Last week, Nissan Philippines brought a group of motoring reporters to their home base in Japan for the week-long “Nissan 360” event. The event, which was attended dozens of other scribes from the Southeast Asian and Oceania regions, was aimed at communicating Nissan’s unending development of passenger vehicles as well as the heritage and direction of their motor sports division.
Nissan has a very big way of celebrating its motor sports successes with its supporters after every racing season. This year, we were very fortunate to have experienced this event. Called the Nismo Festival, Nissan hosted a gathering of racing fans to honor its racing successes and history.
The annual event, which is now on its 18th staging, is eagerly awaited by motor sports enthusiasts to close out the annual motor sports calendar in Japan. It is held at the Fuji Speedway in Oyama Prefecture, which is some 120 kilometers southwest Tokyo.
More than 30,000 enthusiasts trooped to the racetrack and joined in celebrating Nissan’s very successful year in motor sports. This year, Nismo, Nissan’s dedicated motor sports department, dominated the Super GT500 series, the Super GT300 series and the Blancpain series using race-spec Nissan GT-Rs.
The festival kicked off with an opening ceremony wherein all active drivers and team principals appeared at the track to announce the start of the festivities. Having taken home both the driver’s and team’s titles in this year’s Super GT, for the second time in succession, the crowd went wild when Nismo’s Tsugio Matsuda, Ronnie Quintarelli and team principal, Yutaka Suzuki walked inside the track.
Skylines, GTRs, old-timers
The day was filled with on-track activities, keeping fans enthralled as iconic machines battled in exhibition races, some of them piloted by their original drivers.
It was like Nissan heaven! There were R32, R33 and R34 Skylines, some 240Zs and lots and lots of the “Hakosuka” GT-Rs
The main event, however, was when the Nismo brought out to the track their historic lineup of racecars with old-timers and GT academy alumni behind the wheel.
Adding more thrill and throwback to the event were the presence on track of the Calsonic (Godzilla) Group A R32 Skyline and the bright yellow Pennzoil R34 JTCC GT500 car racing around Fuji.
Visitors also had the chance of getting really close to where the action is—with the Circuit Safari ride. Visitors were allowed to boarded buses and went around the track while the racecars zoomed past them at full speed.
It was an experience of a lifetime as race fans of all ages got to experience to be on the same track as the GT500 racecars that rocketed by at 300 kilometers per hour.
Off the track, the racing sensation was still felt. There was an abundance of behind the circuit that sold every race item one can think of—both used and new. The place became a swap-meet of sorts as traders and enthusiasts sold and traded Nissan GT-R emblems, aftermarket components, accessories, race gears, die-cast models, wheels, tires, shirts and even decals.
Besides enjoying the on-track activities, the festival-goers also enjoyed the cool, sunny weather, typical of the last days of Autumn, that made eating ramen and other Japanese fare outdoors all the more fun.
After the festivities, it became obvious why Nissan’s GT-R model has made quite a cult following in Japan and other parts of the world. Nissan through Nismo, has made motor sports, in every possible aspect, more accessible to its fans. Unlike other brands that deliberately created a feeling of exclusivity to the sport, Nissan made it otherwise assuring to bring the sport as well as the brand much closer to their patrons.