Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Old School Short Course Nissan...

From the recent Arizona Short Course Championship Series which is intended to be a long term feeder series for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. This event was from back in early June, and the listed driver on the side is Patrick McMurray though the #1470 truck is listed on the ASCC website as being Grant Wilson.

I'm not sure how much of this vehicle is really a Nissan outside of the cab itself by I am trying to track down Patrick and find out. Regardless it shows the versatility of the Hardbody platform and makes for some excellent photos. Patrick ended up finishing on the lead lap of this race which was 12 laps long crossing in 4th out of the eight entries in the 1450/Prerunner class.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Messenger: A Movie Review...

Saw this film last night and was pleasantly surprised by its lack of political stance and just straightforward storytelling along with the expected solid performances of Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson.

Ben Foster is one of my current favorite actors who seems to imbue more emotion into the characters he plays (Alpha Dog, 3:10 to Yuma) than almost any modern, young actor I can think of. Here is in the role of an Army Sergeant assigned to notify the deceased's next of kin upon their death in Iraq or Afghanistan. Teaching him the ropes of said role is a Captain played by Woody Harrelson.

There is no discussion here as to the righteousness or lack thereof surrounding the two wars, nor is there any political B.S., instead it focuses on the strength it takes to perform such a job which is frequently overlooked by our society and the collateral damage caused by the satisfactory completion of this near thankless task.

There is no over dramatizing here, no long speeches, no proselytizing. Just good performances and a well written and satisfying story.

I have read in some opinions of the film that unless you are a parent or sufficiently aged enough to have already truly loved and lost (in all its forms) that it comes across flat as those without such experience cannot imagine the depths of despair, rage, fear, sadness, etc. that such events can lead to. I'm not sure if that's correct or not as I'm not young enough to be without those experiences but unless you are one of the lucky (?) few who has missed out on such things I would definitely put this film on your list of ones to see.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


So I have to give credit here to my friend Eric Montague who states that he sent me this like a year ago and told me about it (even though I don't remember it).

Regardless, I ran across it (again?) today and just thought it was incredibly funny/awesome/brilliant. Don't know how many kids would actually want one and I'm not sure that I would want to be friends with an adult who buys one...but whatever, that doesn't make it any less uber-cool--I especially like that the internal fabric is designed to look like the grey/blue entrails that came pouring out of the Tauntaun's stomach when Han sliced it open...Certainly something as a young boy I will never forget seeing on screen...
The sleeping bag is a product from ThinkGeek and available through them...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Here's the press release from the last round of the south Island nationals

Christchurch driver Wayne Moriarty has retaken control of the 2010 Asset Finance New Zealand Offroad Racing Championship with a dominant performance at the latest round.

Wayne Moriarty of Christchurch - Mainland Challange Winner

Competing in the most hotly contested class in the championship, Moriarty took his Euroblast Cougar Toyota Super 1600 single seater to wins in every heat on the first day of the Cruzin Limousines Mainland Challenge and followed that with victory in the following day's all-in 165 kilometre endurance race.

Moriarty defeated all challenges in Big Posters Super 1600 class heats at the short course racing held Saturday 19 June at the Rock FM Raceway at West Melton. Even the presence of one of the North Island’s top racers, Richard Crabb, did not phase the local racer.

Even the arrival in the South Island of one of the north’s fastest Super 1600 race cars proved no problem for the dominant Moriarty, whose car ran without problem the entire weekend. Nigel Sutherland has bought the Cougar Evo Toyota previously campaigned by Alan Butler in the North Island. The car, which has won both the Taupo 1000 and Woodhill 100, is rated among the top three Super 1600s in the north, but Sutherland was not able to translate that promise into results at the weekend.

Bruce Rolls, in the Chenowth Honda raced in past seasons by Moriarty’s former Super 1600 rival Dennis Andreassend, shared the short course podiums with Crabb and Sutherland, but none were able to challenge Moriarty.

33 cars entered this year’s event.

On the following day, the 22 cars remaining in the field tackled a 165 km endurance race at Swannanoa, near Oxford.
Moriarty qualified second behind the Cougar Evo VW of defending national champion Dennis Andreassend, with the fast and agile Barracuda odyssey-class car of Hamish Lawlor close behind in third.

Andreassend’s race lasted a handful of laps before the Cougar’s transmission jammed, letting Moriarty through and into a lead he never relinquished.
Behind him the tussle for second place was between Lawlor, whose diminutive Barracuda stayed with Moriarty through the opening phase of the race; former national champion Daniel Powell in his Jimco Nissan turbo; and Bruce Rolls.

