Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Intro to Antonio Narino the Only American on a Bike in 2015 Dakar

The 2015 Dakar is upon us…

While American entrants have always been few and far between in the world’s most prestigious offroad race the ’15 edition is especially lacking in riders and drivers flying the red, white, and blue.  While Tony Gera was able to win a free entry into the event via his 2014 SCORE Desert Racing performance, it is only SoCal resident Antonio Narino who will be present on a bike from the US in this year’s event (as rider #164).

Originally from Columbia, Narino moved to the United States where he enrolled at Duke University to study business, a background that would result in his employment with Hunter Industries (a major irrigation company).  Like many in our world though, Narino had his priorities “straight” and one of the first things he bought upon arriving in America was a motorcycle in order to continue the passion he had picked up racing numerous enduros in his home country.  

This passion (Narino says he has never considered himself a real racer) lead him to build up his Rally-Raid and ADV resume over the past decade.  His travels (many solo) included two wheeled trips through Cambodia, Patagonia, Bolivia and Alaska.  On the racing side Narino ran in events such as the ’07 Por Las Pampas Rally, ’10 Rally dos Sertoes, and the ’07 Baja 500 and Vegas to Reno races as well as recent NORRA Mexican 1000 events and ’14 Baja Rally.  With this history as well as various desert training sessions including a visit to Morocco this past year and trips in both ’09 and ’12 to follow along with the traveling circus that is the Dakar, Narino is taking his first shot at entering the pinnacle of offroad racing this year.

While Antonio’s “nothing worth doing is ever easy” attitude is a major asset, as is his long term mountain biking and weight training regimen, he is participating in the ’15 Dakar as a Marathon/Malle-Moto entry.  This “pure” type of class allows no engine changes during the event (per Antonio the ASO reserves 20 spots per year for the Malle-Moto entrants for which you have to apply and be accepted into) and requires an individual to perform all their own maintenance and service—no crew, no mechanic, no assistance of any kind (not even to cook your food).  For the “privilege” of running this class the ASO provides you a “trunk” in which you have to store all your gear, spares, tools and equipment and will transport it to each bivouac.  In order to maintain absolute focus on the task at hand, Antonio has left all family and friends at home so as to eliminate any distractions.  Having seen racers at prior events bring their wives along and watched the drain on attention that this can bring, he felt his focus needed to be maintained on the race.
As of this writing, Antonio will have already arrived in Buenos Aires and unloaded his bike and be proceeding through scrutineering where each of the never ending checks administered by the ASO will be finished with a stamp, he has already completed a dream.  Just arriving at the start is a major accomplishment for any racer while an actual finish in the event is near unthinkable.

Having met and picked the brains of fellow American riders such as Andy Grider, Jonah Street, Kurt Caselli and Kellon Walch, Antonio believes he has picked up a few strategies that may get him to the finish.  In seeing the heights that the course reaches one might think that power loss might become an issue though Antonio has seen that the fuel injected nature of his bike largely mitigates that concern.  Communication issues can also present a problem with the ASO speaking all French, the spectators and many entrants speaking Spanish and practically everyone else attempting to get by on butchered English.  Fortunately Antonio speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese easing his communication with nearly everyone present.  Navigation should also be something Antonio has buttoned up having participated in and conducted training with Dave Peckham and Rally Management Services for a number of Dakar competitors who sought to perfect their navigation arts.

The real key to his success Antonio believes is to just keep moving.  Keeping up a minimum pace despite everything the Dakar will throw at him he knows will be a brutal proposition.  Breakdowns and errors are bound to happen, its dealing with them in an efficient manner that will keep him in the event.

Hopefully keeping the repairs to a minimum will be a combination of both Narino’s skills and the quality inherent in his chosen bike.  The 2013 Husqvarna 449 he will be riding will not be his own.  While he has been a long time rider of Husqvarnas, the logistics, expense and hassle of shipping and prepping his own bike from SoCal was actually more of a pain than his alternative plan.  Buying a fully Dakar prepped (Sentinal system with light and noise notification, navigation tower, etc.), yet very light and nimble (comparatively) Husqvarna 449 in Portugal and having it shipped to Buenos Aires along with the vast majority of other Dakar racers drastically simplified the process.

