NICOfest at Carlisle Performance
Long the bastion of classics, antiques and collector car aficionados, Carlisle Pennsylvania has only very recently opened its doors to the import and sport compact scene. For this event, NICOclub headed to the legendary Carlisle Fairgrounds, a place that has been hosting automotive events for decades, but will heretoafter never be the same again.
Joel (Bubba1) and Sean (MagikDragon) took responsibility for the coordination and planning of the event. Joel’s years of experience in participating in and coordinating track events was put to good use, as he single-handedly put together a workable schedule, rules, entry criteria and even a course design. Sean handled all the local dissemination of information and made sure the word got out: NICO’s coming to town.
While Carlisle Performance and Sound was an inaugural event last year, NICOclub was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in this second-annual event. In working with Rich Dallas, the head of Cars at Carlisle Events, we discussed bringing a little more than a traditional “car show” to the venue – it was time to show the residents of Central PA the real reason why we build these cars….
The Carlisle Fairgounds is laid out on a rolling, grassy stretch of land just south of the turnpike, a beautiful backdrop for the weekend’s events. The weather was perfect, and setup on Friday went smoothly thanks to the team assembled by Rich Dallas’ crew.
Import car shows and rice go together like lo mein and…well, rice, and there was plenty of it at Carlisle. From unpainted body kits to gaudy wings and spoilers, to day-glo paintwork to home-brewed concoctions of Bondo and vinyl, there was plenty of starchy white goodness to go around. However, for every fart-canned Cavalier we saw, there were at least two impressively clean other cars, and I think we encouraged some “culture-shift” with some of the clean presentations.
The autocross event was a HUGE success, with over 35 cars and drivers taking a shot at the well-planned course set up by Joel and Torry. In that this event was set up as a “demo” presented by NICOclub, track time was limited to preapproved participants only. It was difficult to explain to the pizza-delivery crowd why they couldn’t just roll in and practice their chain-link relocation and landscaping skills, but thanks to the folks who were understanding and polite, next year we’ll be working with Carlisle to open this event up to more drivers and more run groups. That’s how we roll.
The weekend’s fastest lap time on the autocross course was a smoking 52:53, set by Sean (SEAN350Z) in a white S14 with a beautiful suspension, wheel and brake setup. The second-fastest lap time (54:07)was recorded by a silver FD RX-7, and third place (54.90) was posted by Keith (drummerej20) in a 2004 STi.
Wes (elwesso) and Torry (EZcheese15) tag-teamed Wes’s 1994 Q45t all day, with Torry hustling the 4200-lbsedan to a terrifying 56:94 lap time. Wes was easily the most entertaining driver of the day, impressingthe crowd with a 1:05 lap time that included an impromptu 360-degree spin right in the middle of his run.
Kenny (NSR_A32) showed the non-believers what a FWD Nissan is capable of, as he manhandled his 1998 Maxima to a FWD-best 56.66 laptime. Josh (NSR_s13) provided backup with an awesome display of driving in a stock 2006 1.8-liter Sentra (56:34). Josh (NSR_Sheets) was the unanimously-chosen “Most Improved”, knocking off a full second each time he took the track in his 2003 Tiburon. Evan (gniknave) “unpimped zee course” with his 2006 GTI (57:78) and Track Official Joel (Bubba1) put on an awesome display of car control with several laps of tire-noise-free smoothness in his red 350Z.
The ladies of NICOclub got in on the action too! Steph (NSR240SXE) brought her new Kouki out for some exercise, and Lauren got bitten by the Autocross bug as she hit the track in her spanking-new G35 Coupe.Christine (skydragoness) cranked out some autocross laps and gave the course a thumbs-up, and KireiS14 (aka Captin Amy) put on a clinic in flawless drift control.