Lawlor set the race fastest lap, 4.00 minutes for the 5.2 kilometre course; Moriarty set a 4:02.
Powell was finding the course did not suit the big Jimco – “it had way too many corners and not enough straights” was his summary of conditions – and was taking risks to close in on the leaders.

He had come up to third when Lawlor dropped out of second place, and was then second behind Moriarty when his car broke an oil fitting exiting a slow corner.
“It dumped ten litres of race oil into the bash plate in an instant. I shut it down, so hopefully we won’t have too much of an engine bill, but the DNF puts us out of the running for the championship which is disappointing.”

Behind them, and circulating steadily in an unfamiliar car, Clint Densem upheld local honours in Autoworld Richmond Super 1300 class and stayed in contention for top points.
In AFWE truck classes, the competition was most intense in production (class 2) and sport truck (class 4). In class 2, Steven Boyd pulled out a useful lead after earlier battling side by side with Ron Campbell. He pulled away and closed in on sport truck class leader Simon Smith, making his second appearance in his new Nissan Terrano V6.

In the sport truck class, Smith was holding off two fast Nelson drivers. Neighbours Paul Milne and Darrin Thomason were chasing the Terrano in their new-for-2010 trucks, Thomason in the 4.0-litre Nissan Navara he first brought out at the Nelson championship round and Milne in the Toyota Hilux formerly campaigned by Thomason.

Both struck mechanical problems and fell back, Thomason dropping out altogether and Milne completing enough laps to be classified a finisher and lead the class for the series.
The V-Dub Shoppe Challenger and Baja classes had attracted one entry each, as had AFWE class six and class eight. In the latter class, Dunedin’s Donald Preston had a nightmare weekend of breakages in his Lexus-powered Toyota Hilux V8, breaking the front differential and blowing front and rear driveshaft joints on both days of racing.

But Wayne Moriarty’s race weekend held no such dramas. In a testament to its immaculate presentation and the team’s careful preparation, the Cougar ran flawlessly all weekend. In the closing laps of the enduro he even had time to pit to check fuel levels without losing his lead. He was the only competitor to complete all 30 laps of the race; only 12 cars completed enough laps to be classed a finisher.

Moriarty is the first racer to have won more than one round of this year’s championship.
The points battle now intensifies. Moriarty has taken a 12 point lead in the championship over the North Island’s Malcolm Langley, 144 points to 132. Another North Island racer, Nick Hall, is third on 118. With the next round due to take place in the South Island, Moriarty stands to extend his lead further, and other South Island racers may step up into the top ten outright and into national class leads before the final round, held at Manukau’s Full Throttle weekend in October.

Mark Baker

Raana Horan's "Titan"...

Ahh...so now we come to it. Raana Horan's New Zealand dominating "Titan".

As others guessed and I incorrectly stated, this incredible truck is not truly a Titan. It does possess a Boatec Titan body but the underpinnings are decidedly not Titan-esque. Regardless, it is currently at the top of its class in New Zealand and certainly creating an incredible impression on all who see (and hear) it race...

Here I will quote Raana directly in describing the truck...but feel free to let me know if you have any questions about his setup or build and I will try to dive more into it with him...

We currently race two vehicles both essentially Nissans.

The winch truck and our original offroader racer big black were pure Nissan, the latest Big black II is predominately Nissan but unfortunately we had to add some other GM bits in to make it work.

We basically cut our teeth on the first two vehicles giving them absolute abuse and tuning until we knew what worked and what didn’t.

The Titan truck is based on a trophy truck custom Mike Connor , Greg Price kiwi designed chromoly space frame with Titan body and Nissan engine, diffs etc

We originally were going to fit our modified Nissan auto box to the truck but the size of the box was too big , too heavy and too long plus with the power we wanted to produce the transfer box wasn’t going to be strong enough so they were substituted for a turbo 400 and hummer transfer but other than that we have kept Nissan were ever possible including factory mag wheels that we have modified to beadlocks.

One of the things we have been surprised with is the strength of the Nissan motors , my bother in law works in the dyno cell most days as a job with various local race engines many of them Nissan and for us we essentially haven’t changed the bottom ends of the Nissan engines much, we have played around with both petrol and diesel and have got some great power figures - see the torque figures below BB II and the engines have remained very reliable and to be honest a cost effective race engine within our budget.

We believe we have another 10 – 15% to screw out of this engine but we don’t need any more power at the moment so we are leaving it as it is, our main teething issue has been keeping our transmission fluid cool enough so it doesn’t damage the box after spinning through the torque converter under power. We have finally solved it but after lunching 5 gearboxes in the process.

Our team is made up mainly of friends and family with all the skills to make it successful, we often have at least 6 people on hand at every meet for support plus of course the kids.

