Nissan’s racing legacy began more than 80 years ago and continues today. It’s an amazing story of determination, adversity, and passion for the sport. Here are some highlights.
Competition begins, innovation accelerates
In only its second year, the passion for motorsport is obvious. At a 1200-meter oval track near Tokyo, Datsun - the original brand of Nissan, which later became known officially as Nissan – employs the NL75 racer’s new DOHC supercharged engine to win against other, much larger foreign cars, starting the legend of a “Giant Killer”. It also begins the tradition of taking lessons learned from racing, and bringing them to our street vehicles.
Conquering a 19-day Challenge Others Couldn’t Endure
Battling poor roads, floods, and extreme temperatures, Nissan furthers its reputation for durability by finishing first in its class at the “The World’s Cruelest Rally” around the Australian continent. At the wheel was Yasuharu Nanba, who later becomes the first president of NISMO. Half the entrants didn’t finish the 16,600-km course – deemed so severe, it was never used again.
The Skyline Overtakes the Porsche and Inspires a Generation
Shock at Suzuka
World Class performance. The Skyline GT earns Pole position in qualifying for the 1964 JAPAN Grand Prix, and then overtakes a Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, taking the lead at the Japan Grand Prix. Not only a surprise to Porsche, it becomes one of the pinnacle moments for motorsport and Japan.
New Continent – New Records
240Z in the U.S.A.
In 1970, the 240Z was a favorite among private racers, and began a tradition of collecting titles in SCCA C Production. The Z wins the C Production National Championships in 1970 and 1971. The Z legend continues with a 350Z win in the Touring 3 race at the 2016 SCCA National Championships, marking Nissan’s 100th SCCA Runoff title – the first automaker in SCCA history to achieve such an incredible landmark.
Return of the King
After bringing the GT-R back in 1989, it returns to motorsport with a vengeance, lapping all competitors to win its first race in 1990. It becomes one of the most dominant racers ever in the All-Japan Touring Car Championships, with an unprecedented 29-race winning streak through 1993. It becomes a worldwide phenomenon, winning the 1991 Spa Francorchamps 24 hours. In Australia, the GT-R wins the title for 1991 and 1992, and earns the nickname “Godzilla”.
Rising to New Challenges
Group C Success
Participating in Group C in Japan from 1984, Nissan’s Group C car builds an impressive record, including three wins in 1990-1992. After the team creates its own chassis in 1991, drivers Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, and Toshio Suzuki serve notice on the world stage with a win at the prestigious 1992 24 Hours of Daytona with the R91CP.
24 Hours of Le Mans
With a Le Mans program that began in 1986, the 1998 NISMO-developed Nissan R390 GT1 takes on the world's most legendary endurance race. With a 3rd-place finish in the GT1 class, it becomes the first time a Japanese team stands on the podium at Le Mans. In addition to this, 4 of the top 10 finishers in GT1 were Nissan vehicles.
Fairlady Z GT500 Rides to Victory in Its Debut Year
2004 All Japan GT Championship
Successor to the Skyline GT-R R34, the Fairlady Z quickly proved its competitiveness by winning its very first race. Satoshi Motoyama and Richard Lyons drove it to victory. The Fairlady Z went on to win Round 6, culminating with Nissan securing the Team title for the season, and Motoyama and Lyons taking home the Driver’s crown.
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