It's over to Fuji Speedway once again as we dive deeper into the Nismo Festival coverage, an event that has become nothing short of legendary over the last decade. While the Z Challenge guys were out on track doing their thing, I grabbed the opportunity to check out what was lurking down in the pits and run across this evil looking Z33, Nismo's old GT-500 development car. You just got to love race cars running virtually no livery!
A few pits up from the Z33 I run a across a crowd favorite, the 2003 Motul Pitwork R34 GT-R, not the "real" RB26 powered one from the previous 2002 season but the one running the VQ30DETT. This was the final year the R34 GT-R run in GT-500, from the 2004 season onwards it was the Z33 that would take over.
A detailed view of the number 23 R391, a car that raced in Le Mans in 1999, but never actually finished the race due to electrical trouble. From 2000 the Nissan Motorsport program was cancelled so the R391 never really had a chance to show its potential. A true pity.
It has taken Nissan over 10 years to get back into international racing and from this year they have done a great job with the GT1 GT-R! This is the development car that is kept in Japan, now up to the latest specification to match the race cars that have just completed the race in Argentina.
More models! Nismo Festival is the place to pick up all your Nissan and Nismo related models; there are so many sizes and varieties to keep even the most die-hard collectors happy.
Check this JGTC Autobacs R33 GT-R from Ebbro, stunning attention to detail for such a small scale.
This GT500 Motul R35 GT-R was on sale at the Nismo shop…
…which also stocked everything else from the Nismo catalogue! Merchandise heaven!
When I heard that the legendary racers would be going out on track I quickly jumped in the media shuttle bus that Nismo provided and headed to turn 11 right after Dunlop to grab some action shots. A trip to Fuji wouldn't be complete without an obligatory action shot with Mt.Fuji right in the background.
The V12 powered NP35 was the most extreme out of all the cars Nismo had brought to the event. Built by Nismo in 1991, this single seater race car was created especially for the 1992 All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, and based on the Gr.C P35. Weight was kept to just 750 kg and the 3.5L V12 was pushed to around 650 HP at 11,600 rpm! As you can imagine this thing sounded incredible!
The Z Challenge allows Fairlady Z owners and tuners to participate in a series of races throughout the year, split into a series of different classes. However those that have been to earlier Nismo Festivals will remember that the highlight of the event was always the GT-R tuner battle, where the country's best like HKS, Mine's and Nismo themselves raced highly modified Skyline GT-Rs against each other. It was what everyone came for but now, it seems Nissan and Nismo are still trying to give as little focus as possible to the R35 tuning scene. Tuning shops are still not allowed to bring their modified R35 GT-R demo cars to try and not advertise the fact that the VR38DETT can easily be pushed to 800 HP and beyond. But as we will see in the third part of the coverage there were still a lot of nice cars and cool new parts to see for the older generations of the GT-R, not to mention the Zs and other Nissan models.
Here is a car I hadn't seen in a very long time, the Gr.5 Super Silhouette March from 1982 sporting the kind of exaggerated lines you would expect to see form this exciting race class.
It was parked next to the 1983 Gr.5 Silvia…
…and Hasemi Racing Gr.5 Tomica Skyline DR30. This is one of my favorite cars from the 80's and as ever I take my time to look over it in every detail. I should have enough pictures for a spotlight on this beast so stay tuned for more on it soon!
1969 Skyline 2000 GT-R 4-door. To keep the event interesting and not to be repetitive, Nismo tries to shuffle cars around from year to year so I was a little disappointed to see a lack of proper Nissan classics like the R380-II and the Hakosuka or S30 racers we all love seeing, and hearing, at the Nismo Festival. I'm sure the 2011 lineup will have some of these favorites back in action.
Next pit over was Gr.A heaven starting with the 1989 Reebok R31 Skyline based on the GTS-R model…
…the legendary 1990 Impul Calsonic BNR32 that was driven by Hoshino…
…and finally the Zexel car of 1992. Hearing the highly tuned RB26s of these two beasts screaming out on track always gives me goosebumps. These two cars (let's not forget the Taisan R32 of Keiichi Tsuchiya!) is what the GT-R is all about and they are far more emotionally connected to their road going base cars than what we are used to seeing these days in Super GT.
The R92CP parked next to the NP35 and R390 GT1. Quite the line up!
Perspective is everything!
Even if not powered by the dry-sumped RB26 that was used on the previous season's car, this 2004 R34 still makes me weak at the knees when I get close to it. Absolutely stunning machine.
The Sumo Power GT1 development car, a stunning piece of automotive art! With GT1 regulations stipulating that the base chassis cannot be modified beyond recognition like in the GT-500 class of Super GT, the GT1 looks like something a tuning shop would come up with! I still can't believe nobody has created a replica body kit yet!
Sumo Power Japan was one of the most popular stands in the paddock selling all sorts of cool products like these t-shirts with a caricature of the race car. Andy Barnes was also there to check out the event and enjoy the stunning weather.
A lot of focus was put on the Historic Car Exhibition Race where…
…a hoard of B110s and B310s went out for a pretty close 7-lap battle.
Four KPGC10 race cars also joined, but they were way off the pace, getting lapped by the little Sunnies by the end of the race.
The Hirota Tomei Sunny, probably the most recognizable car of the lot, came in second position behind the number 24 black Advan Tomei Sunny.
After scoffing down lunch in two minutes I was back out, this time to the grid to get a closer look at the cars what would be participating in the GT-R and Z All Star Battle, the main event of the day.
From the 2006 Super GT season the GT-500 Z33.
Despite the clear skies December is no time to be wearing this sort of attire so hats off to the race queens for parading around in these skimpy outfits.
The Hasemi Sport uniform at least comes with a little jacket!
The number 1 Penzoil Nismo R34 GT-R. As soon as the BNR34 was released in 1999 Eric Comas went out and won the JGTC GT-500 class with this car following his championship win the previous year with the R33 GT-R that wore the same livery. Epic to say the least!
Before the race started I headed out on track to find a nice spot from which to shoot the 10-lap race. The action will follow in Part 3 so don't miss it!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare