Sunday, July 30, 2023

F1 Miami Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Pano shot from our seats at the F1 Miami Grand Prix pre-race. 

The big anticipated of NMS vs. NMS this weekend did not happen since the autocross event was cancelled. Oh well, let's get caught back up with our visit to the Miami F1 race!

Back in May Julie and I visited the Miami Grand Prix weekend and had a blast! Since then things have been busy moving to SC, and I just realized that after blogging about Friday practice and Saturday qualifying, I left out RACE DAY! Here we go!

Pre-race view of the grid on track. Honest, there's 19 or 20 race cars down there somewhere. 

After visiting the track for Friday practice, and the excitement of Saturday qualifying, it was finally time for the main event: Race Day on Sunday for the 2023 Miami F1 race!  Long story short, 2 time defending champ Max Verstappen came roaring through the field from 9th place at the start and took the win. His teammate Sergio Perez started on pole position and finished 2nd. Two-time champ Fernando Alonso drove solidly from 2nd on the grid and finished in 3rd for Aston Martin to round out the podium. Losing a place in the entire race sounds bad, but when it's Verstappen in the fastest car this year, not a big deal. 

Standing by in case any of the 10 teams needs a last-minute replacement driver!
Spoiler alert: They didn't!

The crowd on Sunday was bigger than the previous two days. Mostly we knew this because after the race there was a ridiculous bottleneck of pedestrians trying to leave the grandstand area. At one point there were people on foot (including us) going in opposite directions and NOT MOVING for minutes at a time. Once we got off the grounds the car traffic was very good, but man there's gotta be a way they can manage the foot traffic better. There were some workers around, but they were only focused on keeping people out of the fancy suites and etc, so no one was doing anything about us poor fans. Oh well! Next time I'll stay in the grandstands and wait for the crowd to thin out. Or better yet, win the lottery, stay in the luxury suites, and fly in and out by chopper!

Formula 1 with cheerleaders? Must be in the USA. Later this year the F1 circus will return to races in Austin Texas, and Las Vegas Nevada.

Like the previous two days, it was hot (because: MIAMI), so there were free water stands, and just to stay hydrated we also bought a few beers and some snacks. With a big crowd, the other issue is having enough bathrooms. While sometimes there was a line for the facilities, overall, it worked out OK. 

Drivers waiting for their introductions. American driver and Miami native Logan Sargeant is bottom center with the Williams team "W" on his back. 

The Pre-Race "show" was over the top for Formula 1, which normally doesn't go all Show-Biz-USA-style. In Miami though, we had corny driver introductions, complete with music from an orchestra being conducted by Will I. Am, driver intros from LL Cool J, the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders, and since our seats were right in front of this show, it was cheesy entertainment at its best. On a positive note, the National Anthem singer did a great job, and it was cool to see the drivers right down below our 13th row seats. When I looked at my photos later, I found Sir Jackie Stewart (3-time F1 world champ) in some of them, so that was cool.

Sorry it's a zoomed in phone camera photo, but in the left of the photo is Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, in the middle (facing away with plaid pants and cap) is 3-time world champ Sir Jackie Stewart, and over on the right is defending champion Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Another driver is in the lower left, but I can't tell who that is, maybe Mercedes' George Russell?

We really enjoyed the race, the full weekend, and other than a very slow pedestrian exit just to get away from the grandstands, the facilities, parking, etc all ran smoothly. While the overall feel was more crowded than the race in Austin TX, it looks like Miami will be hosting F1 for some time, although maybe they can cut out the big showbiz production next time. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

NMS Doubles Down on Hybrid Power!

It's not Hot Pepper Red, but here's a Maverick XL I spotted the other day. 

Exactly one week after bringing a first hybrid car into the garage (Honda Accord hybrid EX-L that is) we've just placed an order for another Daily Driver hybrid (non-racecar that is.) As of today, we have a 2024 Ford Maverick with the hybrid engine on order. Honest folks, we are going ALL OUT to turn the economy around and support our local businesses in South Carolina! Shoot, I'll even promise that if I win the Mega Millions or the Powerball jackpot, I'll REALLY get the economy cranked up! 

In two weeks with the Accord, we really are getting the EPA mileage they claim, averaging 49MPG combined. While that's in only 400 miles, the NMS team is very happy with that mileage, so we think the Maverick will also be worth the wait. 

