Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Film Review: Hell or High Water

Crafted by the same writer as the movie Sicario this film has a similar location in the American Southwest though involves a different set of troubles.

Instead of the grey areas created by the drug trade washing over the Mexican/American boarder, here we have the grey areas created by the banking industry and those white Americans who have been left behind by the progress of time and innovation.

These are Trump's voters as the main characters on both sides of your traditional good guy/bad guy divide don't care for authority or they way they've been told things should be.  Both the police and the Texas men trying to steal their way to the saving of their mother's home from foreclosure are relics of a bygone era and overlooked by their government and society--but not their families, friends and communities whose bonds remain those that bind.

The film itself ends up feeling like one of those cowboy films where the first cars show up and appear so jarring compared to the more manual world they invade.  You can just sense things are going to end badly for the cowboy as his time has come and gone.  Its the same way here.  The protagonists are doomed from the start as leftovers from another time.

Jeff Bridges is great as a crass, vulgar and extremely un-politically correct police officer chasing down the bank robbing brothers portrayed by Chris Pine and Ben Foster.  Foster is again brilliant.  I don't know if I've seen him in a role yet that I haven't loved.  Chris Pine of course plays the handsome, "better" of the two brothers and puts in a fine performance, with his best work present when he doesn't have to share the screen with Foster who seems to suck the air out of every scene for his own.

I don't know if it "revitalizes" the Western as much of the story could be considered familiar but its the dialogue, performances and attacks on modern rural America that make it worth seeing.  It won't win much if anything at the upcoming Oscars, but that doesn't matter, you will remember it long after the glitzier, shallower works that will win the awards.

Scale of 1-10?  A solid 8

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hardbody's Are Tough...But Not That Tough....

My goodness...this driver is lucky to be alive.

The Hardbody involved has a small lift but the pilot must be brainless.  Heading out on a small jetty into what looks like 15-20 foot waves is moronic.  The waves, broken by the rocks jetty are still plenty strong enough to toss the truck around like a toy.  The Coast Guard comes in at the end to rescue the driver and the world appears to be less one more Hardbody...RIP...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

CRG-I Do Borrow Nissan Altima and Sarah Cattaneo Finish 5th in Season Debut

A real solid result against some top competition at the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Daytona yesterday.  The car itself has a long history in sportscar racing and is originally the Skullcandy Altima that raced all over the country for the past few years.

The CRG-I Do Borrow effort switched from a Honda Civic last year to this Altima and have been doing quite well.  Ahead of Cattaneo's 5th place finish were three Porsche Caymans and the winning JCW Mini.  In fact, the Altima turned the fastest lap of the race at 103.6 mph but didn't have the consistency to put it on the podium this time.  Looking forward to more solid finishes out of this effort in '17 at the rest of the IMSA schedule.

If anyone can provide a link to this team's webpage or even Facebook page it would be appreciated as I can't find anything but the individual driver's personal pages...

BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona '17 results...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Holy Crap Are These Bumpers Expensive!

Listen, I'm all for the expansion of aftermarket products for Nissans...really I am.  I've bought my fair share of front and rear bumpers from the aftermarket for my Xterra and Frontier and all have held up well whether from Shrockworks or my favorite builder BTF Fabrication.

That said...and while the product offerings for the new Nissan Titan are a bit more limited...the prices on these bumpers is insane...$2200 before shipping (sure to be another couple hundred) for a front bumper??  And its not even a winch bumper... And near $1700 for a rear bumper?  That is crazy talk.

You see Addictive Desert Designs advertisements in all your typical offroad magazines and at SEMA this past year but I can't help but thinking their prices are a reflection of their speed to market, minimal competition at this point and high marketing expenses given that equivalent bumpers go for 1/2 or even 1/2 of these prices.

I'm sure the quality is substantial...but is it near $3000 for a front bumper good?  No shot.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Extra Large Fuel Tank Replacement for New Nissan Titan XD

One of the early complaints about the Nissan Titan Diesel XD has been the size of its fuel tank.  At only 26 gallons the Titan XD's range is a bit shorter than that which many drivers want.

The aftermarket has an answer...but at a price.  I suppose putting a larger tank in the stock version would have added a fair amount of weight and when you are trying to eke out every last mpg you can, limiting the amount of dead weight you carry around is one way to do it.

