Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Regent Racing at ABSA Carnival City Event

The Regent Racing duo of Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin followed up their win at the Sun City event a few weeks back by piloting their Nissan Navara to a 6th place finish at this past weekend's 4x4 Mega World 400 in South Africa.

In 4th place in the overall ABSA off-road standings coming into the event, they likely did little to improve on that position though also likely did not fall out of contention. With three events left on the season they still have a more than legitimate shot at a year end podium spot.

Not so lucky at this event was the Barden Nissan Navara of Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr who were a DNF with overheating problems.

As the former Nissan factory machines in South Africa these two vehicles can be winners at any event they enter but without a coordinated effort and factory technicians/funding, it will always be a uphill climb against the Toyota and Ford efforts in South Africa.

ABSA Carnival City Report...

Another Race, Another Win...

For the Nissan GT-R. This time on the asphalt of Western Australia. Not only did a GT-R team take first place in the QUIT Targa West Tarmac Rally but a GT-R team also took third as well with a Porsche GT2 sandwiched in between.

No offense to the FIA's GT1 series which I think is great, but it is events like this that I think show the GT-R's true character. In the FIA's GT1 series the GT-Rs used are RWD, not AWD, and do not use the GT-R's real powerplant (instead of a twin turbo V6 they use a non-turbo 8 cylinder engine) amongst many changes.

Two GT-Rs in Top Three at QUIT Targa West...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

AMA Motocross: Southwick, MA

So my five year old son and I attended our first AMA Motocross race this weekend. Honestly, I didn't even really know that a top tier motocross event came to the Northeast until this year. I have ridden dirt bikes for a few years now at a number of locations in NH, MA, etc. but didn't see this event (which has been going on at the same track for over two decades) well publicized.

Part of that is likely due to the regions media (newspaper, TV, radio, etc.) general dislike of all things motorized as most are run by failed English majors of the typical New England liberal (and I do mean liberal) arts colleges. Despite drawing several thousand (3-5 I would estimate) spectators to an otherwise minimally populated area and outside of public funds, making up the largest source of funding for the Southwick, MA school system (on whose land the parking at $10 a vehicle is located) receives absolutely ZERO media coverage or promotion. A shame really as the event could be significantly bigger than it was with just a tad bit of help.

Regardless, the event appeared to be a great success. Perfect weather, lots of fans, lots of sponsors, good racing, etc.

The event itself continued Ryan Dungey's 2010 victory tour, clinching the year's 450cc title with two events remaining. Dungey took both moto's on this day and adds the AMA Motocross title to his 2010 Supercross title garnered earlier this year. A master of both the indoor and the outdoor Dungey is only 20 years old and looks to have the world as his oyster at this point in his career.

As just a fan for this event (not covering it for anyone but myself) and with with my son whose attention span is, shall we say, limited, I did get to stay only through the end of the 1st 450cc and 250cc motos. Four hours in the sun is about his limit at this point. He did however have a very good time telling me how awesome the motorcycles were numerous times and wanting to come back next year. Eventually I can see making a day of the event as the promoters nicely provide wristbands so that you could enter and leave and re-enter, thus allowing "tailgating" of one form or another which would allow one to kill time between events, get some food and save some money.

All in all, not a bad way to spend 1/2 my weekend...

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Festival Summer: FM4 Frequency ‘10

It started one day on my way to work. I saw a poster with band names like Muse, Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem and some others. What the heck?! All these bands in just one place? This is a must-seen. It was a matter of few minutes on Internet to find that this event of the year (besides the CCR races of course) was going to happen in just two weeks. St. Polten in Austria is just 150 kilometers from Bratislava my home town and so decision was made instantly - we are going for our first music festival ever!

We - that’s me and my beloved wife. We share almost the same musical interests though I’m more into that “boom-boom” harder dance styles. Tasks that needed to be done:
1. get the tickets – done
2. get the accommodation – all fully booked – failed
3. get the tent – done
4. plan out the route – done
5. Let’s go!!!

So here we are in a city of St. Polten together with tens of thousands of other people in an industry area next to a highway. Sun is shining sound systems are silent at the moment, few hours left to the opening. The first band starts to play while we are struggling with a tent. Never mind there are still more than 100 of them to come.

