Odometer (NSX): 102,350
An exclusive members-only track facility called The Thermal Club opened its doors for our NSX owners today!
General Manager Brent was happy to roll out the red carpet for our event, and we graciously accepted the invitation. We had a day of hot weather and even hotter cars. Somehow, we managed to make the most of our day before the oven – it was 102 degrees Fahrenheit when I left the track in the early afternoon – really started getting to us. My day started off with a 4:30 a.m. departure from the Agua Caliente host hotel for a 40-minute drive to the racetrack.
I recognized some jewel eye MDX headlights in my rearview mirror, so I knew the vehicle behind me must’ve been full of Acura folks — and, indeed it was. Over the next hour or so, we offloaded a TLX, an MDX, the RealTime Racing NSX, and the new black NSX from a huge transport truck that had brought them. Our general attendees started arriving around 6:30 a.m. and it was a steady stream of incoming NSXers for awhile. Our day was kicked off by High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) coordinator Jim Cozzolino, with a few remarks from Event Director Chris Willson as well as from Peter Cunningham.
Our skidpad, autocross, and “South Palm Circuit” tracks opened up for business shortly afterward, and about 40 people cycled through three different “run groups” based on skill level. I didn’t participate in the performance driving activities, but I’m fairly certain that if I had, I would’ve been with the “Beginner” contingent. The rest of the morning was filled with that characteristic roar of NSX exhaust in the airwaves and the occasional screech of squealing rubber as the cars and people made the rounds. Ted Klaus and other key Acura engineering personnel showed up to educate us a little on the new NSX.
One NSX owner – and I’m sorry I can’t even remember his name – took me for a track ride in his Formula Red 1995 car. It was equipped with a Comptech supercharger, custom exhaust system, and upgraded suspension. I was reminded of just how well the NSX handles when pushed in a performance driving situation.
Lunch was served at an adjacent shaded pavilion – and thank goodness for those high-powered fans on the perimeter. The hamburgers and quesadillas were just what the doctor ordered, not to mention the generous availability of waters and Gatorades made available by Thermal track management so nobody in our group got dehydrated. Around that same time, Peter Cunningham took the wheel of the 2017 NSX – for his first time behind the wheel – and gave ride-alongs to the 3 winners of our charity raffle which raised $2,000 last night. They had huge grins when exiting the track.
The last logistical challenge of the Thermal event was a parade lap where all 100-someodd cars got on the track at the same time. In the lead was the new NSX, followed by Jim Cozzolino and Rahul Chopra, then the mass following of regular attendees. Though speed was low at 15-20 miles per hour max, it was still a surreal feeling to see so many NSXs ahead of, next to me, and behind me.
Dinner was held at The Living Desert, a botanical garden and zoo. It was the perfect “under the stars” setting for our club members to meet and great one another in a casual, picnic table setting. Chris spoke a moment about our sponsors, and then I made a few remarks about tomorrow’s 103-mile group drive to the San Jacinto Mountains. More adventures await! Come back tomorrow for the finale!
Here are the rest of today’s shots.
Notice the clock in here: 4:47 a.m. and headed to the track. Yawn!
Unloading the new NSX at the track
Having a seat in the RealTime Racing NSX when we had to move it forward. Pushed, not started!
TLX lights up the Realtime Racing NSX
Getting things set up in the Acura display as attendees start parking
Driver meeting kick-off at 7:30 a.m.
The cars behind me were prepping for track day
Mountain views that never get old!
All set for my ride. Standing with Automobile Magazine author Michael Jordan
New NSX takes to the Thermal track, solo
D’oh! Had to lay off the pics for a bit! It got toasty out there.
Paused at the end of the parade for some group photos
New NSX at the front of our group during photos
Burn, baby, burn!
Back at the hotel parking garage. Nice try, Camry.
Parking at dinner. One of these things is not like the others!
Dinner venue at The Living Desert