NISMOFest Turns 20: Nissan's Big Bash Celebrates All Things GT-R

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Not long after promising to build new spare parts for the GT-R as part of its NISMO heritage program, the company threw a big bash at the Fuji Speedway circuit in its honor. More than 150 of its cousins showed up.

This is the 20th year for the NISMO Festival, which showcases the Nissan GT-R and the NISMO brand. It’s as if someone sprinkled fairy dust on an old Gran Turismo game and it sprang to life.

In the run up to this year’s event, the company highlighted the 23 greatest Nissan and NISMO moments of the past 12 months. Why 23? Well, the number 2 in Japanese is pronounced as “Ni” and number 3, “San.” The brand uses this number in major championships across the globe including Super GT, Blancpain GT Series. and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

“We’re very thankful for the support of the fans throughout the season,” said NISMO president Takao Katagiri. “Although we missed Super GT championship by mere two points, the victory at the final round gave us a clear direction of what should be done over the winter for the next season.” Nissan also takes over for Renault in the Formula E series next December.

Along with the traditional NISMO Grand Prix race featuring entries from Super GT, Super Taikyu and Europe’s Blancpain GT Series championships, the event also included a Racing GT-R Heritage Run. The Heritage Run featured 16 famous GT-Rs from Nissan’s racing past dating back to the Skyline HT 2000 GT-R from the late 60s.

Anyone who cut their teeth and wore out their thumbs on the Gran Turismo video games can surely identify most of the Nissans in these photos, along with being able to recognize the majority of Fuji’s corners and its myriad of configurations. I was always partial to the Pennzoil-liveried 1999 GT-R.

In real life, that new R34 GT-R found itself in far fiercer competition than anticipated, not scoring its first win until the fourth race of the season. That would be its only win that year but, in a fit of consistency, it collected enough points on the strength of its reliability to give Erik Comas, driving the Pennzoil NISMO GT-R, the Driver’s Championship for the second year in a row before the final race was even run.

In the showroom, the current GT-R isn’t a big seller but it is a hell of a halo car. Last month, Nissan sold 21 of them, making for just over 500 new registrations so far this year. The GT-R’s best month in this decade? March 2011, when it sold 278 units. It’s best year was when it was fresh out of the box, finding 1730 takers during its first calendar year in 2008.

The next big event on NISMO’s calendar is the IMSA Test at Daytona’s Roar Before the 24, held the first week of January.

[Images: Nissan]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Land Ark Land Ark on Nov 28, 2017

    Please stop forcing me to remember 1990s Nissan. It makes me so sad. I'm saving my pennies (not well enough for sure) to get an R33 GT-R when they are available here. I'd prefer Bayside Blue but I'd also be happy with one like I got to sit in and start while in Japan: a gray V Spec.

  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Nov 28, 2017

    Yep. I didnt even get into GT until late and there's so many iconic race cars from the Nismo Xanavi to the blue Calsonics to the HKS drag cars...

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