NSXPO 2018 returned to the San Francisco Bay Area after last being held here in 2003. We welcomed 230 people from 22 states and 7 countries along with 110 NSXs (including 17 Gen 2 NSXs). NSX Club of Japan president Hirofumi Tomiyoshi and revered Japanese racer Motoharu Kurosawa (“Gan-san”) along with a handful of members from the Japanese club were special guests at this year’s NSXPO. Attendees from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Norway and the Netherlands joined the Japanese contingent for a truly international presence.
The event kicked off with a two-day High Performance Driving Event (HPDE) held at Thunderhill Raceway on Wednesday September 26. Co-hosted for the second year in a row with the Type-R Club led by Jay Haire, the event offered 110 drivers the opportunity to drive on the track in Instructor, Advanced, Intermediate and Novice run groups. Approximately 70 NSXs and 40 Type-R’s took to the track during the HPDE portion of NSXPO. Pikes Peak racers James Robinson and Nick Robinson along with Peter Cunningham provided attendees with hot laps on the track!
At the close of the second and final day at Thunderhill Raceway, the NSX & Type-R drivers enjoyed a banquet dinner together. Afterwards NSXCA members headed to San Francisco for the social check-in at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport which was the host hotel for NSXPO.
On Friday September 28, the social portion of NSXPO began with a scenic drive over San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The day was perfect and spirits were soaring as we drove our NSXs across the bridge and gathered for group photos with the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge in the background at Horseshoe Bay. Acura’s John Watts drove the new 2019 Thermal Orange Pearl NSX from Torrance to San Francisco and it was the centerpiece of the group photo.
After basking in the atmosphere surrounded by NSXs in a rainbow of colors with the Golden Gate bridge as a stunning backdrop, the group drove over to the Presidio complex nearby for lunch and a vendor showcase. The Presidio, which used to be a former military post, is now a park and recreation area. Historic buildings are occupied by the Walt Disney Family Museum and businesses such as Lucasfilm have an outpost here. The famous Yoda Fountain is located in the Lucasfilm courtyard.
Lunch took place at the Golden Gate Club inside the Presidio. The food was catered by the Presidio Trust which is helmed by celebrated two-time James Beard award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins. The Golden Gate Club’s floor-to-ceiling windows provided picturesque views of the bridge from multiple rooms.
John Watts from Acura held a special briefing session with Gen 2 owners in one of the rooms onsite while the new 2019 Orange Pearl Acura NSX was parked in front of the courtyard for lots of photos.
During the extended lunch period, vendors were able to showcase their wares as well as make sales at their tables in the outdoor courtyard at the Golden Gate Club. Ann Livingston-Peters and Gabe Mountjoy from Common Fibers and Chris Reynoso from Pirelli were among the vendors participating in addition to NSXCA members Dave Levy, Rick Ko and Chris Willson representing their businesses Cedar Ridge Fabrication, Euroboutique and Science of Speed.
The highlight of the afternoon was the arrival of surprise guest speaker Graham Rahal who currently races in the IndyCar Series as part of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team. Graham spoke about his racing career as well as his long affiliation with Honda / Acura cars and then took questions from the audience. Afterwards, the NSX Club of Japan attendees were invited on stage to receive a copy of the latest edition of NSX Driver which contained a special article on their recent event at the Takasu Proving Grounds in Hokkaido, Japan. After a group photo onstage and individual photos with Graham (along with a few autographs), the afternoon session was over and it was back to the host hotel for a brief respite.
Later that evening, several buses lined up outside the hotel to take everyone to Pier 3 located downtown for a sunset dinner cruise of the San Francisco Bay. Driving by AT&T Park where the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing the San Francisco Giants that night, the buses wound along The Embarcadero and past the Ferry Building on the way to Pier 3. Boarding the California Hornblower, the 183 foot flagship yacht of the fleet, NSXPO attendees embarked on a 3-hour cruise. The itinerary included sailing under both the dramatically lit San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge as well as the Oakland Bay Bridge with its twinkling light installation during the course of the evening. The expansive sky deck aboard provided the perfect view of the San Francisco skyline.
Inside the yacht on our private deck, Motoharu Kurosawa (“Gan-san”) spoke briefly after dinner had been served. Then NSXCA VP May Lee brought Martin Bergvill and his new wife Anne to the center to present to them a wedding gift (a pair of etched wine glasses). Martin, an NSX owner from Norway, first started attending NSXPO in 2010 and then was joined by his girlfriend Anne in 2013. The two married in mid- September in Norway before heading to California for their honeymoon during NSXPO! Then NSXCA’s Southwest region rep Les Rowe called for individuals to come up to the microphone to share their personal NSX stories. This was the cue for Randy Chua from San Diego to talk about how his love for his NSX led to him meeting a fellow NSX owner Bryana Wong who became the love of his life. And then he walked over to the table where Bryana was sitting and got down on one knee to propose! The crowd erupted with cheers and a beaming but tearful Bryana enthusiastically said YES! Love was definitely in the air during this year’s NSXPO and many left their hearts in San Francisco echoing the lyrics of Tony Bennett’s famous song.
