Friday, August 28, 2009

Lazlo Palik Takes 2nd at Hungarian Rally...

Thanks in part to a disqualification of Boris Gadasin (too much suspension travel on one side of his truck due to mid-race repairs) Lazlo Palik moved up to second place in the recent Hungarian Baja event. Palik finished 6:52 behind winner Tonnie Van Deijne and his Mitsu Pajero. Another solid finish for Palik who is consistently on the podium wherever he races now. Unfortunately it looks like Team Overdrive from Belgium who were on the pre-entry list did not run the event for an unknown reason and their Nissans were not present.

http://www.motorsport.hu/images/stories/pdf/2009/20090822_tr_baja.pdf


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nissan and Chrysler Officially End Collaboration...


Finally the long awaited resolution to what has seemed to be a never ending story. This one does not seem to have a hapy ending however. Chrysler and Nissan officially ended their agreement to produce vehicles for one another with Nissan producing a small car for Chrysler and Dodge to help in the design of the next generation Titan. With Chrysler now working on its relationship with Fiat and attempting to remake its image it is probably the correct decision on their part to focus solely on their core operations. Still, its sad for the Titan as it was a solid first effort by Nissan in producing a full-sized truck that has generated a number of loyal followers. Where will those owners go now that it does not look like there will be a 2nd generation??

Monday, August 24, 2009

Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries...

If you have not begun using these in your camera, flashlights, whatever that takes AAs, you are missing out...I have normally been of the school of thought that a battery is a battery is a battery, be it a Duracell, an Energizer, a Rayovac or whatever Wal Mart has on sale that day. Not anymore.

I recently began using these in my Canon digital camera for covering events for Off-Road.com. I had at first not believed the packaging saying that they last 8 times as long as a normal battery but I was stunned to go two whole days without swapping in a new set of batteries after going through about a set every hour on previous occasions. I shot literally hundreds of photos and scores of 20 second long videos at the event and the batteries would not quit. I can now carry four of these batteries for my camera for an entire weekend of shooting and not worry about running out of juice instead of lugging around a full 16 pack or more...Its quite the weight savings and organization upgrade. Additionally, these batteries work at extreme temperatures which is a big deal to me for shots taken in my New England winters and Desert events. All around they are well worth the addtional price.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Old Nissan Trucks Never Die...They Just Go Circle Track Racing...

Showing you can have fun and win in your Nissan of any age, Travis Goodwin has put together three consecutive wins at his local dirt track some 40 miles West of Denver with his 20+ year old Nissan truck. Love the picture with an old Nissan truck and then a hot pink VW Bug running in the same race...good stuff....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Japan, France and Germany Exit Recession...The U.S.???

Ummmm....not so much...While two of the worst governments (in terms of economic policy--Japan and France) have as of the past week shown that their economies are growing again, the U.S. continues to lag due to a lack of exports and consumer spending. This is a perfect example of why the current administrations plans for the future of the economy are doomed to fail as you cannot successfully turn an economy around on turning the economy over to the government. The more the U.S. economy becomes purely a service based one, the worse off we will be. The U.S. has to get back to making and inventing things, be it software, drugs, technology, airplanes, spacecraft, whatever, instead of just everyone working to service the needs of others (waiters, cooks, toll booth attendants, governmental service reps, etc.) and that will only happen when companies are encouraged rather than discouraged to make a profit and hire more people.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heading To Rausch Creek This Weekend...

I am heading down to Rausch Creek, PA this coming weekend 8/21-8/23 to cover the final RCrocs event for Off-Road.com. Should be quite the shindig and I am always game for free food, music, fireworks and off-roading. If anyone else that reads this is going and wants to meet up to caravan down or just meet for some suds, just shoot me an email: dwspalinger@comcast.net

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nissan Racers Finish 2nd And 4th At Australasian Safari...


