Monday, March 30, 2009

Can't Win Them All...


OK...so maybe it was unrealistic of me to look forward to Nissan winning every off-road rally it entered for the rest of the year...but one can dream right??  Well, Nissan vehicles still dominated the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge even though they didn't win what was the first round of the FIA and FIM Cross Country Rally World Cups they did take 2nd, 3rd and 4th place overall and won the T2 Class with the above pictured Yahya Alheli's Patrol as the event's runner up.  The event was filled with Middle Eastern based drivers/teams and outside of Marc Coma (who won the motorcycle class) there were few, if any other of the top teams in the world here and whether this was due to the global economy or a lack of recovery time from the Dakar is unknown...Hopefully we'll see the competition pick up throughout the rest of the year but it appears international Nissan efforts continue to run strong!!

Book Review: Hemingway On The China Front

Now this was a solid piece of work...Unlike my most recent review on the Alger Hiss book, this one actually goes beyond just regurgitating other people's work and slapping a new cover on it.  
Moreira does (or his editors do) mislead the reader by subtitling the book "his WWII spy mission with Martha Gellhorn" as at least I wouldn't call Hemingway a "spy" in the typical sense of the word, more like an "observer" or "information gatherer".  In Hemingway and his wife's (Gellhorn) trip to China in the period leading up to the entrance of the U.S. into WWII he was in the (assumed) paid service of the U.S. State Department to report back on the status of not only the conflict between the Japanese and Chinese but of the tensions between the Nationalist and Communist factions of the Chinese and the state of the "Burma Road" as well.  Hemingway was not undercover or pretending to be something he was not...he simply went to China as a reporter and dispatched bits of information both during and after his trip to the State Department.
In truth the book focuses more on Gellhorn and her actions in China than it does Hemingway, due in part to the fact that Gellhorn discussed her trip and wrote about it in a number of titles up to some 40+ years after her return.  Hemingway on the other hand wrote about it only second hand in a posthumously released novel ("Islands in the Stream") and in offhand anecdotes to acquaintances...
What I found new and valuable here is Hemingway and Gellhorn's interactions with the major Chinese leaders of the day including Chiang Kai-Shek and Chou En-Lai, Gellhorn's hypocrisy, and Hemingway's behavior that lived up to his legend.  Clocking in at a lean 211 pages this book is well worth the read for anyone who is interested in the events behind the man who was Hemingway and a complicated period in Chinese history where perhaps many within China wanted more to fight there own countrymen than those invading and pillaging their homeland.... 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Titan Fiberglass Front Clip and Bedsides...


again from McNeil Racing.  These all look super nice and clean.  Love the way the fiberglass clip's curves look just like an extension of the line created by the headlights.  This is the first front clip for a Nissan that I know of (at least in the last 15 years) and McNeil Racing deserves huge kudos for producing these.
Overshadowed by the front clip is the release of the McNeil Racing fiberglass bedsides which also look super sharp.  Putting both the front and the rear McNeil products together on a Titan I dare say puts it up there with the looks of ANY full size truck in the desert...

Book Review: Alger Hiss's Looking Glass Wars

Gack...that was my response upon finishing this book.  A "new" look at one of the United States' most controversial traitors, Alger Hiss was (and of this there is no doubt) a long time spy for the Soviet Union, operating during the '30's and '40's as a high level government official in Washington, D.C.
Tried and convicted of perjury, Hiss's case has always been the subject of partisan rancor on both the left and right as Hiss was caught up in the whirlwind of the McCarthy Red Scare hearings which also involved Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.  Due to the doubts created by the involvement of a number of shady characters, Hiss spent nearly 50 years of his life successfully sewing doubt in the minds of the American public as to the legitimacy of his conviction.
In the 90's with the opening of Soviet archives, definitive proof of his guilt was brought to light (though some delusional members of the American Left still cling to their baseless belief that he was innocent of all charges) also brought this reexamination of Hiss's "motives" for dragging family and friends down with him in his 50 years of continual myth making.
Unfortunately this book, while serving as an excellent primer on the case and Hiss himself, it does nothing except summarize previously known facts and contains little more than Psych 101 explanations for Hiss's actions.  
Saying that Hiss liked to help out people in trouble, be in control and had issues with women, doesn't exactly explain why someone would enter the service of foreign country to the detriment of his own and then when caught and had finished serving his jail time, spend the rest of his life devoted to what can be only termed at this point a complete farce of a cover story--ruining not only what remained of his life but that of his family, friends and supporters.
The author, G. Edward White says he wanted to shed light on the motivations of one of America's most notorious figures...in that he failed...miserably...Regurgitating previously known information while adding in a few psychobabble terms does not a quality book make.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Perfect Fit...


