Memphis heats up for ZCON!
Compiled by Howie Yoshida
It was an easy decision to make the trip down to Memphis for ZCON 2015 as OZC had put together a convention committee and a leadership team was in place to submit our proposal to host ZCON 2016. That show of enthusiasm plus the fact that the drive to Memphis wasn’t that long meant we expected to have a good representation at the 2015 ZCCA annual convention. My convoy left early on Monday morning with Randall Maeda in his Z32, JP and Pat in their Mazda again as JP’s 240Z developed some late problems with the air conditioning, and my S130. After an 11 hour day we stopped in Louisville Kentucky having done about 1000 km. We arrived on Tuesday after another 6 hours and 550 km and you could sure notice the rise in the outside temperature as we got closer to Memphis. After I registered, bought some ZCON swag at the Z Store and used the suds & shine facilities, I went through tech inspection for the track day. We all met up with the others at the welcome reception and the traditional Texas Chilli Party. The OZC contingent was at 18 which included 11 Zeds.
One of the ZCON highlights for me anyway is always the track day, this year, at Memphis International Raceway. Edmarc, Eric and I convoyed out early on Wednesday morning. The track layout is similar to Shannonville in that there is a long straightaway which doubles as a drag strip and the rest of the layout is like a road course with no elevation differences. The heat that day was a killer at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit! I had a great instructor to show me the racing lines and the braking zones which all made for a fantastic day. Thankfully despite the heat, mechanically our Zeds made it through the day although Eric sure felt the effects of the heat that day. Back at the hotel that evening, a number of us attended the ZCCA business meeting where Mauricio made his pitch and played our ZCON proposal video that Raji and Will put together and surprise surprise, ZCON 2016 was heading up north to Toronto!
Not having enough of the southern heat, I was back at track the next day, Thursday for the autocross event. Rather than laying out a traditional course in the parking lot/paddock area, we just used a part of the track again with a bunch of cones to slow us down and provide a few sideway detours, all in all it was a bit disappointing. There were about 15 cars out for the autocross but many didn’t show up I’m sure due to the heat again. The afternoon featured a drag strip runoff but I left at noon and set out on my own to find some southern BBQ, a must do thing for me. I followed my trusty Garmin which led me to Leonard’s Pit BBQ, featured on Diners Drive-ins & Dives from the Food Network. Wow, the food was incredibly delicious and did I ever pig out! The evening event was a private screening of the soon-to-be-released documentary film, Winning which featured the racing career of Paul Newman. The theatre was sold out and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the flick.
Next up was Friday, the day of the judged car show down on Beale Street in the heart of the city. It was another unbelievably hot day with temperatures over 100 again but at least one could hide out in a restaurant and grab a cold one. We made a brief appearance to walk the street and take in all the Zeds lined up and down on Beale. It was quite an impressive showing and there was no lack of interested onlookers walking about. Dinner that evening featured a buffet dinner as part of a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi. It was quite funny as we first approached this huge and impressive paddlewheel river boat expecting that was our ride, only to be directed past it to a much smaller, very crowded boat that hosted everyone.
Saturday was the People’s Choice car show at some hard to find airport locale and oh yeah, the temperature was the same again, another scorcher day out in the sun and on the concrete. Needless to say, the heat drove the numbers down and by my count there were less than 100 cars out. After a brief showing and taking in all the Zeds, I headed back in the afternoon to get cleaned up for the closing banquet and awards presentation. Lasting impression of the banquet was the speed of the food service as we went through the full course dinner like nobody’s business, it was over in a flash. OZC gathered in some awards as Mauricio, Erle, Brian and Bob won in various judged categories. Our ZCON video was then played for the audience and it really blew everyone away and hopefully it will result in a big showing for ZCON 2016 in Toronto.
In no great rush to depart for home early on Sunday, I joined Eric and Peter for breakfast and we left Memphis about 10:00 am. The return trip didn’t end up well as I got separated from them in the afternoon so I continued back on my own, stopping in Columbus OH after an 11 hour day driving. I was back home late Monday evening after stopping to do some shopping at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall in NY. Glad to hear that everyone made it back too, all safe with no incidents.
So there you have it, my ZCON week. Hopefully it was enough to get you all excited about coming out to ZCON 2016 right here in Toronto and participating in all the fabulous events the OZC ZCON committee is lining up. Please sign up to volunteer too at the convention because we are sure going to need a whole bunch of helpers.