Friday, April 30, 2010

Jumping On The Conspiracy Bandwagon...

Why let the lunatics on the far left and far right have all the fun??

I have yet to hear it proposed (though I'm sure it's out there somewhere) but I'm calling shenanigans on the BP oil leak and sinking of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico...

Is it coincidence that only a few weeks if not days before this "accident" occurred, President Barack Obama declared U.S. waters open for drilling/exploration to his arch-enemy oil companies?? Not likely.

Is it a coincidence that his most high profile conservative adversary (Sarah Palin) uses "Drill Baby Drill!!" as one of her favorite sayings and thus is now effectively shut up?? Not likely.

Is it a coincidence that on one hand this makes Obama look better to non-thinking independents who wanted the U.S. to try to become more energy self reliant by approving deep water exploration on U.S. coasts and yet also better to greenies now that he has effectively banned it post-accident (having your cake and eating it too)? Not likely.

Just give it all some thought...if Bush is responsible for blowing up the levees to flood the poor of New Orleans isn't Barack just as responsible for ordering the sabotage/attack on the oil rig in order to end oil exploration on U.S. coasts, hurt the oil/gas industry and improve his political prospects?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

USA!! USA!!! USA!!!

Well, its not exactly the Olympics and there aren't and Russian Armies to beat back but we are sending one of our better drivers overseas to compete at the highest level of an individual form of motorsport this weekend.

In this case it is Tanner Foust (he of drifting championships, Race of Champions entrant, Rally America winner, all around motorhead) who is heading to Portugal this weekend to run in the first event of the 2010 FIA Rallycross season. Though Tanner has tested his mettle early this year (as seen above at a small event in England) this will be his first real entry into the world of "A" level rallycross. Going head to head across tarmac, dirt and gravel over various elevation changes and turns, Tanner will be using his (supposedly) 600HP, AWD Ford Fiesta against the best that Europe has to offer.

More importantly, this will give Tanner a leg up in the experience department (as he is running in four of these Euro rallcross events in '10) before coming back here to the U.S. to participate in Rally America's inaugural Rallycross events consisting of three events to take place in NJ later this year.

Given the U.S.'s demand for action over skill and more "arena" oriented tracks, these will focus more on fender to fender action, jumps, bumps, etc., than the Euro races will and I for one, cannot wait...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Australian Hyden 450 Nissans...

Leave it to the Aussies to put together some really nice engine/drivetrain combinations that differ from the usual VW/Chevy mix we see here in the U.S. in our buggies. The vehicles pictured here are all Nissan powered. There were far more than these even, these are just pictures that were readily available of the Nissan powered racers that finished the recent Hyden 450 which is the first round of the Australian Off-Road Championship. Held in Western Australia the event had 88 entries and saw a Nissan powered vehicle win only one out of the seven different classes but Nissans did post solid results in nearly all classes. I will list the vehicles by order of the pictures here, top to bottom and list their finishing place in class and engine type.

1-Car #125, Steven Sanderson, 1st Place in Prolite Buggy Class, VQ35 V6
2-Car #85, Beau Robinson, 5th Place in Pro Buggy Class, Dual Turbo VQ35 V6
3-Car #205, Troy Johnston, 5th Place in Super 1650 Buggie Class, SR16
4-Car #1, Shannon Rentsch, 6th Place in Pro Buggy Class, Dual Turbo VQ35 V6








Monday, April 26, 2010

NISMO Stuff Remains in 1st Place!!

The NISMO Stuff Racing team remains in 1st place overall in the New England Region SCCA Rallycross--but not by much...

This weekend's 4/24 Rallycross event at the Rochester Fairgrounds in Rochester, NH marked the best group of vehicles in the Prepared Rear class seen so far this year. While the NISMO Stuff Frontier was up to the task durability and terrain handling wise, its 4 cyl engine and its driver could not keep up with its competitors and finished in 4th out of five entries.

Typically I don't make excuses for a poor performance and won't make one here. I will merely describe the facts surrounding the three vehicles that finished ahead of the team. In first was a Merkur XR4ti driven by a rally instructor from the Team O'Neil Rally School...In second was a BMW 325M and in third was another Merkur XR4ti but with a Mustang 5.0 engine transplant. Make your own determination as to how much fault the team bears for its poor performance this weekend.

Outside of the racing, there were close to 100 spectators during the course of the day who came to view the action and more notably, I received a dozen or more comments from fellow competitors on just how clean and great looking the new bedsides on the truck look. The new bedsides by the way, held up to the jarring and gravel just fine with nary a squeak or rattle from them all day...

The next New England Region Rallycross event is not for another month and its location is not yet announced...we'll have to see if the team can generate a better performance at that time...

