Friday, March 29, 2024

Porsche Club Announces Autocross Kick Off

Yes, just about any car can autocross. Even a FIAT Abarth on 3 wheels, as demonstrated by NMS a few years ago at Little Creek Virginia. Shoot, you can even get on 2 wheels sometimes!

On April 7th the Carolina Region Porsche Club of America kicks off their first autocross event of 2024. Plan now to sign up and then make your way to Greensboro NC for some car-tastic fun! We'll be in one of the parking lots at the Greensboro Coliseum, so while it might also be fun to drive INSIDE the coliseum, there is likely just a bit more room outdoors.

No extra style points for trying to match your shirt with your car. 
Unless it's red. Red is the fastest color. 

You don't have to drive a Porsche, and you don't have to belong to the club. Heck, you don't even have to have a car, but trust me, your time will be faster in a car. What I mean is that you don't have to drive your OWN car. You can team up with a friend or even some person you don't know, and take turns driving the same car! 

Autocross gives you the lowest cost competitive driving event that I know about, not counting your private drag-race vs. the Highway Patrol, or any kind of dangerous street racing. So far, these cars are signed up in my class: 

Four drivers signed up so far, and 3 of us have the same 2009 year car (Boxster/Cayman) and the same engine, and the 2015 Cayman has 10 more Horsepower. Sounds very equal, so we'll see how the drivers do! 

Registration is on the website, where you have to create a FREE account, and then find the events for the Carolinas Region Porsche Club of America. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

NMS Lights up the Garage! Very Illuminating!

Lead Project Manager for Operation LIGHT 'EM UP, Brian Nixon!
Back left of this photo is one of the old fluorescent lights. 

This weekend's garage time had the crew installing new lighting in the NMS-North garage. When we bought the house a year ago, the two-car garage had a grand total of two fluorescent light fixtures, with only one of them really over where the cars park. OK, the new garage door opener has a new light in it, and I can always open the two window blinds for more sunlight during the day, but the garage, I mean, the NMS-NORTH WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF RACING was still kind of dark. 

No lights in this picture, just wanted to show off the NMS Red Team Porsche Cayman and BMW 135is.

We managed to easily install 8 LED lights in a pattern around the garage, so things are looking much brighter now! One of the old fluorescent lights is still way over in the corner by the water heater, where cars don't go. In addition to more light, we turned the previous light fixture wiring into a normal twin outlet that powers the two chains of LED lights. 

OK, the lights! Like most things we do, this is not a step-by-step guide, and besides, I forgot to take any "before" pictures!

These lights are not expensive, easy to install (if you have a ladder or are 8 feet tall yourself) and convenient because they work off the same wall switch that the old lights did. Oh, and did I mention it's a lot brighter? It is!

Ladder. You are going to want to have a ladder for this job. My other thought was to get a pair of stilts like the dry-wall hanging guys use but take my advice and stick with the ladder! Oh yeah, the Honda Accord Hybrid has joined the conversation. 

These lights come with all the hardware you might need, which includes two methods of hanging them! We used the simple little eyebolts that you could hand screw into the ceiling, attached a chain, and hung the lightweight lights. Each fixture has its own electric cord and switch, so it's easy to chain up to six of them together. 

We considered putting ALL the lights up here at the camera end of the garage, thinking that's where you usually work on an engine, but, well, there ARE some things you work on at the tailgate end of a car. OH, and one of the cars here is a mid-engine, so we spread the lights all around. 

Once we converted the old light wiring into an outlet, we ran one chain of six lights in one direction, and a second chain of two lights going the other way to encircle the space. No muss, no fuss, and as baseball hall of famer Johnny Bench used to say about Rust-Oleum, "no runs, do drips, no errors." We even managed to complete this job with only ONE trip to Home Depot! 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Cars and Coffee? Exotics and Espresso!

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ in the rain, the title of my new album. 

After attending many Cars and Coffee events from coast to coast, today I tried something TOTALLY different! At Lamborghini of Charlotte, they host an event titled Exotics and Espresso! Did the rain stop me? Did I drink a free coffee and see some cool cars? Let's go!

Thanks to Lamborghini of Charlotte for hosting and providing free coffee and donuts! The large enthusiastic crowd came out in the rain, ate, drank, and took about a
gazillion photos of their great cars! Those of us working to avoid a 2nd heart attack stuck with the coffee and skipped the huge donuts. 

There was a big crowd for the rain, and it was amazing to see so many automobile fans attend this event. With the combination of snacks and exotic cars, well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised since this was FREE. Did I mention that "free" is my favorite flavor too? Well, it is!

Lamborghini draws a lot of attention with their sports cars, but their high performance the Urus SUV has a lot of fans also. Maybe you're not a fan of the purple, but I'm sure it's an awesome ride!

The Huracan in blue. 

The Huracan interior looks to be a nice place to be!

Back outdoors in the raindrops, there were a handful Lambos and about a dozen new Lotus Emiras on display. Here's a Lamborghini in another color. 

The Lotus Emira is a new car, and it starts at $99,000 in the 1st edition model. What-a-ya get for that? You get a car that goes 171mph with 360 horsepower. Read all about it at this link: 

I liked the First Edition badge, and the raindrops look cool too!

Emira side view, yes, the engine is behind the driver. 


The Emiras I saw were in yellow, blue, dark gray, lighter gray, and a dark green, I think. 
Their website has 13 color options!

Engine cover under the rear hatch.

My Oxford English Dictionary and Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia don't tell me what a group of Emiras are called. Herd? Bunch? Pod? Pack? Lotta Lotus?

