Tis the season for the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, and that means everyone in the aftermarket parts industry gets to have fun, cut loose, and party all night long! Yeah, right. Anyone who’s ever attended the trade conference knows it’s a challenge to absorb everything in one go – all the companies, vendors, display vehicles, et al – which is why Nissan commissioned The Enthusiast Network’s various video personalities to go out to the important booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center and ask the questions you couldn’t.
For an event about customizing cars, however, Nissan couldn’t let it end at simple coverage of key players. Enter the challenges each host brings to the video series, every one revolving around heavily modified Nissan and culminating in a War of the Nissan Worlds drag race.
Fred Williams, Dirt Every Day
Williams takes a look at the truck and off-roading parts that make your pickup or SUV look equally good in the parking lot or dirt. Then we get to see what he brings to the Nissan War of the Worlds race.
About that drag race, some were willing to divulge what they were campaigning, but Fred, being Fred, didn’t want to disclose anything – at first. His challengers immediately speculated he was bringing some sort of wild off-road truck no one had ever seen before; then they remembered he’s the host of Dirt Every Day, so they began to rethink that. Could it be something not intended for the dirt? Was he brining a Nissan Juke?
Well, no. He actually found a crazy off-road truck; Fred brought out a big gun, the Nissan Titan Trophy Truck owned by Fred LaMonte. He also decided to make SEMA Week all about himself, changing his show’s name from Dirt Every Day to Fred Every Day.
So how does Williams justify bringing a Trophy Truck to this all-Nissan meet? You’ll have to see in the video, but he also talks to several off-road and truck vendors from the SEMA Show in the video and, if you are building your own Trophy or rock crawler, you’ll want to see what the next big thing is in off-roading.
Jessi Lang, The J-Turn
Lang is the type of girl you don’t take on a normal date. She’s not much into flowers and fancy things. But she likes rings, donut rings – and not the type you eat but the ones you make as you drift around in your Nissan 370Z NISMO. That’s exactly what she does, and we also get to follow along with her at the SEMA Show to see the latest from the OEMs.
Jessi’s no stranger to fast cars and knows in the pursuit of quick times you need every advantage you can get. When you’re building or modifying a car for speed that means creating an environment that’s conducive to building confidence behind the steering wheel. To show the importance of making a driver-centric speed machine, Jessi challenges the others to pilot the Nissan 370Z NISMO with her seat settings. At five-foot, one-inch tall, she’s not exactly the tallest driver in the group (she’s actually the smallest), but the ensuing exercise in discomfort aptly illustrates the importance of seating position.
Don’t worry; everyone gets two laps around the course, one with the car fitting them and one fitting Jessi. Fastest times win Jessi’s challenge, and if you want to know who took home bragging rights in the NISMO Z, well, you’ll just have to watch the video.
Mike Finnegan, Roadkill
Finnegan is a classic car connoisseur; if it was built over 30 years ago, he’s going to fall in love with it. That’s why he’s the perfect person to have on the SEMA Show floor checking out the vintage car performance and restoration booths. He speaks to salespeople and reps and shows you what’s hot in classic. Then he shows us his Nissan Challenge – but you know it won’t be a normal contest.
Finnegan brings in three iconic examples of Nissan’s S30 chassis – Gordan McSwain’s 1970 240Z with an RB engine swap, Larry Chen’s 1971 Z with an SR20DET mill, and Darius Khashabi’s 1972 Z with LT1 power – and challenges his co-hosts to a game akin to H-O-R-S-E in the vintage sports cars. Called instead “2-4-0,” each contestant takes a turn doing a stunt and the others have to match. If no one can match, then the host gets a number, and the first to 2-4-0 wins the game. Check out who bests whom and what types of driving antics take place.
Mike Sabounchi, Super Street
The SEMA Show is the perfect example of something massive that needs many, many hands behind the scenes to make sure everything works smoothly. You get a peek at this world thanks to Sabounchi from the upcoming program Modified, as he guides you through the world underneath the show. Mike also introduces us to new products for the Import and tuner worlds, and then introduces the other hosts to half-mile roll racing using a tuned GT-R with a twist.
On the first leg they have to accelerate as fast as they can in a 1,000-horsepower-plus Nissan GT-R built by RD Engineering and Road Race Engineering and owned by Roy Narvaez. As soon as they get to the end of that run, the hosts must then turn around and run at top speed again back to the start; however, they must then slow down to 25mph in the middle 100-yards. The host with the best combined time of highest and lowest speed wins the challenge.
War of the Nissan Worlds Drag Race
Looking at the spectrum of Nissan our hosts have driven over the week, one question emerges: which build is really the best of all of them? Williams brought out the Titan Trophy Truck, Jessi the NISMO Z, Finnegan Gordon McSwain’s RB-powered Z, and Sabounchi the 1,000-plus-horsepower GT-R. All of these vehicles are unique in their own right, just like our hosts.
Not only that, but they are the best within their respective categories. The Trophy Truck takes on the silt and rocks of open deserts, so it’s tough, fast, and powerful. McSwain’s Z is the import version of the resto-mod with an RB-engine swap but keeps the classic lines of the Datsun 240Z. The NISMO 370Z is factory perfection with modern performance. The Narvaez Racing GT-R puts out more power than you’d ever need, but despite that handles like a car on rails.
How do you choose which one is best? On the racetrack, of course. The grudge match is settled with the War of the Worlds drag race, a side-by-side, all on the line, no holds barred drag race down the 1320. Which host takes the win? Which vehicle is the ultimate Nissan? You’ll have to watch to see!