Friday, December 30, 2011

Help Scouting Some Roads?

So another step forward.

What will hopefully be a new RallySprint for the NorthEast will go before the board of the proposed location on 1/5/12 for preliminary approval.  I have been told by the head of the board that it should not be an issue in getting this initial approval.

From there I need to scout the potential roads for their appropriateness, mapping, etc.  According to what I am being told there are some 15-20 miles of appropriate roads available for our use.  The potential evidently for some extended RallySprint mileage is very enticing and I hope that it bears out.  Given the descriptions and prior use of said roads I have a high degree of confidence that the roads will be near perfect for Stage Rally type competition.

If anyone wishes to help out with this effort, please let me know.  I would particularly welcome someone who may want to scout these roads with me--even better if they have a "rally" vehicle they might want to run for a bit on these roads.  I don't particularly want to drive my race truck to the location for scouting purposes as it has no heat, I don't want the extra wear and tear on it and the location is a number of hours from where I live.  So if you have a nice Subie or Evo or whatever (doesn't need to be caged for scouting), you might have a weekend free in Q1 of '12 and are interested, please let me know.

I don't plan on making the location of the potential event public until it is fully approved but if you get out your protractor and do some triangulation you can figure out a general area of where it is by the following distance measures--518 miles from my home in Windham, NH, 496 from Boston, 313 from NYC, 198 from Balt., 99 from Pittsburgh, 201 from Cleveland, 266 from Columbus, 297 from Syracuse and 482 KMs from Toronto.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: Motherless Brooklyn

My usual haul of Christmas gifts always includes a number of books.  This year, this was one of them, given to me by one of my brother-in-laws.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem is a very good work.  From looking a the descriptions of his other writings, this might be the most straight forward of his creations as the others are more closely related to sci-fi whereas this is firmly in the crime-drama, detective story genre.

The characters, even the lead who suffers from Tourettes can be a bit cliche and in the standard mold of a crime drama (old mafia bosses, cheating wives, Japanese Yakuza, small time thugs, etc.) but it is Lethem's way of bringing their surroundings to life that makes the book work.

Given Lethem was raised and lives in Brooklyn and has a home in Maine, its not much of a surprise that he sets the book in these two locales.  Lethem seems to know each like the proverbial "back of his hand".  He gets the tone, language and atmosphere of each dead perfect and that's what makes the book so good.

Told in the first person perspective it is easy to fall in with the narrator as he knows the in and outs of each street corner, knows the neighborhoods, the ethnic mix, the true feeling of NYC and Brooklyn in particular--or at least you feel he does (I really have no idea since I've not lived in Brooklyn).  Regardless, watching a damaged (emotionally and physically) individual try and untangle the spaghetti soup that is the murder of his mentor/boss is great fun.  Motherless Brooklyn won't win a prize for the most earth-shattering or intellectual novel of any year but it sure wins Lethem a lot of new fans.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2009-2010 NASA RallyMoto Champ Bill Conger--Dakar Training...

So cool now that I participate in a series that can boast of multiple Dakar entrants.  This video is of one Bill Conger, a BMW instructional driver from South Carolina who has taken the '09 and '10 RallyMoto championship in NASA Rally.  The video is from Bill's training with Charlie Rauseo a few months back.  Charlie's Rally Management Services is doing the servicing and chasing for not only Bill but Jonah Street and Ned Suesse as well.

Bill takes a wrong turn towards the end of the video and Charlie waits for him to come back to him after realizing his mistake.  Love the terrain here as its part of what drove me to fall in love with events like desert racing, the Dakar and Rally in the first place.  Enjoy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 Should Be A Great Year For Movies

And no, I don't mean because the new Batman will be coming out.  Honestly I can't stand the new Batman movies.  Bale is a one dimensional, growling sourpuss while not much of it makes any sense and all the "Bat"-contraptions look like they were made by a two year old with some Lagos and an erector set--and then people call it a great work.  Heath Ledger in the 2nd of the new Batman films was excellent but the rest of the series I can do without and have no intention of seeing the third installment this summer...

But I digress...

What I am truly looking forward to is the return of my favorite director to Sci-Fi as Ridley Scott's Prometheus is due this summer.  It should be truly scary, well thought out and well put together as Scott's films usually are.  I'll see this 100 times before I watch another overrated Chris Nolan film...

And a second film I am looking forward to is first of the two Hobbit films.  I'm glad they've broken The Hobbit up into two films so that elements such as the troll encounter and Beorn do not have to be eliminated.  Peter Jackson once again stays about as faithful to the material as one could expect.  This one comes out towards the end of the year...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Karma Is A Bitch Ain't She??