While most of us won’t be part of the millions following the 2015 Dakar in person, Antonio should be able to bring back some his experiences, lessons, tips, and stories for release either here or another publication TBD.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Baja Rally 2.0 Video

Here is the recap of Baja Rally 2.0, a RallyRaid style event for motorcycles in Baja that announced today that it is partnering with a second RallyRaid event to be held in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca and organized by the Rally Playero Entertainment group to form the Mexican National Cross Country Championship.

These events will also include ATVs and UTVs and are thus targeted squarely at the RallyRaid community participating in events like the Dakar and the European Cross Country Championship.

More info here:  Mexican Cross Country Championship...

How Do You Know the Dakar is Big??

When you can sell out a stadium simply to watch a Dakar winner's bike do a backflip...not the actual guy who won the Dakar...just some standin on the bike that won the Dakar...

Book Review: Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer is the first of three novels that make up the Southern Reach trilogy.  I have only read this initial volume and so I don't yet know if the series comes to a satisfactory resolution or if it trails off into boring drivel.

I do know that this first work is an excellent piece of "weird fiction".  There is certainly a Lovecraftian feel to the entire novel both in its use of language, style and content, though its differences are more than significant enough to stand on its own.

The story surrounds an ill fated expedition that is following in the footsteps of previous ill fated expeditions to an location dubbed "Area X".  The first person speaker relaying the novel is the biologist assigned to this four woman expedition and she recounts her travels around this Area X and all the strange things we encounter.  There are dolphins with human eyes, large lizard creatures waiting in the weeds, nefarious team members, microscopic parasites, strange lighthouse keepers, indescribably beautiful/horrifying/powerful creatures from seemingly another world, etc.  No real explanation to many of these observations is given leaving the reader with the disquiet feeling that they only have a small insight into what is going on.

The locale of the tale is within a Southern "transition-land" between the swamps, grasses, forest and dunes bordering the ocean.  The author's favorite Southern hikes taking place in the St. Marks National Wildlife reserve in Florida is the inspiration for much of the book's geography and gives the tale a great feeling of "being there" as the voice coming out of the novel has a great tone of authenticity.  There is a bit of lengthy Lovecraft-like wordiness to the work which sometimes gets in the way of the story as you can be lulled into lethargy by paragraph length sentences at times, though luckily these are relatively rare.

I'm very interested in seeing where the groundwork put down in this work leads in the next two and hope the author didn't use up all his great ideas, mythmaking and mood creation on this one novel as he's certainly composed a world worth exploring further.  I'll label it as my favorite fiction work of '14.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NISMOStuff TV Review: Black Mirror

I think this may be only my second TV review that I've done on my site out of the near 1500 posts I've put up on here.

Black Mirror is and was broadcast in the UK but has made its way over here to the States on Netflix.  The series is only two seasons long and each season is only three episodes long.  I am only through the first "season" but I have no problem recommending it as highly as anything I've seen on TV, perhaps ever.  The show is completely episodic in nature with each one a wholly contained world and story that is wrapped up within that single edition.  Each episode is fully formed and rich in detail and characters feeling like each one lasts much longer than its less than an hour length and much more like a feature film than a TV show.  Every show changes its cast, storyline, world, characters, etc.  There is nothing connecting one to another besides the artists behind the camera and the quality in front of it.

In fact this is where I would quibble with other critics of the show.  Others have compared it to things like The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or similar while I find it much grander in its scale.  I find it more comparable to something like a Fincher or Ridley Scott film with a healthy dose of social satire thrown in.  The show focuses neatly on the intersection of near term technological developments (media, internet, consumerism, entertainment, Artificial Intelligence, etc.) and how they change our place in such a rapidly changing world.  How our modern world impacts our romantic relationships, our governments, media, etc. are all covered here and in ways that will make you laugh and cringe (say the forcing of the UK's Prime Minister to have sex with a pig on live TV/Internet?) in ways I didn't think possible.

