Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Few More Shots From Libya Rally 2014...

The Libya Rally wrapped up this past week.  A 2nd tier event filled with high level privateers but privateers regardless the Libya Rally had a great field of unusual vehicles...though no Nissans in the field.  The event was won on the bikes by Kim De Rycker of Germany on his KTM and Jean-Antoine Sabatier in the "cars" in his #501 buggie.  Sabatier lives in Morocco and so had a home field advantage of sorts.  The Citroen 2CV did finish the event, ending in 44th place out of 52 finishers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Citroen 2CV At Libya Rally...

The Libya Rally notes on its website that it is not an official FIA rally and thus is more open to "special" vehicles than some other events might be.  That said...This Citroen 2CV is quite...special.  Not sure that roll cage is up to snuff, nor the canvas doors but maybe that's just me...

I'm looking for more info on the team, its drivers (Frank Elsermans from Germany) and vehicle but suffice it to say that this little VW Bug looking vehicle (for that's what I took it for at first) appears to be a bit out of place.  That said...the little bugger sits in 45 out of 52 entries in the not last!  All photos are from the 2014 Libya Rally.
Libya Rally...

Monday, April 21, 2014

2015 (?) 2016 (?) Next Generation Frontier Details To Be Released!

Well, we kinda knew it would happen sooner or later but no less authority than Nissan's Global Boss Andy Palmer at last weeks NYC Auto Show revealed that they would begin releasing info on the next generation Frontier in the coming couple of weeks.

With the Titan (introduced in '04 as an '05 model) seeing its complete redesign, the Frontier and Xterra (if it were to continue to exist) were next on the hitlist.  Now that the Pathfinder has returned to its own, unibody, more "refined" model it leaves open the question of how related the Titan and Frontier would be given in their current form they ride on the same basic platform.

Pressed by Australian journalists in NYC and the Aussies get the Frontier in both a 4.0L Petrol and a 2.2L turbo diesel badged with the "Navara" name, Palmer would discuss that no diesel version of the Patrol (the Infiniti QX80 here) would be produced (disappointing many there as well as in the Mid East).  What he did indicate is that not only would the details on the Frontier's replacement come shortly but that "it would be logical" if that replacement also spun off an SUV variant.  Given that the Xterra is the current Frontier's SUV clone, it would seem "logical" that the Xterra would be living on in the next generation of "smaller" truck and SUVs within Nissan's portfolio.

Quoting Palmer "should go back to that basis of good durability, good quality, and good reliability. If I was doing a pick-up, that’s where I’d start...It’s around about the same [size as the current model] - one-tonne pickups are fairly generic in terms of their overall dimensions..I think it’s about what you deliver on fuel consumption, what you deliver on styling...these are the key differentiators for that kind of pickup market"

To me the first part sounds an awful lot like the Xterra's original tag-line of "Everything you need, nothing you don't" while the fuel consumption and style sound a lot like a diesel with a bold design--much like the original Frontiers were, being the first to introduce the quad cab and other queues.

Should be an exciting month or so!  Oh, and given they are releasing this info right now, I'd say the next generation Frontier should be about six months to a year behind the introduction of the next Titan which means, as the next Titan will be introduced in Q1 '15, I'd look for the next Frontier later that year...and with a diesel as well and that means a diesel Xterra could be in the cards as well...

Andy Palmer talks about next generation Frontier and Xterra...


Now confirmed that at least in its overseas version it will house a 3.0L turbo diesel and will spawn a 7-seat SUV based upon the same the 3L diesel isn't much of a surprise but a SEVEN seat SUV is a big surprise...Maybe Nissan feels that people don't want a 5 seat SUV anymore but a body on frame 7 seater??  That seems a bit odd and it also flies in the face of thinking that this rugged SUV (vs. the soft-roading Pathfinder) would hold closer to the Xterra demographic...and it now appears that the reveal of the vehicle will be within the next month per this report...

Next Gen Navara/Frontier/Xterra update...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mini-gun or Grenade Launcher Mounted on a UTV??

That's what it looks like...

This photo was posted by one of my new favorite websites "Operator As Fuck"

I'm am making some assumptions here given who operates this site and where they typically get their photos from but I didn't know our Special Operations crews were now using UTVs in the field and certainly didn't know they had mounted anything as serious as a mini-gun or grenade launcher to them...How'd you like that option at your local Polaris dealer?

Free 5.11 Knife with 5.11 Sabre 2.0 Jacket Purchase!!

 Body Armor Outlet is currently running a special on its 5.11 Sabre 2.0 jackets.  For everyone who purchases one of the aforementioned jackets in Blue, Green or Black, BAO will give away a 5.11 CS1, CS2 or CS3 knife, a $60 value, to the buyer.

