How does a stock Acura NSX fare against some of the country’s top autocross cars? | Tom O’Gorman at UMI King of the Mountain

By Tom O'Gorman
Sep 6, 2021 | Acura, NSX, Tom O'Gorman, UMI, Blog

Photography Courtesy Tom O'Gorman and UMI

Before next week’s Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationals, this past weekend Tom O'Gorman ran a borrowed Acura NSX on Yokohama tires at UMI's King of the Mountain. A $25,000 purse sat on the line.

I tried to carry a "high hopes, low expectations" mindset into the event. My past experience with the car said it should be able to be competitive, but I wasn't going to assume anything.

We got to the event having road-tripped the car there, and that's when I learned about the format. I wanted to stay blissfully unaware as long as possible.

[A guy, an NSX and a run at two autocross titles a week apart | Tom O’Gorman takes on King of the Mountain and SCCA Solo Nats]

Essentially, it was the best parts of an SCCA National Tour and ProSolo mixed together: two courses over two days, three runs in the morning and three in the afternoon. Your best run from each course added together makes the final results, with the top eight from each class making the Shootout (32 people total) that becomes a ProSolo Challenge-esque, single-elimination bracket.

You compete against the top eight from your class first. Then the two "modern" and two "vintage" class winners face off, and finally the winning "modern" and "vintage" cars become the Final.

We ran the third heat on the first day, so we had a decent reference for times by the time I took my first run. When I saw my first run's time–the fastest of the event so far–I simultaneously felt relief and new pressure. We were fast enough to compete, which meant it was time to start taking it seriously.

The NSX held the fastest time of the day for a majority of Day 1, and after the afternoon runs were complete, we were second fastest in class and overall by 0.067 seconds. Super encouraging.

On Day 2, it was the same format on a different course, but this time we ran first heat. It was extremely foggy, with visible mist in the air, but somehow the conditions were good and we set the fastest time of the day in that first heat.

We did get partially lucky, as weather moved in right as the afternoon runs began and no one got dry runs that afternoon. As a cherry on top, the NSX was also the fastest in the wet by nearly a whole second. When all was said and done, we were the top qualifier for the Shootout and the fastest car at the event!

When we headed into the Shootout as the No. 1 seed on a third new course, almost complete and utter disaster struck. It was now nearly 9 p.m., the rain had passed, and left a very cool, humid evening. I hadn't touched the car since early afternoon (my mistake).

As I got in to warm it up, the TPMS sensors were all reading too low. Not having much experience with the car, I didn't think much of it at first, but quickly realized as I attempted to turn all the driving aids off that it was a big problem.

The car wouldn't let me turn anything off.

I was already staged for my runs, my competitor had just finished his, and the event wouldn't let me go air tires up at that point. I was stuck.

So I pull to the line knowing the car would be fighting itself as I wrestled it around the course. I started my run, and that's when matters got even worse: The windshield fogged completely as I made the run.

I barely made it through the course with zero visibility by the finish line, and the time was 2 seconds slower than my first-round competitor. I was certain I'd blown it.

All hopes of making the money-paying positions felt gone, but I had one more run. I crept around the oval to the start line, waiting for the windshield to de-fog (while the announcer and spectators speculated all kinds of new-fangled car theories like data downloads, programming a new tune, etc.) and made my second attempt. Driver aids were all still on, but with the windshield clear this time, my time was just fast enough to move on to the second round. Phew.

I made it through the rest of the class bracket with relative ease, with the tire pressures reset and driver aids now turned off. My pace was in the mid-to-low-57-second range–fast enough to move through my class bracket, but the fastest car, Robert Thorne in his S2000, was regularly running 56s. He won his class bracket and I won mine, meaning we would face off as the two "modern" class winners before the Final.

Going into the run, I knew I needed to throw down a hail Mary to have a shot at beating Robert–"national championship final run" kind of pressure on a whole new level.

And I was close: The time was fast enough, but I'd coned along the way.

The road had come to an end, and we'd placed third. It was a tough pill to swallow at first, seeing the time was well fast enough and I'd simply blown it hitting high-risk, low-reward cones.

But that feeling passed rather quickly as we changed tires for the drive home. I realized we were the only car not pulling onto a trailer, and we'd put on a hell of a show. Its driver might have come up one round short, but I think the NSX made its point. 

A final fun fact: There is an event-wide minimum weight of 2900 pounds. The NSX with me in it scaled just over 4100 pounds before the last round.

So we didn't quite win it all, but we still have one more event to take on–Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationals is next week. In the meantime, we are swapping wheels and tires around for SCCA classing rules, and I’m working at three racetracks this week. You'd be crazy if you think I'm not taking it to each of them, at least for a photo op.

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Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
9/2/21 12:34 p.m.

I feel like I'm in a minority because I actually like the the second-gen NSX (even if I would have preferred something more like the original).  That said, color me surprised it did so well in an autocross setting. Especially against much lighter and more prepped machines.

Also, I'd be interested to hear Tom's review of how it behaved with all the nannies turned off.  Any waywardness show up that he had to drive around?

BA5 GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/2/21 12:53 p.m.

I love the 2nd gen NSX's.

I'm hoping they follow a similar trend to the first ones: while they're being manufactured everyone thinks they're lame and they can buy car 'x' that's so much better, pricing dips into much more affordable territory (this is where I'll pick one up), and then 15 years later everyone realizes they're the bee's knees.

Mine would be white or that orange color.  Or maybe I'll pick up one of the Type S's that are coming out....

dps214 Dork
9/2/21 12:56 p.m.

It's heavy, but it's also awd with turbo and electric motor torque and the courses there have at least a few low speed corners to dig out of. Telsas have done pretty well there in the past (overall runner up in the first year and class runner up to Tom this year) so it's not too surprising.

accordionfolder SuperDork
9/3/21 7:26 a.m.

In reply to Matt B (fs) :

Er, I would say it did so well because of the driver mod vs inherit chassis advantage. 4k lbs on an autoX course is still 4k lbs.

accordionfolder SuperDork
9/3/21 7:38 a.m.

Here's the big bad wolf's perspective:


accordionfolder SuperDork
9/6/21 9:29 a.m.

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