The satire, dark humor, insigh,t and skewering of ourselves is at a level I've rarely seen or felt.  Watching a future of ours that is only seconds ahead of where we stand today, unfold and twist our conceptions of what is right and wrong, good and bad is some of the most perverse fun I've had with TV in a long time.  This isn't necessarily "light" fair...I'm as much for some gratuitous violence and nudity as the next guy and blowing away endless hordes of zombies is always a good time but this won't fit in those requires a bit more thought, attention and emotional investment but in terms of intellectual and emotional rewards, I have seen little like it.  If you have Netflix or the ability to watch this series, I could not recommend it more highly.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Road To Dakar Part 1

Yup, posting another link to another video...its the holidays and I'm lazy.  Doesn't mean this video doesn't deserve far more views than it has seen so far.  This was originally broadcast on NBCSports channel and the second episode of this will air Xmas eve.  It goes into a lot of the preparation and testing and packing that is involved in an effort of this scale.  It is stunning the investment involved and time required.  Many don't like Robby Gordon but its hard to question his dedication or investment in this effort.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ryan Tuerck (Derry, NH native) Drifting a New England Hillclimb Mountain

So we'll post another video here...

Burke Mountain is a local ski area in Burke, VT topping out modestly at a bit over 3,200 feet.  The road to the top of Burke is part of the New England Hillclimb series.  Here however is professional drifter Ryan Tuerck who hails from Derry, NH (right next door to where I live) and who started out in motocross.  The video is a good look at the roads and some of the speeds the hillclimb series sees with some professional photography.  Good to see Burke, Tuerck and hillclimbing getting some good video out.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nameless Performance, Chris Duplessis and a GT86 in the Desert

This video came out about a month ago and definitely deserves some more views.  The vehicle is a Toyota GT-86 and it was run formerly in a few Rally America events but has now been completely reworked to offer even more speed and RWD insanity.

Filmed in Jean, Nevada during the Seed 9 Rally there this past early November.  The Toyota was taken out on the 4th stage of the event likely due to a broken axle but set the third, third and second fastest stage times on the first three putting over a minute of time on the nearest 2WD competitor in each.  I love seeing a car like this rallying out on the desert roads of the Southwest...little better...

Nameless Performance is a rally oriented aftermarket company that has recently teamed up with the famous Cosworth company out of the UK and is now using this GT86 as a promotional tool and is likely going to be the most recognizable rally vehicle in the US in 2015 as they run a full national series.

Nameless Performance website...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AJP Motorcycles Introduces its Rally Bike... LOOKS like it belongs at the Dakar...

As with SUVs in the 90's and early '00s motorcycles are appearing to go through a period of expanding "adventure" models.  As every SUV was marketed as being tough and ready to go mountain climbing at one time so it is that motorcycle manufacturers are pumping out ADV models left and right.  Not to make you think that suddenly the US consumer is interested in the Dakar or other Rally-Raid events.  No...but the ADV market (generally larger bikes that can be used both on and off road for long distances) is motorcycling's fastest growing in terms of unit percentages.
Many companies though are putting some extra plastic cladding, some bigger lights and one inch more suspension travel and call it a day.

AJP at least has a history in producing Enduro bikes and exclusively Enduro bikes so their move into the ADV segment makes sense.  They bring some interesting ideas to the table with the newly introduced PR7 660.  On the "small" side for an ADV or Dakar bike it should be exceedingly agile, particularly given their Enduro heritage where their bikes are more designed to maneuver single track through the woods vs. wide open desert terrain.  The bike is also really light.  Listed at 155 kg this is only 341 lbs.

That said some concerns have been brought up as to the size of the gas tank which at only about 4 1/2 gallons is not likely to cut it for more than the shortest of rally-raid stages.  Furthermore, while the positioning of the gas tank under the seat makes the bike's center of gravity nice and centered and low, it also means you have to get off the bike and lift up the seat to refill it.  For quick refills you don't want to be getting off the bike, releasing the seat, undoing the fuel cap and then repeating the process in reverse--not conducive to fast times, ease of access and ability to mount items on or around the seat.