Transferflow which has offered extended range gas tanks products for numerous other trucks as well as bed mounted gas containers for fueling your construction vehicles or other equipment now offers a 50 gallon replacement for the stock Titan XD tank.  Designed to fit into the same space as the stock version, the Transferflow unit nearly doubles the capacity and range of the Titan XD.  At $1654 though this upgrade doesn't come cheap...and that's before you either perform or pay for the labor necessary to remove the old and install the new version.

It is good to see the Titan supported in this way as the aftermarket continues to build for this truck and this should meet the fueling needs of any long road or heavy duty hauler so that they aren't pulling off the highway every other hour to refuel.

Transferflow Titan XD Gas Tank...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reminder...Raana Horan Still Kicks Ass in His Nissan Titan in New Zealand

Its been a while since I checked in on Raana...but he is still on the other side of the planet and still running strong.  This past '16 season Raana finished first in his class for the year and accumulated the third most points of any racer in the ORANZ (Off Road Association of New Zealand) series.  The Nissan Titan he runs is more of a tube frame vehicle and not a Titan as you can buy off the lot and the engine is a supercharged VK56.  Raana has been racing and winning in New Zealand with this truck for the better part of a decade now, showing that the engine can be a long term powerhouse winner.  If you want to follow along with Raana and his team Big Black Motorsport you can see them here: Big Black Motorsport FB page...

and you can check out the ORANZ homepage here:  ORANZ Homepage...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

McNeil Racing Fiberglass Fenders for 2016+ Nissan Titan

These are some of the first and likely best looking fiberglass fenders and bedsides being produced for the new Nissan Titan.  Now I don't know if it makes a difference between whether it is a Titan XD or just the regular Titan as the site doesn't say.

It looks like McNeil was the fabricator behind these for the Titan at SEMA this year.  The price is in line with what prior Titan fiberglass has been going for and McNeil is well known in the industry as putting out some of the best stuff around.  With lift kits starting to be available and Titan sales starting to pick up on a monthly basis, hopefully this is just a start of aftermarket support.

McNeil Racing Fiberglass for 2016+ Nissan Titans...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dakar 2017 Nissan Final Results

So this year's Dakar is over.  Despite significant changes to how navigation was done, terrible weather conditions at times, 15,000 feet in elevation, some new terrain and new countries...the end results were as would have been expected before the event with Peugeot dominating the competition with their top flight drivers and equipment.  The Toyota Hilux's of Team Overdrive which had been nip and tuck with the Peugeot's during the rest of the year's events were not a significant factor with Nasser Al-Attiyah crashing out early and Nani Roma and DeVilliers finishing 4th and 5th overall, over an hour back.  Overall, Toyotas were the dominant marque of the event putting 28 finishers at the checkered flag out of 57 finishers overall.

So did any Nissans finish after only four started??  Yes...one...

#334--The VK56 powered Renault Duster of Facundo Ardusso consistently finished in the mid 20th position each day with its peak coming on stages 5 and 12 where it finished 18th each time.  This was good enough for the team to score a 22nd place finish overall.  I have learned that these are actually South African built vehicles and will have to inquire as to whether the Thompson Racing outfit that builds them has connections with the Nissan efforts there.

I know the South African teams mostly took the '17 Dakar off and didn't really have anyone present as they have in years past making this year an almost Nissan absent event.  Hopefully some more are built or budgets are found for Nissans in the '18 Dakar given how well the brand has done there in the past and how much Nissan is expanding and pushing its trucks and SUVs worldwide...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: Dance of the Dwarfs by Geoffrey Household

Having read two previous Household books it is clear to me now that Household is a master of the "chase" or "hunt" genre.  All three involve a mystery of some kind whereby a protagonist is hunted down or haunted by an unknown or at least undetailed outside force.

In the two prior novels I had consumed, Rogue Male and Watcher in the Shadows, these outside forces had manifested themselves as other men, with both works selecting England as their location.  Dance of the Dwarfs trades man for a large otter (yes...an otter...) and England for South America, spinning its tale in the format of a diary in which Dr. Owen Dawnay recounts his time spent in the backwater of Brazil.

You may laugh at the idea of a suspense novel where an otter plays the foil to the human protagonist (an English, government sponsored scientist exploring the use of various terrain for farming) but the strength of the work is such that by the time our human storyteller meets his fate you don't view the opposing mustelids as a joke.