Our very first festival experience is German band Get Well Soon which plays fine indie. I can’t describe the cultural shock after moving to the main stage. Extravagant Peaches - Canadian-born woman living in Germany - is something I’ve never seen before. With gypsum on her leg most time she usually sits in pink-colored wheel chair. Explicit sexual lyrics, fancy costumes and some creature which is either a man with a silicon breasts or a woman with a fake penis (red-colored) all that mixed with experimental electronic rock bring something unusual. I’ve tried it and am sure I won’t be chasing them on their tour.

You may know Gogol Bordello’s production from a radio but it can’t prepare you for a live performance. Furious punk-rock with very strong gypsy elements provokes people to dance. Well if you can call jumping all round the place a dancing. Two massive mosh-pits and we are right between them. With dust in my hair and beard and hoed legs we’re giving up after three songs and move backwards to a relative safety.

We fill the waiting for the headliner of the first day with two legends; punk-rockers Bad Religion and ska’s eternal The Specials. And here they come, stars of opening day, British band Muse. Man you probably wouldn’t find a band with better live performance. Flawless musical production, exciting singing of Matthew Bellamy, music oscillating on a borders of various genres, spectacular show with tens of thousand of thrilled people singing along. This is worth every cent of it! You can try it as well they are on their US tour starting September, 22nd.

Nights in our tent were cold, mornings were hot. I mean the weather... 2nd day: The folk of Wallace Bird is followed by metal of Serj Tankian (System of a Down). My personal biggest festival surprise is a young German pop/rock band Madsen. Catchy songs and cooperating audience make their performance really worth seeing. New-York based LCD Soundsystem brings a show that takes my breath awake. No, it’s not about the lights and the glitz it’s all about the music. Very energetic with characteristic vocal expression of James Murphy and many different instruments makes us jump and sing. Second day headliner trip-hop masters Massive Attack have a disadvantage because we have seen them already this year. Their show is good but not surprising for us. OK it’s time to go to sleep.

Are you ready for the last day of FM4 Frequency ’10? We are welcomed by another surprise. The Sonic Boom Foundation, an unknown band for us until now, plays mixture of electronic and rock and it works just fine. Later it’s time for another of my favorite bands - Archive. Hard to define their production; trip-hop with rock, one female vocalist, two singing men and a bit of rap. It is awesome! Just some perplexed teenagers powered by Zipfer (beer) and Spritzer (mixture of soda, wine and some syrup) who are anxiously waiting for their beloved 30 Seconds to Mars (30STM) are asking who it is. They sort of ruin the feeling.

Trio Zoot Woman has a style and plays good music but then it’s time to leave the place for the youngsters. But curiosity is strong and after some time we are back to witness a performance of 30STM. If you want to label someone as “teen-approved” then 30STM is the one. Typical MTV production pop/rock for the masses, singer (well-known actor Jared Leto) commanding the thousands of teen fans and they obey every his word like a herd of sheep. It does not offend me, I’ve heard much worse in my life. But I’m sure it would have worked even without all that F-words Jared uses so often. Billy Talent and Element of Crime are our last two performers of this year’s FM4 Frequency.

In addition to an astonishing musical experience I also got a sore throat. The pain will pass away, the good memories will stay and next year I’m back.

A bunch of numbers:
- 2 stages: Day Park and Night Park
- 3 days full of music
- 68 reported cases of thievery
- 89 people ended in a hospital
- more than 100 performers
- more than 700 members of medical staff…
- …have treated 2.149 people
- 115.000 visitors estimated

Gogol Bordello

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MDR Desert Accident: An Excellent Article...

Finally an excellent, more in depth article with real first hand accounts. Kudos to the author for actually going out and talking to people and providing a balanced story. Now I just hope that an off-road publication does some real journalism and has an in depth story from all sides and not just a 1/2 page regurgitation of the incident--Are you listening Dirt Sports Magazine?

A Day at the Races Turns Tragic...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Look Familiar?

It certainly does to me.

The above is Iran's new "Karrar" UAV. Don't let the name fool you though. Aren't ALL missiles technically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles? There is no evidence to tell anyone that this is anything more than a dumb bomb attached to a rudimentary launch/flight system. There is nothing that shows that it is capable of any kind of sophisticated remote control which would mark a step up for Iranian capabilities.

