November 19, 2006 Launches Today!

Filed under: Nissan News / Infiniti News — greg @ 11:44 pm, the home of the Team HLM Fan Club, launched today.

The site will be the home for Team HLM as they campaign the Rolex Cup Grand American GT-class Infiniti G35, built by Crawford and powered by a Menard-prepped VK45DE.  The car will make its competitive debut in January 2007 at Daytona.

Site design specialist Matt Moody (a.k.a. “audtatious”) has put in countless hours implementing an attractive, dynamic and easily navigable website to serve as the focal point for Team HLM’s racing campaign.

Users can view the latest news from the Team HLM camp, read driver biographies, view the race schedule, join the Fan Club, and even chat with the drivers and team staff.

We encourage you to browse the site at and get in on the action!

November 15, 2006

Nissan Versa Hits The Track

Filed under: Nissan News / Infiniti News — greg @ 11:33 pm

Nissan’s new Versa subcompact car recently appeared somewhere many people never thought it would… at a racetrack. Attendees to Primedia’s annual Time Attack event at Buttonwillow Raceway on November 8th were visibly shocked to see a Versa running through the pits and carving up the track alongside cars with two and three times the horsepower.

Leading automotive fashion company turn3 Creative partnered up with Siphon Magazine, a spin-off of Primedia’s popular Import Tuner magazine, to transform Nissan’s b-segment entry into a nimble track machine. The turn3/Siphon Versa made its public debut at SEMA in Las Vegas the last week of October. The team had less than three days to prep the car for its inaugural race.

SEMA ended on Friday. On Sunday the team got the car back and headed up to Willow Springs for a shakedown day. After six hours of putting the Versa through the paces turn3’s driver Dan Gardner advised that the car would need more camber in order to be competitive.

Fine-tuning for Time Attack began in earnest on Monday. The 17″ street tires were set aside for 15×7″ lightweight cast wheels, which were shod with Kumho V710 R-compound race tires. Carbotech was tapped to provide a set of race pads. The stock oil was drained and replaced with Motul high-performance fluid. With this done, the team turned to expert suspension tuner Robert Fuller of RobiSpec work his infamous set-up magic.

Fuller’s goal was to stiffen up the chassis and get more camber out of the vehicle. To this end he fabricated solid aluminum front crossmember mounts, seam welded the front crossmember, and raised it by 13mm. The custom TEIN coilover kit was adjusted to lower the ride height by 1.5″. Fuller shimmed the rear axle beam to get to zero toe, slotted the struts for increased camber range, and was able to set the front camber to -1.1 degrees and the rear camber to -1.2 degrees. At the end of this frenzy of fabrication and tuning, the Versa definitely felt more responsive on track.

Pulling into Buttonwillow the morning of the 8th was like pulling into a Who’s Who of tuner cars. The track was teeming with fully built cars including several Skylines, an NSX, and even a World Challenge Porsche. The b-segment was well represented with no less than 6 Honda Fits present. The turn3/Siphon Versa was the only Nissan in the Time Attack “Micro” class and turned plenty of heads as it pulled through the pits. Throughout the day many competitors and spectators would find the turn3 pitting area to find out what Nissan’s “race” Versa was all about.

The morning sessions went well, so well that Gardner found himself sitting at the top of the “Micro” class by mid-day. His lap time of 2:16 was good enough to put him a few seconds ahead of the supercharged Honda Fit of famed Honda tuner Jackson Racing. Skunk2’s Fit pulled a DNF, leaving turn3 in the #1 position at the mid-day break.

After pitting, Gardner raised concerns about the brake pads. Upon inspection it was determined that the team had been mistakenly supplied with a different compound pad. Team principal and turn3 Creative President Glenn Oyoung was given a crash course in brake pad installation. With the help of Richie Watanabe from Technosquare, the stock pads on the Versa were swapped back in. While not the optimal solution, it would allow the team to continue racing for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon a trio of heavily tuned Fits including the N1 Concepts K20 -powered (RSX-engine) Fit, Spoon Sports/Opak Racing Fit, and J’s Racing Fit joined the “Micro” class battle. Gardner was able to shave off another second off his time but was unable to fend off the newcomers despite an impressive showing.

“I’m totally excited about our performance today,” said Oyoung. “Dan drove the heck out of the Versa and we gave everyone a great run for their money,” he continued. “With our Versa so early on in its development cycle, we are really excited about the potential of this car as we look at how well we did today,” said Oyoung. He continued, “Just as important as our lap time is the fact that all day I had people coming up and expressing their excitement that someone is out here representing the Nissan brand in a unique way… that means a lot to me and the rest of the team at turn3. That was really the goal of this project from day one.”

The turn3/Siphon Versa will continue to make appearances at local Southern California tracks throughout the year. The team will compete at other races and high-performance driving events at Willow Springs and Buttonwillow in the year ahead.

(Note: This project is fully backed by turn3 Creative, Inc. which received no funds or support from NISMO. It’s a grassroots team paying homage to Nissan’s finest performance traditions.)

Read more about the turn3 Versa at the Nissan Versa Club website!

November 10, 2006

NICOclub Reaches Historic Milestone

Filed under: Nissan News / Infiniti News — greg @ 12:44 am

This morning, Nissan Infiniti Car Owners Club surpassed a significant milestone in its growth and expansion:  The registration of our 50,000th member!

