The 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011

27 years aiming for a "Strong, Winning Nismo". Nismo's History in Racing.

Nismo (Nissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd.) was formed as a specialist company to take on all of the motorsport activities by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (henceforth "Nissan"). It competes for best results in top-class motorsport events both inside and outside Japan, using both Nissan cars and vehicles that employ components made by Nissan (e.g. engines), with its highest priority being to raise the brand image of the Nissan Group. It is also responsible for the development of those competition vehicles and components designed for competitive racing, as well as being Nissan's representative, fiduciary, and executor for all its marketing activities that relate to motorsports. As customer-level motorsport activities around the world have increased in recent years, it has also begun to develop globally competitive production racecars, supply them to customers, and provide motorsport-relevant customer support.

1. The First Decade: 1984 - 1993

The Birth of Nismo
Nismo was founded in September 1984 in Omori, Tokyo, Japan. Nismo, a full subsidiary of Nissan, decided to take over the equipment, buildings and overall motorsport business of the Nissan advertising department's third section, located in the Omori annex, which used to specialize in the sale of sports kits for competitors in motorsport, as well as providing user support. Nismo also took over the Special Car Testing Division in Nissan's Oppama plant while continuing with the development of racing cars.
Mr. Yasuharu Namba, bringing with him extensive experience in motorsports from Nissan's Testing Division, was appointed as founding president. Mr. Namba was the driver when Nissan entered the Mobilgas Trial (Round Australia Rally) for the first time in 1958. Afterwards, he led the testing teams and took proactive steps to take the company to national touring car races and international rallies. It was based on this experience that he was entrusted with the management of the motorsport specialist company within the Nissan Group of companies.

Participation in Motorsports and the Vehicle Development Business
In 1985, the company's second year of operation, Nismo initiated its participation in motorsports. It released vehicles in two categories with the goal of improving Nissan Group's brand identity. Group C cars appeared in the All-Japan Endurance Championship, and the company's Group A cars participated in the All-Japan Touring Car Championship. The Group A car of choice was the Nissan Skyline R30 RS Turbo. The Group C car had a race-prepared V6 turbo engine, developed in cooperation with the American company Electra motive, mounted to a chassis manufactured by the British company March Engineering. The Group A car laid the foundation for its descendant, the apex of the line of that era, the R32 Skyline GT-R.
In October of 1985, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Akira Hagiwara, and Keiji Matsumoto drove the March 85G Nissan to victory in the WEC in Japan at Fuji Speedway. This gave them the opportunity to participate in the following year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. From that point on, Nismo remained active as a Nissan works' team, mainly in Group A and Group C championships, both of which brought prosperity to Japanese motorsports. From a user-support standpoint, team and machine technical support appeared for the Japanese Rally Championship as well as for other support races for big events such as the Japan Super Sports Sedan Race (JSS) and the All-Japan Formula 3 championship. Also that year, planning and administration began for the holding of a K10 March one-make race.

Group C Cars and Their Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1985 - 90)
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is held at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France, a track with an overall length of 13.6km, including a 6km straightaway. The race is known as one of the toughest in the world, not only because of the high speeds, but also because of the inability for teams to practice beforehand as two-thirds of the course is comprised of public roads. Nismo, after achieving victory at the 1985 WEC in Japan, began to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1986. Despite that year being their first entry in the race, the Nissan R85V Amada completed the event in 16th place overall with the driving team of Masahiro Hasemi, Takao Wada and James Weaver. From that point on, the competition team gathered increased momentum. In 1987, they released a newly developed V8 turbo engine, and in 1988, expanded to a 4-car team with the inclusion of 2 private entries. The following year, 1989, they unveiled a trio of R89Cs equipped with the improved VRH35 engine. While able to amply display their speed in qualifying, all three cars retired from the race. To avenge that defeat, in 1990 Nismo entered a total of 5 cars from 3 Nissan bases in Japan, Europe, and America, and put together a team that was sure to win. They qualified on pole, and for most of the first half of the race, the European and American machines were alternately running on top, but both cars ran into trouble and ended up retiring. The Japanese-driven Nissan R90CP took 5th place overall, the highest position earned to that date by Japanese entrants at Le Mans, raising the hopes of the Japanese motorsport fans watching the on-site television broadcast. Vehicle regulations were amended the following year however, and Nissan/Nismo's Le Mans challenge was put on hold.