In fact its lauded statistics are underwhelming. Top speed--560 mph, Payload--450 pounds, Range--620 miles (and that's if we accept Iran's figures at face value).

Now take a look at the statistics of the German V-1 from WWII. Top speed--400 mph, Payload--1,900 pounds, Range--150 miles.

Then take a look at the following picture:
and compare...

Congratulations Iran!! You've caught up to the 1940's!!!!

Then again...The US and Russia both developed atomic weapons in the 1940's as well now didn't they...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Prepping for the 2011 Rally Season...

With my stated goal as being that I would like my RetroRunner Nissan Frontier to be up and ready for at least one full stage rally at some point in 2011 I have started collecting all the ancillary items that are required by RallyAmerica (now RallyCar) in order to pass scrutineering.

I figure its best to start gathering them now to spread the cost out over a longer period rather than waiting till the last minute and trying to throw everything together at the last minute and absorbing a solid $400 whack right at the end.

To that end I have purchased the following three items so far that are required by RallyAmerica (RallyCar) in order to pass scrutineering:

1) Safe Drives Rally First Aid Kit--$49.99, kind of expensive given most of the stuff in it can be had for a couple bucks for each item BUT it saves you the hassle of going to CVS or WalMart and trying to piece together each of the items in the requirements.

2) Home Depot Tow Strap--$26, no metal hooks as they can hurt if something goes wrong. Too many rally teams/efforts use ones with metal hooks and I'll stick to either a shackle through the tow hook or looping the rope through itself but this was an easy and cheap purchase.


3) Northern Tools DOT Standing Warning Triangles (3)--$19.99, there are cheaper warning triangles out there but not by much and these are DOT compliant which is what the RallyAmerica (RallyCar) rulebook states they must be so I didn't want to try and save a couple bucks and then have an issue come scrutineering.

I will continue to post the purchases that I make over the coming 10 months or so before I am fully prepped and ready to go so you can see just what a large pile of stuff it takes just to get off the starting line...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Breaking: Ken Block Not to Contest RallyCar in '11!!

Well, I haven't seen it posted anywhere yet, though certainly I don't read EVERYTHING on the Internet.

Nothing that I know of has been posted "officially" but according to what I know, Mr. Block will not be participating in Rally America (now changing its name to a more amorphous "RallyCar") in 2011. His absence will be due to the fact that Mr. Block intends to run a FULL WRC schedule with Ford and concentrate his efforts there.

With various contacts of mine calling Block's current RallyCar Ford a number of nasty names (garbage, poorly done, awful, etc.) it is not surprising he would turn to what is truly a world class vehicle in the WRC.

What is surprising is that he would do this after having DNF'd out of EVERY WRC event he entered this year including this past weekends WRC Germany
(Mr. Block DNFs...again...) If I was Ford, I'd think twice about throwing my money behind any effort in which the driver has DNF'd in all but one of his competitive events in a given year (though he did managed to win the 100 Acre Wood Rally America event earlier this year).

All this leaves Rally America...excuse me...RallyCar in a precarious position. With Travis Pastrana apparently losing interest (unless being dethroned makes him hungry for a RallyCar championship again) and Block leaving, it is left without its two biggest names. Up and comers Dave Mirra has yet to show the skill behind the wheel or flair for marketing that both Block and Pastrana have and the top two finishers this year (L'Estage and Bacon) are both behind the wheel of Mitsubishis and thus without factory backing.

RallyCar has seen the writing on the wall I believe and will focus an every greater percentage of its efforts on its new "RallyCross" series in New Jersey. With guaranteed major cable TV on board in the form of ESPN and Pastrana, Mirra and Foust on board, it stands a solid chance at succeeding...but...with only 20 entries, 8 of which are older, privateer driven 2WD vehicles, and the majority of AWD vehicles having no shot at competing with big budget efforts of the aforementioned names I could easily see the series ending up with very few drivers come that third event come November.

This isn't NAPCAR...the teams, outside of the top three perhaps, do not have multi-million dollar budgets (and are likely run off credit cards and heart some of the time) and RallyCar or Rally America would do well to remember that, though I think we are beyond the event horizon already...

Friday, August 20, 2010


Why am I posting a picture of a BMW? Because one of the world's best Nissan drivers and the driver of a Nissan Navara in the last two South African Dakar events, Krzysztof Holowczyc, has defected.