A Dakar event in style, the annual Australasian Safari event runs in Western (what else?) Australia and is 3600 kms long (2000+ miles). Growing quickly in the past few years and managed by one of the top sports marketing companies (Octagon, who handles Michael Phelps, Chris Paul and others) the AS is gaining more international competitors as time goes on. Given how well it has run the past few years, it would not surprise me to see the real Dakar move to Australia for a year or two after its stint in South America is over.
Nissan vehicles ran strong in the event finishing 2nd and 4th some 15 minutes and 1 hour 36 minutes out of the win. The 4th place winner was in a Nissan Patrol but the 2nd place
winner was in a Nissan GQ Ute--which I have no idea what it is though it looks more like a truck than a "Ute" which my American brain translates into a "Utility Vehicle" or something
more like an SUV...Second place driver/co-driver was Terry and Jodi Conner and 4th place driver/co-driver was Reg Owen and Russell Cairns, all of who are Australia natives.
The big American entry Josh Hall and his H2 SUT finished 12th after having some problems getting stuck/unstuck. The entire Hall family has a long standing habit of racing around the world and whatever is going/is happening with Hummer as a corporate entity I hope they continue to do so...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pricing for 2010 Frontier...


has now been released as well as the updates/changes. Pricing on the low end starts at $17540 which I would KILL for right now...with the same 2.5 liter engine that is in my Altima this would be a super platform to start a desert racing team with. Nothing else in the truck market even comes close in this price range. The only real change is the availability to get the truck in the "Night Armor" color, which is good as it is (in my opinion) the best color option out there for Nissan trucks right now.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Miami Vice (Movie) Review...

First off, I'll admit that as a teenager I was a big fan of the TV series. It seemed to take life seriously with relationships built and crumbling, people dying, people making mistakes, etc. It was not a Huxtable type of police drama. I had however, not seen the film version of Miami Vice until just last night.
I did have high hopes for the film given that Michael Mann was at the helm and not only had I enjoyed his original TV creation but I had loved a number of his recent films including "Heat" and "Collateral" (also featuring Jamie Foxx). Unfortunately, "Miami Vice" holds none of the suspense or excitement of these other two projects.
The drug cartel background story is a rehash of not only a prior Miami Vice TV episode but a retread of numerous other films/TV shows over the past twenty years. There is nothing here that hasn't been done over and over and over before. The plot would have been better off sticking with the story set up in the first few minutes of the film, one of human trafficking, instead of just using that as way to introduce all the key players.
The casting here is all wrong as well...mostly in the case of Colin Farrell and Gong Li, but also in the case of Jamie Foxx. Farrell and Li both mumble their way through the film talking like they have marbles in their mouth. I expect to have a bit of a difficult time understanding thick Scottish accents in a film like "Trainspotting" but I don't expect to miss half the dialogue in a film that is ostensibly about American police officers. Li also may be an attraction in China but here she comes off stilted, unattractive and borderline crippled/abused/deformed. Foxx is his usual stiff self, monotone and with little expression but given that Tubbs was similar in the TV show, this isn't as big a deal. And who thought the moustache and mullet was a good idea for Farrell's Crockett character?? OK, I understand you are looking to differentiate him from the TV Crockett but a mullet?? Really??
Action wise, Mann has done a much better job in Heat and other films and again, there is nothing new here. I do appreciate that Mann's gunfire sounds like real gunfire and not some cartoon version thereof but that is a small checkmark on a list of empty boxes.
All in all it just feels like Mann and the cast are going through the motions in order to collect a paycheck and fullfill a contract. Watch "Heat" or "Collateral" again instead of this bad idea done badly, you'll be much better off...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Other Pro Rally Series In The U.S....

Though you might never know it from the XGames coverage and the hype that follows Travis Pastrana, Ken Block and other drivers in Rally America, there IS another professional rally series that runs in the U.S. Known as the USRC (United States Rally Championship), it does not have the coverage or high profile drivers that RA has but it certainly has its unique niche in the world of motorsports.
A seven race series with two of these races taking place in NY state, the USRC also hits up CA, ID, WV, AZ and TN. With many of the second tier RA teams also crossing over and running in the USRC events that may be closer to their home and a decidedly more eceltic roster of entries, you will still find your typical Subarus but will also find more race trucks, more low budget vehicles and (what makes the USRC stand apart from RA the most) motorcycles...
With a bevy of KTMs and other motorcycles more often seen at Dakar and other cross-country rallies, USRC recently opened their events to a rally-moto class and has seen a significant number of moto racers at each event. The following shots are from the recent Idaho Rally and are the handiwork of Idaho photog John Marshall....

Friday, August 7, 2009

GT-R As Nurburgring Fire Engine...