The Sabre 2.0 jacket is water/wind repelling and perfect for those looking for sidearm access in their outer/tactical wear.

Our most popular concealed carry jacket, the upgraded Sabre 2.0 has been engineered with direct feedback from 5.11 users to provide a covert and stylish appearance that hides a wealth of tactical features. A high performance microfiber shell and a waterproof/breathable seam-sealed membrane keep you insulated from wind and weather without heating you up during periods of high activity. Our patented Quixip™ system provides immediate access to a holstered sidearm, and zipping handwarmer pockets are Backup Belt System™ compatible, allowing you to customize your accessories for the mission at hand. Utility pockets at each shoulder and roomy internal pockets offer ample storage space, a secure lumbar pocket offers additional covert storage, and an integrated hood can be rolled up into the collar or removed entirely in warmer weather. Integrated storm cuffs keep out rain and cold, and three zip-out ID panels allow you to go from covert to overt in seconds.

This offer is only available to those who stop by their retail outlet in Salem, NH or give their Salem store a call directly at 888-884-2427 and mention this deal and NISMO Stuff Racing.  Hope at least a few of you out there take advantage of this deal.

Body Armor Outlet...
5.11 Tactical...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Body Armor Outlet Re-Signs With NISMO Stuff Racing!

NISMO Stuff Racing is pleased to announce that it has retained its relationship with Body Armor Outlet (BAO) of Salem, NH!

First established in 2012 the relationship has been of benefit to both parties, providing expanded exposure of the BAO brand both nationally and internationally via the team's ongoing race program.  Covering thousands of miles of travel to events over the past year and promoting the brand via the NISMO Stuff Racing blog, personal web page, vehicle appearances, and racing itself, the team has generated hundreds of thousands of impressions for the brand while directing consumers to BAO's retail website and physical location for all their tactical gear needs.

NISMO Stuff Racing would like to thank Ray Belia and Body Armor Outlet for their continued support and look forward to even greater collaboration in the future!

Look for a special offer from Body Armor Outlet that NISMO Stuff Racing will be announcing later today!!

Aereo Heads To The Supreme Court Next Week...

Aereo is a very interesting company that may become very disruptive to your traditional cable companies and thus is under a huge amount of scrutiny from the Powers That Be at the moment.  Comcast and other broadcasting behemoths would like nothing better than to put Aereo completely out of business.

Which is exactly what may happen next week when the traditional broadcasters see their case against Aereo presented before the Supreme Court.  To date the lower courts have almost universally upheld Aereo's position that it is providing private broadcasts to individuals at their specific request in their homes vs. the Broadcasters claims that Aereo is stealing their signal and making money off that signal's rebroadcast to consumers.

What Aereo does is actually a fairly simple concept to grasp.  Essentially they locate thousands of "bunny ears" in a single location that are all controlled by the end consumer.  The consumer logs into their computer (or TV for that matter) and directs the said bunny ears to tune themselves to a particular TV station that is broadcast over the air (say your local NBC affiliate).  That signal is then sent to your device (be it phone, TV, computer) over the internet in all its HD glory.  Really no different that a pair of bunny ears located REALLY far away from you and a really long wire attaching your device to them.  For this service Aereo charges $12 a month.

Obviously the big Broadcasters HATE this as they typically have you locked into paying near $200 or more a month for your "bundle" which includes tons of content you don't want (BET?  Univision?  Oprah?  No thank you!).  Allowing consumers to pick their content cafeteria style is their ultimate horror show and this is one step in that direction.

So it comes to the Supreme Court to decide whether innovation will be allowed in the industry or if the ability to build a better mouse trap should be squashed because of the Big Money Boys with an archaic distribution system.  Bet you left wingers are hoping for that free-market capitalism opinion to come through loud and clear for once huh?  Nothing brings people together like their hatred for their cable company....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Erik Korda Racing's New Nissan Qashqai

140414 erik n
I don't speak Hungarian and I have no idea how an offroad racer bags a Victoria's Secret sponsorship but I am glad they have moved to a Nissan from a Toyota.  Not that this video is that exciting.  I sure hope its got more performance under its skin that what is shown here certainly LOOKS good and fast when standing still.  The Qashqai is a nice small CUV sold in Europe and other foreign markets but not the US.  Its sort of cross between a Rogue and a Juke.  It also looks like they've had some fair results thus far...though...its hard to tell...Oh, I looks nice...

Korda Racing website...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: To Dakar and Back...