Group A, Where the Skyline GT-R Set an Unrivaled Record for Consecutive Wins (1985 - 93)
Group A, a competition for mass-produced cars, began in 1985 as the All-Japan Touring Car Championship, Nismo competing with the R30 from the first season. In 1986, Aguri Suzuki became champion driving a Skyline. The R31 Skyline GTS-R, featuring an RB20 engine, debuted the following year. As the Inter TEC international race held at Fuji garnered broad attention, domestic carmakers began to put great effort into the category. In 1989, Kazuyoshi Hoshino won pole position in four of six races, while Masahiro Hasemi won three races to become champion, both driving R31 Skylines. Then in 1990, the long-awaited R32 Skyline debuted. The machine dominated the season, winning poles and victories in all six races. In his Calsonic Skyline, Kazuyoshi Hoshino completed a perfect season to become champion with five victories. This however, was just the beginning of the car's unprecedented run of success. After that, the GT-R dominated, stacking up victory after victory. The following year, 1991, Hasemi became champion with the Reebok-liveried Skyline, repeating the feat again in 1992, while Masahiko Kageyama took the championship in 1993 in the Calsonic Skyline. The R32 GT-R, with its RB26DETT in-line six-valve twin turbo engine and full-time four wheel drive, was truly a machine without equal, and won all twenty-nine races entered from its debut in 1990 to when the Group A championship series ended in `93, adding another remarkable chapter to the history of the Skyline GT-R. That perfect record closely resembles the 50 domestic touring car victories taken by the first generation Skyline GT-R, built between 1969 and 1972.

1988: NISSAN 200SX Scores Group A Victory on Ivory Coast WRC Event
Nissan cars used to be so active in safari rallies that they were even sometimes called "Nissan Rallies". Nismo inherited this spirit. The Group B 'Nissan 240RS' with the rally-designed FJ24-type engine ranked 4th in the 1985 WRC standings. In 1987 and 1988, when the main WRC category had become Group A, Nissan entered with the 200SX and came 2nd overall on the 1988 WRC Safari Rally. On the Ivory Coast Rally of the same year they even took the overall win. This was the last time in the history of the WRC that an FR car won and after that the period of high-powered 4WD machines came into being. Nismo took a break from the WRC from that year but reappeared in 1992 with the N14 Pulsar GTI-R. That year, Nismo caught people's attention by ranking third overall on the Swedish Rally but following that result there were no major achievements and Nismo eventually announced that it would unfortunately no longer be competing in the WRC.

1991: Taking Outright Victory in the Spa 24 Hours (Spa Francorchamps, Belgium)

Nismo opened its first international base, Nissan Motorsports Europe, in London in 1988. The company started its work in London as a front-line base for launching its touring car and Le Mans challengers. Later that year, Nissan Motorsports Europe made its first appearance with the R31 Skyline GTS-R in the 24-hour race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, part of the European Touring Car Championship, where it placed sixth.
In the 1990 running of the Spa 24 Hours, Group N R32 entries scored 1st, 2nd and 3rd, shocking the European racing world. Then in 1991, Nissan Motorsports Europe entered a Group A-spec. R32 GT-R, and the driver lineup of Anders Olofsson, Naoki Hattori and David Brabham overwhelmingly beat the competition with a lights-to-flag victory, leading to claims there was no car that could compete with the R32 GT-R. The car also continued its string of victories in Group N during this period. The following year, 1992, Group A was retired, though the Group N class continued and saw the GT-R score its third consecutive victory in the legendary race.

Taking Overall Victory in the 1992 Daytona 24 Hours
Nismo the Group C class at Le Mans in 1990 for the last time, but at the start of 1992, the firm entered the Daytona 24 Hours, considered one of the top three endurance races in the world, together with Le Mans and Spa. At the race held in the U.S. state of Florida, the Japanese trio of Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki, driving a Nissan R91CP, took over the top spot on the first lap after having started third. However, they then faced unforeseen trouble and were forced to temporarily pull out of the race, before returning after midnight and retaking the lead. By the twenty-fourth hour, they enjoyed a ten-lap cushion over the closest followers, reaching the chequered flag in that position. Daytona's victory lane overflowed with Japanese drivers, mechanics and other staff surrounding the Japanese-made car, creating a new chapter in the history of the Daytona 24 Hours. Furthermore, a record 762 laps were recorded by the R91CP, one that to this day has yet to be broken.
That year, Nissan won their third consecutive Manufacturer Championship in the All-Japan Sports Prototype Championship, with Kazuyoshi Hoshino winning the Driver's championship. Changes in regulations the following year however, meant this was the final year for the All-Japan Sports Prototype Championship, and the end of the well-loved Group C era.