While NICOclub has long been the #1 home of 240sx owners, our recent successes with the Murano forum and especially our Nissan Versa forum has vaulted NICOclub ahead of the competition and established our position as the premiere Nissan resource on the web.

Although 50K members is certainly cause for celebration, we’re not satisfied.  In fact, rather than popping the champagne, we made a thread about it, and got right back to work designing our newest addition to the NICOclub Network…  A hint:  It has to do with Grand American Road Racing…

We hope you’ll join us as we reach out to the next 50,000 Nissan enthusiasts – it’s going to be a hell of a fun ride. 

November 7, 2006

NICOclub Coverage of SEMA 2006!

Filed under: Nissan News / Infiniti News — greg @ 8:53 pm

Every year, around the first weekend of November, the NICOclub Staff makes its annual pilgrimage to SEMA – The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers’ Association show in Las Vegas, NV.

SEMA is the most-anticipated event of the year for folks in the automotive industry, and is one of the largest conventions in the U.S., drawing over 125,000 attendees and nearly 5,000 vendors.

The NICO Staff hits the show to stay abreast of the latest developments in the automotive aftermarket, to keep current on trends and future products, to meet sponsors and network with potential vendors, to plan events for the coming year, and most of all, to hang out and have fun with other car people!

This year’s show was simply phenomenal – The cars, the parts, the displays, the models, the food, the hands-on demonstrations, the giveaways, the celebrities… more stuff than you can possibly see in 4 days, all at a whirlwind pace.

The show ran Tuesday through Friday, and there’s no way to see it all – it’s just too enormous. So we strategized our “attack”: Skip the outdoorsman section (truck accessories, camping gear, etc.), the boating area, the trailer and towing booths, and the wheel / tire areas, which are easily a days’ worth of viewing.

Attending this year were: Torry (EZcheese15), Dan (240sx2nr95), Chris (MinisterOfDOOM), Jason (rotorimp), Chris (, Joe (Kamin), and yours truly (AZhitman).

We hit the Nissan booth right away, which was (as always) a bit disappointing. Nissan doesn’t provide factory reps for the show, relying on the cars to do the talking. The emphasis for Nissan’s future is clear: The 2007 Versa is their “ace in the hole”, and it was well-represented at SEMA. Six different Versa hatchbacks were present, all very distinctly-modded. The full-race “Turn3” Versa, complete with cage and racing harnesses, will be featured on NICO very soon. The Versas were joined by the Mark Ecko-edition Armada, a radical Frontier, a JGTC-styled Z and an off-road challenge Titan.

Other radical Nissans could be found elsewhere throughout the show, and it’s clear that the arrival of the restyled G35 Coupe (due in 2008) and the new 350Z can come none too soon. While prior SEMA events have contained numerous G35’s and 350Z’s, those were in short supply this year.

Nissan Sport Magazine was present for the first time, and we had an opportunity to spend some quality time with the Editor, Dave Bexfield, and plan some future collaboration.

A sure sign of all the hard work we’ve done over the past three years: The NICO staff was recognized throughout the event, and we were often pulled in several different directions by vendors, event promoters and other enthusiasts. Lots of people stopped us to express appreciation for the forums, which tells me we’re doing things right!

NICOclub has a good relationship with NOPI, one of the premier import-lifestyle events companies. We attended their press conference in which they announced the formation of the NOPI Drift Series, which will begin in 2007. We’ll be bringing you more details very soon, so stay tuned – It promises to be an awesome addition to the current drifting scene, and will be right in the thick of it.

The NICO staff enjoyed an evening of teppanyaki-style Japanese cuisine with the producers of the Best Motoring video series, and they shared with us some of their plans for the upcoming releases. We’ll be making some special arrangements with them for NICO members, and you won’t want to miss these! Thanks to Masa and Katsu for the enjoyable company and the great dinner, it was a blast!

We also spent some time with the crew from Paramax, the producers of the GT Live Series. Even though the weather put a damper on attendance at NICOfest at VIR, they’re eager to continue collaborating with NICO for some future events. Stay tuned for an announcement soon for GT Live / NICOfest events in Utah and a couple other venues for 2007!

All of the NICO staff are big fans of the show “Overhaulin” on TLC, and one of the highlights of SEMA was getting to meet Chip Foose, Chris, AJ, Mike LaValliere and some of the other stars of the show. Gracious and personable, they’re great fun to chat with. During the show, we had the opportunity to watch an Overhaulin’ build LIVE during its filming, and it’s simply amazing to see the progress the team makes in a matter of a couple hours!

One of our “roommates” during the SEMA show was none other than Mike Maez, of fame. Mike is one of the primary photographers for Modified Magazine, and he had just finished a recent shoot of the $1.7 million Koenigsegg CCX and the wicked “R14” (RB26DETT-powered, 1000-hp AWD S14) built by Full-Race. Mike was in full “photo ninja” mode all week, and you’ll be seeing a LOT more of his photography soon and can see some of his work via NICO’s Nov ’06 Ride Of The Month.

“Master Fabricator” and engine builder of the cover car Jason McCoy (rotorimp) attended as a guest of the NICO staff, and he took full advantage of the tool and fabrication components of the SEMA show. From plasma cutters to welders to specialty tools, he participated in several hands-on demonstrations, and even got some tips and pointers from the staff of Lincoln and ESAB.

If you’re in the automotive industry, make plans NOW to be at SEMA next year!

Over 1,000 pictures from the SEMA show can be found here:

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