Story - NxGTR Car Performance Simulator

NxGTR Car Performance Simulator
NxGTR Simulator
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Hello there!
My name is Carlos, and I am just a random guy like many of us who enjoy cars and all the engineering behind them. I was born in the happiest place on earth, at least, according to the Simpsons TV show.

My passion for cars started while still a kid helping my dad to fix customers' cars in the shop. Yes!, I got to play with real cars instead of toys.

While a teenager I did all sorts of jobs, including gardening, cleaning & painting houses, carpenter and mechanic, with this I got to save enough money to get my first car at the age of 16. I had three requirements with my very limited budget, it had to be two doors, come with a DOHC engine, and have 3 pedals. There were probably lots of options when you had the money, I didn't. But with the help of my dad, we got a 1989 Acura Integra, this baby came with the improved blacktop engine (an increase of 5HPs compared to the older generation) for a total output of 116 HPs and 103 lb-ft, yes, it was slow and old (this was back in 2001) but it was mine.

In 2003 I got in love with my first "supercar" dream, the Nissan 350z. Yes, at the time Nissan had the 300z with the V6 TwinTurbo engine, but I was not impressed, 300 HPs. I would have taken the 287 HPs Naturally Aspirated of the 350z anyway. As a university student, however, it was going to be hard to get it, but I got decided to get the "next best thing" or at least, budget-wise.

As a first-year student of computer science, I found myself driving a Nissan Nx2000, it was the last edition, 1993 in black with a nice T-top, and of course, 3 pedals. It was 100 pounds heavier than the Integra, but with 140 HPs it felt so much faster. This is the moment my tuning journey began, my dad and I took it as a project and we got it a couple of upgrades, the most significant, a Turbonetics turbo kit, we got around 210 HPs and it felt supercar fast. I felt the "2000" in the name Nx2000 was not representative of the tuned version, so I renamed it Nx GTR, because, you know, it's a Nissan!

From 2003 up to around 2009 I got to study a lot of physics to get to understand cars, like beyond the fact of the basics, truly get to understand how they move and why they move that way, how the different components play a role. All of this, with the intention to get insights for tuning my Nx2000, for instance, I spent several nights doing the math to determine the impact of moving from the original 14" wheels to 18", it's not only the gearing that was going to be affected but so was the inertia, I put all my math together in a piece of software that later became what you see today, the NxGTR simulator.

I graduated computer science, did my masters in Natural Language Processing (NLP), and I was already in my first year into my Ph.D. program in Machine Learning, yet, I was driving the same car, bulletproof, the thing was indestructible, at this point I had the car for 10 years and I had no plans to switch. Instead of changing cars, now I was lucky enough to increase the garage size.

In 2013 I got myself a 2007 Saturn Sky Redline, this car felt in a completely different league for me, yes, you would still hear the "it's a Saturn", I couldn't be happier. The engine came with all sorts of new technology, including variable timing and direct injection, with 260 HPs, but, more important 260 lb-ft of torque!, it was fast. However, it was not enough, after driving my NxGTR with 210 HPs and being around 600 pounds lighter, I was not super impressed. Here I am over the weekends working on my new project instead of doing the PhD research, after some research, I eventually got a couple of upgrades, including the ECU tune. We got some impressive power 310 HPs and the best part, 350 lb-ft. At the time, the Ford Mustang GT 5.0 was 390 lb-ft but was 550 pounds heavier.

In 2016 I got to increase my garage again, looking for something a bit different than the NxGTR and the Sky. I got a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco, yes, they were all used cars but working perfectly fine. The Eco edition was impressive for me, I got a 50% reduction in fuel consumption compared with the Sky, and I also got my first 6-speed manual transmission, yes, 3-pedals again.

In 2018 things changed a bit, and I had to sell both the Nissan NxGTR and the Cruze, I have so many memories, it was a lifetime experience, but the learnings of those tuning days are still saved in some of the code comments in this simulator.

As of today, I still spend time trying to improve the math behind the simulator, especially with the rise of electric cars. If you have any ideas or suggestions feel free to drop me a message.

Stay safe and happy tuning.
Carlos Huertas

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