Establishment of the March Cup and Zaurus Cup
Nismo has from the outset aimed to support the growth of industries related to motorsport users in Japan and has consistently supported users who want to enjoy motorsports using Nissan cars and cars with Nissan engines. As part of this initiative, Nismo launched a rental-spec race series using the K10 March in 1997. This gave many hobby racers the chance to experience motorsport first-hand. The March Cup continued with the K11 and K12 chassis and became loved by sports fans as a light but very realistic spec. race series. The Nissan Zaurus, specially designed for racing and lavishly announced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989, featured a spec. race and a series championship which received a lot of attention. Further, Nismo developed backup drivers for rally and dirt trial competitions, steadily developing the motorsport user sector.

2. The Second Decade: 1994 - 2003

The Move of Touring Car Races From Group A to a New Series
The Japanese touring car championship for Group A cars ended in 1993. The following year the championship transformed into a series of sprint races for mass-produced FF sedans with naturally-aspirated two-litre engines. All the major Japanese carmakers showed an interest in this series and Nismo entered two models that were already racing in Britain's BTCC, the P10 Primera and B14 Sunny. This series had two races per meet, meaning a total of 14-18 races listed on a calendar full of intense on-track battles among a large group of similarly talented drivers. In 1994, Kazuyoshi Hoshino took only one victory in his Primera and in 1995 Akira Iida and Hoshino both won in their Sunny and Primera respectively, which meant that although Nissan made it to the podium they weren't able to win the championship. However, in 1996, when the new P11 Primera made its debut, Nissan's number of victories rose to 4 - though once again, the carmaker was unable to take the championship title. This was also the year when Satoshi Motoyama, an F3 champion, was picked out and became a hot topic when he debuted in the JTCC in a works' car. Motoyama showed huge talent in 1997 too when he continued in the JTCC. He had two wins and was in the battle for the title until the last race, losing the title by only 7 points. It was also the year Nismo wrapped up its involvement in the JTCC. The JTCC itself ended in 1998.

The GT-car Racing Boom and The Success of The GT-R
After the end of the popular Group C era, the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship began in 1993. Kicking off the first year's competition, Masahiko Kageyama's Calsonic GT-R (R32) took the championship title. The series was crowded with powerful foreign cars including entries from Porsche and Ferrari. Kageyama drove a GT-R again the following year, and still won the championship for the second time running. The R33 Skyline GT-R came on the scene in 1995. At the opening race held at Suzuka, Kageyama's GT-R won on its debut. In six races, the GT-R won twice, and Kageyama shone in the driver's category as the winner of three successive championships. However in 1996, the appearance of the FIA GT-spec McLaren GT1 made life difficult for the GT-R. Aguri Suzuki, who had recently made a comeback to domestic racing from Formula One, was appointed lead driver, and although Suzuki and Erik Comas threw themselves into the quest for the 1997 title by winning the opening round, with no further victories, Nismo fell just short of the title. In 1998 however, the hard work that went into a thorough reevaluation of the car's capacities, including aerodynamics and the like, bore fruit. Nismo's Pennzoil Skyline (Erik Comas/Masami Kageyama) won two races, and at the end of a furious battle for the title with the Honda NSX, emerged as series' champions. In addition to the driver category, Nismo took a double title when they also won the Teams' title.
Battles in the JGTC at the end of the 20th century continued to intensify between the manufacturers, and the GT500 category continuously raised the level of all the works' teams.

