2011 NEFR - Martin/Ferd Nissan 240SX stories, photos, in-car videos
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Thread: 2011 NEFR - Martin/Ferd Nissan 240SX stories, photos, in-car videos

  1. #1

    Default 2011 NEFR - Martin/Ferd Nissan 240SX stories, photos, in-car videos

    Just getting to the rally is often half the adventure. Unusual for us, departure from Martin's place was precisely on schedule.

    Angela Cosner, who happened to be visiting in Ottawa, joined us for the ride down to New Hampshire. We would also be stopping briefly in Montreal to pick up Jennifer Daly on the way.

    On the 401 near Cornwall we came across this bizarre hybrid vehicle. From a distance it looked like a van with a tall-ship's sailing rig on its roof, including masts, yard arms and crow's nest. If he ever ran out of petrol, he'd could just unfurl the sails and... avast mateys, thar she blows.

    Upon closer inspection though, it was revealed that the roof assembly is actually the mother of all ham radio antennae. This guy is one serious hamster!

    Nearing Montreal we sent Jennifer a text message to confirm our ETA and, since none of us had ever met her before, we asked how we would recognize her. Jennifer answered that she was wearing "knee socks and a huge backpack", to which the ever-witty Martin replied that we'll be certain to recognize her if that's ALL she's wearing!

    Sure enough, we spotted her right away at the prearranged Tim Hortons meeting point, but were sadly disappointed to discover that she was otherwise fully clothed.

    Next up, the border crossing...

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  3. #2


    Two years ago on the way to NEFR, Martin and I crossed into the USA at a tiny Vermont border crossing staffed by just a single officer who kindly allowed us into the country, despite the fact that Martin had forgotten to bring his passport and then tried to convince the border guard that his plain-jane Ontario driver's licence was actually one of them new-fangled special "enhanced" licences that double for passports. The border guard had never seen one of those before, and lacking the new scanner equipment required to process such an "enhanced" driver's licence, he let us go on our way unmolested.

    Last year, with the truck and trailer towing the rally car, we stuck to the main I-91 highway and had to go through the busy border crossing into Vermont. The border guards were curious about all the tires and rims heaped in the back of the pickup and wanted to know what's in the trailer. They made us run the trailer through their X-ray machine and then everyone came out to have a look at the car. Lots of friendly questions, as they'd apparently never seen a rally car before. "You race through the forest? Why would you want to do that?" Then they let us go on our way.

    This year, however, was not nearly as pleasant.

    Again, since we were towing the rally car in the big trailer, we had to cross into the USA at the big border point on I-91. We all had passports though. So far so good.

    The border agent asked where we're all from.

    Ottawa, Ottawa, Pennsylvania, and British Columbia.

    And, how do you all know each other?

    Um, well, we've known Angela for a couple of years as "SheetMetalGirl" on the SpecialStage.com forum, and ah um we only just met Jennifer for the first time a couple of hours ago in Montreal...

    Evidently that was the wrong answer. Pull over here please and y'all go talk to the officer inside.

    After grilling us with questions we were given one last chance to change or add to our stories, then told to sit and wait in the office while they took the keys and went outside to search the truck and trailer. It was all rather unnerving, but finally we were allowed to leave.

    On the way out, Jennifer tossed a paper bag with the remains of her lunch into the trash can and just about got arrested (or worse) on the spot. "That's NOT a garbage can!!!", shouted one of the border agents from his tollbooth. Huh? "Take that OUT of there, RIGHT NOW!!!"

    Jeez. What a friendly bunch. Not!

    Welcome to the "land of the free".

  4. #3


    Here's a photo of Angela in the back seat of the pickup truck. Note the small window behind her head.

    We don't have a photo of Jennifer, but there's a good reason for that...

    The pickup truck has a standard-sized OEM fuel tank. When towing the big heavy trailer it drains that stock fuel tank in a hurry. Therefore Martin has a large auxiliary tank in the bed of the pickup truck. Flip a lever, diesel fuel drains from the aux tank down to refill the OEM tank, and we can keep driving nearly forever without the need to stop for fuel. However, when the stock fuel tank is eventually refilled, you have to remember to flip the lever closed again, otherwise diesel fuel spills onto the highway.

    Since the whole point is to never to stop for fuel, we also don't want to stop when it's time to flip that lever. Problem is, the lever is located on the side of the auxiliary tank, outside in the bed of the pickup truck.

    That means somebody occasionally has to climb halfway out that little window behind Angela's head, as we're cruising down the highway, to flip the lever.

    Jennifer, being the good sport that she is, gamely volunteered to do that.

    Of course, us being guys (and only slightly perverted), with Jennifer squeezed halfway out that little window, our imaginations quite naturally drifted back to that lovely image of Jennifer now wearing nothing but knee socks -- she'd long ago already removed the huge backpack, eh.

    Jennifer, knowing exactly what we were thinking, threatened us with slow, painful, but certain death if anyone so much as considered reaching for a camera. Hence the absence of any photos of Jennifer...

    But I did notice Martin adjusting the aim of the interior mirror. There's an obvious reason why it's called a "rear" view mirror, eh.

    Okay then, so now on to the actual rally stories...

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  6. #4



    Thursday morning 7:30am, start of recce. We get Jemba-prepared stage notes, and only one familiarization pass on each stage. Still it's a long day.

    After recce, rush to get through registration, tech inspection, and line up for the shakedown stage.

    Martin is worried about the engine. It overheated badly during a test run back at home. He thinks the head gasket might be done. We may yet need to change that tonight.

