Tuesday, January 28, 2020

There’s No Time Like the Present to Start Planning Your Summer Road Trips!

In the last month, we got hit pretty bad with winter weather. Rain turned to snow, which turned to freezing rain. It was bad! 

And if you’re from Michigan you know that wasn’t our last winter storm. To get us all out of the winter blues, let’s start thinking about some awesome summer road trips that we can take! 

Picture it! You’re driving down the open road, sunglasses on, wind in your hair, radio blasting your favorite tunes; it doesn't get better than that!
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Here are some of the best summer road trips to add to your summer bucket list! 

1. Route 66 is a classic! You start off in Michigan and go all the way to LA. This trip can be done in two weeks. There are plenty of attractions along the way, so take your time! Make sure you stop and see America’s oldest church, the cool car display in Texas and the world’s largest rocking chair in Missouri! 

2. The Great River Road takes you right along the Mississippi River and through ten states! This one is for all you nature lovers out there. You go through wildlife resorts and river towns and you end in New Orleans, which means you can grab some great food. 

3. The Loneliest Road takes you from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California. You’ll go through twelve states and four state capitals, but the stretch in Nevada is where you’ll need a riding companion. Make sure to take your camera, because there are miles of mountain views, dusty highways and small towns that make for great photo ops!  

4. How about a more local day trip? Very local to us is a nice cruise along our very own Huron River Drive just west of North Main street here in Ann Arbor. If you keep on going west and a little bit north of Dexter, you will run into some of the best day-trip driving roads in Michigan. Look on the map for the area of North Territorial Rd and Hankered Rd. Those of you who’ve driven it will know what we mean, it is a curvy tree lined road with many elevation changes and it’s lot’s of fun. If you continue westward, you will run into the Waterloo Rec area with all its beautiful roads and scenery too. If you are not familiar with the area, don’t worry because you cannot get lost and you will discover the most beautiful roads and scenery in Michigan that you didn’t realize was so close!

Michigan still has a winter storm or two coming for us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have summer on our minds. Keep these trips in mind and your summer is sure to rock! 

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Regular maintenance and service on your DomesticAsian or European vehicle allows us to diagnose issues before they become severe and possibly more expensive to repair. Contact Us to schedule an appointment today!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Gifts for the Car Enthusiast

european auto repair ann arborIt’s that time of year again! Snow is flying through the air, Christmas music is on the radio and neighborhoods are lighting up! 

But the older we get, the harder it is to figure out the perfect gift for friends and family for Christmas. It is so easy and fun as a kid, the newest video game, stuffed animal, Polly Pockets (where are my 90’s babies?).  

If you have a car enthusiast in your life, here are some ideas just for them:
  • A subscription to Top Gear Magazine. Everything you need to know all in one place! No matter what your favorite car is, they got you covered. From electric cars to the oldies, this magazine is a win. 
  • If you have someone who really likes to keep their vehicle clean, get them a set of new floor mats. This makes it much easier to keep the crumbs out and a clean fresh look in. We especially like Weathertech mats, check them out HERE 
  • For people who love a clean car not only on the inside but also the outside, think about a car care kit. While this choice requires some work, it does allow their vehicle to shine all year, regardless of what the weather has in store. 

There are so many options for all the car lovers in your life! Make sure that not only does their holiday shine bright, but so does their vehicle, inside and out. 

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Regular maintenance and service on your DomesticAsian or European vehicle allows us to diagnose issues before they become severe and possibly more expensive to repair. Contact Us to schedule an appointment today!