On Saturday morning everyone met at the rooftop garage for instructions on the group drive to Woodside via Skyline Boulevard. The group was divided in half with those wanting a faster drive on the twisty curvy path up the mountain in one group and those wanting a tamer slower drive from another direction up the mountain in the second group. The tiny town of Woodside is one of the wealthiest in the nation with multi-million dollar homes of Silicon Valley’s tech CEOs from Oracle, Symantec, GoPro, Sony, Softbank and more. Horses are a big part of the local culture as well as cyclists who share the twisty roads with cars on the narrow winding roads. A few Gen 2 NSXs were parked on the lush lawn at the Mountain Terrace which was nestled amongst Sequoia and Redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Behind the NSX lineup was an expansive view of the peninsula below. Round tables decorated with colorful napkins representing NSX colors were set up next to the brunch buffet which featured Eggs Benedict and Smoked Salmon Bagels with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Maple Pork Sausages as sides. After brunch a group photo was taken before everyone set off for another scenic drive down the coast on Highway 1 alongside the Pacific Ocean.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent at the Canepa Car Museum in Scotts Valley just north of Santa Cruz. Owned by local native Bruce Canepa, a retired race car driver who finished third in the 1979, 24 Hours of Daytona and set multiple records at numerous Pikes Peak International Hill Climbs, the facility opened in 2006. Inside the showroom, historic race cars were showcased next door to a restoration facility dedicated to the preservation of important road cars and competition vehicles. During the Canepa visit, judging for the Concours was taking place in the parking lot.
The main banquet dinner at the Hyatt’s Poolside Pavillion on Saturday night was preceded by a flurry of activity in the adjacent Sandpebble room. In addition to sponsor tables, there were other tables displaying three categories of items that would be available for raffle, silent auction and live auction during the evening.
The NSX Club of Japan donated many unique items for all three categories. Some of their donated items were a Japanese brochure for the NSX GT-R with a price list, a hardcover NSX Owners Manual Guidebook which contained tips on driving on various tracks in Japan, a Best Motoring DVD featuring Gan-san, a white t-shirt with Gan-san’s helmet, an NSX-R floor mat name tag, and a 1/12 scale Honda NSX-R model in Championship White with a display case from samurai. Other one-of-a-kind items included a race wheel from Michael Shank Racing and a visit to Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage for two people along with an 8x10 glossy of Jay autographed by him.
Once the banquet dinner got underway, a clip of Motoharu Kurosawa (“Gan-san”) racing taken from the Best Motoring DVD was shown. Gan-san got up to address the crowd and thanked everyone for the hospitality that the NSX Club of Japan attendees had received. With tears in his eyes, he received a standing ovation after his heartfelt speech. The program continued with featured guest speakers, Kurt Baker and Chad Gilsinger from the Honda of America Racing Team (HART). Their presentation titled “HART: From the Beginning to an IMSA NSX GT3 Program” described how the all-volunteer team of Honda associates donated their time and expertise to build and develop race cars for competition in endurance races starting in 1989. The early races were SCCA amateur events, but over the years, HART advanced into larger and more prestigious competitions including running an NSX GT3 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona earlier this year.
Before the live auction got underway, the location for next year’s NSXPO was announced. Dan Murphy showed a brief slideshow on what to expect and welcomed everyone to go to Washington D.C. for NSXPO 2019! Then it was onto the live auction where Warren Woodcox was the lucky winner of a visit to Jay Leno’s garage which was the final item up for grabs. It sold for a whopping $1100!
NSXPO 2018 ended on Sunday with a group drive down the most famous street in San Francisco – Lombard Street! The steep one-block street has eight hairpin turns and has been self-dubbed as “the crookedest street in the world”. Views of Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower can be seen from the top of the street which is paved with red bricks and switchbacks filled with hydrangeas. Drone footage of the group drive is posted to the NSXCA website. After the Lombard Street drive, there was a closing lunch in the atrium restaurant at the Hyatt. It was also the last chance for attendees to get autographs and photos with Gan-san.
Thank you to everyone who made this year’s NSXPO 2018 epic!
- May Lee
2018 NSXPO Chair