As the owner of an off road venturing Nissan Xterra that has had some fairly extensive modifications to its front end--fiberglass fenders, removal of fender liners, removal of plastic front fascia, removal of resonators, etc., it has left me with an air intake that is fairly exposed to the elements.  Now if I lived in the Southwest and only had to worry about dust and sand it wouldn't be that big a deal.  But here in the Northeast I have to deal with mud, water, salty water, and more mud getting onto the air intake and into the engine itself.  Given that I did not want to go back to the restrictive stock airbox and have come to like my Jim Wolf Technology air intake a great deal I wanted to add a bit of protection to it.
So enters Outerwears...Not nearly the household name I think they should be in the aftermarket world, Outerwears manufactures a number of products, including a "pre-filter" for most air intakes that not only prevents most dirt and dust from getting to your air intake but is water resistant as well, meaning if the occasional splash or spray gets to your air intake, it will simply run off before ever getting to your nicely oiled cotton mesh.  Additionally, Outerwears testing results show that their products do not significantly restrict airflow and thus allow your aftermarket air intake to continue to provide the performance increase that it was designed for.
Now given that Nissan owners are not the largest aftermarket consumers to begin with, followed by Xterra's being an even smaller target of buyers and lastly that Jim Wolf Technology is one of the smaller aftermarket companies out there, Outerwears did not list a prefilter specifically for the JWT Popcharger (though they do have a number of K&N and other air intake prefilters available for the Xterra).  So I figured I would have to go with a "custom" prefilter, an option Outerwears offers for a slightly higher price.  But when I called to place my custom order the customer service representative made sure to check with the Outerwear engineers to see if any other existing application would fit my needs.  Sure enough, there was one, so because of Outerwears quality customer service they were willing to lose out a few bucks in order to save me, the customer, a few dollars--imagine that in todays world!!  Turns out the air intake for a 1986 Toyota Supra is virtually the same exact size as a JWT popcharger for the '00-'04 Xterra.
So thats the one I ordered (part # 20-1696) and it arrived only a few days later and immediately went on my Xterra.  It could not fit better.  Snug but not tight, it LOOKS like it was custom made for the JWT Popcharger.  There seems to be no noticeable decline in performance since its installation and now I have MUCH more confidence in braving everyday puddles, rainstorms, mud, etc.....I still wouldn't want to sink my X into water above my wheel wells but I feel much more prepared to handle the moments when I just have to hit the skinny pedal when getting through the mud and muck that we encounter throughout the Northeast...


Monday, March 16, 2009

Team Xterra Racing Raising Money...


For the Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame...

With inductees such as Steve McQueen, Mickey Thompson, Dick Cepek, Rod Hall, James Garner, etc. and a bunch of great vehicle displays the OMHOF is a great place to visit in downtown Reno, NV and is a wealth of history of our great sport...Team Xterra Racing is trying to raise money for the OMHOF at this years Mint 400 taking place in a couple weeks...Info below:

Press Release....

Team Xterra Racing will be earning money for the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.  At this years Mint 400 on March 28th, Team Xterra Racing and it's sponsors will be building funds with every mile the bright yellow #748 Nissan XterraRacer is able to complete during this event.

What a way to give back to all those who have given so much to this sport!  With this years Mint 400 going back to the North side of Vegas and including some of the original Mint 400 from yesteryear, being some of the most rugged terrain ever raced on.  What a perfect place to make this happen.  Joining with sponsors like Goodyear, KC HiLites, Bilstein Shocks, National Springs, Nissan, Superior Axle&Gear, Energy Suspension, Spal Fans, Speedhut Gauges, Hawk Performance, Summit Machine and DJ Safety.  Just look at those name...Most of them were sponsors at the original Mint 400.  They are still here and still taking care of desert racers.  Join with us and help cheer Team Xterra Racing on in this effort.

If you would like to pledge $$ per mile contact:  djblakely1@msn.com


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Awesome Article on Racing Navaras...

From a South African publication...goes into who makes the shocks, air filter, the shortened wheelbase, the restrictor plate, etc....Only error I can find in it is that they state that the Navaras were the highest placing gasoline engine vehicles in the Dakar this year...Robby Gordon and his Hummer are gas powered and they finished 3rd overall...Otherwise a FANTASTIC article...Now if only I could get a hold of Glyn Hall in South Africa and talk to him a bit about his semi-factory efforts in making Nissan a dominant offroad force and if we could get SOMEONE---ANYONE with one of those Navaras to race over here in North America!!  Also view the video below for more on the Navaras... Article on Mid-Rand built racing Navaras...

video


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nissan Takes ANOTHER FIA Rally...