This work is not likely one that would remain in its current form if produced today given the protagonist is "gifted" an Indian girl of 15 (20 years his junior) who has already been passed amongst a few prior owners and who is immediately bedded by our narrator.  Sort of like how Hendrix's "Hey Joe" would never get made today.  Many of the narrator's expressed viewpoints would not be allowed today and never get past an editor who I can hear saying to Household "You just can't write that these days!!"  Perhaps Household is attempting to tell us something of his view of the white man's possession and use of the wild places the story inhabits as the more his main character falls in love with this Indian girl, the more endangered and closer to death he becomes.

There are also angles of criticism here regarding communism, science, religion, and feminist perspectives.  That the work has such depth despite being "only" a horror novel of sorts is impressive.  While not quite the work in terms of the suspense or detailed environment it creates compared to the earlier Household tales mentioned above it is still a solid addition to his library.

As a side note, I guess there was a "loosely based" movie made of this novel back in 1983 "starring" Peter Fonda and John Amos...it was decidedly a B movie affair, transformed the mustelids of Household's imagination into "lizard-men" and has not yet been deemed worthy of being offered on DVD though

2017 Dakar Nissan Update Stage 8

Yup, now only a single Nissan powered entry left in this year's Dakar.  #377 of Carlos Aguero shows as having withdrawn from the event prior to the start of Stage 8.  This leaves only the following:

#334--the Renault Duster VK56 powered SUV is the lone carrier of the Nissan brand left in the event and you have to examine its engine bay to find this out.  Still, they are soldiering on, finished 26th on the 8th stage and stand in 24th overall.  With the 9th stage cancelled (the second stage cancellation of the event) due to landslides and generally atrocious weather that cut off roads and prevented all emergency flights and helicopters from getting of the ground, only a handful of real stages remain.  Having come this far it is my belief that Facundo Ardusso will make the finish line...I mean he has to right?  We can't have a Dakar without a single Nissan based entry finishing, can we?

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Dakar Nissan Stage 7 Update

And then there was one...or so it appears.

#377--The Navara of Carlos Aguero appears to be out of the race.  One of the remaining 64 racers at the beginning of Stage 7, and with 62 entrants showing as having completed today's marathon stage (meaning no assistance other than the driver and codriver or spare parts outside of what you carry are allowed), Aguero is not among them.  Already many hours down to the leaders today may have been the final straw.  We will have to await tomorrow to see if the blade finally fell for the last 100% Nissan effort...

#334--Renault Duster of Facundo Ardusso managed a 33rd position for the stage on the day leaving them in 25th overall.  Hopefully they can hold on for a few more stages and a Renault may be Nissan's last remaining hope for ANY finish...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dakar 2017 Rest Day Update

And so it goes...

As of the 2017 Rest Day, the unofficial half way point of the rally we are down to two Nissan vehicles remaining in the event.  Ronald Basso is now an official withdrawal on Stage 5 of the event.

What is left is the following...

#334--the Renault VK56 Duster with Facundo Ardusso at the helm.  Despite five prior DNFs at the Dakar, this is now officially the farthest in the event he has ever gotten.  He has been been consistently finishing in the mid 20's in this year's version with an 18th place finish on Stage 5.  Overall Ardusso stands in 24th overall some five hours behind the leader.

#377--The Navara of Carlos Aguero has been subject to a whopping nine hours of penalties, likely meaning that he has had at least one instance of not finishing in the allowable time but being allowed to continue.

Lets see if they can bring it home...and lets see if we can get some more Nissans built for Rally-Raid in '18...afterall...the Navara is one of the Dakar's official support vehicles...Oh, and since its South America....its NOT a Navara...its a Frontier...So why don't we have this here yet??

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dakar Stage 4 Nissan Update!

Boy if yesterday didn't prove that you're in the heart of the Dakar, today sure did.  Yesterday you had Nasser Al-Attiyah ripping an entire wheel and axle assembly off the rear of his vehicle and having to withdraw (he was the prerace favorite to win in the car category) and a motorcycle rider getting hit by lightning and STILL finishing the stage.  Today you had the prerace favorite on bikes, Toby Price, crashing, breaking his femur and having to withdraw and another of the favorites to win, Carlos Sainz badly wad up his Peugeot pretty bad putting his effort in question.

So where do the remaining Nissans stand?

#334 of Facundo Ardusso in the VK56 Renault Duster is still running, finished 26th on the day which will likely leave them right where they were coming into the day which is 28th place overall.

#337 of Ronald Basso was starting the day in 38th in his Navara but is currently one of the 18 starters on the day who has not crossed the finish line yet...