Abby (NSR_ABSofSteel) and Amanda manned the HQ table and made sure anyone walking by got a handful of NICO schwag… Nothing like a couple pretty faces to sell t-shirts! Amy (MagikDragon’s girlfriend) was in charge of the grille, and deserves a BIG hand for keeping us fed (and putting up with Sean’s retarded antics all weekend!)
In what has become a NICOclub tradition, another rental car got unceremoniously and brutally violated. This time, the victim was my 2007 Hyundai Sonata. No less than FIVE drivers took turns on the autocross course shagging the hell out of the big Korean sedan, and Torry showed a bunch of folks who’s boss with a best time of 59:03. The Hyundai never faltered, and aside from some scrubbed sidewalls, no one would ever know it had seen some severe cone-dodging duty that weekend.
Intermissions between autocross and drift were spent reconfiguring the course and swapping out track personnel in preperation for the next run group, and it can be a little boring for the throngs of spectators lining the course boundaries. Enter the crowd favorite: NICO’s very own Dieselman, the 600-hp court jester, kept the locals entertained with a phenomenal display of lurid tire abuse. What happens when 1200 lb-ft of torque meets 75-series rubber on a road course? Some of the most radical and obnoxious tire-smoking burnouts you’ve seen. Not only did Joe’s big Cummins lay down a thick black start/ finish line for the autocross course, he also drove all the way from Denver, Colorado to trailer Jerry’s Z32 to the show in an enclosed hauler. That’s a work horse, my friends… Next time you see Joe, give him some props for all his hard work.
The drifting portion of the event was a HUGE success. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this was the FIRST time many people in PA had ever SEEN drifting in person, and we were humbled and honored to be able to bring them a good show. As soon as the tire noise started, the fences were jammed with people straining to catch a glimpse of some tire abuse. The natural landscape at the Fairgrounds provided for a nice birds-eye view of the action, and we’ve already discussed making the hillside a little more “functional” for next year’s event. Those of you who had to peer through the trees, we’ll have that handled!
First and foremost in our plans was to present a safe and entertaining demo, and I think we accomplishedboth. Joel assembled an awesome team of corner workers and flaggers, and not a single car hit the fence or sustained any impact damage on the course.
Participants included Chaotic_Warlord in his zenki, KireiS14 aka Captin Amy in her green zenki, Mike and the infamous Whiplash “Drift Truck”, Mark’s battle-scarred “DriftPeople” S14, Ed’s CA-powered S13, Steve (starkos14) and his R33/S14 homologation, Wes (elwesso) and the Q45, NICO newbie Matt (hvp014) and his S13 hatch, and a few other folks who decided to take the opportunity to get their feet wet in the drift arena. Special thanks to the crew from Whiplash DVD for all their help and for sharing the limelight with the NICOfest crew!
Jerry decided to “Black Magic” the “Pimp Mobile” golf-cart tires and play “Caddyshack Drifter” – But the REAL entertainment came when Wes took the wheel and showed off his “brake-kick gas-slam one-handed one-leggedsuburban whiteboy drift skills” – Wes can sling a golf cart better than most drifters can sling a car, and he had everyone rolling with laughter as he flailed about in the grass, pirouetting the golf cart like a pro drifter.
Having been soundly defeated at golf-cart drifting, Jerry took the monster Z32 out on the track to blow out the pipes, and despite it being delivered in a trailer, that thing is far from a trailer-queen. The sound of the twin-turbo VG spooling up down the straights turned many a head, and Jerry even cut loose with some sideways action. We hear he’ll be detailing the undercarriage for a month now.
Hotel Carlisle’s bar provided us with some much-needed rest and relaxation after a busy day of tracking,and a good time was had by all – Torry, Kenny and Sean suck at karaoke, and no one ever wants to hear “Bust a Move” in the state of PA again. Thanks to the staff of Hotel Carlisle for their hospitality, friendliness, and cheap cold beer.
We’re already making plans to come back and do it even bigger next year, so join us in Carlisle in 2008 as we take over the sleepy town once again!