Great and epic battles in history…. Rocky vs. Apollo. David vs. Goliath. The US vs The Soviet Union. NICOclub vs. Mother Nature.
This would be the theme of the weekend.
Although weather forecasters predicted a cool but clear weekend, local legend has it that Virginia International Raceway has its own weather system (more on this to come).
The first of the NICO crew (AZhitman and tenkawa_akito) rolled in Thursday to meet up with Team HLM (the team fielding the Rolex GT G35). Not much setup was needed, so we hung out with Team HLM owner Frank Howard, team member Alex Moore, and G35 GT driver Brian Sellers. Great group of guys – Frank’s motorhome is nicer than most people’s houses, and Brian is one of the coolest people we’ve met. Hanging out with an actual race team owner and 2-time Le Mans driver was a real treat, and one of the many perks of attending a NICO event.
Friday morning began with Mother Nature throwing the first punch, and she decided to “dampen the mood” by sending us a constant and persistent drizzle all day long. The NICO crew worked through the rain, setting up the tents and hanging banners, but stopping short of unpacking anything that could be water damaged… Nature 1, NICO 0.
Saturday, Ms. Nature decided we still hadn’t had enough, and sent more rain, turning most of VIR into a sloppy quagmire. Doesn’t she know that motorsports and rain don’t mix? Nature 2, NICO 0. Damn you, woman. We’ll get you back for this…. Promise.
Despite the drizzle, the drift event was in full effect, and the drivers did not disappoint. The Patriot road course at VIR is very challenging, with extreme elevation changes and some turns that can only be cleanly navigated by the most expert drifters. NICO’s own ‘LookoutMatt’ put on an amazing display of talent and skill, piloting the MA Motorsports star-spangled S13 through the course at superhuman speed.
Christine (skydragoness) sported the Press Pass all weekend, with full access to the entire venue – We’ll be posting up her pics real soon.
NICO Moderator Sean (MagikDragon) participated in Tarzan’s Lap Battle. With his S15-faced hatch with a stock KA and 18″ G35 wheels, he showed off some impressive driving skills. While he didn’t place first, he consistently ran the same lap times as a modded STi (which we made sure to point out to the Subie crew) and Sean got props from both spectators and Lap Battle workers for his efforts.
Sunday, the NICO faithful were restless and bored. No Lap Battle, no drifting, no racing… BUT, the Rally-X course was open. Watching a B12 Sentra decimate ALL competitors (even the AWD Subies) gave us a real sense of Nissan pride. After much goading and encouragement from wet, bored attendees, who just wanted to see “someone break something”, the NICOclub Rental Car tiptoed onto the Rally-X course. Nearly a mile of 2-foot-deep mud awaited. Would it sink? Would it swim? WHO CARES. Let’s play in the mud!
Track workers placed bets on how long the poor rental would make it. Those who bet on the NICO CEO’s rental were rewarded, as it beat out an Audi Quattro with a 36-second run. Buried hub-deep in the mud, John Deere came to the rescue, dragging the poor 2007 dumbestic unceremoniously off the course by its hind leg.
Just to add insult to injury, we parked it next to the $400 B12 that kicked its Detroit butt. We’re pretty sure those divots will remain for years to come, so Nature 2, NICO 1.
A couple hours later, we got a brief reprieve from the weather, and NICOclub finally got its turn on the VIR Karting Track. Several of your fellow NICOnauts have some pretty impressive karting skills, with 240MarcuSX dominating the field. Tenkawa_akito (Bart) was the victim of a n00b driver (who shall remain unnamed), who t-boned him in the horseshoe turn and nearly took his foot off. Torry (EZcheese15) was able to run almost the entire course without lifting, and Sean (MagikDragon) was hauling for the entire session. Greg’s (AZhitman) kart was the only one equipped with manual brakes, which might have contributed to his full-speed collision with a spun kart. He’s convinced he’s broken some ribs, but the general consensus is that he’s just old. Dammit.
On the way home from the track, Bart (tenkawa_akito) decided it was time to tie up the game with the old hag. Taking a 90 degree left hand, decreasing-radius sweeper he came in waaaay too hot, started sliding off the road, and locked the brakes. He cleared a 2-foot ditch while hurtling helplessly into the forest, staring at a telephone pole right in his path. We still have no clue what prevented him from hitting it – he missed it by millimeters. The whole NICO crew lent some muscle to lift / shove it out of the woods, and the car’s not injured too severely. Most importantly, Bart was uninjured, just rattled.
Since we figure Bart demolished some prime Spotted Owl habitat: Nature 2, NICO 2.
As if the poor rental car hadn’t taken enough abuse on the Rally-X track, AZhitman centerpunched a deer just south of Roxboro en route to the airport Monday morning. Doing about 75, Greg’s thinking he shaved his speed down to around 60 (Pontiac G6 headlights SUCK). Punted Bambi’s arse over into oncoming traffic, and busted up the front of the rental.
Gotta love insurance. Nature 2, NICO 3. Take THAT, woman.
The REAL star of the show this weekend was the Team HLM Rolex Cup G35 GT car, which made its first public appearance. The car drew a steady stream of onlookers all weekend, and nearly everyone had the same comments: “Beautiful.”
Max Crawford’s shop has assembled a fully dry carbon-bodied G35 that’s just stunning. Unlike any race car you’ve ever observed, all of the body panels align perfectly, the paint is exquisite, and the attention to detail is simply phenomenal. One can only imagine what the Menard-built VK45 will do to the competition.
So, despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, we still had a great time, and she should probably just give us some sunshine next year.
Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here for years….