2010 SCCA NER Rallycross Standings...



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Central Connecticut 4 Wheelers Open the Season...

OK, so its not Crandon or Vegas or Glen Helen...but it is an established series at a well known track that has been running trucks and buggies for years now. Sunday 4/25 was a chilly and damp day but there were still 200+ spectators out for the first CC4W race of '10. The sandy surface is well known as the only sand track on the American Motocross Association pro circuit which describes the course as "brutal". There were about 15 entrants on the day, three buggies (all VW powered) and about 12 trucks/jeeps. As is usually the case the more cars on the track the more exciting the action and the final race of the day encompassing 7 trucks at one time made for some high quality action with a number of trucks remaining nose to tail throughout the run. The next buggie/truck race is scheduled for 5/16. At only $10 an adult (kids free) these events are a great bargain.


video

Friday, April 23, 2010

Derecske Cup: No rain? No way!

The second round of Hungarian CCR season was pretty much like the first one. Rain was a devoted fellow for most of the race and affected the final classification.

Erik Korda (you remember him, right? the winner of the previous race) presented his Navara in Playboy design. This is how a worldwide brand promotes its energy drink. Thumbs up. Fazekas was ready to race again with his repaired and newly colored BMW X5. A long way from Brazilian to Slovak to Hungarian and finally to Croatian has on its account the only Pajero in T1 class.

Friday program: more than 50 kilometers of fast straights. Some cars were attacking 200 km/h speed, some were out. Unlucky fellow Balázs Benik was forced to stop after fire had caught the engine. His teammate Péter Rónai fell into a ditch full of water and got rescued by a tractor working nearby. The Fastest on the first day was Korda followed by Fazekas and Szalay (Opel Antara RR).

Rainy Saturday didn’t bring much joy to Szalay. First he lost time because of a wrong tire choice, and then he got a flat and lost even more. Despite this he was still holding the third place after the second race day. This was not the case of two Nissan crews; Imre Varga and Márton Kristóf were out. But ex-factory Navaras proved their qualities by grabbing first and second. Palik was keeping a tiny 23 second-advantage on Korda. Remaining 100 kilometers should have been decisive.

Palik won two of three specials and thus increased his lead by 4 seconds. They quickly faded away after a small mistake. Korda was approaching very fast. The Playboy sponsored driver almost made it, he was three seconds too slow for the first place. So after two rounds two Navaras are leading the championship. Dramatic fight for the third place was open until the very end of the rally. Szalay broke rear axle and was quickly replaced. But Attila Gábor was betrayed by his 3-litre Audi powered Pathfinder and fell down the order. Virtually third Army man Bálint wasn´t able to avoid a small mistake and lost to Szalay by 10 seconds.

What about the rest? For the second time in two races the fifth place came to András Lukács (G.Baba Tdi). Croatian Dražen Ćurić (Mitsubishi Pajero) finished sixth, Károly Fazekas (BMW X5) seventh, Szilveszter Kéry with aging Bowler Wildcat eight. Last two places belonged to Nissan, ninth Gábor with Pathfinder and tenth Pál Lónyai with Pickup.

Photos: Nyúl Eszter, http://www.dakar.hu/

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fiberwerx Bedsides--COMPLETE!!


Ahhh...done...

Just because I didn't do much of the work in this case doesn't mean the anticipation was any less. Picked her up and brought her home tonight and am VERY happy with the results. The paint finish and look is as good or better than the factory job on the rest of the truck while the fit is near perfect and better than I had a right to expect with replacement fiberglass parts. Epoxy sealed and riveted all around the bed is tight and solid and without a wiggle, shudder or noise when driving. All this without going the quick and dirty method of taking a sawzall to the original bedsides and simply laying the fiberglass over top of the old ones.

Oh, and did I mention that the original gas tank door fits perfect and is fully functional? The filler neck was extended six inches and fits perfect in its new position.

I would highly recommend Dube's Custom Street Machines to anyone looking to have some body work done on any type of vehicle they have..

The next step is to have the vinyl graphics package put on the rear bedsides though that may not happen for another week or two as the Nismo Stuff Racer has another Rallycross event this weekend! We'll see how the nice shiny paint and fiberglass hold up to race conditions...













Mohács Cup: It’s raining, man!


First of all I want to thank Dan for this opportunity. Maybe you will be interested in what’s going on in Europe and maybe you won’t get bored of my articles. Any compliments or criticism are heartily welcomed. Now enough babbling, let’s get to work.