Basic Specs:

Big Black II

Body: Nissan Titan by Boatec

Frame : Custom designed Chromoly Space frame

Gearbox: Modified turbo 400, low stall converter

Transfer Box: Hummer H1

Diffs : Nissan Patrol LSD front and rear

CVS : Chromoly Chev 2500, Custom shafts


Supercharged Nissan VH45DE V8

Ported heads

Mild cams

Ross race pistons + Rings

Balanced crank

Supercharger : Over driven Eaton M112

Engine Tuning : Brent Reedy (Bro in law) Tuning and Performance Hamilton – Dynopak 4000 4WD

Power : 480 HP

Torque : 1200nm , 900 ft/lbs !!!!

Computer : Link G4 extreme

Total Wet Weight: 2350Kgs including driver and navigator.

Truck built by Mike Connor Taupo Sheetmetals and Greg Price plus helpers.

NZ offroad racing

Right to the serious stuff.

Here are the truck classes we have down here in New Zealand.

Class 6

Class 6 is a new class designed to cater to trucks mainly built for 4x4 winch challenge style of events there are no rules except the trucks have to be road legal and have roll cages etc.

Class 8


run what you brung! almost anything is allowed, turbo's superchargers engines can be any size

trucks can be 2wd or 4wd. The engine's flywheel has to be in front of the diff and it has to resemble a production 4wd/pickup

Class 4 - Pro Trucks

These trucks have to keep the standard chassis frame but suspension can be modified.

any engine is allowed up to 4.2L in N/A form turbo or supercharged engines are limited to 2L

Class 2 - Production Trucks

a very controlled production class, almost standard road trucks that have rollcages .

suspension is allowed to be upgraded but a shock has to remain in the the standard position.

engine modifications are open but inlet manifold must remain standard.

If anyone is interested in read more rules and regs about offroading in NZ the rule book is available as a PDF on http://www.oranz.co.nz/


Glen Sandford

Monday, June 21, 2010

TORC Entries For 1st Crandon....Down...

I'm not sayin...I'm just sayin...

There was quite a difference between the number of entries at the first three LOORRS (Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series) events of the year and the first TORC (The Off-Road Championship) event of '10. Not even getting into the buggie classes where LOORRS has an extremely high number of entries, the three premier classes (Pro4, Pro2 and Pro Light) were severely undersubscribed this past weekend, with LOORRS also offering the spec "Superlite" class of rotary powered truck/buggies as well which draws significant numbers.

Matching them up TORC saw only 8 Pro 4 entries at Crandon this weekend while LOORRS saw an average near double that at 15 per event thus far. LOORRS biggest advantage in pure numbers comes from Pro 2 where TORC saw only 9 drivers while LOORRS saw 23 vehicles at its first '10 event and has averaged more than 20 so far. Lastly in Pro Lite, TORC has narrowed the number somewhat fielding 10 entries, while LOORRS saw a high of 17 at its second event and a low of 13 at its third.

Conclusion? TORC needs a serious boost in car counts to legitimately present itself as a viable series. With Traxxas itself having likely shot its load last year with the purchase/support of the series, it is doubtful they will be enthusiastic about paying racers just to show up as LOORRS has done at times to increase vehicle numbers. Additionally, TORC can talk about all the media coverage it wants but without highly competitive events it doesn't matter what tracks it is running at. If there isn't a rapid turn around, TORC will likely be just the latest casualty in the short-course wars as TV ratings are not sufficient to generate revenue enough to offset costs nor is ticket revenue from the much lower attended non-Labor Day weekend events--there is only so long TORCs associated companies will throw money down a rabbit hole before pulling the plug.

LOORRS is clearly in the drivers seat and whether they decide to kill or capture TORC is the only question left if TORC doesn't attract a lot of new blood...and soon...

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Zealand Off Road Racing

I thought as my first post up on here that i would do a break down of the various classes that run over here in New Zealand . All the photo's I've posted are old photo's over the years.

First things first the buggy classes

Class 1

Class 1 are unlimited buggy's they have to have IRS and the engine has to be behind the driver, however engine size is unlimited and turbo and supercharging is allowed .

Class 3

Class 3 or Super 1600 are unlimited in terms of suspension and frame design however they are only allowed a natural aspirated engine that's 1600cc in capacity

Class 5

Class 5 or Super 1300 are similar to class 3 but however they have to run a 1300cc engine


Challengers are a controlled class they have to run original VW beetle suspension and VW 1600 flat four and gearbox the engine's are modified but have to run a single carb .

That's the buggy's out of the way i will follow this post up with a break down of the truck classes

Thanks for reading


Glen Sandford

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Raana Horan's Winch Challenge Patrol...

