Loaded up and truckin’. No, literally, it was an east bound and down road trip if you look at a map… 1,400 miles and 22 hours of driving across the absolutely stunning landscapes that comprise the American southwest.
Just two guys with some race gear and nothing better to do but drive an Acura NSX from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas.
I always kind of dreamed of doing a long haul road trip like that, really just for the hell of it.
I’ve done some fun excursions before, but that was mainly back in the karting days with my Dad, driving from New Jersey out to races in Florida, Indiana, and sometimes even as far as Wisconsin. Though that was different.
Those trips were more out of necessity if we wanted to go racing, which was all well and good, but this was unique because it was an unusual opportunity.
I mean really… who in their right mind would say no to driving a badass, 573 horsepower, $200,000 supercar across the country? Not me.
This madness was born somewhere in the corporate offices of Honda Performance Development by our friend George Harmon and the folks at SRO.
They needed a pace car for our first GT World Challenge America powered by AWS event of the year at Circuit of The Americas last month.
Unfortunately (but also fortunately), this seemed to have happened only a few days before the event itself.
With no chance of getting a car to Texas by conventional means with so little time, HPD called upon its sharpest marbles (how does a racing driver change a lightbulb?
They don’t. They just stand there and let the world revolve around them) to drive this gorgeous NSX from Honda HQ in Torrance, Calif., all the way to Austin.
My co-pilot, or maybe I was the co-pilot… who knows… was my co-driver in the Racer’s Edge Motorsports No. 93 NSX GT3 Evo and remarkable ginger rights activist, Shelby Blackstock.
My friend was surely looking forward to 22 whole hours stuck in a car with yours truly.
The entire trip itinerary was awesome from the get-go.
I flew into LA, headed on over to American Honda HQ in Torrance, accepted the keys to our NSX from (Vice) El Presidente of Acura himself, Mr. Jon Ikeda, then headed on over to In-N-Out… I mean Austin. Simple.
There was a pretty significant level of time pressure as we only left LA on Monday afternoon and needed to be in Austin sometime Tuesday night.
Of course, being the young and dumb one, I was 100 percent committed to driving the whole thing straight through in one shot, but that idea was not accepted with any grace whatsoever.
Six hours to Phoenix on Monday, then the final 16 would be banged out on Tuesday. This was a nice pre-season team building event for Shelby and me.
Having driven various supercars in the past, they all tend to be quite stunning in their looks, powerful, and generally have great feel and feedback from a perspective of raw performance.
However, what they all seem to miss is the quality that makes a Grand Touring car a Grand Touring car – comfort. Yes, some are just built from the ground up to be ultra high performing machines, I get that.
What was most shocking about the NSX was just how comfortable and easy to drive it was for a 1,400-mile journey. Practical too. No problems fitting a few backpacks and race gear and I think our total fuel cost for the entire trip was somewhere in the region of $200.
All things considered, it’s pretty damn exceptional.
Now, one might assume with two young, fired up racing drivers, a very quick car, and the mostly barren landscape along I-10, that we would be a magnet for police – and you’d be right. We absolutely were but probably not for the most obvious reason – speeding.
It was 11 p.m., we were 15 hours into the 16-hour plan of day two, 21 hours into a 22-hour trip, and in that final push to Austin on some sketchy backroads through the middle of BFE, Texas.
Exhausted from what had been an already long enough day, I came over the blind crest of a small hill and right on the other side waiting in all of his glory was a member of the Blanco County Sheriffs Department. Sweet.
I had no idea what the speed limit was at this stage but I was surely over it (easy to do in the NSX) and, like clockwork, my man flipped his lights on and immediately jumped out of his cozy little hiding spot.
Through the glorious process of elimination made simple by literally being the only car on the road for miles, I assumed he was coming for me, so I pulled over and shut it down.
While he took his sweet old time walking up to the passenger window, I was running through scenarios about if/how I could’ve gotten away, as I was pretty sure his Tahoe wasn’t going to keep up with an NSX, and also how I can kiss my job with Acura goodbye.
Anyway, pleasantries were exchanged and just before inadvertently admitting to something I probably didn’t even do, he made it very clear that he was a car guy. He had never seen the newest generation NSX up close and just wanted to check it out and ask some questions.
Cool guy overall and I certainly was more than happy to oblige.
Right before letting us go, he openly admitted that “If we decided to run there was no chance in hell he would’ve caught us.” Sure, good to know, but you can’t outrun the two-way radio and I really like my job, so no thanks.
He also made sure to note that I was indeed going about 10 over and I should, by the way, watch for deer…
When we first set off on this trip to COTA, I actually caught some flak from a few folks asking why I would ever agree to do this.
Following the success of the subsequent race weekend overall, it became clear to me that this was much more than an awesome opportunity from Acura.
This was our chance to really become a team. Even despite subjecting my co-pilot to copious amounts of coffee, heavy metal, and Joe Rogan podcasts, Shelby and I became a team.
I believe the amount of auto manufacturers that would trust two twenty-somethings, let alone racing drivers, to take their top of the line supercar and drive it across the country are exactly zero. Or at least there’s one in this case.
Thank you Acura for providing the means for a memorable road trip.