Another rally, another win for Nissan.  Despite a lack of core support for Nissan race efforts around the world due to the current state of the world economy, Nissan privateers continue to put together solid efforts.  Boris Gadasin and his G-Force Motorsports Nissan won the Northern Forest Rally based in St. Petersburg, Russia which is the first round of FIA's Baja Worldcup.  As the only Baja rally to take place in cold and snowy conditions it presents a unique challenge to all comers.  There were three Nissan Navaras entered in the event (out of 12 FIA Worldcup entries) and they took three out of the top four overall spots.
With four more rally's on the '09 schedule (Italy, Spain, Hungary and Portugal) Gadasin is out to an early lead.  Once again (like the two Navara's that placed in the top five at the Dakar and Yazeed al-Rajhi's win at the Ha'il Baja in the UAE) Gadasin's vehicle was built in South Africa and shipped overseas.  As of right now Nissan has THE dominant privateer efforts in the world which bodes well for the future as Dakar '10 and other major events are seeing the dropout of virtually all factory efforts.  Gadasin Wins Winter Baja!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nissan Titan Fiberglass Hood...


McNeil Racing has introduced their Nissan Titan fiberglass, louvered hood.  Fitting all year Titans this can really lighten your front end.  McNeil also states that a complete front clip replacement is coming soon as well.  McNeil Racing Titan Hood...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bob Beyer Comments on Glen Helen Short Course Series...



As the Off-Road Director for Glen Helen Raceway, Bob Beyer saw his raceway be the first to run a short course event in 2009, bringing this style of offroad racing back to this track for the first time in a decade.  With the current state of the economy and numerous short course promoters promising the world to potential races, Bob seems to believe that his series and raceway offer an attractive alternative.

By the time the other series are ramping up for their first event of '09, the Glen Helen Short Course Series will have already concluded its first two events with five more to come.

Some of Bob's comments on the first short course race follow:
 
Overall the event went well.  The racing was good for the number of entries and the track showed a lot of great potential.  The spectators seemed to like the racing action and noticeably cheered on some of the great battles on the track.  All of the competitors seemed to have fun, enjoyed the track, liked the atmosphere and were looking forward to Round #2 on March 21st.

Even though there are a lot of uncertainties in short course off road racing right now...we are moving forward.  The Glen Helen Off-Road Short Course Series is an affordable and family oriented option for racers and spectators.  The track is fun, wide, fast and has lots of variation to it.  It was designed to be a great track to race on for productive testing/practice sessions.  Some of the top professional drivers have already driven the track and had great compliments...

Our series also offers 25 different classes.  This allows for more entry level opportunities [allowing one] to try short course racing with a desert truck or buggy instead of having to buy a new vehicle.  Former short course vehicles also have a place in the Glen Helen Series [as] there are older trucks and buggies that have been sitting and now they have a series that includes them.

With entry fees for trucks and buggies at $300, "land-rush" style starts, a track visible from all spectator areas (with coolers welcome), free open pits and free camping for race teams, Bob hopes Glen Helen can mark out its own little place in the burgeoning short course world.

Picture above is of Jose Reyes and his Nissan Pro-Lite who finished 2nd for the weekend in his class at Glen Helen.  Photo is courtesy of Mike Ingalsbee of Mike's Race Photo.

For more info on the Glen Helen raceway and its Off-Road Short Course Series:
and


Monday, March 2, 2009

Hardcore LCA Upgrade for 1st Gen Xterras and Frontiers...

Was waiting to post this for some time as I wanted to see if anyone else picked up on it and posted it first...but its been long enough and figured I'd get the word out there at this point...a SoCal fab shop is now making upgraded--fully boxed, tig welded with chromoly option lower control arms for the 1st Gen Xterra and Frontier.  Additionally they replace the lower ball joint with a 1-ton Chevy ball joint making it vastly stronger and easily replaceable with the removal of only 4 bolts...Its expensive--$1000 for a set of the non-chromoly version and $1500 for the chromoly ones, but if you want absolute bomb-proof LCAs...this is the way to go...Oh...and they are stock width, requiring no further changes to your vehicle--Total Chaos makes upgraded LCAs for the Xterra and Frontier but they are extended versions to go with their long travel kit which also requires a coilover conversion...New LCAs for Xterra and Frontier now available...