Hungary - land of lowlands, thermal springs, well known Tokay wines and right-wing extremists. And also country with strong cross country rally scene. This year’s season consists of eight races, the first one has taken place on last weekend of March. Twenty eight cars lined up, half of them in T1 group in accordance with FIA regulations. The most numerous represented was Nissan with six cars, against them had stood three crews with Opel Antara/Chevrolet Captiva. Then there were two powerful BMW X5s and some others.

After short prologue the main competition has begun. Saturday’s tracks were all drenched by heavy rain which forced some crews to withdrawal. Károly Fazekas (read as Caaroy Fazekash) rolled his Chevy powered BMW X5 in deep ruts. Just few meters further ended first Nissan. Imre Varga (read as Eamre Waarga) buried his Kingcar (modified Navara) and burned the clutch. Newcomer to CCR multiple Hungarian rally champion Balázs Benik (Opel Antara RR) surprised everyone by winning first special with comfortable advantage. He also won last two specials of rally on Sunday but with huge penalty from previous day he finished last.

His teammate and boss Balázs Szalay (read as Balaash Salay) has been fighting hard for the first place with another rally driver Erik Korda (Nissan Navara) whole weekend. Szalay won two specials, Korda three and in the final, victory went to latter with margin of 1 min. 41 sec. Third was only Czech in race Zdeněk Pořízek with former X-Raid’s BMW X5 CC. Hungarian prominent TV commentator László Palik made a mistake which cost him and his SA ex-factory Navara podium place. Fifth came András Lukács (read as Andraash … eh, forget it) driving Hungarian-made prototype G.Baba Tdi.

Let’s take a look at the rest quickly. Hungarian Army Team driver Zoltán Bálint finished sixth with another Palik’s Navara, Pál Lónyai with a Nissan Hardbody Pickup seventh almost an hour back. Yet another Navara on eighth place thanks to Zoltán Morvai. Ninth was pair of famous (in Hungary of course) TV persons including the only woman in race Andre Várkonyi (Opel Antara). And last but one Zsolt Murczin came home with his 3D Proto (Mitsubishi L200 powered by, what a surprise… Chevy LS7 engine).

So this was the first race of Hungarian season, second was about to begin in two weeks time.

Photos: Nyúl Eszter, http://www.dakar.hu/

Monday, April 19, 2010

First Correspondent for NISMO Stuff!!

As a small time labor of love and outlet for thoughts I have been surprised the pride I take in this little corner of the Internet. Thus it is with great pleasure that I introduce Mikal, the first voice beyond my own that will be contributing to the site. Michal is in Bratislava, Slovakia and will provide an alternative, European voice to the site.

I try to write out a thought or two on most major offroad events and other motorsports happenings and adding Michal will allow for coverage of more events, particularly in Europe where there are numerous FIA run events that we here in the States never hear about despite their major manufacturer support/involvement. Michal will also be free to cover "stuff", adding his passions and views on the world to the site. Welcome Michal and don't worry, you speak better English than most of us natives!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Well...That Brought the Suck...


Uh...wow...

With so many Nissans racing in so many events this past weekend I thought for sure there might be some bright news come Monday. Nope...Turns out that pretty much everyone puked on their shoes for one reason or another. Makes one wonder just what anyone in their right mind is doing when they choose to run a Nissan in a competitive event these days. Of course most will carry on but the longer Nissan goes with results like these, the more racers and enthusiasts of all kinds will go elsewhere...

First up? We had Brass Monkey Racing in the SCCA World Challenge series. Running two GT-Rs both had issues with "limp mode" in the first St. Petersburg event a few weekends ago where driver Tony Rivera at least brought home respectable 7th and 8th place finishes in the two events there. At Long Beach this weekend though they two cars finished a poor 30th and 31st out of 36 entries suffering a number of mechanical difficulties and fighting the "limp mode" issues once again. As a manufacturer Nissan has garnered ZERO manufacturer points in the first three events of the year. As Nissan's supposed high profile re-entry to American Motorsports this effort has fallen flat on its face thus far. A major influx of Nissan engineers is needed to sort out the limp mode issue as this is one known to have plagued a number of Nissan motorsports efforts in the past few years to massively debilitating effect.

Then we had the Nissan GT-Rs of the FIA's GT1 series in the UAE. With four GT-Rs (two from team Sumo Power GT and two from Swiss Racing) running in this extremely high profile event covered worldwide there was an acceptable result with one DNF due to steering damage from hit taken on Lap 1 but the other three grabbing a 12th, 14th and 16th place finish. Given that they were saddled with a 33 kg penalty for performing so well in pre-season testing, these finishes are solid and should improve with the removal of some of this penalty weight before the Silverstone event a month or so from now...