Yes, he and his usual co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin will be behind the wheel of a BMW X3 as part of a five car effort. A shame truly as Holowczyc was a legit top ten, perhaps top five driver with the Nissan Navara in his hands. Whether there remains any truly legitimate Nissan effort in the 2011 Dakar has yet to be seen but count this as one more empty chamber in the gun...Just hope Nissan doesn't show up with an empty weapon.

Ian Dawson: ALMS Innovator

Just a brief article about the Libra Racing Nissan powered effort. Fleshes out some of the specifics behind the team and the engine developer Ian Dawson and IES engineering. Qualifying for the event is tomorrow and the race on Sunday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ALMS Road America Spotter's Guide

For the second ALMS race in a row there will be a Nissan in the field.

Well, a Nissan powered vehicle at least. The Libra Racing, Radical chassis #5 black and yellow IES engineering powered racer is back with Andrew Prendeville behind the wheel. The secondary driver, Jose Balbiani, this time hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina and hopefully will get some seat time this weekend.

During the last ALMS race at Mid-Ohio the Libra Racing vehicle retired after 40 laps due to an oil pressure issue they hope to have resolved for this event. The race

The race will be broadcast live on Speed TV from 2-5 on Sunday so feel free to kick back and keep an eye out for the most unique effort currently in ALMS and cheer on the Nissan.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nissan GT-R Crate Motor?

Now THAT'S a crate engine....

Far from your standard LS series crate motor, engine builder Cosworth is about to release for sale their version of the VR38DETT.

Price?? Unknown but its sure to be pretty hefty. Cosworth supplies engines to four F-1 teams as well as the engines to Nissan Motorsports GT-R, four car effort in Europe within the FIA GT1 series (which does NOT use the GT-R's engine, instead using a naturally aspirated V8).

So at least you get a world class engine build for whatever the price might be and performance from the engine is anticipated to be a significant jump from the already substantial (to say the least) 485 HP and 434 ft. lb. of torque.

Now if only someone would drop one of these puppies in a Trophy Truck...

Cosworth to release GT-R Crate Motor...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Just stealing (not really) this picture from Jalopnik as I thought it was great...A rally bred Porsche in a relatively hi-rez pic....in the snow and slop even...Makes my day just a little brighter...

Monday, August 16, 2010

8/14/10: The End of Off-Road Racing as We Know It...

Part 1

Tragic--Yes, Surprised--No...

I just always thought would happen in Mexico at one of the Baja events before it happened in the US.

Given the much larger numbers of spectators, higher alcohol consumption, and more "anything goes" atmosphere there I though for sure that a major accident would occur there before the dice fell the wrong way here. Take a look at some of the videos on the Internet and you'll see that this has been an event easily foreseeable and actually talked about for some time. Everyone knew this day was coming...

I won't play Monday morning quarterback and say that the promoter should have done this or that or that the spectators should have known better than to stand (from what reports I have read) on the outside corner of a downhill turn off a jump. I've been there. I've done that. I've been close enough to these vehicles at high speed that I could reach out and touch them as they went by. You know the risks and put them out of your mind, telling yourself that you can see the danger coming early enough to get out of the way. I've told myself those lies and likely will continue to do so in the future.

If there is a future for a sport like this.

Did LeMans cease to exist in 1955 when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes left the road, killing himself and 83 spectators?

Was the Indy Racing League shut down after the 1999 accident at Lowe's Motorspeedway where a flying tire from a crash killed three spectators and injured eight more?

Was CART banned from operating after the 1998 accident at Michigan International Speedway in which three spectators were killed (another flying tire)?

How about the Dakar? Three spectators were killed in '88 and five in '98, two in '06 and one in '10--yet the event still goes on.

I haven't even delved into other forms of racing such as drag racing (at least two spectator deaths I can think of this summer at drag events in the US) or boat racing or airshows, etc.

Mind you, I'm not saying that any of these deaths should be trivialized or ignored, I wish that none of them had ever happened...

I just want to raise the issue here to point out what is sure to be a vast difference in ultimate reactions to this accident. Offroad racing here in the US stands on the precipice of extinction.