In my sometimes unbridled agitation at stupidity I sometimes do stupid things.

One such occurrence was some five or six years ago when working at my previous employer (the loathsome Citizen's Bank owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland).  I stumbled across an article written by one Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News in which he had one of the dumbest screeds ever put to print trying to cast the Red Sox manager at the time (Terry Francona) as perhaps the worst human on the planet.  It was such a shallow attempt to get back at someone who had never given this fat slob the time of day during Terry's time as manager of the Phillies that it deserved an equally scathing response in return.  One personal hatchet job deserved another.

And so I quickly whipped off an email to Bill's Philadelphia Daily News email account pointing out all his obvious deficiencies as a human being.  Instead of engaging in a quality tit for tat argument, he went whining to my employer saying I had insulted him from my work email account.  Agreed I never should have sent it from my work email account (especially when the Philadelphia Phillies home ballpark is dubbed Citizen's Field after my very employer!!), but lesson learned and we move on--I didn't realize 60 year old men couldn't stand up for themselves and tend to go whining to the authorities whenever slighted....oh, well... it's some five or six years later and what to my wondering eyes should behold!?!?  But Mr. Bill Conlin resigning today from the Philadelphia Daily News as he now stands accused of molesting multiple children over a period of years!!  Once again I feel as if my nose for scumbags of all flavors has been proven right.  I couldn't stand the toad from the moment the camera had to pan backward to fit his corpulent frame on the screen of ESPN's SportsReporters and I now feel fully vindicated.  I hope he rots in hell--after having his fill of large male inmates with a penchant for fat, immobile, aged men...

Bill Conlin resigns in disgrace...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Have Another Wing!!

Holy crap...

This is supposedly the VIS Racing Sports Rally Body Kit and boy is it a hunk of crap.

Made for the very Rally-like Nissan Versa, this body kit will get you in with the likes of Ken Block and Travis Pastrana in no time!!

And look!!  They've even discounted it from the usual $1000.99 price all the way down to $887.99!!  What a bargain!

Just remember that as the description says...these modifications are for "off-road use only" as you will be just too cool to drive around on asphalt looking this ready to throw down for a race at a moments notice.

If you want to kit out your Versa like this, here is the link.  God bless and good luck!
VIS Racing Versa Rally Body Kit!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nissan's First Rally Effort?

This is Nissan's oldest Rally effort that I've seen so far.  1958 in fact.

The effort was evidently Datsun's re-entry into motorsports after WWII.  The vehicles used were two Datsun 210s and it circumnavigated the entire Australian continent.

Though they only wanted to finish the event the Datsun's won their class and took home a fourth woth both vehicles finishing.  The video and pictures in the article are great and the bare bones vehicles are a far cry from the plush rides we race today.

Nissan at the 1958 Mobilgas event...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Baja 1000 TV Ratings From 12/11/11

I had forgotten that the World of Adventure Sports on NBC was going have its Baja 1000 segment this past Sunday.

Then I saw the thread on RDC complaining about the coverage and decided to go back and get the ratings for the program to see how it compares to prior shows.

The result?  Zzzzzzz...same old same old.  In truth, its no different than the ratings LOORRS is generating over on CBS for its broadcasts and not really different from prior World of Adventure Sports broadcasts.

The 0.5 rating equates to 0.5% of the 115.9 million TV households tuning into the broadcast.  With approximately 1.1 viewers per the 580,000 households that were tuned in, that means some 638,000 people viewed the brief 2011 Baja 1000 coverage.  '09's coverage of the B1K on NBC and within the World of Adventure Sports program generated a 0.7 rating and had approximately 900,000 viewers.  '10's World of Adventure Sports Baja 1000 program garnered only a 0.3 rating and about 382,000 viewers.

So '11's viewership wasn't the best in recent years but it wasn't the worst.  Not sure that this really has anything to do with either an increase in interest in the sport any more than the sharp decline in last year's results had anything to do with people leaving the sport.  The ratings are what they are...probly about the number of people who turned their TVs on and were just too lazy to change the channel--but hey, at least maybe it wasn't so bad that people changed the channel AWAY from the broadcast.