"Worth the wait" you say? Well, yes, unfortunately Covid and supply chain issues have combined with HUGE demand for this vehicle to make delivery time unknowable. Shoot, there's still people that ordered last year that probably won't get their 2023.  I've tried finding one online and at local area dealers, and it's almost like they don't exist. Yeah they list them on line, but those all seem to be trucks that are customer orders that I can't buy. When last year's 2023 model was open for ordering, so many customers signed up that after only a week Ford had to stop taking orders. And they still haven't built all of those trucks yet. 

After adding all these things up, I realized that maybe it would be worth the wait to order a new one when given the chance. Well, that chance came on July 17th when the order banks opened up again, so NMS will be happy report how this plays out. We'll give an honest report on the waiting (and waiting, and waiting) sure to come our way. You might think this is dumb, but for me I've got another car I can drive every day, and I can afford to wait. Sure, it won't tow much, but all I really need is something to get around town, take the garbage a half mile up the road a few times a week, and likely haul a few tires and car parts around. Oh and all that other stuff for the home too. 

Realistically, I've got to think it might take a year, maybe less, or maybe the demand is so huge that they already won't be able to build all the vehicles people are ordering. Life is all about choices, so let me tell you that in the ordering process (very easy to do at your local dealership) I learned that if I wanted the HOT PEPPER RED, it is now available in the base model, instead of having to go to the next higher XLT model. So, with HOT PEPPER RED and a hybrid engine being my only options, it's on order. 

Ford made some other tweaks to 2024, mainly that instead of hybrid being the standard engine, now the gas motor is standard, and the hybrid costs extra as an option. I'd heard about this change recently, so while I don't want to pay more, apparently the rules just changed. 

I've looked at a lot of video reviews of this truck on YouTube, and here are some of the things that people complain about: no moon roof, no adaptive cruise control, have to use a key and insert it to start the truck, hybrid doesn't have all-wheel-drive, etc. You know what? Those people are whiners! I really don't need all those extras, and I'm looking forward to NOT paying for them. Dealers already add enough extra stuff that I don't want ($199 for nitrogen filled tires? What a joke!) I'm happy to be a cheapskate, OK, a cheapskate that can buy a new vehicle. Hey, if you want THE cheapest new vehicle for sale in America, go ahead and buy a Nissan Versa, around $17,000. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

NMS Together Again

North vs. South, 2023 version. 

The NMS squad today announced that both South and North drivers would be competing on July 29th at Darlington. You might have heard of this famous track which is known as "Too Tough To Tame!" However, we'll be just on the outside of the track, driving the Cayman in autocross in the Darlington parking lot, AKA the "Parking Lot Too Tough to Tame."

Brian at Darlington with the NMS BMW. 

With the Sports Car Club of America's South Carolina Region, this event will mark a return to our very first autoX event location way back10 years ago; same place, same parking lot, and only the cars have changed! We'll be in the B Street class, so like normal we'll see if anyone else enters this class, and also compare our actual RAW time with all the other drivers, as well as the modified PAX time that attempts to make up for differences in all cars and horsepower. 

The main competition will be NMS internal bragging rights, to see who can best the other in the same exact car. Stay tuned to see how this battle turns out!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

YOU Can Design an F1 Moneygram/Haas F1 Team Shirt!

 Moneygram Haas F1 Team pit and garages in Miami. Their drivers are #20 Kevin Magnussen, and #27 Nico Hulkenberg

You read that correctly! Just go to this website: and you can enter the contest to design a shirt for the Moneygram/Haas F1 Team for this years Dutch Grand Prix! The sponsor is the team apparel sponsor TriCorp, which is based in Holland, so you should be happy to see that they want an orange t-shirt. The winner will get 10 of the shirts and some other goodies too! Good luck!

Sunday, July 16, 2023

July Autocross Report: North Carolina Style

zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, autocross in their huge parking lot. 

If you're a BBQ fan like me, the phrase "North Carolina Style" probably has your mouth watering for the NC version of the world's greatest food. While I don't want to touch any hot button topics like religion or politics, I will go into some hot debates when it comes to BBQ! Lucky for you though, this is our car blog, and not exactly a Michelin fine dining review, so we'll just say we love BBQ, and let's talk autocross! Besides, Michelin makes tires, and I don't worry too much about their restaurant reviews.