Going Back to Le Mans with The Fans

Meanwhile, the passion related to Nismo's 24 Hours of Le Mans attempt had not abated, and in 1995, following the R33 Skyline GT-R's entry into the Japan GT Championship (JGTC), 2 cars based on the R33-type GT-R chassis, the Nismo GT-R LM were made to conform to the new GT regulations and entered in the Le Mans race. In concert with this competitive plan, Nismo established a new group for fans called "Club Le Mans", and created a system where fans could not only support the team, but also participate in its operation. The team of Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Toshio Suzuki, and Masahiko Kageyama drove the #23 car, and the team of Hideo Fukuyama, Masahiko Kondo, and Shunji Kasuya drove the #22 machine. The former trio ran as high as 6th place overall at one point, but eventually retired due to gearbox failure. The latter group finished in 10th place overall and 5th in class. They also made another attempt with nearly the same machines the following year, but were not able to surpass the previous year's result.
After one year with no improvement, Nismo teamed up with England's TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) in 1997 on a collaborative project, and participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with 3 cars, known as the Le Mans GT1 machine, the Nissan R390 GT1. This was the year of Nissan's new brand identity, and this entry made an impact on the international race industry. However, they were insufficiently developed for the race, and 2 vehicles on the team retired, though the #23 car finished the race. Despite this frustration, the 1998 model R390 GT1 made a drastic improvement, and out of 4 Nismo entries, the #32 car (driven by Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Aguri Suzuki and Masahiko Kageyama) came in 3rd place overall after completing 347 laps. The news that the Japanese trio stood on the Le Mans podium raced all throughout Japan. Additionally, all 3 of the other vehicles also finished in the top ten that year. At the end of the year, Nismo held the first "Nismo Fesitival" at Fuji Speedway, in order to create an opportunity to interact with fans.
As an illustration of their desire to take the overall win, Nismo entered their "Nissan R391" in the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) class for the 24-hour race in 1999, but the #23 car crashed in qualifying and was pulled from running in the race, so all of the team's hopes were entrusted to just one car, the #22 machine. However, that car, which at one time rose to an overall 4th place, retired with electrical failure. Even though the image of the Club Le Mans members waving the Japanese and the Nissan flags throughout the night became an established element of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the following year Nismo cancelled their participation in the Le Mans race due to financial difficulties. Nismo had to once again postpone their dreams of a Le Mans victory.

The Focus of Works' Activities Turns to the JGTC
With the release of the R34 Skyline GT-R in 1999, Nismo entered two GT500 GT-Rs in the highest level of domestic racing, the JGTC series. The number one Pennzoil Nismo GT-R driven by Erik Comas won the championship. The following year, 2000, former F1 driver Ukyo Katayama was invited to the Nismo team, which had entered with two cars. Although they did not win the championship, the Castrol Nismo GT-R (Katayama/Michael Krumm) was the centre of attention after winning in Malaysia, the JGTC's first overseas race (non-championship). In 2001, at the fourth round, held at Fuji, a single maker dominated both classes, with GT-Rs finishing 1-2 in GT500, and Silvias finishing 1-2 in GT300. Those superb achievements helped them rack up the points, and Nismo took the GT500 Team title. The following year, 2002, the GT-R received a new heart in the V6 VQ engine, and although its competitiveness was improved, the championship title eluded the team. In 2003, the R34 GT-R's final year, car #23 took pole position in the opening race, and in the second round at Fuji, the #22 car driven by Richard Lyons and Masami Kageyama took the first win for the VQ engine. In the end, Satoshi Motoyama and Michael Krumm in car #23 took the Driver's championship. In the final race at Suzuka, the drivers were surrounded by fans as they celebrated their come-from-behind championship win.

3. The Third Decade : 2004 - 2011

Nissan Global Motorsports Consolidates its Activities
The second-generation CEO, Jiro Adachi, forged alliances with fans; the third-generation CEO, Kenichi Sasaki, had once worked on the design of Nissan's VQ engine; then, in 2004, Yuichi Sanada, who had walked the floors of the automobile plants, succeeded them as CEO. Before that appointment, in 2002 Nismo had emerged as the pivotal entity that united Nissan's Global Motorsports activities into one unit. The CEO took the helm of that operation and steered Nismo to its central role. The most notable event of this period was Nismo's participation in the Dakar Rally. Nissan's pickup truck, developed in 2003 in South Africa contested that event. The following year, Nissan improved drastically on the design of that vehicle and entered the rally again, this time with former champion Ari Vatanen and ex-WRC Champion Colin McRae at the helm, forging a powerful unit. Unfortunately, all four works' cars ran into trouble and didn't post the expected results. From 2003, Nismo had been in the process of meeting a four-year plan to take the overall win by 2006; in 2005, South African-born Giniel de Villiers ranked fourth place overall and garnered acclaim, but reaching Nismo's goal for the remainder of the year proved to be too big a hurdle, and the Nissan works' team refrained from participating in the rally the following year. CEO Sanada, at the helm of Nismo, made this decision, but in the ensuing years led Nismo in its participation in the SUPER GT series, the successor of the JGTC, as well as entering the Nissan Tiida in the China Touring Car Championship (CTCC), activating Nismo's participation at events with local roots. In 2006, the Nissan Driver Development Program was launched, a training program for up-and-coming young drivers giving them an opportunity to compete on a global level.