Long relegated to an overlooked subset of American motorsports, offroad racing (under the auspices of various promoters/organizations such as SCORE, BITD, MDR, SNORE, etc.) has been under tremendous pressure in recent years from environmental, governmental and business interests as the sport is immensely land intensive, requiring scores, if not hundreds of miles of open dirt roads/paths. For this reason, the sport has been the near singular purview of the American West and Mexico, particularly within the boundaries of the Bureau of Land Management regulated areas in the US.

Forced to jump through ever tighter regulatory hoops in order to protect species such as the desert tortoise or change locations to prevent dust from collecting on solar panels the sport nonetheless attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators every year to areas like Primm, NV, Reno, Las Vegas and Plaster City, CA. Despite the numerous attendees, promoters/organizers are not getting rich on the sport as the events take place away from stands and controllable facilities where one could charge a fee for spectating and have only ever increasing entry fees to fall back upon to make up for the cost of all the fees, permits, staffing, examinations, committees, etc. that are only some of the massive cash outflows needed for putting on events like these...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pic of the day

Just thought id share a pic of what must be New Zealands biggest Nissan

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cross Country Rally Pribram 2010 part 2

Short round up from an eye-witness

The race indeed was very short, just 93 kilometers against time. Starting field with 14 cars was not very numerous, still it was much more than 6 last year. Jiri Pribyl was one of the organizers and last year’s runner-up. It would be great if his Nissan was one of South African Navaras but it’s not. It is home made car with an excellent chassis but engine is the main weakness. The old engine was replaced with new one from Pathfinder few days before the race. Pribyl was in the lead most of the race just to lose the victory in the very last special. No need to describe his disappointment.

The first place went to Zdenek Porizek who drove an old BMW X5 bought from X-Raid. The red Mitsubishi is in a fact a Polish special built on Pajero chassis and powered by 3-litre BMW diesel. The two of them finished on third and fifth place. The red Navara number 14 is an old lady which moved to Poland this year after three idle years. They finished fourth.

Yet another red Navara (popular color for Nissan, eh?) was placed seventh. “My” Slovak crew of Juraj and Danka Ulrich once again dominated T2 class. To be honest: this time it was thanks to penalization of their Polish rivals in Mitsubishi. But who cares unless it is a victory. Juraj and Danka have a daughter named Sandra who races on a quad. Why do I mention her? Because aged 17 she was the youngest competitor in Pribram and it was her first cross country rally. And she did well. Sandra finished fifth out of six classified. Congratulation.

And here is my gallery from the race: http://picasaweb.google.com/Michal.4x4/2010CEZCCRPribram

Lexus LF-A to Enter GT1--Bring on Godzilla!!

So Toyota/Lexus has decided to take a run at the GT-R come 2011 in the FIA GT1 series and also run the LF-A at LeMans and elsewhere.

This also means that Toyota will not be entering the WRC as had been rumored--at least according to Motor Trend. I on the other hand would not be surprised to see Lexus enter GT1 with the LF-A and then Toyota enter the WRC with another vehicle.

Toyota is certainly capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time and has the resources to run both motorsport operations. Given their recent PR problems, running both a GT1 and WRC program targeting both Lexus and Toyota products seems like a move in the right direction to me. Leaving Lexus as Toyota's big international motorsport effort (NAPCAR remains in the U.S.) doesn't get as much done for them as the "people's supercar" effort of Nissan's GT-R teams.

One point I don't see raised by MotorTrend is in terms of what engine the LF-A will actually run in the GT1 series, nor what its true powertrain will be. A true Nissan GT-R is a twin turbo V-6 with AWD. The GT-R that runs in the GT1 series is a engine swapped V8 with only RWD in order to meet the FIA regs. for the series. It will be interesting to see just how "true" the LF-A will be to the 1/2 a million $ street car...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cross Country Rally Pribram 2010

On what looks to be an extremely tight and short race course this past weekend, a Nissan Navara/Frontier took 2nd place overall, only 3.3 seconds adrift of the winner in a BMW X5. The Nissan driver taking the silver here was one J. Pribyl. I don't know anything about him but it looks like his vehicle may be one of the South African built Navaras that have been shipped to Europe over the past few years though I don't know for sure. Nissan Navaras also finished 4th and 7th in this event. Below are a number of pictures of the Navaras from this event plus one Mitsubishi for good measure. Enjoy!