting second in class at the break, but the first place car still needed to pit. The top four cars in class were all running similar times. The pressure was on. 

Kyle took over when the race resumed at noon and soon after radioed in that the exhaust bolts under the car had started to come loose. If they shook out we would risk a serious issue that would most likely end our race. We watched anxiously with tools on stand-by. Somehow Kyle held everything together to keep our scheduled pit stop when I would take over. 

Luke at the helm coming down the front straight.

Within the minimum 7 minute pit stop window we jacked up the car, I dove under in my driver suit and tightened up the bolts. I put my helmet on then refilled the car with fuel, strapped in and hauled ass out of pit lane. At this point I was taking over the first place in C class lead and just needed to maintain it. 

I initially struggled with pace with the warm afternoon track surface starting to get greasy. Kyle gave me the heads up on the radio that the second place Jetta who was closely followed by the third place Miata were closing in about half way into my stint. I started to push myself. I couldn't let us fall behind with the whole season on the line. The Jetta and Miata got me about five laps after the radio call but unfortunately for them I wasn't going to make life easy. For the next 30 minutes they couldn't keep me off of their bumper by more than a few car lengths. At one point I had re-passed them both as we chased nose to tail, feet from each others bumpers at full speed. 

Our pit strategy paid off as the Jetta had to drop out of the race for fuel followed by the Miata a couple laps later. I banked a few more hot laps before also coming in to hand the reins to Luke to take us home and maintain first. 

Primarily the #2 weld cracked wide open.
As Luke pulled out of the pits I was finally able to hear what had been making the other guys nervous for the last hour. In the car I had not noticed a significant exhaust leak coming from up near the engine. The Miata sounded like a tractor as Luke gunned it out of the pit lane. We had to just watch and listen for another hour and a half as the little purple car made laps. Each lap wondering, "did it sound worse this time?". The gap back to second and third was too small. We couldn't afford much more than a one minute check in pit lane if anything had to get fixed. This was it. 

One cute puppy trophy for first place on Sunday.
90 minutes slowly turned into 60, then 45, then time almost seemed to stand still for the last thirty minutes of the race. Would the car hold together? Luke had to baby the car, avoid the curbs to not jostle the exhaust any more than necessary. His consistent lap times eventually opened enough of a gap that he backed off the pace a little and had to take extra caution to avoid risks and bring the car home. Eventually the clock did strike five and the check flag was flying over the Bunch of Idiots in first place in C class! That did it, we took home the championship!

Final standings of the top 5 teams.
Hours of building the car, practice, wrenching long nights on the concrete at the track and we took home the hardware. This season saw two first place trophies, a third place trophy and the big first place in the championship trophy. It was our first attempt at doing a season of endurance racing and we took the top prize. And that exhaust leak we heard? The welds on the header had cracked and there were huge gaping holes in the exhaust right at the engine. Yikes.
Portion of a wine barrel as the season trophy. First place!

This season win goes out to all the friends and family who have helped out, loaned tools, come out to help crew, or just generally have been supportive and put up with our crazy hobby. We had a ton of fun and are really proud of what we've accomplished with the little 1.6 Miata. 

Left to Right: Me, Luke, Kyle. THE Bunch of Idiots. 

And now we can finally say; A whole lotta people lost to a Bunch of Idiots in a 1.6 Miata this season!

Formula 1 Announces 2023 Schedule

Looking ahead to 2023 vacation destinations, the Formula 1 folks have kindly announced their race schedule for next year! We've been to the race in Austin and can highly recommend it. 

Highlights include a record number of races, 24 events all around the planet, and THREE races in the USA, with Austin Texas, Miami Florida, and the new location in Las Vegas Nevada. For super extra special fun, the Vegas race will be held on a Saturday night, under the neon glow of the famous strip and around various casinos. That sounds like a party to me! 

You Never Know Who You Will Meet at an F1 Race!

