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I Tracked My Acura NSX -- and It Was an Amazing Experience

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author photo by Tyler Hoover May 2017

My last trip to Heartland Park raceway in Topeka, Kansas, for a track night didn't go so well. Not only did I kill the engine in my 1999 Porsche 911, but I also cooked the brakes on my 2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1. With my hooptie fleet completely embarrassed, I needed to return for a chance at redemption. This time, I brought out the big guns, hitting the track in my 1992 Acura NSX.

Unfortunately, the air conditioning compressor in the NSX chose to grenade just as I started my 2-hour drive to the track -- locking up so hard that it stalled the engine. This was not a good omen, but I continued on -- and, mercifully, I arrived without any other issues.

Race officials at check-in handed me a tech sheet to self-inspect my car for trackworthiness. Up till then, I had never looked at my tires closely -- and I realized that while they had good tread remaining, they were from three different brands. I knew my brake fluid was new, which is important for a track day. Also, I recently had my mechanic install an ABS bypass kit, which required bleeding the brakes, which was much cheaper than fixing the broken ABS system.

I brought along my Mustang as well, which also had fresh brake work. With drilled rotors and high-performance pads, I was determined not to have a repeat failure performance -- and I planned to drive more conservatively. I chose the Mustang for my first of three sessions, mostly behaving myself -- but I felt humiliated when I was passed by a late-1990s Honda Civic.

The uneventful yet somewhat boring run in the Mustang made me eager to experience my NSX in its element for the first time. These cars were designed after Honda's Formula 1 championships in the late 1980s, with input from legendary driver Ayrton Senna. The NSX is supposed to be an incredible track car -- and I'm happy to report that it completely lives up to the hype.

The chassis felt so tight and so perfectly balanced -- and even with my horrendous tires, the handling was fantastic. While horsepower is low for modern standards, the 8500 rpm redline meant I could stay in the power band much longer than virtually any other car. The car was also very forgiving of mistakes I made on the track -- except in one area, for which you can't fault the car but rather its moronic owner.

Here's what happened: I started my final run strong. After passing a BMW M Roadster and a modern Boss 302 Mustang, I came across a group of interesting cars, including a new WRX and Golf R. Despite my lack of horsepower, I was determined to keep up with them by braking later and testing the limits of my NSX's legendary handling. I found the limit after the second-longest straight on the track, when I started braking way too late for a sharp left turn, causing the brakes to lock up -- and forcing me to deal with the consequences of my cheap brake repair.

If I still had functional ABS, my brakes wouldn't have locked up -- and, subsequently, my steering wouldn't have been rendered useless. By the time I backed off the brakes, which allowed the front tires to steer again, I was already leaving the track. My brief run in the grass was totally harmless -- but I did severely flat-spot my junkiest tire, causing it to shake so badly I initially thought it was flat.

The vibration from the ruined tire ended my track day, and I had to endure a shaky 2-hour drive back to Wichita -- although this didn't dampen my spirits in the slightest. Tracking the NSX was an incredible experience, and one that I would love to repeat.

As for the Mustang, I think it's about time to send the old pony packing. While it did very well on the track, I would obviously rather return with my NSX or 911. And with the 911 needing thousands of dollars in repairs to get it back on the road -- and the NSX now needing new tires -- the cash from the sale will be put to good use.

I also have to decide if I should undo my ABS bypass -- but I want to fix my air conditioning first. I know ... priorities, right? At least if I crash, I won't be all sweaty.

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I Tracked My Acura NSX -- and It Was an Amazing Experience - Autotrader