A Lap In The Pikes Peak NSX
Test Mule

Remember that one time, the better part of a year ago, when I went to NSXPO’s California event?

I couldn’t make it to the social gatherings due to Rennsport, but I did manage to attend the massive Honda-themed takeover at Thunderhill Raceway which included a number of Type R cars invading the track as well. If you’ve missed that or if you just want to see some top-notch Hondas driving in anger, you can find my original article here.

As far as track days go it was a really fun event, but a couple of very interesting NSXs showed up and I’ve been meaning to give you a closer look ever since I saw them last year.


The obvious stand-out car was the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb hybrid record-setting NSX, a car which I hopped in for a few laps around Thunderhill later in the afternoon. But there was something interesting that caught my eye in the paddock earlier in the day…


As you can tell by the placard in the window, this current-gen NSX was a Nürburgring test mule, used in Germany for two weeks in September of 2015. This was mere months before the first production vehicle was auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale event for a staggering $1.2 million. If the image above is too small to see on your phone, this very car eventually managed a 7:36-minute lap around the Nordschleife.


Had I missed the sheet on the window I would have just assumed it was a rather torn-up NSX; the interior is in a bit of disarray and the engine bay is bare bones. But knowing what this car has been through, it was really cool to see it being hammered around the track.

Unleash The Beast

More than the NC1 test car, I was excited to see what the PPIHC-spec NSX would do on Thunderhill’s East Course.


I initially assumed it was just there for the parade laps with the latest production cars as a promotional thing for Acura, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.


The hillclimb-spec 2017 NSX was out on track with the rest of the cars all day long, with attendees hopping in the passenger seat. Can you imagine signing up for a track day and getting overtaken by this thing?


Piloting the car for the day was James Robinson, the same James Robinson who drove the car to a record time at Pikes Peak earlier that year.


While the car was rev-limited down a couple thousand RPM due to noise regulations at the track — which, it’s worth pointing out, was the first time I’ve ever encountered a car which was too loud for Thunderhill at a track day — James was positively flying.

The car was well into the high 1:40s despite James just having a bit of fun and the fact that it makes all of its power up top, which the team had sealed off in the ECU. For a bit of perspective, the fastest lap set by the 2017 25 Hours of Thunderhill race-winning Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS was a 1:43.216. Meanwhile, an extremely well-sorted E46 BMW M3 might end up at around 2:00 flat with the right driver.

I would love to see what this car would do at this track in an unrestricted state.

Obviously, I had to go for a couple of laps. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a clip of myself in the car but, frankly, the passenger isn’t a very important part of this video anyway.

For my laps it felt that James was hardly pushing the car at all, yet it was one of the quicker laps I’ve experienced around the course. It’s sort of laughable how raw the Honda R&D NSX is, and yet how composed it was at these speeds. Completely the opposite of other similar-paced rides I’ve taken around the course, where the car needed to be absolutely on the limit the entire time to come near a 2-minute lap.

The Details

During the downtime in the paddock I had to go in for a closer look.


While the original cluster is retained, its location in the cockpit is a bit comical. And mind that error warning on the dash, as it was due to the car being shut down for the day.


While I do think the second-gen NSX looks quite right in race trim there’s still a certain level of unrefined-ness to the details which makes it all the more appealing — it’s 100%  function. I love taking in the details on any race car, but this is particularly true when it’s one that’s based on a production vehicle.


Going for a ride, that’s just the icing on the cake.

This year’s NSXPO is set for Washington DC, though, so I don’t see myself catching any more lucky breaks in an NSX race car any time soon…

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto



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Cool article! I thought it was interesting how you mentioned that the NSX was too loud for Thunderhill. I was part of the pit crew for Ford Performance Racing School last year during the 25 hours of Thunderhill and out FP350S race car was actually too loud during the race. The limit was 100 dB! So we ended up putting some 90 degree bent pipes on the back to quiet it down.


I think mostly all that does is turn the exhaust away from their microphones. That way everyone wins, except the idiots who moved next to a racetrack to complain about noise...


Haha yeah exactly!


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This makes me love the new NSX even more
The NSX is truly an amazing machine both old and new