The bike will be available in late '15 via your local AJP distributor and imported from Portugal where they are made.  Their US distributor is a bunch of great Vermont based check them out.

AJP USA website...

AJP Worldwide website...

How Interconnected the World Is...

I've been real lazy of late and haven't really posted anything in quite some time.  Busy time of year made busier by some some outside factors.

Regardless, this story struck me as instructive of just how interconnected our world is these days.

A plumber in Texas with deer heads on his office walls and with a decidedly redneck tone to his voice ends up getting harassing phone calls from other Americans because he left his company's logos on a Ford F250 he traded in almost exactly a year ago and said truck somehow ends up in the middle of the Syrian Civil War with an anti-aircraft cannon mounted in its bed.  Someone posts a picture of this truck on a "terrorist" Twitter feed, the phone # for his company is visible...and so the calls begin.

To me its shocking that such a truck would be found profitable to sell who knows how many times over and be found desirable enough to ship overseas.  Also given the length of time that the Syrian Civil War has been going on I'm betting it was imported to the area specifically for this purpose.  Generally Syria is a complete friggin disaster and I don't see too many common Syrian folk looking to rapidly import an American heavy duty truck and then leaving someone's English language logo on the truck to drive around downtown Damascus.  ISIS is about the only people in the MidEast not caring what negative attention they draw to themselves.  What's that mean then?  It means the truck was likely purchased at auction in the States, moved to Mexico and shipped to the MidEast with the specific intent to act as a support vehicle in the conflict.  I would wonder if there isn't a big stream of American trucks heading over there.  ISIS is flush with millions of stolen and oil derived dollars.  They are likely shut out from the typical arms markets but shipping big American trucks doesn't draw near as much attention and from the years of video we've seen of airstrikes in the Mideast we've seen if there is one thing we know they aren't short on over there its anti-aircraft guns and ammunition--so seeking to mount a bunch of these cannons that are useless against a generally non-existent air enemy is a logical move.

Just gotta make sure my Nissan doesn't end up over there!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Offroad Sports Stats....

Adding to my ongoing reference of major broadcast TV ratings for various offroad racing events I think I'm going to try and begin referencing recent offroad racing events (primarily desert racing and stage rally) and look at some key items such as entry lists, entry costs, length of race, $ per racing mile cost and what, if any, major media coverage was present or forthcoming.

The first of these comes from this past weekend when you had both Rally America and NASA Rally with smaller, regional style events and you had the season ending BITD Henderson 250 out in Nevada.  All were geographically distinct enough not to draw competitors from one another, though at least one Show Me Rally competitor had originally entered the Rally Florida event before switching events.

The Show Me Rally saw a fair amount of change over its comparable '13 event.  Moving to a later date, changing locations and name, new roads and more still saw similar entry numbers to last year, while overall stage mileage and a $100 increase in entry fees (in all cases entry fees are based upon the LOWEST possible fee at each event) were also present.

The NASA event was the new Rally Florida down at the flatland of the FIRM and drew 15 entries (nearly half of which DNF'd which I found surprising given the assumed lack of major trees and rocks there!)  at 60 stage miles in length this was a full single day event and hopefully sets the stage (pun intended) for the FIRM to host a full points paying event in '15 as stated on the facilities website.  I just hope that FL isn't too far away from the majority of Rally drivers in the US and can draw a higher entry count...still, the $5400 minimum in entry fees (likely significantly higher as certainly not all entries here were of the "early" variety and thus qualifying for the lowest fee) is on par with what the Perryville Farm and Forest Rally brought in the year before and should bode well for the continuation of this race.

Lastly there is the Henderson 250.  The desert event saw UTVs move into the same race as the more limited cars, trucks and buggies vs. being thrown in with the bikes and quads as they were in previous years.  Regardless, the entry numbers for the more limited racers appear to have declined from '13.  Without access to the supplemental forms from '13 I can't determine if there has been a price increase that might have caused this.  Moving forward we'll try and track race to race and year to year trends for the various series.  At $600 a pop for the more limited classes you have about $33K in income for BITD from just the two lap (each of 80 miles) classes.