I was introduced to this book by one of my codrivers for the upcoming NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally, Paul Hartl who has both done the Baja 1000 in a Class 11 VW bug and is friends/acquaintances with the author o
f this book, Lawrence Hacking.

Mr. Hacking became the very first Canadian to complete the Dakar in 2001 on a Honda 650R as a privateer.  He recaps his efforts in that rally in this book and it is a great primer for anyone looking to enter a long rally or rally-raid event.  Not that it contains info on how to prepare your vehicle or give you recommended checklists for you to go through before leaving.  Hacking I believe is too smart for that...he knows the way rallies and rally-raids can pack everything you can ever think of and yet end up needing the single item you know you left sitting in your garage ignored in your preparations.

Instead Hacking provides enough insight and descriptions of his race in 2001 to let you know that it is perhaps your mindset, resourcefulness and ability to roll with the punches that will get you through.  You can't plan away bad things from happening, instead you have to be mentally strong enough to deal with the disasters that are sure to befall you in the course of an event like these.  Not that you should be haphazard or neglectful in your preparations--far from it.  But you need to be wise enough to know that you don't know what you don't can only be mentally prepared to deal with whatever happens.  If that means you need to deal with the end of your race then that's what it means.  If you need to run five miles through the desert to get a tool from a local goat herder, then you have to be ready to do so.

The book itself can sometimes run into a bit of repetition as the events Hacking describes can bear a similarity to one another from stage to stage but there is plenty of historical information regarding the Dakar, its history and its participants to keep a reader and a fan of the sport interested.

Items like the fact that 2001 winner Jutta Kleinschmidt and runner up Jean-Louis Schlesser were a romantic item before an acrimonious split that left them vicious competitors both on and off the stage, American rider Jimmie Lewis's grand effort on board a big BMW--breaking a number of bones in a crash only 200 yards from the finish in Dakar as he attempted to to win the final stage on behalf of his overmatched sponsor, and P.G. Lundmark's incredible privateer effort as well as many more anecdotes and stories are included here.

The tone of the work is straightforward and direct.  There is no flowery descriptions of the action, just a matter-of-fact recounting of events.  The work has made me realize the great similarities between rally-raid/rally events and another sport I love, mountaineering.  Hacking often recounts the individuals he has come to know that have passed in one way or another over the years, much like the mountaineering works I have covered recount the deaths of climbers in the mountains of the world.  The mental and physical strains put on the participants is strikingly familiar between the sports as is the selfish nature of each requiring vast amounts of time away from families in order to reach for some personal goal valued by a very few.  Whatever the disease is that infects those who "play" at these sports, Hacking has it and describes his involvement in what is the rally-raid world's equivalent of climbing Everest or K2 with skill and candor (often covering the hypocrisy and divergence between himself and his fellow competitors and the poor of the geographies he covers).  Not necessarily a book for everyone, but definitely a book for everyone involved in these sports/events.

Civilization: Beyond Earth

As I have noted in this blog a few times, I'm not a huge videogame fan and what games I tend to enjoy the most are strategy style models.  The Civilization series has been a favorite of mine for years and recently the reintroduction of the XCom series has been something I've enjoyed.

So it comes with great anticipation that the makers of XCom and Civilization, Firaxis Games, are almost melding the two together and creating "Civilization: Beyond Earth" to be released this fall.  Incorporating the "explore, develop technologies, expand, negotiate, etc." empire building system of the Civilization with the sci-fi aspect of XCom seems like a winner before it ever arrives.    It looks like the beginning of this game is what usually ended the games of Civilization--Man launches a "generation ship" of sorts to Alpha Centauri in hopes of establishing a colony there while good old Mother Earth has been polluted or irradiated into dysfunction.  Meier has always had this eco-streak to him and his games and this one appears no different with its initial message.  Many are calling this game "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri II" after his earlier space based game.  Unfortunately I am not familiar with that title as I was out of the PC based game culture by the time that game came out. 
Image: Courtesy Firaxis Games
Which is what is a tad disappointing to me with this new title. It is only to be released (at the moment) on PC and Mac this fall. No console version. Though I don't have an XBox One or new Playstation, I think they are missing out and given the success of the XCom series on consoles should look at a version for your living room as well. Till then, I'll just have to enjoy some preview videos and screenshots...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lancaster Caramels...

I love caramel.  I always look for the square shaped chocolates in the samplers because I know they contain caramel.

I also love vanilla.  Even though I know it tastes horrible I can't help but take a taste from the bottle of vanilla extract when I need to use some for a recipe.  I almost always get French Vanilla coffee.

So when I came across these little candies I was psyched to try them.  I wasn't disappointed.  They are creamy, firm but soft and melt beautifully in your mouth--a great mix of the caramel and vanilla flavors.  The best caramel candy I've had in just about forever.