#377 of Carlos Aguero wasn't finished at the time I checked things last night but evidently did make it in, though after the cutoff time as he suffered a four hour penalty and had dropped to 66th overall.  He started the fourth stage but like Basso, he has not crossed the finish line and remains unknown if he can finish and continue.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dakar 2017 Stage 3 Nissan Update!

Day 3...a day in which the event's favorite, Nasser al-Attiyah crashed out ripping a wheel off his Toyota, no one could say it was easy to get through the stage.  The stage involved some serious climbing to over 15,000 feet, serious navigation requirements, and rougher terrain...perhaps today was the day the real race started.

#315 of Emiliano Spataro and his VK56 Renault Duster appear to have gotten off the starting line and through some of the initial checkpoints but there is currently no record of them having finished the stage with currently only 53 of the 79 daily starters finishing so far some six hours after the fastest drivers of the day completed the stage.  Indeed in the last half hour, Spataro posted via Twitter the following "We are out of the Dakar, a failure in the design of the chassis of the new Duster us leaves without possibilities of follow... a day very sad..."  Sounds like a dangerous deformation of the cage or structure of the vehicle?  Regardless...that puts them out and one Duster remaining--at least it wasn't the fault of the Nissan engine!

#334 of Facundo Ardusso and the sister Duster seemed not to have the same problems, finishing the stage in 27th near two hours behind the leaders.  

#337 of Ronald Basso's Navara finished 38th on the day, three hours back of the day's winner.

#377 of Carlos Aguero and his Navara have also not finished yet but with no Twitter feed or social media postings, it is unknown if he has had to withdraw or not.

The overall standings of the #334 and #337 are unknown at the moment as the Dakar site's standings are not updated/available at this point...

So it looks like 50% of Nissan related competitors are out after three stages...ah well...so it goes...if it was easy....

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dakar 2017 Stage 2 Nissan Update

I'll keep providing these as long as there is a Nissan in the race...might be a day more...might be the whole event....

Today had a ridiculously long transit (like some 5 hours) before the race even began...given the temps are in the 90s and up and the road was dead straight it could not have been the most fun day.  The stage itself was also dead straight with zero navigation required and much of the terrain being hardpack dirt inducing a heavy right foot and little steering.

#315 of Emiliano Spataro in the Renault Duster VK56 powered SUV finished 29th on the day, 39 minutes back of Sebastian Loeb and now sits 27th overall.

#334 of Facundo Ardusso in the sister car to the #315 had a great day for the inexperienced driver finishing 24th, 33 minutes back and now sits 24th overall.

#337 of Ronald Basso in the Navara finished 36th and is 34th overall, one hour back of the current overall leader.

#377 of Carlos Aguero in the other Navara finished 64th, two and a half hours back of the day's winner which does not bode well given how easy the terrain was today.  They also sit in 64th overall for the event.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Nissans at the 2017 Dakar

In an annual exercise in self flagellation I will recount what Nissans there are at this year's Dakar.  Every year it seems the numbers dwindle further and without Jurgen Schroeder and a few South African Nissan efforts at this year's Dakar the numbers are even smaller.

#315 Emiliano Spataro--Actually in a 4WD Renault Duster powered by a Nissan VK56.  In this same vehicle Emiliano finished 16th in the '16 Dakar so a top 20 finish should be possible.  He finished 14th on Stage 1 earlier today.

#334 Facundo Arduos--A teammate to the #315 effort and also in a sister 4WD Renault Duster with a VK56 powerplant.  Facundo is a Dakar rookie and his codriver has never finished a Dakar in five prior attempts.  While the vehicle has a top 20 in it, they are best served acting as a water carrier for the #315.  They finished 33rd to start the race.

#337 Ronald Basso--The highest ranked true Nissan is a 4WD Nissan Navara managed by JCB Racing.  Ronald has finished 25th and 37th in the '13 and '10 Dakar races along with three other DNFs so he has the experience necessary to perform well.  They finished 36th today.

#377 Carlos Alberto Villegas Aguero--Another 4WD Navara here from Jaton Racing this time but diesel here vs. petrol.  Carlos has one prior Dakar under his belt though DNF'd in '16.  They finished 69th on the day.

Annnnnd....that's it.  There is #359 of Gerard Tramoni which is a Navara by its body but contains a Chevrolet LS series V8 at its heart so I don't really count that...