I don't know how much more evidence people need to see to prove that the GT-R is amongst the world's best supercars than this. In the home of Porsche, BMW, Audi, etc. the Germans could have their pick of numerous high-end, home grown vehicles to patrol the Nurburgring as an emergency vehicle but what do they choose?? A Japanese made GT-R...equiped with a full roll cage and a back seat full of fire extinguishing foam and a hose, this GT-R is ready to help out any drivers who run out of talent on the infamous German track...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nissan STILL Looking At Chrysler For Next Titan...

Ahh....the ongoing saga of the Nissan Titan. The oft rumored cancellation of the truck has been debunked again and again and given that the Titan actually outsold the Xterra in the month of July (thanks in large part to its $5K in cash back) it may actually make it to a second generation. Further indicating Nissan's desire to have a full size truck in its lineup, if at all possible, is this article on how Nissan has confirmed that they are still expecting its next gen Titan to come from the now bankrupt Chrysler, owned by Fiat and based upon the Dodge Ram. The lack of response from Chrysler/Fiat likely has more to do with all the internal issues going on within those companies rather than an absence of interest in the project...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Desert People "Lucky 7" DVD Release...

Now announced to be available on 8/29. Likely the best done video series of desert racing currently out there the Desert People series never dissapoints. Shot in HD and always covering a range of events and racers this one looks solid as well. The only thing I can complain about the Desert People series is the last one (Check Point 6) seemed a bit short and that there are no East Coast showings on the big screen...Oh, well...have to put my pre-order in today...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Who Says Rally Racers Don't Race Head To Head...

Many people see Rally racing is done solely in a "racer vs. the clock" fashion and not truly against one another as in NASCAR, IRL, F1 or SCORE/BITD. I think this picture disproves that statement, though obviously this in not that common an occurance. In this case (taken at the recent New England Forest Rally) the Ford Escape in the foreground had stopped to pull the trailing Datsun 510 out of a ditch and the Ford Focus caught the two of them from behind. Though I didn't take the picture I was present at this spot when they came by with the Focus blaring its horn trying to make a pass or get the Escape and 510 to pull over!! Though Rally is not truly a "head to head" battle in its truest sense, Rally can have its fender to fender action...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Rally America Should Rig The X-Games For Ford...

