It's like a Z, but with an ironing board bolted to the rear.
Nissan has made plenty of headlines recently with the new Nissan Z, but the Japanese automaker is now going racing. This past weekend, Nismo took the covers off its all-new Z GT500 race car for the Super GT series in Japan. Nissan's new Z car replaces the aging GT-R race car and will serve as the new face of Nissan Motorsport.
It's an aggressive move away from the GT-R to the new Z, as Nissan gave up on most forms of motorsport a while ago. It tried competing in endurance races with the DeltaWing project, but it was a complete failure. These days it's mainly in the business of building cars that celebrate previous victories.
The Z does have a racing legacy, however. In the 1970s, Nissan clocked several wins locally in the SCCA C Production Series with the S30 240Z. The Z32 300ZX scored several wins in the IMSA Series during the 1990s, while the Z33 scored a series championship in the JGTC/Super GT series in the 2000s.
"The Nissan Z GT500 symbolizes Nissan's spirit of taking on challenges and bringing excitement to life. Through our racing efforts, we continue to innovate our cars, and we race to win with the same daring we have displayed so many times over the years," said Nissan COO, Ashwani Gupta.
The Super GT Series is essentially Japan's grand touring series. It's a smash hit in the Land of the Rising Sun, regularly attracting more than 100,000 live viewers pre-pandemic. Experts reckon the sport is loved by fans old and new. The older generation likes the close, technical racing, while the younger generation likes cars that feature are within their budget range. As you can see in the photographs, the Z GT500 isn't modified to the extent that isn't recognizable anymore.
The Super GT Series also uses a sliding-scale weight handicap to ensure that a single manufacturer does not dominate the series. This doesn't impede the engineering side, as manufacturers are constantly challenged. According to rumors, the race organizers will be adding around 40 miles to each race to force the competitors to make the engines more fuel-efficient.
While fans may see what looks like a Z, only the basic steel chassis is carried over to the actual car. The real race cars are outsourced to third-party race car builders.
For the most part, Nissan racing is dead in the USA. The closest we get is an EV racing concept and Nissan's continued participation in Formula E.
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