If you have any recommendations as to other simple info items to add to this breakdown or other feedback I'd love to hear it as I'm not racing the overwhelming majority of these events and don't know what info might be most useful to racers/participants.

Rally America:
Show Me Rally 2014--22 entries, $350, 47 Stage miles in length, No TV or Internet coverage, $7.5 per mile

(somewhat comparable event with similar organizers, location, sanctioning)  Perryville Farm and Forest Rally--23 entries, $250, 36 Stage miles in length, $6.9 per mile

NASA Rally:

Rally Florida at the FIRM--15 entries, $360, 60 Stage miles in length, Spike Channel's Offroad Extreme program was there filming the race for an upcoming broadcast, $6 per mile

(no comparable historical event, new event for 2014)

BITD Desert Race:
Henderson 250--$600, 55 entries in the classes running two laps, 160 Race course miles in total length, Broadcast on MavTV on 1/19/15 at 9:30PM Pacific, $3.8 per mile

2013 Henderson 250--61 entries in the classes running two laps

Much of the drop in the limited class entries is attributed to the competition of a MORE Toys For Tots desert race in Barstow, CA this same weekend and drew 70 entries itself--though this occurred in '13 as well when there were 54 entries at the MORE Holiday 200.

So if anything, you might say that there was a shift in the limited classes AWAY from BITD and TOWARDS the MORE series event.  In 2014 it appears that the limited class racers PREFERRED to run the MORE event vs. the BITD race.  In all however it was a net gain for the limited classes between these two events with 115 entries of this type in '13 between the two events and 125 entries in '14, an increase of near 9%.

Flim Review: Snowpiercer

During my time in my youth as a clerk at the Canyon Ranch Resort in Lennox, MA I had the unfortunate pleasure of bumping into one of the Weinstein brothers of film and TV fame.  Whether it was Harvey or Bob matters not.  They (he) was a fat dink then and he's a fat dink now.  Only now they own The Weinstein Company vs. Miramax which they founded and sold to Disney.  In either case the Weinstein slobs have a habit of requiring major edits to Asian films they acquire the rights to or drastically curtailing their distribution in the West.

So it was with Snowpiercer.  Though an English language film staring Chris Evans, it was directed by a Korean and was based off of an early 80's French comic.  For whatever reason the Weinstein's chose to play games with this most excellent movie.  They demanded major edits of the film with additional voiceovers at the beginning and end of the film likely in an attempt to make it more suitable for American tastes...which is odd given the number of decidedly independent and quirky films the Weinsteins have backed in their career (Clerks, Pulp Fiction, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Kids, Heavenly Creatures, etc.)  Fortunately the Korean director, Bong Joon-ho, refused their demands and kept the film as is--which is likely why the Weinsteins then refused to give the film the wide release it deserved, limiting it to some 150 very small, obscure theaters in its initial release and then sending it on to the Home audience via NetFlix and DVDs.

Thankfully a few people in the sci-fi world saw the film and have been singing its praises since.

It took me about the first half hour of the film to warm (pun intended) up to Snowpiercer.  It begins slowly and the special effects are initially not the best that money can buy.  That said, the premise of the film is what drew me in.  Not to say that its realistic, but it sure is interesting.  Virtually the entire population of the Earth has died out due to man's attempt to reverse global warming that has lead to a ice encased planet that is now too cold to live on.  All that remains is a few hundred or thousand individuals aboard an ever moving train that circles the earth once every 365 days.

Aboard this train the population is stratified by class.  The wealthy and powerful live in the front cars of the train and exist in comfort and ease.  The poor and unwanted live at the rear, existing on jello "protein bars" made from well, its not people but its supposed to be just as revolting.  The plot then revolves around an uprising lead by Chris Evans' character "Curtis" who along with his fellow rear train inhabitants have tired of being told what and how to exist.  Watching the progression from the rear to the front of the train as conditions improve and both the rear-trainers and the audience learn just what comforts those in the front have been partaking of is great theater.  The action scenes are excellent and you don't get the "claustrophobic" feeling you might get expect from a film that takes place in such a tight environment (just the opposite in fact, you end up forgetting the action takes place entirely within a train at times).  The story also has a few nice twists to keep it from being a straightforward thriller and makes you reassess the motivations of a number of characters.

