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A celebration of heritage

The 2016 NISMO Festival


Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven

Serving as a mecca of sorts for fans of Japanese performance cars, and more importantly, Nissan enthusiasts, the NISMO Festival is an annual celebration of all things Nissan, and a way of honoring Nissan and NISMO’s historic achievements on and off the track.

Braving the cold December winds, over 30,000 attendees flocked to the Fuji Speedway circuit, 40 kilometers from the base of Japan’s beloved Mt. Fuji, to partake in a day of vintage car races, meet and greets with GT3 and GT500 drivers, browse through stalls of aftermarket accessories and collectibles from Japan’s top JDM tuning brands, partake of delicious food, and of course, to ogle at generations of iconic Nissan machinery.

  • As its name suggests, Fuji Speedway, the permanent home of the Nismo Festival, is set against the magnificent backdrop of Mt. Fuji in Japan.

  • Fans can walk the grid before the start of an exhibition race to see their favorite cars and drivers up close.

  • Tuning houses that specialize in Nissan vehicles, like Mine’s and Blitz, also had their own tents and displays.

    While the parking lot was an attraction all its own — packed with dozens of modified Skylines, GT-Rs, 370Zs, and Notes — the real stars of the show lay in the pit garages, where we found a veritable history lesson of Nissan’s motorsports dominance through the years. In attendance were the 1966 Prince R380, 1968 Nissan R381, 1969 Nissan R382, 1969 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R, 1973 Datsun Sunny Excellent Coupe 1400GX, 1973 Nissan Cherry Coupe 1200X-1, 1973 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG, 1982 Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette, 1990 Calsonic Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, 1990 Nissan R90CP, 1992 Calsonic Nissan R92CP, and the 1999 Nissan R391. Also present were more recent GT3-spec GT-Rs and NISMO’s 2017 GT500 Nissan GT-R. Some of these iconic machines even took to the track, showing the audience that they’ve still got their racing pedigree — and their gorgeous exhaust notes — well preserved.

    The JDM tuning scene was well represented by aftermarket brands such as Greddy, Top Secret, Sparco, Rays, Blitz, Bride, Endless, Exedy, Greddy, Impul, and Mines just to name a few, with each brand offering special discounts on everything from center console mats and mobile phone holders to body kits, suspension parts, and exhaust systems, showcased by their own fleet of tuned Skylines, Silvias, and GT-Rs.

    The rest of the day went on with vintage and heritage races, car club track runs, driving demonstrations and the traditional grid walk, where ticket holders got a chance to have their photos taken with Nissan’s current lineup of drivers and GT3 and GT500 machines.

    With Nissan gearing for a future filled with autonomous cars and electric vehicles, witnessing the brand celebrate their motorsports heritage in such a spectacular fashion shows us that they haven’t forgotten the importance of driving excitement and the passion of their enthusiasts. After all, the NISMO Festival was much more than just a showcase of the brand’s history and achievements — it was a nod and a “thank you” to loyal Nissan fans everywhere. And as the sound of roaring engines and the smell of fuel and burning rubber becomes a distant memory, it’s a memory that reminds us that driving excitement will always be a part of Nissan’s DNA, and we can’t wait to see what lies in their future.

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