This is the second of Raana Horan's Nissans and though this one isn't built for speed it is damn tough. As a competitor in a number of New Zealand winch challenge events the Patrol has nearly no equals. Love the mud in these pictures. Sure we get mud here in the Northeastern U.S. but not like this...and not with palm trees in the background.

Basic stats on this winch challenge Patrol:
Vehicle: Nissan Patrol GQ
Engine: Nissan 4.2 turbo diesel running 22 lbs. of boost and a modified fuel pump
Body/Other: factory rear diff lock, cut and tray back, exo-cage, shortened wheel base

Again, if anyone has any questions, please let me know and I will attempt to get them answered from Raana himself.

Meet Our New Correspondent...

Glen Sanford is his name and he hails from New Zealand. Given the quality of off-road racing in New Zealand (Taupo, Woodhill, etc.), the great terrain they have and how overlooked it likely is, adding a New Zealand perspective (different from that of mainlanders across the Tasman Sea) to the site. Welcome aboard Glen!

I'll put it out there as well--If you are interested in writing and promoting the site, please let me know. As long as you are passionate about motorsports and life in general I'd love to hear from you and add your perspective to the site (especially if you can shine a light on some of the more overlooked aspects or underappreciated drivers/manufacturers).

Oh, and if you're wondering what the above symbol is...its the "Fighting Kiwi" of course!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big Black I--Raana Horan's Race Patrol...

Raana Horan of New Zealand is a die hard Nissan afficianado. He is now on at least his third vehicle built for competitions of various kinds and all three of his most recent have been Nissans. All black ones too!

The vehicle here is Raana's first race vehicle dubbed "Big Black I" which has competed in numerous events in New Zealand including the well known Taupo 1000 and Woodhill 400. I will attempt to get more info about this vehicle and Raana's other two Nissans which I will post over the coming days.

Let me know if you have any questions you'd like to pose about either this vehicle or the others to come and I will see if I can get them answered from Raana himself.

Here are the basic stats on this one:

Nissan Patrol GQ
Supercharged VH45 V8
Computer--Link G3
Body--Wheelbase has been reduced in connection with cage build

Over/Under--the Word "Unprecedented" in Obama's Speech...

Just wanted to put out the "official" line on the number of times President Obama will use the word "unprecedented" in his Oval Office speech tonight. Given his and his speechwriters seeming desire to portray everything that has happened during his presidency as unique, one time only disasters of a magnitude only he has been forced to deal with, the word has been far over exposed to the point of now being meaningless.

I am putting the over/under on its use at 5 times. If his over use of the word had not been so well documented in the past six months I would have gone higher. As well as counting the number of times he uses the word I will also be drinking one beer for each usage, both in preparation for tonight's Celtics-Lakers game and as the only way to not slit my wrists in viewing Obama's blabbering...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Someone Teach the Nissans How to Finish!

My goodness...

Someone, somewhere needs to tell Nissan drivers across the Globe that you can't win or even represent your team at the finish line---WITHOUT FINISHING!!

Another event come and gone, another solid performance dashed near the end due to readily avoidable mistakes. I think I am beginning to attribute these mistakes to under experienced drivers in vehicles they don't fully understand. As Nissans are not part of any factory effort yet make solid performing privateer vehicles they are frequently used in "arrive and drive" scenarios where a well heeled, somewhat talented, but grossly inexperienced driver gets behind the wheel for his/her shot at a big time event. I believe that is what may have happened here.

After the first few stages of the Estoril-Portimao-Marrakech event the Nissan Pathfinder of Helder Oliveira had performed very well and sat in 5th place through the end of the 7th (of 10) stage. As we have seen in a number of Nissan efforts lately, things fell apart quickly as Oliveira rolled the Pathfinder a number of times in Stage 8, totaling the vehicle and ending their event.

The rally win eventually went to Leonid Novitskiy and his BMW X3 who showed his talent in the desert sand of Africa, overtaking Felipe Campos who was leading the event through the tighter stages in Portugal. Eric Vigouroux took third in his American Chevrolet Silverado, also showing his excellent desert skills as he leapfrogged a number of competitors once the event entered North Africa.

No pictures of any Nissans in this post as none deserved any further mention from this event...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

STPR: Great Variety of Vehicles...

One of the best reasons to be a fan of grassroots Rally racing--

You simply will not find a larger variety of makes, models and manufacturers in any motorsport anywhere. If you are a fan of a particular manufacturer or even a specific model, chances are you can find someone to cheer on. Just take a look at this past weekends Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in Pennsylvania. The variety of vehicles on hand was amazing. New to old, 2WD to 4WD, foreign to domestic, car to truck it was nearly all there.

Enjoy the shear variety of vehicles...

Oh and don't blink or you might miss Ken Block...god knows he's due to total his vehicle again any minute now....jeesh...Could ya finish a darn event already??