Next there was the ABSA Toyota Dealer 400 in South Africa. Given Glyn Hall's moving to Toyota and the closing of the Nissan Motorsports shop there I'm not sure how much one can expect, but the trucks that were dominant over the past 5 years did not suddenly fall apart and become antiques, yet their performance thus far has been underwhelming. In the Toyota Dealer 400, a race won five consecutive years by Nissans before 2010, the best a Nissan could muster was a 7th and 8th place finish out of 18 entries. Given that only nine entries actually were able to finish the race I suppose its acceptable, but barely. The two Regent Racing Navaras finishing here are multiple time South African event winners and should contend for a win every time out as well as for the overall ABSA Off-Road championship.

Lastly there was the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing series being held this weekend in Surprise, AZ. Having won the last two rookie of the year awards in Nissans in the Pro Lite division (Casey Currie and Jimmy Stephensen) one would think that Nissan trucks would run well. Unfortunately Currie has defected to Toyota (and run poorly I might add) while Stephensen runs solidly mid-pack most of the time with his underfunded operation. A new Nissan driver is Stephan Papadakis who is usually found at Drifting events racing RWD cars on asphalt. Saturday's race found Papadakis finishing 10th out of 18 as the last truck on the lead lap while Stephensen finished 13th, some 10 laps down. Sunday found Stephensen in 12th, some three laps down while Papadakis ended in 15h, six laps down.

If that wasn't all depressing enough, in the New York USRC asphalt rally there were NO Nissans or Datsuns entered with Dan Brosnan who won the 2009 USRC 2WD championship trading in his Sentra SE-R for an Opel Manta 400--and DNFing.

Wow...think I'll go slit my wrists and play with some Matchbox cars...






Otter Creek - 'Otter Summer Ale: Beer Review

As more and more brewers follow the Sam Adams model of producing seasonal varieties it becomes ever harder to keep up. Kinda feels like baseball card collecting in my youth...at some point there becomes too many brands, too many versions, too much of everything to separate the wheat from the chaff...

Otter Creek's 'Otter Summer Ale however is a solid addition to the Summer season brew choices. As a micro-brew out of Vermont it is always my preference to try products from New England first before moving on to other areas as I like to support local businesses if possible and this was a new offering at my frequented packy.

This ale is medium bodied drink appropriate for any warm weather outing. You can definitely taste the "wheatiness" of this drink but it is not over the top and is more pleasantly favorable than the matching Sam Adams Summer Ale (which I find a bit dull) with a nice sharp finish. Though the Otter Creek website says this beer is often served with a slice of lemon, I still like to keep my fruit and my beer separate and this beer is just fine on its own. I say pick up a sixer and pass 'em around.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Inglourious Basterds: A Movie Review...

Though a big fan of Tarantino's early work (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), like many I had become disinterested in him over time as I perceived his more recent films as lesser works...

Inglourious Basterds, if not returning him to the prominence achieved by his initial films, at least gets him close. At 2 1/2 hours it is a long film and if you don't thoroughly enjoy Taratino's long scenes and extended dialogues then it will feel at least that long. If, however, you enjoy the pacing of his films with their decided lack of "rapid fire edits" that fill most modern films and the accompanying long conversations between rival characters then you will thrilled with the content found here.

Not as overly bloody as either Pulp or Reservoir, Inglourious is still rife enough with scalpings and shootings to deserve its "R" rating and is not for the squeamish. Still, it doesn't come off as frivolous or over the top, at least not to me. War and revenge are violent acts and this film depicts them as so.

Though Brad Pitt tops the credit list as far as actors go, it is Christoph Waltz who you will remember. He deserves every bit of the "Supporting Actor" Oscar he won earlier this year and it is his charisma as an SS officer that carries the plot from beginning to end.

By all means, if you have a spare three hours, sit down and give yourself over to this Jewish revenge fantasy of film. Someday some scholar will sit down and catalogue the Jewish desire to strike back at a foe long gone through the medium of film, and this will be one of the primary films included in the syllabus...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Saab 9-5 From New York Auto Show...

Still going through my photos and such from the NY Auto Show a couple weeks back...

The Saab "booth" was actually one of the busier and "happier" areas of the show. I think people are genuinely rooting for this underdog of a company--especially after how GM treated it so badly when under its thumb.

The new 9-5 shown here is still primarily a product of GM as it was developed before Saab's sale to Spyker but it looks sharp and modern and has the stats to be a desirable performance vehicle sporting 300 hp and 295 ft. lb. of torque in its top form (also with AWD).

I don't love the sloping roofline on the car but I don't hate it either. The 9-5 retains enough "Saab-ness" to make it hard to mistake for anything else but clearly takes the vehicle in a new, more modern direction. Good on them...