For 20 years, Nissan’s motorsports division has put on an annual gala for followers of its many racing machines and successes. The NISMO Festival is a Burning Man for Nissan nuts, a mecca for fans of Sunny and Skyline alike. Best of all, Nissan wakes its legends from their slumber at the Zama warehouse and runs them on the track.
It all takes place at Fuji Speedway, located at the base of the legendary Mt Fuji. It’s hallowed ground for Nissan, which built much of its reputation for motorsports dominance at the very circuit decades ago. Back then, fans would come from all over Japan to see its Skyline GT-R touring cars run the Fuji Grand Champion, or gurachan, series.
It would have been incredible just to see a lineup of historic race cars — including the R381, R382, Cherry X-1, the 1973 Japan GP TS winning Sunny Excellent, and a Hakosuka sedan — on display, but Nissan then runs all these priceless cars at speed. We’ve had the pleasure of hearing SuperGT teams roar down the straight with modern, mechanical precision; the raw sound of vintage motors must be downright heartstopping.
For those who grew up glued to Playstations as a result of Gran Turismo, it’s a pixellated world come to life. Icons like the Calsonic R32 GT-R, which Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Masahiko Kageyama drove to victory in Group A in both 1990 and 1993, come alive in their natural habitat.
It’s also a rare chance to see Nissan’s storied Group 5 Silhouette race cars lined up the paddocks. We went over these cars in detail in last year’s NISMO Festival coverage, but one never tires of seeing images of the wild aero that inspired a generation of Japanese tuners.
Of particular interest to hard core JNC readers is the historic exhibition race, which draws out vintage race cars owned by both privateers and tuning shops. One of the most active vintage series in Japan is the TS Cup, typically monopolized by B110 through B310 generation Sunnys, but here they’re joined by Hakosuka Skylines, Z-Cars, and 510 Bluebird Coupes.
The modern TS Cup series takes inspiration from the Touring Sedan races of 1970s. In 1973, this very Sunny Excellent Coupe won the TS class at the hands of Moto Kitano at the Japan Grand Prix.
Nissan owners also get their chance to bring their cars onto Fuji Speedway’s sacred tarmac. We had the chance to drive a Subaru BRZ on Fuji Speedway earlier this year, and the only way to describe it is a bucket list item fulfilled. To drive your own car there must be an extraordinary experience.
And if the cars themselves aren’t enough, heroes from Japan’s golden age of racing like Yoshikazu Sunako — wearing his ushanka Russian hat, naturally — can be found wandering about about the premises.
Where else can you witness a SuperGT R35 driving alongside a Yanagida 240ZG beneath Mt Fuji? Spanning five decades of Nissan racing, this photo says it all. For the Nissan faithful, the NISMO Festival is a must-see pilgrimage.
Images courtesy of Nissan.