They were just introduced by Hershey's as "Lancaster" candies taking their name from the original Lancaster Caramel Company that Mr. Hershey sold in 1900 for $1 million in order to fund his chocolate company.  The candies also come in a pure caramel version and a rasberry caramel version...both of which I intend on trying in the immediate future.  A little bit of heaven in the middle of my cube-monkey day.  They don't seem to be everywhere like your Snickers or other candybar type products but look to be available at Target and other major stores.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Australian Rally Championship Struggling...

Not for land or roads but for competitors.

This past weekend's Quit Forest Rally was won by Brendan Reeves who many of us know from coming over and competing here stateside, and his codriver Rhianon Gelsomino, wife of Ken Block's codriver Alex Gelsomino.

That said there were only six entries in the top ARC class which is all 2WD.  Things weren't much better in the 2nd tier 4WD class with only five entries, nor in the Classics class with only one entry (though the more grassroots regional and club classes saw healthy 20+ entry fields each).  You can read a commentary on the situation of top flight Australian Rally here:  Uphill Battle for ARC...

Much of this sounds familiar to US competitors who have heard and dealt with similar problems in recent years.  Australian Rally saw these problems coming and drove the switch to 2WD vehicles as a partial solution to ever increasing vehicle development costs and lack of manufacturer support.  Doesn't look like this has worked out so well to date.

One additional item the ARC has added to its events are the inclusion of side-by-sides and motorcycles in their events.  The SXS class drew five entries and motorcycles drew another ten.  Not so good when these classes outdraw your national competitors. 

Darren Skilton And His Jeep Cherokee Win The 2014 Desert Storm Rally

Darren Skilton (he of Dakar, Jeepspeed and Baja fame) took on the 2014 Desert Storm Rally in his Dakar spec Jeep Grand Cherokee.  He had also won the much longer NORRA Mexican 1000 in this vehicle in 2013 so it was more than well sorted out for this sort of event.

The Super Production class Cherokee took the win on the day by over a minute from Adam Short and his Open class WRX while it was 4th place finisher John Trucks and his WRX STi that presented the biggest challenge to Skilton until a blown strut and unhinged hood literally smashed his chances at a win.

Its good to see Skilton out there though I wish it was at an event that had a greater number of competitors to show him that there is life left in the American rally scene yet.  Between the weak showing at this event and the forced cancellation of his Rally Diabolico earlier this year, I worry as to the sport's North American perception given Skilton is the US representative with the ASO for Dakar purposes.
Desert Storm 2014 Results

Sunday, April 6, 2014

SAAB and Arne Gunnarson in Desert racing...

As always one of the best parts of the monthly Dirt Sports magazine is the Hourglass feature at the end of the issue.   For the April issue it covered Arne Gunnarson and his Saab 96 and its Baja efforts.  The combination would win its class multiple times and was actively campaigned until 1991 racing multiple desert races each year.  The actual race car is still in existance and parked under an avocado tree in Arne's backyard.  So if you want to restore a historic vehicle and perhaps run it in a NORRA event in the future it is likely available.

If you want to read the full article in the photo but can't make it out from this pic, let me know and I will transcribe it for you.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Motor Trend Drives a 1971 Skyline 2000

The original Godzilla with the awesome fender mounted mirrors (how have these NOT made a comeback on modern cars?!?!) and in a classy silver-grey.

The car has been kept in meticulous condition though it is still a vehicle that is out and about which is great--all great cars deserve to be driven.

The owner estimates that it is worth in excess of $100K and I would bet that this figure is only going up at this point as classic Japanese steel is becoming more and more desirable.

Motor Trend Drives a 1971 Skyline 2000...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My New Favorite Nissan??

Could be...

A Hungarian team who recently traded in their Kia for this former Sandlander Navara.  Redone in black and ready for Hungarian and other Euro events, this truck at least LOOKS fast!

Team Solyom...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rally Trinidad 2014

I had brought up the Rally scene in Trinidad and Tobago a few weeks back mentioning that they had a regular event there for many years now.  Well the 2014 Rally Trinidad has now passed and it looked awesome.  Great sights both on and off the sandy roads.  The event ran over three days and 24 competitive stages.

Winning the event was what looks to be a Ken Block inspired livery Suzuki SX4 WRC driven by Neil Armstrong (no, not THAT Neil Armstrong) a native of Barbados.  Finishing 6th of the 29 original entries was a Ford Escort MKII.  Attrition was quite high as there were only 12 finishers.  Some photos from the event and a link to the results for the finishers below.

Rally Trinidad Results...