2023 F1 Calendar – Dates and Tracks

  1. 5th March 2023 – Bahrain Grand Prix (Sakhir)
  2. 19th March 2023 – Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah)
  3. 2nd April 2023 – Australian Grand Prix (Albert Park, Melbourne)
  4. 16th April 2023 – Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai)
  5. 30th April 2023 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Baku City Circuit)
  6. 7th May 2023 – Miami Grand Prix (Miami)
  7. 21st May 2023 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (Imola)
  8. 28th May 2023 – Monaco Grand Prix (Monte Carlo)
  9. 4th June 2023 – Spanish Grand Prix (Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya)
  10. 18th June 2023 – Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal)
  11. 2nd July 2023 – Austrian Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring)
  12. 9th July 2023 – British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
  13. 23rd July 2023 – Hungarian Grand Prix (Budapest)
  14. 30th July 2023 – Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps)
  15. 27th August 2023 – Dutch Grand Prix (Zandvoort)
  16. 3rd September 2023 – Italian Grand Prix (Monza)
  17. 17th September 2023 – Singapore Grand Prix (Marina Bay)
  18. 24th September 2023 – Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)
  19. 8th October 2023 – Qatar Grand Prix (Losail)
  20. 22nd October 2023 – United States Grand Prix (Circuit of the Americas)
  21. 29th October 2023 – Mexico City Grand Prix (Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez)
  22. 5th November 2023 – Sao Paolo Grand Prix (Interlagos)
  23. 18th November 2023 – Las Vegas Grand Prix (Las Vegas)
  24. 26th November 2023 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina)

Friday, September 23, 2022



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

This weekend the Bunch of Idiots team will be going for the podium at the final Lucky Dog Racing League Southern Endurance Cup event of the year. So far, they've wheeled the mighty Miata to an overall 3rd place after the first two weekends, so a good showing this Saturday and Sunday should see them bringing home some hardware for 2022. The current standings are at this link:

 The Lucky Dog Trophy Hardware so far:

Lucky Dog 2nd Place trophy in B Class!  

In an exclusive interview with, the team all agreed that it takes teamwork and dedication to hit the podium. During the pit stops, the three drivers have to work together to get the drivers in and out, as well as refuel the car on their own,  much less perform all the maintenance before, during, and after the race.

Teamwork: Luke O'Hara mans the extinguisher while Kyle Ray-Smith refuels the #287 in the rain at CMP earlier in 2022. 

 If you want to get in the mood for what it's like to drive at CMP in the Miata, here's a practice session video from earlier this year: APRIL 22 AT CMP


Here's a quick look at the top 4 teams: 


193HONDA CHALLENGED 85002525252525251010
2117BUZZED VIKING 56292925251515151511
3287Bunch Of Idiots 523341212181812121010
4230Momo Champ 50352xxxx25252525   

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

How To Buy A Car

Carvana coming soon to Long Island

Subtitle: We have a brand-new CarMax on Long Island, and a brand new Carvana location is under construction, so I just wanted to share these photos of various dealerships and used car sellers with you. 


Ferrari and Maserati of Long Island

The long-time model for buying a new car was that you went to a dealer and looked at what they had on the lot. Then you negotiated the price and payments, often with a very lengthy back-and-forth with some salesman who always seemed to have to go back to the manager to get things OK'd. It was a horrible model, and many people would pay way more than they had to pay just because they disliked negotiating. The other aspect of this that would benefit the dealer more is that most people would take whatever offer they got for trade-in value on their old car. Naturally the dealer needs to make money, but it always seemed to me that they'd make money on the new car, and then they'd make more money by later selling my trade-in for more than they gave me. That's business, I guess. 

Lamborghini looking closed
I'm not saying this is why they closed at this location, but in the empty parking lot I found a penny AND a dime. Whoa! Who can afford to lose 11 cents I don't know!