There are traces here of your classic futuristic dystopian films and books--1984, Brazil, etc. but the material is definitely fresh and does not feel derivative.   Tilda Swinton is nearly unrecognizable and will get a good deal of Best Supporting Actress buzz for her role as "Mason" the train's second in command and will be the most memorable part of the film for most, I spent much time wishing that she had MORE screentime despite the "evil" of her character.

No self respective fan of Sci-Fi should miss this film.  Its worth nearly every moment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nissan Returning to Super Bowl Advertising Showing Titan and Murano

For almost 20 years Nissan has been absent from advertising during the Super Bowl.  It has now announced plans to return with one produced by advertising powerhouse TBWA/Chiat/Day for the '15 edition of the Super Bowl in early February next year.

Why now?  Well, because Nissan has its three flagship vehicles with redesigns/introductions coming to production in the '15 model year.  For crossovers you have the new Murano which has seen a very recent introduction as a '15 model, for sedans you have the '16 Maxima which is to be introduced in the first half of '15 and of course and perhaps the focus of this ad you have the production of the '16 Nissan Titan diesel for trucks at the January NY Auto Show.  Though none of these will be Nissan's sales leaders (the Rogue, the Altima and the Frontier will likely still lead their category sales in '15) these are the top offerings in each segment and represent the models Nissan hopes its customers aspire to when buying the less expensive models.

Nissan Returns to Super Bowl Advertising...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Old School Nissan OffRoad TShirt For $10!!

Or at least the design is old school...

In truth the tshirt was created very recently for the '13 edition of the Mint 400, the largest offroad race in the US.  The designer/artist who made up the shirt is one Rory Ward who is a huge fan of old school offroad racing and competes in the vintage class in NORRA events.  As you can tell by the artwork he is also a big fan of Dave Deal and what I would call a 1960's vibe of vehicle artwork.

Rory Ward did the design work for the original Team Xterra Racing tshirt that I worked up and was selling a few years ago.  I will have to see if I can track down a photo of one and/or the original design artwork which I have framed in my basement.  Rory does excellent work and with this Mint 400 tshirt he has gone back and included a drawing of a classic Nissan Hardbody which was typically run by the Mears boys back in the mid-80s.  Really cool to see an oldschool Nissan on a tshirt like this and for only $10 it would make a great stocking stuffer for any Nissan fan!

Mint 400 Nissan Tshirt...

Rory Ward's Racer's Only website...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mike Johnson--Not Running Dakar Due to Surgery

Mr. Mike Johnson of Drivers, Inc., a collection of professional drivers (inclusive of Paul Dallenbach, Rhys Millen and Greg Tracy among others) specializing in meeting the needs of the commercial, television and motion picture industries took Baja 1000 and Baja 500 victories in his class 10 buggie in '14.  Along with these victories came the winning of a free entry into the 2015 edition of the Dakar. 

Unfortunately a brief email exchange has revealed that he will not be able to take advantage of this opportunity.  Due to an impending shoulder injury requiring surgery and extensive recovery time and Johnson will not be entered in the 2015 Dakar.

He is however looking to the future in regards to the international exposure that the Dakar could bring both himself and his sponsors:

"My tire sponsor (Radar Tires) still really wants to do it so we may try to put a program together for 2016. I think it's a great thing what Roger Norman, SCORE and the Dakar guys are doing to get the two series together, it will only help strengthen each series both in outside interest (fans) as well as sponsors & TV worldwide." 

One last item of note--the Dakar organizers do not allow you to carry over a free entry win from one year to the next so unfortunately Johnson will have to go back out and with the free entry again in '15 if he or Radar Tires or others are not going to pay for the entry fee out of pocket.  Its a use it or lose it proposition.  A shame really but likely an appropriate one designed to encourage entries to come to the event rather than just leave it out there as an idea to always hold in your back pocket for when the "time is right".