Adding some lines to help drivers stay on course.

NMS-North returned to autocross action with the Central Carolina Region of the SCCA on July 15th, and it was overall cloudy and not terribly hot for July! There were 153 drivers on the big (and hot) parking lot at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte. Entered in B Street, the #77 managed to finish in the top 2 for the class! Oh yeah, by the way, there were exactly 2 cars in the class! More specifically, NMS took 1st place! 

The "N" is for Novice class. Almost any car can autocross!

Beyond that, there are a BUNCH of fast drivers in North Carolina, which I think explains why I was in 79th on overall PAX time, and 88th on RAW time. Like a lot of things in life, you could look at this in at least two ways. One, I was slower than about half the drivers, so I could be unhappy.  Second, and on the other hand, I was faster than about half of the field too! Plus, I had as much fun as anyone, didn't hit any cones, and didn't go off course, so it was a ton of fun on a big course! I ran into some autocross friends from my time in Virginia, talked to a bunch of new folks from North Carolina, and did I mention it was fun? One other good thing, on my way home I drove into a huge rain and lightning storm, so at least we all stayed dry during the event. 

Central Carolina's Region timing trailer

This was my first event with the CCR folks since I'd left South Carolina in 2014, so it was a good welcome back to the south. I learned that they had a few different ways of running things than some other clubs, but the day ran smoothly, and things kept moving. With 160 drivers, the field was split into 3 run groups. This meant that each person would drive one session, have the next session off, and then work the following session. Some clubs run it differently, but in the end it ends up being the same. The bottom line seems to be how many runs can you give everyone from about 10am to 3pm or so, which varies on total entries, how big the course is, and if there are any weather or technical issues. My last event in NY gave us 9 runs, so only getting 4 yesterday was less chances to make improvements, but for the huge field that's the way it works out. 

On a hot day, some drivers park up under the grandstand to keep cool and dry.

As drivers approached the start line, the timing trailer folks have you stop at a stop sign so that they can make sure they have your number and car entered in the computer correctly. Not only that, but the trailer also has a little digital display that gives you a green check sign that they've got you all set. From there, you wait your turn to pull up to the start. 

This VW Rabbit is a well-known autocross car, the famous Lamborbunni!


At the start line, most clubs have a person who is the starter that tells you when you can go. The CCR has an actual red light that tells you to stop, and two more indicator lights that come on as you pull up that little bit more. This ensures everyone is starting from the same spot. In a sport where timing is down to the thousandth of a second, every little foot counts. This was the first time I'd seen this, so after the starter told me what in the wide wide world of sports was going on I was all set for the day. 

Another fun thing of any activity from bowling and bingo to sky-diving I suppose is that you meet plenty of other people that have the same interests. At this event I spent time talking to a couple of young guys during the day, some not so young guys, as well as folks I already knew from autocrossing in Virginia Beach in the. By the way, they just got married, so it was nice to see Brian Wells and Stephanie Humphries, two drivers that are way faster than me. 

The other side of the trailer, where the timers can see the cars at the start and make sure they are tracking the right cars in the right order. When the check mark lights up green, the driver knows that their info is in the computer for the next run. 

I didn't get any info on this car, but it looks cool. 

Other than an army of Miatas, Honda S2000s, there were a good number of other quick cars like Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Mini Coopers, Porsches, Nissan Z's, Honda Civics, etc. Hey, there was even a Tesla!

You can start autocrossing in your own car now; just rent a helmet for the day!

Other than having to wear a  helmet (because SAFETY) you really can autocross just about any kind of car. Even some pickup trucks are ok, but not all. The SCCA has specific rules for computing if a vehicle can compete. One requirement involves the center of mass, so a top heavy SUV is probably not OK. 

After 4 runs, NMS finished in 1st place for B Street by 0.420 seconds. 

Other than driving, everyone works the course. Very stylish in a McLaren papaya ensemble with orange worker vest. It was a big course, cars hitting 50mph in multiple spots. I heard a good number of cars on their rev limiters trying to stay in 2nd gear and not lose time by shifting up to 3rd and back down to 2nd. 

Lightning McQueen came out to drive too!

One of the CCR sponsors brought snacks. Pro tip: On a hot day, the chocolate Ding Dongs get really smushy!