"ESPN All America Team Show" 12/10 ABC 1:30-2:30pm 0.6

"ESPN Sports Saturday" 12/10 ABC 4:00-6:00pm 0.8

NCAA Basketball: Duke-Washington 12/10 CBS 12:00-2:00pm 1.4

"College Football Today" 12/10 CBS 2:00-2:30pm 2.5

NCAA Football: Navy-Army 12/10 CBS 2:30-6:00pm 4.0

Golf: Shark Shootout: Second Round 12/10 NBC 2:30-4:30pm 0.7

Ironman World Championship (taped) 12/10 NBC 4:30-6:00pm 1.0

"The NFL Today" 12/11 CBS 12:00-1:00pm 2.8

"NFL on CBS": (regional) 12/11 CBS 1:00-4:15pm 11.4

"NFL on CBS": Raiders-Packers (95%) 12/11 CBS 4:15-7:30pm 12.8

"Fox NFL Sunday" 12/11 Fox 12:00-1:00pm 3.4

"NFL on Fox": (single) 12/11 Fox 1:00-4:05pm 14.3

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (taped) 12/11 NBC 12:00-2:00pm 0.9

World of Adventure Sports (taped) 12/11 NBC 2:00-3:00pm 0.5

Golf: Shark Shootout: Final Round 12/11 NBC 3:00-6:00pm 0.8

"Football Night in America" 12/11 NBC 7:30-8:15pm 6.5

"Sunday Night Football": Giants-Cowboys 12/11 NBC 8:30-11:30pm 16.1

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 NISMO Festival

30,000 attendees.

That's a lot of people for a one day, single make, performance car show.

But it is what Nissan Motorsports draws to its annual event showcasing the history of performance Nissan vehicles from the past 50 years or so.

The models here run the gamut from track to rally from the 60's right up to today's Nissan racers.

If only we could have an event and dedicated enthusiasts like this here.

2011 NISMO Festival...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Worst Nissans/Datsuns of All Time...

Since we just did a list the other day of the best "enthusiast" oriented Nissan or Datsun models, how bout we now turn to what Inside Line is listing as the worst.  These are culled from Inside Line's list of the 100 Worst Cars of All Time.

The pictures will be in order of the models I list from top to bottom.

#75 on Inside Line's list of the 100 Worst Cars of All time is the 1974 Datsun F10--The first front-drive Nissan in America is legendarily ugly in both appearance and rough-hewn operation. Known as the Cherry in Japan.

#74 on Inside Line's list is the 1979 Datsun 280ZX--The fatter, clumsier, overwrought successor to the original Z-car. It sold well through the disco era, but sucked and is universally unloved today. (I still like the lines of this car and would still kill to have one in my garage regardless of what Motor Trend thinks...)

#37 on Inside Line's list of the 100 Worst Cars of All Time is the 1973 Datsun B210: Awful and primitive Nissan that benefitted from debuting atop the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Nasty handling and built so lightly the sheet metal was nearly diaphanous.

#26 on the list is the 1991 Infiniti M30 Convertible: Spongy suspension, lackluster drivetrain and a soggy structure were enough to doom the M30. Infiniti almost didn't survive this car. (I don't think I've ever seen one of these and honestly never knew it existed!)

And that's it.  A grand total of four models on the list.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  The best part of it is that none have been made in the last 20 years and one is certainly debateable (the 280ZX) for being on the list at all.  A solid indication that Nissan rarely produces a true stinker.  To see the whole list go here: Inside Line's List of the 100 Worst Cars of All Time...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review: War

Grabbed a copy of this book for a whopping $3 at my local library which has a section of used books for sale to raise money for themselves.

I almost want to give it back to them to put in their permanent collection.  Almost.

I've been a fan of Junger's since The Perfect Storm having read that work, his collection of shorter works, Fire, and a number of his articles in Outside magazine.

War is just as strong as any of his other works, containing his usual style of combining real world observances with historical and scientific background.  In War this takes the form of insights derived from numerous sociological and psychological studies done on fighting men over the years as well as historical anecdotes.

War itself surrounds Junger's time as an embedded journalist with one particular platoon in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley which happened to be one of if not the most active combat assignment in the American military during his time there in '07 and '08.  Junger immediately dispenses with any pretense of "objectivity" in the piece acknowledging that he enjoyed the company of the men he spent time with and had great admiration for them.  Losing his objectivity however does not mean Junger is not honest.  He shows the soldiers with all their warts and doesn't pull punches in describing things like pseudo-homosexual behavior, the shooting of a dog due solely to its name and other not so pearly white happenstances.