Virtually Driving In Reality



It's December, it's already too cold for Motorsports and it's only going to get colder. In Tennessee, they held the 25 hours of Thunderhill this past weekend, and in all the pictures and videos I saw, people were wearing winter coats over their race suits. That is a hard pass for me. It's too cold to be at a race track this time of year. I suppose if you live in Florida or California it may be warm enough, but living in those states you have other issues to worry about, like face-eating freaks high on bath salts and on the other coast, emissions laws. I shudder just thinking about those types of things. It really gives me the creeps. Anyways, right now, in the midwest, it's too cold for racing, and that brings up the question that this edition of Hittin The Apex will cover, which is what the hell do we do in the winter? Well folks, there is only one answer available, Simulated Racing. All other options are not good ones. Ice racing, rallycross, rallying and indoor karting are all dumb. Having said that, it would be wise to have the disclaimer we have her at HTA, which simply states "I don't care if my opinion goes against yours. I have my opinions, you have yours and it isn't my fault your wrong". Back to the matter at hand. If you don’t want to be dumb, get a simulator. There are so many options for simulators, there really is no excuse not to get one. The basics start with video games for the same Xbox or Playstation your kid is spending all their time on. As a matter of fact, I suggest you figure out which game system your kid has, go find a game that you like and has the tracks that you would want to drive on, buy it, come home, kick your kid off the console out into the cold to play or whatever, take the game into your room and have at it! Anyone in your house that protests these acts clearly doesn't support you, and as such they don't deserve your attention. If you are thinking about a higher level of simulator, you and I have just one more thing in common my friend. I have visions of a simulator setup that has an actual racing seat, steering wheels, pedals and a shifter, with at least three screens hooked up to a real deal simulation site like iRacing. Seriously, check out iRacing, I will wait. It's pretty badass isn’t? Virtually any U.S. track is available, with the ability to compete in sanctioned races with other drivers such as yourself without having to leave your home! Short of really racing a car, it doesn't get any better than that. Ever have dreams of driving down the front straight of Road America, hitting top gear while your puppy is sitting in your lap? That's weird, but now you can do it without the dangers of Scruffy jumping out to chase a squirrel! What better way to hone your driving skills then spending hours running lap after lap of (insert your favorite available track here) without having to travel, prep a car, pay the entry fees, get a hotel room or have minimal consequences by running off the road? There isn't a better way, I googled it. Many amateur and even professional drivers log hundreds if not thousands of hours on simulators, just to fine tune their skills. Now, I am not going to suggest a manufacturer of a simulator or brand of computer to use, mostly because I don't know for sure what is best and no one pays me to promote. If anyone would like me to promote something I am available for just about anything they want to give me. I will say though, do your homework, ask a racer, get on the forums and check it out. Something relatively new that I think is very cool is that SCCA actually sanctions an iRacing league with different series in it, that requires you to be an SCCA member, thereby giving some sort of standard so people won't be out there wrecking everybody's race. Like your kid would do. Or you would do. Don’t lie. Simulating in a league like iRacing takes out the AI drivers of video games and puts you in a real, virtual race against other people in their basements with their dogs on their laps. This makes all the difference in the world when it comes to honing your real driving skills in the winter. You can be dumb and look for lost lugnuts with frozen fingers in the snow or be smart and drive Laguna in your underwear in your warm basement. The choice is yours.

Until next month! 

Read more of Nick's blog posts here!

Monday, November 25, 2019

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Something for Everyone!

There are so many options out there for everything. You name it, you have to make a choice or twenty to pick what you want. This is a generic statement for anything it seems. You want peanut butter? Organic, crunchy, smooth or a combination of two of those exist. Trying to buy a new tv? Size, format, smart, brand, thickness and features are all factors to take into account. Good luck on getting three people to agree on a couple pizza toppings. A local pizza shop offers over 30 toppings. The choices out there are endless, and the variations of being a car fanatic are as well. Gone are the days where people who liked cars were called grease monkeys because they knew how to "tune up" a car. For that matter, tune ups are things of the past as well, but that is a topic for another type of blog. Nowadays, there are so many different points of attraction that make people refer to themselves as "car person". One of these categories are by the make of a vehicle. People go crazy over a brand of car and that becomes their focus. Take Porsche for example. Porsche has a huge following, as it should, so much that there are 145 different grouping, or regions, of the national Porsche Club. The regions are filled with sometimes over 300 members each, all brought together under one make, Porsche. At one point, and some regions may still make this mandatory, you had to be an owner of a Porsche to be a club member. That is a ton of people, brought together, with one common denominator. I think it is a very cool thing. They even create names for themselves, such as "P Car People" , "Porscheheads", "Sons of Stuttgart", and my least favorite of all "Porschephiles". I don't think I need to go into detail why that is an awful, awful name for such a great thing. Anyway, some people come under not only a singular make, but a model. There so many Mustang (Ford), Miata (Mazda), Corvette (Chevy), and Civic (Honda) clubs that there are clubs for everybody. Some people like countries of cars, liking anything British, American, Asian or European. Further segregating petrol heads are venues of motorsport. Road Racing, Autocross, Rally Racing, Drag Racing, Oval Track Racing and even Demolition Derby racers all have their own niche. Sometimes those paths do cross, and that's ok. Except drag racing........ugh. I am the self proclaimed worst type of gear head, because I am really only interested in SCCA road racing cars. Doesn't matter what kind of vehicle, but if it does not fit into a club road racing class, I probably do not care about it. When a car comes into my shop, I immediately figure out which class it will fit in and then, and only then, I can enjoy it. if it doesn't fit, I am over it. Some of my favorite cars are the Mustang GT 5.0, Porsche GT3 Cup, Chevrolet C6 Corvette, Mazda Miata (NB) and my all time favorite  Honda CRX Si. I will have one of those one day. Sorry, I am drooling a little bit. As I can attest to, there is no wrong way to be a car guy. Or girl. Or dog. There are some funny videos of dogs driving cars, google them! Dogs are great. Sorry, back to the matter at hand. I do not drool over one make, model, engine, drivetrain, or year. I drool over the cars at the local SCCA Club Race Event. I can't wait until May.  Don't do what I have done off and on in this edition and bash people for chasing what they love. I can do it because I am so set in my ways that nothing will save me.  The point that I am making here is that there are so many ways to be a car enthusiast, there is no wrong way to do it. Find what you truly enjoy and soak it in as much as you want to. Go out and explore clubs if you like social interaction and are so inclined. If you are interested in a race you saw on tv, go find a place to watch in person. Always wanted a Chevy Caprice? Weird, but there is a club for you, that probably goes to race tracks and hosts track events as odd as that sounds. I have seen it. It's odd, but for them, it's probably a lot of fun.