Thanks to Mike for the brief conservation and  make a quick recovery!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Global RallyCross and Lucas Oil Offroad Racing Series 11/15-11/16 TV Ratings

These are from the weekend of 11/15 and 11/16.  The LOORRS broadcast had the more favorable slot in that it was shown on Saturday, up against significantly weaker college football broadcasts vs. the 11/16 GRC show which faced off against nationally televised NFL football.  The GRC broadcast was a showdown between Joni Wiman and Ken Block for the 2015 driver's title with Wiman coming out on top by finishing second to Block and garnering enough points to retain first place for the year (though his lack of a single win on the year will likely drive a change in the way GRC scores points for each event in '15)

Neither show fared that well, though the LOORRS show was no worse than its typical ratings.  GRC's 0.3 rating ties for its worst of the year and shortest of its brief existence.  This will wrap up GRC's programing for the year I would imagine and so I'll recap their ratings for their events below, prior to the weekend's full ratings.  Their high for the year was a 0.5, equating to 578,000 households and some 636,000 actual viewers and the low was a 0.3, equating to 350,000 and 382,000 viewers.  Overall this puts Global RallyCross a bit behind the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series shows as we will recap in the future.  Of note is the recent F1 ratings on NBC for the Brazil event which grabbed a 0.5 rating and two weeks prior a 0.7 rating for the USGP in Texas.  NBC paid $3 Million to acquire the rights to F1 in the US (prior to any production, talent, coverage costs), so to have LOORRS and GRC somewhat equaling those ratings with what is essentially a paid advertisement, costing the networks nothing, both can be viewed as being successful on their own terms.  Though when you compare the measly $3 million paid for F1 to the $2.4 billion Fox paid for NASCAR (not completely an apples to apples comparison but you get the idea) you understand how far behind in the Q ratings sports like F1, RallyCross or short course are from NAPCAR.

Global RallyCross 2015 Ratings:


NFL: Eagles-Packers (84%)
"Sunday Night Football": Patriots-Colts
NFL: (singleheader)
NFL: (regional)
College Football: Mississippi State-Alabama
College Football: Florida State-Miami
"Football Night in America"
College Football: Ohio State-Minnesota
"Fox NFL Sunday"
"The NFL Today"
College Football: Nebraska-Minnesota
College Football: Northwestern-Notre Dame
"Courage in Sports"
"College Football Today"
College Football: Texas-Oklahoma State
College Football: Washington-Arizona
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Russia
"Fox College Saturday"
Ironman World Championship
"Notre Dame Football Pre-Game"
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing
"College Football's Open Season: Vanderbilt"
"College Football's Open Season: Arkansas"
"World of X Games: ASP Surfing"
"The Grantland Basketball Hour"
Global Rallycross: Las Vegas
Spartan Race: Vermont

Article on UTVs Participating in Rally Racing...

Marc Burnett Baja 500Just wanted to post this on my own site in the rare case that someone comes to this page on their own or comes here due to a search.  I also wanted to try and make sure as much of the Rally community saw it as possible and given how much guff I get in the Rally community, I figure some might run across it here as well.  I did manage to get another article published.  This time it is over on

I interviewed Idaho resident Carl Marcum to talk about his use of a Polaris RZR as a stage rally vehicle and talk about the brief history and acceptance of UTVs in stage rally racing in North America in general.  The page has gotten 77 likes on Facebook, 3 tweets on Twitter and 6 thumbs up on Google+ so at least its gotten its message out there a little bit!  Thanks to Carl for the interview and thanks to for publishing it!

The Evolution of UTVs in Rally Racing... 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Most Interesting Entry at This Year's Baja 1000

 I picked the Quigley 4x4 Van as the 2013 "winner" of this title and many seemed to agree.  They DNF'd and never saw the end of the race but certainly put in a solid effort before returning stateside.

This year I am "awarding" (?) this title to an entry just showing up on the entry list.

Ikuo Hanawa is a long time Baja aficionado having run there a number of times as well as at Pikes Peak on occasion including behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

For '14 Hanawa is coming to Baja with a completely new vehicle of his own design and build (from what I can decipher from the translated Japanese on his Facebook page).  He also lists it as his Baja/Dakar vehicle so maybe we'll see it in South America in a few months as well?  It certainly looks the Dakar part being VERY small looking with a non-existent rear end, and a wholly enclosed shell with dual spares almost completely covered.