Going into why men do what they do in combat situations--the sacrifice, courage, etc. is the central focus of the piece, explaining quite satisfactorily the reasoning behind why men will fall on a grenade to protect their teammates, why men will run into a hail of bullets to retrieve an injured comrade, why front line combatants give little thought to the larger implications of a war, etc.

The book doesn't focus on the larger war in Afghanistan, only mentioning facts like the constant stream of Arabs into Afghanistan from Pakistan, the support of Pakistan for the Taliban, the rock grindingly slow pace of progress and other tangential aspects of the men's time in the Korengal Valley.  It is the men themselves and their dedication to one another that is the focus here--not some attempt to justify why the war itself is good or bad, winning or losing.  Its this aspect that makes the book worthwhile.  Hearing of the day to day struggle at the sharp end of the American spear is a welcome change from the sanitized version fed via TV, the Internet or whatever your chosen media method may be.  Much of it felt like an inside look at a bunch of friends away at college--the constant razing, the frequent beatings, the poor food, horrid sanitary conditions, boredom interspersed with moments of life and death--if only that college was a two room dorm with scores of people wanting to kill you right outside your door.

For those wanting a look at the day to day work of our men and an insight into why, more than ever, they deserve our respect and admiration--and particularly our support upon their return--you couldn't ask for a much better book.

Friday, December 9, 2011

February 7, 2012

That is the date the first private launch and docking of a space capsule is set to take place.  What was once the sole province of only the largest industrialized nations is now to move to the hands of individuals and corporations.

NASA has given the formal go ahead for SpaceX to launch their Dragon Space Capsule and have it attempt to dock with the ISS to deliver supplies.

Originally it was just scheduled to launch, go near the ISS and then fall back to Earth.  Progress has been rapid enough that they are now going to attempt the docking of the capsuel and resupply of the ISS as well.  Once complete the Dragon Capsule is to return to Earth, splashing down off the coast of California.  The SpaceX resupply method is the only one that returns the delivery capsule to the Earth--which is also the planned way for SpaceX to return astronauts to Earth in the near future once they get a few resupply missions under their belt.

I can't wait and will be watching on line for this historic event.  Well done.

NASA announces DragonX launch and docking a "Go" for February 7, 2012

Moter Trend's List of 15 Enthusiast Oriented Nissan Models

Excellent list here.  Give it a few years and I think the Juke and a couple more Infiniti's might make the list as well but for now, this is pretty good.

Bonus points to Motor Trend for not just focusing on cars as the list also includes a truck, sedans and a SUV as well, incorporating "enthusiasts" of all kinds and not just "sportscar" enthusiasts.

Motor Trend List of 15 "Enthusiast" Nissan/Datsun Models...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nissan Titan Direct Swap Currie Rear End...


So if I ever blow up the rear end of my truck I know what I'm replacing it with.  Available with either Dana 60 or Ford 9 inch internals as well as a Detroit Locker and tons of high strength components this Nissan Titan rear axle housing is the ultimate in strength for either a Titan or a Frontier with a Titan rear end swap.

Truly is a work of beauty.

Off-Road Magazine installs a Currie Titan rearend...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Juke WRC Rendering...

Since I've spoken a lot about Nissan potentially using the Juke platform as the basis for a WRC team I did a Google search and came up with this rendering that someone did.

It looks really sharp with it being lowered and with a proper WRC wing on the rear and ventilation hatch on top.

Nissan Juke-R at Silverstone

OK, so it doesn't post any speed records but this at least shows that the vehicle is up and running.

This is the right hand drive version of the Juke-R doing a lap at Silverstone with what looks like corporate dweed in the driver's seat and a real driver giving him instructions as the passenger.  Still, its amazing this vehicle is up and running at all and didn't implode upon the first touch of the skinny pedal.  A GT-R powertrain in a Juke... a WRC or Dakar team around this model and do it now...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Datsun 510 vs. Nissan Juke--In the Dirt Comparo

Now this is an awesome head to head matchup.

What "could" be a solid modern rally vehicle vs. an all time classic rally vehicle.  I have loved the Juke since covering its U.S. debut two springs ago in NYC and have always thought it would make a great rally vehicle given its looks, turbocharged engine and AWD.  Couldn't you just see a Nissan WRC team kitted out with red, white and blue Jukes??  Very similar to what Mini is doing right now with their Countryman.

The 510 is a classic and this one has a SE-R motor in it and should be a great piece of work.  The video shows how sketchy a RWD vehicle can be in the dirt, rarely pointing its nose down the middle of the road and the driver always sawing at the wheel.