Edit to add: Now this article seems quite prophetic...Kenny Brak and his Ford Fiesta walk away from the X Games with the Gold medal. Congrats to him and congrats to Ford. It was a very close race until Pastrana wrecked. Hopefully in the next 9 months we will hear of Ford Motorsports putting together some sort of substantial Rally program. Certainly would draw a lot more new people to their product than the increasingly boring NASCAR...
With the finals of X-Games 15 occuring today viewers will once again get to see the skill and huevos that the current crop of Rally America drivers possess. Though the X-Games version of Rally is a watered down (not even a co-driver this year), fabricated vision of what looks good to ESPN bean counters it still is what most American likely associate with the term "Rally Racing". For good or ill it is the X-Games that have given Rally America its greatest exposure over the past few years--and thats a problem...
Rally America's parallel problem is a somewhat related one. Rally America long ago hitched its wagon to Subaru. Subaru came into the series a few years back with every intention of dominating it. And they have been massively successful in doing so. In combination with Vermont Sports Car (which derives the vast majority of its revenue from being the unofficial "works" team for Subaru in North America), Subaru has become the 900 lb. gorrilla in Rally America. Subaru's closest competitor in Rally America is Mitsubishi (a bankrupt company consistently on the verge of pulling all operations out of the U.S.). The money that Subaru pours into its Rally America operations (either directly or indirectly) vastly out strips the funds used by all other manufacturers combined. Is that Subaru's fault?? No...they have simply succeeded in an arena no one else chose to compete...
So tightly are Rally America and Subaru's motorsports operations intertwined that when Rally America decided to open an "East Coast" office, seperate from their MN base, they acquired office space in the same exact building as houses the Vermont Sports Car headquarters. Would NASCAR house itself in the same office building as Hendrick Motorsports? Would Bud Selig put his office inside Yankee Stadium?? You can see where I'm going here...The closeness of Rally America's corporate employees to Subaru and Subaru's domination of the series through pure cash outlays has not made everyone happy, but it has made Rally America a moderate success within the motorsports world...
So why is all this a problem? Let me present a few more pieces of info. Rally America's contract with ESPN ends this year. Beyond 2009, even RA's director J.B. Niday publicly acknowledges that rally racing is not likely to be seen at the X-Games as ESPN holds a tight relationship with Ricky Johnson's TORC series and is always looking for something fresh. The consistent downsizing and reductions to the Rally events at the X-Games (the first year Rally appeared it was a two day event with only the final section occuring within the stadium itself and now its a 1/2 minute sprint with no co-drivers on a mostly asphalt, bulldozed course) shows that Rally racing is not pleasing to ESPN's eye. So that is likely the first shoe to drop, Rally America will lose its prestige event, the one all the marketers love, the one that reaches the most eyeballs and makes by far the biggest impression.
If your product suddenly lost its biggest point of exposure and would see its rate of "impressions" cut in 1/2 would you continue to fund that products marketing program at the same rate? For that matter, if you are Pastrana, Block or Mirra would you continue to focus on rallying if you were not going to appear on a nationally televised, highly promoted, signature event any longer? Rallying isn't cheap and the return on investment both from Subaru's and the top competitors standpoint has to be there...
So what if Subaru cuts its rallying funds and one of the Pastrana, Block, Mirra trio walks away? Or worst case, what if Subaru guts its rallying program and/or all three decide to walk and try something else??
Which brings me to why RA should rig the X-Games for a Ford driver to win. Ford is an auto company on the move. In not taking any tax payer money earlier this year Ford has built up a cache of goodwill amongst the American public and stands as the most popular of the three "American" auto companies currently. Secondly, the car Ford is using at these X-Games is the Ford Fiesta, a vehicle that has not even begun being sold in North America yet so the marketing arm of Ford is in its infant or adolescent stage for this unit. Thirdly, Ford has a long history of supporting motorsports efforts in all types of racing, whether its NASCAR, desert racing or drag racing there is no built in aversion to using motorsports as a marketing tool. Lastly, a true competitor for Subaru within the Rally America ranks would pressure Subaru and the Pastrana/Block/Mirra trio to remain with the sport--Do you want to go out a loser to the new kid on the block, erasing the stature you have built up over the past few years as you played with the deck stacked in your favor or do you want to show that your products can compete on a truly even playing field against equally funded and managed competition?
Would a Ford Fiesta winning the X-Games=Ford joining RA with a full on "works" team? No, but it certainly would raise a bunch of eyebrows within Ford's marketing wing. If you go through the Fiesta website and build your own Fiesta you will see that the "performance" options (a turbo package, sport tuned suspension and sport tuned exhaust) are the most desired options for the Fiesta currently and running a Fiesta within Rally America would just be another step in reaching what is fast becoming its target audience.
If Rally America is smart, it will rig the event for Foust or Brack as I believe Ford will enter Rally America in a big way if it can successfully show off its product at these X-Games. I further believe that Ford's entry into RA is the only thing that will offset the loss of X-Games coverage in '10 and beyond and allow RA to grow beyond its current status as being merely a small wing of Fuji Heavy Industries massive marketing arm.

Short Course R/C Nationals....

Another article of my that was recently posted on Off-Road.com. Wow...that makes three paying articles I have completed...Only 24 of these a month at the rate I'm being paid for them and I can make up for being unemployed!! Regardless, the event was a good time and made me wanna work on upgrading and racing my own Traxxas Slash and buy a new HPI Blitz when they come out in September...Read more with pics and vids...

Roadside Bomb Video...

Just a video of what our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are up against. Fortunately this one looks like it was detonated either too early or too late to impact any of the vehicles and also looks like it was buried too deep as the pavement and dirt seems to contain most of the explosion but this is still some of the scariest video I've seen and truly shows the power of such a simple weapon...

video

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nissan LOORRS Results From Last Weekend...

Though missing their top gun (Casey Currie) the Nissan contingent in Unlimited (Pro) Lite still ran very well last weekend in Lake Elsinore, CA. Under the lights on both Saturday and Sunday nights, as ususal it was the Unlimited Lites that provided the best racing action of the night. Saturday night saw John Probst (who has been making the trek from the mid-west all year long to be in the LOORRS) finishing 4th, Jimmy Stephensen in 5th, and Todd Cuffaro in 11th out of 12 entries. Sunday night saw Cuffaro finishing 4th, Probst 5th, and Stephensen in 8th. On the year, Stephensen sits 4th in the overall Unlimited Lite points while Cuffaro is only 8 points behind him in 5th and Probst stands in 7th overall.