The video Hanawa has posted lists the 2WD vehicle as having about 23 1/2 inches of front end travel and about 21 1/2 inches in the rear.  King bypass and coils dampen the front while the wheels are wrapped in 315/70R17 Yokohama Geolander A/T-S.  I'm not sure what type of transmission is in it but it looks to be a fairly stock version (maybe even a stock Nissan 370Z tranny?) as the video shows Hanawa rowing through the gears, certainly no sequential transmission present.  The engine in the vehicle is a Nissan 3.7L VQ37VHR V6 out of a 370Z putting out around 332 HP, while the "body" is completely tube framed and yet the vehicle will somehow be classified as a Nissan Frontier in SCORE's class 7 for "Open Mini-Trucks".  If there's a Frontier part on it, I'd be shocked.

It certainly looks like a foreign designed and built vehicle with an emphasis on a small size and light weight.  How its rather spindly looking suspension and steering holds up to the roughness of Baja will soon be seen.  I'll be rooting for him but having my doubts as to its ability to stay in one piece.  I would have expected that Hanawa has enough Baja experience to know what he is asking of his vehicle and have designed it accordingly--so what do I know?  My vehicle broke down every day I raced it the 2014 NORRA event, so clearly I don't have the answer.

As always for me, seeing something besides a Geiser Trophy Truck powered by some massive Cheby crate motor is the more captivating portion of this race.  I'm in the minority but I'm more of an underdog, root for the guy who is likely to lose, sort of person.  With someone like Hanawa and his Japanese engined, Dakar style buggie, some eyes might at least be pulled away from the carbon copy lineup one usually sees...if only for a moment.

To follow along with this effort, Ikuo Hanawa is #712.  Tracking should begin tomorrow 11/13.  The "other" Nissan Frontier in the race that I spoke of the other day is #2003.  Best of luck to both of them!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Bit of Baja Home With Me

My wife and I have frequently tried to collect sand from the beaches and locales we've visited over our time together and display it in little jars in our home as a nice, cheap keepsake and reminder of where we've been.  Amongst my many disappointments from my attempt at the NORRA Mexican 1000 was the fact that I didn't collect any sand from anywhere along the near two thousand miles we traversed of the Baja peninsula.
So some six months later I've finally begun to seriously take apart the NISMOStuff Frontier and head towards preparing it for 2015.  As I begin unbolting some steering and suspension components I notice that there sure appears to be a great deal of sand and silt packed into my frame.  Then I proceed to unbolt the skidplates and a sheet of powdery silt comes raining down on my garage floor.  Vacuuming up good deal of the light tan talcum like sand (?) brings me back to digging out the truck in the Mexican heat, dozens of miles from...well...nowhere.  Broken parts, broken trailer, broken van, lost teammates, all comes back.

I now have a large ziploc bag filled with some five pounds of Baja Mexico silt.  Some of this silt will be going in a jar on a shelf in my house to help bring back all those imbedded memories again and again.  The rest?  Maybe make a little silt bed in my own backyard?  Thanks again to Elliot Sherwod, Paul Hartl and Tim Meunier for plowing my truck through various silt beds and "collecting" all this sand for me, only to be revealed some six months later.  Baja...the gift that keeps on giving!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Someone At Playmobil Is Cool...

Initially saw this little gem within ADV Moto magazine, which, if you aren't reading on a regular basis, makes you a major sap.  It was within their Nov/Dec issue and listed as one of their holiday gift recommendations.  I'm still a fan of toys of all kinds be they Legos or otherwise and this one will also go on my wish list.

Playmobil has made some cool stuff in the recent past--a dirt bike and accompanying rider that my son has for one, providing a great deal of entertainment during my times playing with the kids.  This one is even more niche specific as I think the number of toys presenting an ADV bike with full panniers (with world traveling stickers even!) and Dakar style windscreen are between few and zero.

Grab it for your kids now.  If they don't play with know you will.

Playmobil ADV Motorcycle Link...