SUPER GT, Where Nismo Boasts Its Strength

With sales of the Skyline GT-R coming to a close, Nismo turned its sights on the Z33-type Fairlady Z, on which they based their entry into the GT500 class of the JGTC. Their first year was 2004, and despite it being their debut season, the Xanavi Nismo Z team, bearing competition number one (Satoshi Motoyama/Richard Lyons) were series' champions for the second straight season, proving the high quality of Nismo-built racecars. The following year, 2005, Nismo won again to set a record of three consecutive Team's championship titles. However, their rivals would not be held down, and Nismo failed to capture the title in 2006 and 2007 when racing with a Z. The series that had long been known as the JGTC changed its name to Super GT in 2005 - along with a change towards more entertaining racing in an effort to attract male and female fans of all ages. At the end of 2007, the long-awaited R35 Nissan GT-R was released, and from 2008 Nismo once again used a GT-R base as their entry in the GT500 class. The new car, equipped with the VK45DE engine, raced with irresistible force and recorded good results that year, the #23 Xanavi Nismo GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) taking the series' championship. After that, with the appearance of numerous rivals and the inherent difficulties associated with switching to a new engine, Nismo was unable to capture the title in 2009 or 2010. However, in 2011, the satellite team's S Road MOLA GT-R became champions, with the Nismo MOTUL AUTECH GT-R taking second place, bringing the GT-R a 1-2 result in the series.

Beginning the Development of Globally Competitive Racecars for Customer Use
After withdrawing from the Dakar Rally, Nismo's name became distanced from the international motorsports scene. However, it was then announced that beginning in 2010, the FIA GT Championship, which until that point had been concentrated mainly in Europe, would be making a new start as the FIA GT1 World Championship. Nismo was quick to take advantage of this, and in 2008, it swiftly developed GT1-specification car using its new GT-R as a base. The car's competitiveness was checked by running it in a few events in the 2009 FIA GT Championship. The following year, 2010, Nismo supplied 4 GT-Rs to two teams based in Europe, in synchrony with the commencement of the new series. One of these vehicles took first place in just the second race of the season, at Silverstone in England. Nismo had made its return to the international stage in spectacular fashion. Furthermore, in 2011, with data gathered the previous year having increased the flexibility of the cars, there were very few incidents of machine trouble, and this combined with the drivers' skill in avoiding accidents led to an even greater number of high-place finishes in the championship races. Although the fight for the title was not decided until the final round in Argentina, the points' lead built up by the Michael Krumm/Lucas Luhr driving duo in the #23 GT-R carried them to the FIA GT1 World Championship title.
Nismo's return to the international stage brings with it an increased interest in its specialized motorsports vehicles and specialized racing components. In response to the change to Le Mans Series LMP2-class engine specifications beginning in 2011, Nismo began supplying its independently developed endurance focused VK45DE engine to multiple teams. A customer team from England took the championship in the very first year, and Nissan Europe succeeded in taking the series championship with the team it entered into the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series.

Nismo's Playing Field Now Extends to the Global Stage.
In addition to taking the lead in proposing a new paradigm of electric vehicles (EV) as an ideal solution for the next generation of racing cars, Nismo unveiled the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, and performed demonstration runs with the car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, held at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France in June, 2011. Additionally, in response to requests from the international motorsports community, Nismo developed an FIA GT3-spec. Nissan GT-R for the next generation of customer race cars, and plan to bring it to market in 2012. Also announced is a car for production races based on the Z34 Nissan 370Z. Nismo is now attempting to continue with a new business genre based not only on the development of a limited number of works' machines, but also on the development and provision of race-specification customer cars.

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