Hmm, front view of the Lotus, looks to be air intakes like most cars. 

Two-piece brakes.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Automotive Technology Update #2

Can you believe that some people put stickers on their car?

Here's the latest from our NMS college student with what's new in the Automotive Technology program at York Technical College. I wrapped up the Engine and the Introduction to Automotive Maintenance classes, and managed to both disassemble and assemble the same engine and started work on some other cars with various issues. Some highlights include stuff I've never done before, like replacing motor mounts, head gaskets, and replacing a lower control arm. A few other things I have done before, like replacing a broken wheel stud, spark plugs, oil change, or operating a lift were a bit easier!

Start with something simple, draining coolant before checking for a leaky head gasket. 

With two automotive classes complete (yes, I passed, thanks for asking!) I feel like I've learned a lot so far, but there's plenty more to go too! Last week kicked off Ignition and Fuel System class, so we'll find out what happens when you turn that key or push that start button on the car. At home, our new Honda Accord has push button start that works great, as long as you have the key fob in your pocket. The other two cars have the "old-fashioned" ignition key that you have to actually stick into the car and twist to turn it on. So many cars have the push button convenience that I have seen comments online complaining about the Maverick pickup using a real key. Those dang young people today complain about everything! Another recent complaint I read in a car forum was someone that wasn't sure if their windshield washer fluid sensor was working properly. On behalf of us older drivers, that made me laugh to think that someone has to rely on a dashboard light to know that they are out of washer fluid. Oh well, things change, and that's a good thing, because then we all have more stuff to laugh about!

Chrysler V6, going to check for head gasket leak. Let's go!

Intake, power steering reservoir, and center gasket are out of the way, so you can see into the V of the engine. 

Let me just say a big thank-you again to my wife Julie for supporting me in going back to school, and thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill for paying for the first two semesters. After that I'll have to pay for it on my own when my GI Bill is used up (total of 36 months of school.) The good news here is that the State of South Carolina (and some other states I'm sure) have a program where senior citizens can attend or audit college classes pretty much for free, so I'll be learning more about that this coming fall semester. Shoot, if that works out, I could complete the entire Automotive Associates, and then move on to more fun things like body shop, welding, or diesel engines too!

Here's the front bank, pretty good for a lot of mileage!

Here's the rear bank, much dirtier. 

Pro Tip from our instructor: on an Overhead Valve engine like this, you want those pushrods to go back in the same place, so if you don't have a fancy tray for all engine components like pro NHRA drag racers, at least punch some holes in some cardboard and label them! 

This is NOT going to be any kind of step-by-step series or instructional stuff, so I hope you like seeing a little of what we're working on in class. 

Saturday, March 2, 2024

NMS-North New Tire Time

February AutoX at Zmax

As one of my driving instructors said one day, "Nothing you do with your car on track will make it worth more money." In other words, driving your car wears out stuff like brake pads, rotors, gas, and of course, the tires. Today NMS-North would like to salute a set of Falken Azenis RT660 tires that lasted for approximately 90 autocross runs, a day of driving on track, and about 4767 total miles. They could have gone a bit further, but one of them developed a leak after my last event in 2023, and the tread was getting down to about 5/32nds, so Christmas came early with a new set of tires! 

Sure, that's not a lot of miles for your everyday tire that just goes to the grocery store, but if a set of tires is used pretty much only on track and auto-crossing, well, they just wear out faster! This set of tires proved to be pretty darn quick, lasted more than a year in multiple events, and enabled me to win fastest Porsche at two different events last year (once on RAW time and once on PAX time) so I'm happy with that. 


I ordered them online from Tire Rack, and like previous orders, have been very happy with their service and their warranty. After ordering on a Monday, they arrived at my local tire shop the very next day. Since Tire Rack and Discount Tire merged, I was also able to schedule installation when I ordered the tires, so that was very easy. There are a LOT of tire stores in world, and you probably have your favorite place you might like to go, so my only advice in buying tires and where to have them installed is to always shop around and get the best deal you can. If you have a local mechanic friend that mounts tires at home like some of my autocross friends, so much the better!

So, out with the Falkens, and in with a set of Yokohama Advan A052s. Just because the Falkens gave me my best results ever you didn't think I'd just buy the same tires, did you? Oh well! This tire has been considered one of the best for autocross for a few years now, to the extent that for much of that time they've been unavailable due to large demand. For that reason, I was surprised to see that they were in stock for immediate delivery, so that's what I ordered. 

For competitive drivers, having a great tire makes a huge difference. I looked up some tire tests on the Tire Rack website and found this big test of multiple tires from 2022 that included both the Falkens and Yokohamas, as well as the tires I had before the Falkens, a set of Hankook Ventus R-S4. Besides trying tires yourself, reading articles, watching videos, and talking to other drivers, I guess someone with an unlimited budget could just go out and buy one set of every tire there is and figure out what's best for them, but, well, my budget is just a bit less than "unlimited!" For what it's worth, from that 2022 test of 11 tires, the Falkens finished 2nd, the Yokohamas were 5th, and the Hankooks were in a dead heat for 6th. While that makes the Hankook slower than the others I've tried, it's also known for lasting the longest, and that was my experience also. My set of Hankooks got me through a lot of events, so I felt like they were a good value if you're not trying to be the fastest driver on the planet. The fastest tire in the test was the Bridgestone Potenta RE-71RS, and I'll admit that I went through a few sets of their previous version on my old FIAT too. Here's the article: TIRE RACK TIRE TEST