See you next month folks!

Nick

Read more of Nick's blog posts here!

Up Your Game & Prepare for Winter Roads!

Winter is officially upon us and with that being said, you need to make sure all your vehicles are in tip-top shape. 

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you stay ahead of the game. 

First and foremost, make sure your battery is in great working condition. No one wants to come out to their car not starting during a snowstorm. ArborMotion can do a battery test to make sure that your battery can “weather the storm” (see what I did there?)!
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Make sure your gas tank is always at least half full. With Michigan snowstorms, traffic is bound to get crazy. Whether you’re on the highway or taking the backroads home, running out of gas while stuck in traffic or during a storm is never a good thing. 

Good items to have in your trunk or backseat are a small shovel and (surprisingly) kitty litter. During the winter, you may experience your tires getting stuck in snow or spinning on ice. Kitty litter provides great traction and gives your tires something to grip (also, an extra pair of boots and a blanket!).

Finally, make sure to get your vehicle checked for winter. Brakes need to be checked, tires need to be inspected, and fluids need to be topped off. Having your vehicle in tip-top shape for the winter is a must. The weather in Michigan is so unpredictable, one day it could be sunny and 50 and the next day we have one foot of snow with sleet coming down! 

ArborMotion is ready to make sure that all of our customer’s vehicles are prepared for whatever winter has to throw at them. Remember to keep things slow this time of year. Prepare to add additional travel time and make sure to keep safe distances between you and other vehicles.

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Regular maintenance and service on your Domestic, Asian or European vehicle allows us to diagnose issues before they become severe and possibly more expensive to repair. Contact Us to schedule an appointment today!

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Racing

Good Mid-October HTA fans and readers! I assume that if you are a consistent reader of Hittin' The Apex then that makes you a fan, but you know what they say about assumptions right? They can't be wrong. As I stand to write this, yes I have a stand up desk and no I don't care if you think that's weird, I recently returned from beautiful southern Virginia watching three days of fantastic racing at the 2019 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, held this year at Virginia International Raceway (VIR for those in the know). This beautiful renown track is located almost literally on the Virginia border it shares with North Carolina, right in the middle of the lateral line of the state. When I say beautiful, I mean beautiful. Small, dense patches of trees, trackside condos and even hotel rooms outline the course that features elevation changes and multiple turns both fast and challenging. Taking a quick lap around the track, the hairpin that makes up turns one and two put you into a short chute to dual left turns separated by the shortest of straights known as "Nascar", followed by a quick right that has you heading uphill through some elongated esses before you hit a large right-handed hairpin turn known as "Oak Tree Bend". This was named for the gigantic oak tree that  the turns bent around that of which sadly fell 6 years ago. Once clear of the late apex there you are headed back down hill into a corkscrew style turn known as " The Rollercoaster". This off camber series of turns twists you right then left, and points you towards " Hogpen" an elongated right hand turn that sets you up for the long front straight, back to turns one and two and around again. Fourteen laps around this 3.27 mile course is what six hundred plus drivers from all over the US, parts of Canada and even Puerto Rico showed ready to drive in twenty four different winner take all races that crown a National Champion in twenty eight classes. I have been to many of these end of the year events at four of the eight different tracks they have been to over the years, twenty to be exact, and this year proved to be a new experience for me. Never before have so many cars been in the lead of the race, many running away from the rest of the pack, either break down or spin out by their own doing. Out of all twenty four races, ten of them had this happen, with only one person managing to retake the lead and claim champion. One race had two leaders break on the exact same spot of the track on the same lap! it was crazy! This spectacular and unusual display of error and futility was a first for this prestigious event and that had me reflecting on the nine hour ride home. I have eluded to this before, motorsports is a rollercoaster of emotion. You can experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows within even one two minute lap. That is one of the things I love about racing, it is a gamble! All the prep work, everything done leading up to getting the car on the grid goes out the window when the green flag flies. Debris on the track, overzealous competitors and mental errors are just some of the things that can derail weeks and months of prep and effort. I myself have experienced this rollercoaster, and no matter how low the lows of blowing a tire or getting caught up in someone else's wreck was, it is and will always be worth it to experience the highest of highs, taking that victory lap after a hard earned win.

The Runoffs weekend signals not only the end of the SCCA racing season, but also the end of the season for me attending any track events or really caring about other events that still happening, as I am laser focused on SCCA specifically. It is now time for me to focus on my projects at home both house and race car related, and look forward to the 2020 season. We will see what next year holds for me but as always I am anxious to find out! Join me next month, and every month after for thoughts, musings, rants and stories and even more detailed laps around some of my favorite tracks as I did VIR today.

Until next time,

Nick

Read more of Nick's blog posts here!