With the 3 run group set-up, everyone had some time off, which on an all day long event gives you a chance to eat some lunch, get off your feet, or go fill up with gas if you haven't planned very well. For this event I stuck with the time-tested "Bring Your Own PBJ and A TON of Water Because it's HOT" plan. 

You can see the green light on the left that tells the driver when they can start. It also had other sensing lights that let you know where to stop as you pulled up. This is just the launch point, the actual timing of each run start off to the right, out of the picture, so you had a choice of how to launch and pick up speed before your timer started. 

You shoulda seen the Semi Class competing!
Seriously, this was before the event, and these trucks had to cut through the parking lot to get to where they were going. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

NMS Daily Driver Now Honda Powered!

New Wheels

From their world HQ in South Carolina, the NMS team announced just hours ago that their daily driver (DD) is now Honda hybrid powered. This puts the NMS grocery-getter on par with the Honda powered Red Bull Formula 1 team, so we're expecting a huge amount of power from the new Accord! With 247 lb-ft of torque, we're not complaining!

The 2.0 liter 4 cylinder, plus 2 electric motors adds up to 204HP!

After 12 years of great reliability from the 2011 Toyota Camry 4 cylinder, the team welcomes a 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid to the stable. After looking at the EPA mileage for hybrids, it made sense to go with a new car (believe it or not) that gets 51mpg around town. With that kind of savings on the gas budget, we'll be millionaires in NO TIME! No complaints on the 175,000 plus miles on the Toyota, but the Honda was in stock and ready to rock!

Baby You Can Drive My Car!

This is also a first for NMS-North to join a lot of the rest of the planet, and venture into the last dozen years of car technology! Things like Apple Car Play, Lane Keep Assist, and the built in jacuzzi with food replicator are all new to us! There's nothing like jumping in the back seat tub and saying "Tea, Earl Grey Hot" and watching the magic happen! While this doesn't change the main NMS autocross and track cars, it was fun to make a major upgrade to the daily driver. 

One highlight in the first days was leaving a restaurant, and in the drive out of the parking lot (maybe 100 yards), one quick glance at the MPG for the "trip" so far showed 199.9 MPG, which I assume was all on electric power! Yeah, an F1 car might go 200mph, but I don't think the Red Bull F1 car can do this!!

199.9MPG! Read 'em and weep Max Verstappen!

Friday, July 7, 2023

NMS-North Preps for Carolinas Autocross

Live from the new NMS-North world HQ in Rock Hill SC, we've just learned that the NMS #77 will make its Carolinas debut for 2023 on July 15th in autocross action with the Central Carolinas Region (CCR, not to be confused with John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival) of the Sports Car Club of America. If you don't know who John Fogerty is, ask an older person that likes rock music. We saw him at Radio City earlier this year and he's still rockin' away. NMS-North last lived in the Carolinas in 2014, so it's likely they've returned for the boiled peanuts. 

Anyway, like many of the CCR events, this autocross competition will take place at the Zmax Dragway, which is part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex. While it's not the dirt oval next door, or the high-banked NASCAR  home of the Coca-Cola 600, Zmax is well known for it's 4-wide drag strip! OK, we won't be driving on the drag strip either, but, the important part is that the drag strip has a huge parking lot that is GREAT for autocross! Bigger parking lot equals bigger and longer autocross runs, which also equals more fun. I think Einstein came up with that equation (BPL=B+L AX=F.U.N.) but don't quote me on it. However, probably the main reason he left Switzerland was that the central European country would later outlaw auto racing, and I've gotta say that moving out of a country with no auto racing was a smart move for Herr Einstein!

Unlike the Porsche Club of America autocross events, the SCCA has even more car classes, so right now we're waiting for more drivers to register and see how many other cars will be in the Cayman's B Street class. Regardless, all cars then compete with their PAX time, so this will be a tough battle for NMS because so many other cars (like C Street, D Street, E Street, F Street, G Street, heck even Sesame Street) all get a more advantageous PAX modifier. Whatever, the bottom line is to take your car and drive it like you stole it, and see how fast you can go and not worry about the other drivers! 

NMS also announced some huge upgrades to their auto crossing arsenal of awesomeness, with a brand new shiny pop up canopy to help beat the Carolina heat in between driving runs. Believe it or not, it seems to be a bit hotter down south than it is up in New York, but we're still researching this before jumping to any conclusions.