    This 2 mile Shakedown stage is lots of fun. It's an opportunity to show off, power-boating around corners and spraying the photographers with rocks and gravel.

    We managed to get in three runs without the engine blowing up. So, we guess that means it's good to go racing as-is for tomorrow.

    Shakedown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSEjNYR-28A

  7. #5


    SS1 - Sunday River

    The two-day New England Forest Rally is an American National Rally event. It is also run (much more cheaply) as two entirely separate single-day Regional Rallies - the Mexico Rally on Friday, and the Errol Rally on Saturday.

    Running the two Regional rallies we cover the exact same stage distances with the only difference being that the National entries pay about $1k more for entry fees and their cars are locked in parc fermé overnight.

    For us though, the main draw is the 2wd MaxAttack! category as a chance to measure up against the best American 2wd teams. It is scored, same as the National event, on total stage time over the two days.

    The event starts with a short half-mile spectator Super Special stage at the Sunday River ski resort.

    We're not big fans of these short super specials. We much prefer the long forest stages. Our stage time was only mid-pack, 12th out of the 29 Regional entries, and 10th of the 24 2wd MaxAttack! entries. Still, we're not last.

    SS1 - Sunday River: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUQYdQ9bf9o

  8. #6
    your other left, you idiot
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Wisconsin (was-Michigan)


    You know - Grimshaw would have a field day with this.....................

    (Oh, and you would still be at Customs). (If he had been with you)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ferdinand View Post
    Jennifer, knowing exactly what we were thinking, threatened us with slow, painful, but certain death if anyone so much as considered reaching for a camera. Hence the absence of any photos of Jennifer...

    But I did notice Martin adjusting the aim of the interior mirror. There's an obvious reason why it's called a "rear" view mirror, eh.

    Okay then, so now on to the actual rally stories...
    press on,
    just a poor, dumb, Michigan(now Wisconsin) navie

  9. #7


    That antenna array puts me to shame !

  10. #8


    SS2 - Mexico-1

    Straight from Sunday River, next up is a 45-minute transit to Mexico where there's another even shorter Super Special spectator stage of only 0.4 miles.

    This one features a jump, which last year had a really nice takeoff ramp and long gradual downslope for a soft landing. It encouraged jumping for distance and showing off for the many spectators gathered there. This was us last year:

    This year however it was a nasty table-top jump, with a sharp takeoff ramp, flat tabletop, and a short steep downslope. There was nothing that could be done with that. If you jumped long, you'd land past the downslope and slam down hard onto the flat beyond that. If you jumped not quite long enough, you'd tag the end of the tabletop with only the rear wheels possibly leading to a faceplant and endover on landing.

    The only smart option, which nearly everyone opted for including us, was to just drive over it slowly. Safe, but boring for the spectators.

    We did mess up the final turn though. It's a tightening radius from gravel onto pavement, with a deep hole right at the apex where a culvert passes under the road. The proper line into that corner is not at all obvious, and the speed falls awkwardly between 2nd and 1st gear for us.

    Still, it wasn't bad. Our time of 47.0 secs was 8th quickest of the 26 Regional entries and 8th of the 22 2wd MaxAttack cars still running.

    We get another chance to improve on it as we loop back for a second pass.

    SS2 - Mexico-1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4KtaWLKT70

  11. #9


    SS3 - Mexico-2

    Our second pass on the Mexico stage was much cleaner, again no drama over the jump, but better line through the hairpin, no half-spin, no bogging down in 2nd gear.

    Yes! That felt MUCH better than our first run!

    So how come we were actually slower?

    Our first run was 47.0 seconds flat. This second run was 47.8 sec. Go figure.

    We're still doing okay. But seconds won or lost in these short Mickey Mouse Super Specials still count toward the overall total. We're currently sitting 8th in the Regional and MaxAttack standings, but the real stages are coming up next.

    SS3 - Mexico-2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5Xe7-fJZL0

  12. #10


    SS4 - Icicle Brook North, 15.84 miles

    Finally, a real stage.

    The first five minutes of this stage used to be on a smooth, wide, very fast road. It's the road where Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino had their big crash last year.

    But they've done something awful to the road since then. It looks like they've run a roto-tiller over sections of it and then spread a deep layer of loose rocks and gravel over those sections. Those bits are downright scary loose now.

    Five minutes into the stage, we turn right onto a very rough loop. It's a minefield studded with huge rocks. The stage-prep crew spray-painted the very worst rocks with fluorescent red paint to give us an opportunity to avoid those. But after ten cans of spray-paint they ran out of paint!

    Downstream of the last of the paint the rocks are all the same colour and you're on your own to avoid them best as you can, or not. We just hammered over the rocks, bending two rims in the process.

    Visibility is okay for the most part, but occasionally there is dust hanging in the air from the car running a minute ahead of us. That's uncomfortable because you can't see anything through the dust.

    At 11:30 into the video we come to a tricky hairpin turn, and at 14:00 we're back onto the smooth wide road.

    At 15:00 there is a right/left chicane to slow us down. It's deep and soft off the edges of the road here and it's been badly ripped up. Hidden in all that deep loose sand and gravel is a huge rock which we smack hard enough to knock the video plug out of the recorder. Sound is still recorded, but the picture is intermittent from there until it cuts out altogether for the last 20 seconds until the finish.

    Luckily I noticed and fixed that before starting into the next stage, otherwise we might have had no more video for the rest of the day.

    SS4 - Icicle Brook North: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSSO7ENlYUk

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