Anyway, today's car buying experience can actually be worse, thanks to the supply chain and car production shortages. A lot of car dealers are adding a dealer mark-up price to their cars, which is one reason the average cost of new vehicles sold has gone straight through the roof. I just read that the AVERAGE new car price sold in the US is around $46,000. OUCH! If there was a brand-new limited edition Whatever-Mobile for sale, OK, maybe you'd pay a little extra to be one of the first owners, since the Whatever-Mobile is cool/rare/luxurious etc. However, I've heard that dealers are marking up even common everyday cars now. Ouch! 

Porsche anyone?

How about a new Bentley or Rolls Royce?

Besides buying a NEW car, you can always buy a USED car, and there are a ton of ways to find used cars. You can find all kinds of cars for sale with online auction sites, on line sellers, your local newspaper (remember those?), Craigslist,, Hemmings, or you can still visit your local car dealers in person. For those of us on Long Island, we have two new options. CarMax just opened a new location here, which is very handy since the next closest store for the millions of us that live here is up in Connecticut. Carvana is also building a new location not far from that CarMax dealer, so we'll go check them out once they are open. Oh, and in case you didn't know, the CarMax and Carvana retail practice is that the price you see is what you pay, they don't really negotiate, other than you can add on a longer warranty if you want to pay for that. That eliminates that hours long process of the old model, so it seems pretty popular.

I like visiting CarMax even when I'm not buying anything, just because you can walk around a lot of vehicles, check them out, read the window sticker, and get a good feel for what the prices are and see what kind of condition these cars are in. There's even a guy who writes a blog about the rarest cars he finds at CarMax, you can check it out at his CarMax Unicorn website 


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Billy Joel's Motorcycles

Sorry about the Porsche hat in front of Billy Joel's 20th Century Cycles. 

Yes, THAT Billy Joel, the Piano Man. He's a big motorcycle guy and has a lot of them. So many in fact, that he has a garage in Oyster Bay NY (on Long Island) where he keeps them. The bikes also get maintained here, and it looked like every bike had a battery charger on it, so they all get ridden. You might have seen this place in an episode of Jay Leno's Garage when Jay visited Billy in 2019. Anyway, I'd driven by the place before, but today finally stopped in to look around. Oh, and here's the link to the Jay Leno clip:

            Jay Leno Billy Joel


Funny warning sign

The garage is named 20th Century Cycles, and even if you are not a motorcycle fan it's amazing to see bikes from various makes, different ages, and see that with the garage and workshop that they are being maintained and driven. So, in other words, it's not a museum, it's plain and simple Billy Joel's garage for his motorcycles, with the bonus that the rest of us can visit! For all the details, check out their website: 

                20TH CENTURY CYCLES LINK

Here's a quick look around with a quick video and then some photos.  

While I'm not a motorcycle expert, it was a fun visit to see the garage and such a wide variety of motorcycles. Here we go: 

The Jaguar was very nice! Billy is way past 21 monthly shows at Madison Square Garden, currently up to about 80 this fall!

Moto Guzzi

Harley Davidson with sidecar

Harley Davidson

A couple of Ducatis

Italian motorcycle police riding in style!

BMW 1800cc


I think it's a Moto Guzzi, with a sidecar.


Chevrolet truck with the shop logo on the door

The badge says Yama Moto

German NSU motorcycle. From reading a bit on line, the company had a long history that eventually was folded into the Audi company. The name NSU was taken from the company's home on the rivers Neckar and SUlm. You might know that NSU was the first to develop the Wankle rotary engine for their automobiles. Whew, there's a lot of history out there!

This badge was on the gas tank of this NSU motorcycle. I'd seen a few NSU cars, but never one of their motorcycles. As you can read in German, World Champion 1953, 1954 in 125cc and 250cc. 

Top: Moto Guzzi, bottom: Vincent

The street sign over the door is Bosendorfer Street, Bosendorfer being a piano manufacturer.

Harley Davidson, and Deus (from Australia)

Left to right: Norton, Triumph, Triumph

Two from Moto Guzzi


Puch two-seater