The video here is also fantastic with some great scenery of the snow and cloud covered mountains in the background.  Heck, the Juke actually gets some pretty good air for stock suspension and tires and no roll cage or saftey equipment!

Enjoy folks...enjoy...

510 vs. Juke Comparison Article...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here We Come 2012!!

So if you'll notice...the little "support" section over to your right now states "2012" vs. 2011.

This is because the first race for NISMO Stuff Racing is locked in for 2012. The first stage rally event for the team will be the Sandblast Rally located in Cheraw, SC.  Performing the team's usual scrounging for resources, NISMO Stuff Racing has again been fortunate to acquire the talents of a local racer for the co-driving seat.

This time it will be Mr. David Dennis of the (in?)famous Dennis family.  Though I will not be repainting the Frontier in purple, I did agree to run a few purple stickers on his behalf!

Due to this events distant location the team could not feel comfortable in driving the race vehicle to the event, running the event and hoping that it would be in one piece to drive home.  Though the 2011 events in New York were rough, they were close enough to home and family that recovery of the vehicle in short order shouldn't have been a problem.

With South Carolina a full day's drive away this just wouldn't have been wise.  So it is that Mr. Dennis has also offered the service of his tow vehicle and trailer as well.  Truly the event could not happen for the team without him.

In watching the videos of Sandblast 2011 the roads seem much more open and soft compared to the roads raced by the team in NY this year though look to present a different set of challenges in terms of loss of traction in the loose sand and high potential for getting the 2WD truck stuck should the driver take a wrong line.  Nonetheless the team hopes to continue its 100% finishing rate intact and get a good deal more experience under its belt.

Currently there are 32 entries and looks to be a really solid turnout that will include two other trucks (a Ranger and a Mighty Max) and at least one other Nissan (a 240SX).  Can't wait!

February 4th is the date.  Mark it down.

Nissan Juke NISMO

 Nissan has teased us over the last couple months with the Juke-R, the GT-R engine transplant.

Now Nissan brings us a slightly hop'd up version of the Juke that may just make it to the showroom floor.

The NISMO Juke carries with it all the usual factory doo-dads and nick-knacks that you would expect from a "factory" package including an aero package, redesigned interior and body graphics.  Truly functional additions include the 20 inch wheels and a boost (all puns intended given the turbocharged engine) in power.  This boost is not yet defined but should be shortly as the NISMO Juke will be at the Tokyo Auto Show in the immediate future.

It may not be a Juke-R but at least its something. Now if only there were a WRC package for the Juke...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wish I Had Better News...

regarding the ratings from this past weekend's LOORRS race that was broadcast on CBS.

The LOORRS race that ran in this exact same timeslot one year ago saw a 1.2 rating and 1.53 million viewers for the broadcast.  It marked a high point for short course TV viewership in recent memory.  Dirt Sport magazine lauded the result in a following issue and many thought that people across the country had finally caught on.

Not so much.

Since that watershed rating the LOORRS broadcasts have garnered a 0.5, 0.6, 0.5, 0.4, 0.3, and 0.3 ratings all prior to this past semi-holiday weekend.

This weekend's LOORRS broadcast generated another 0.4 rating equating to 510,000 viewers of the program (you can see prior posts on this topic as to how I calculate this number).  Yes this is an uptick from the prior two broadcasts but I don't think anywhere near what was hoped for at the beginning of the year.  With the consistency that these numbers show I think its clear that last Thanksgiving's ratings were a fluke--either a mistake in the ratings calculation or a remarkable stroke of lighting on that day.

"NFL on Fox": Packers-Lions
"The NFL Today"
"NFL on CBS": Dolphins-Cowboys
National Dog Show (taped)
NCAA Football: Iowa-Nebraska
NCAA Football: Boston College-Miami
"Best of College Football 2011"
NCAA Football: Arkansas-LSU
NHL: Red Wings-Bruins
NCAA Football: Ohio State-Michigan
NCAA Football: (regional)
NCAA Football: Notre Dame-Stanford
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing (taped)
"CBS College Football 2011"
"College Football Today"
NCAA Football: Alabama-Auburn
NCAA Football: Bayou Classic: Grambling State-Southern
"The NFL Today"
"NFL on CBS": (regional)
"NFL on CBS": Patriots-Eagles (72%)
"Fox NFL Sunday"
"NFL on Fox": (single)
Skiing: Aspen Winternational (taped)
Figure Skating: ISU Grand Prix (taped)
Figure Skating: Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice (taped)
"Football Night in America"
"Sunday Night Football": Steelers-Chiefs