MOTORSPORT: Happy 30th Anniversary, NISMO

1988 Nissan R31 Skyline racing

In September 1984 Nissan Motorsports was established in Omori, Tokyo. It’s been 30 years of top-level racing on an international stage under the NISMO banner and the company is celebrating.


Of course, Nissan’s motorsports history extends far back before the establishment of NISMO. In fact, Nissan’s first recorded victory came as early as 1936 at Tamagawa Circuit, in primitive Datsun racers that looked more like the Monopoly piece than any Nissan you’d recognize today.


Nissan’s first international victory came at the 1958 Mobilgas Trial, in which two Datsun 210s circumnavigated Australia in a grueling 10,000-mile rally on largely unpaved roads. One of the drivers, Yasuharu Namba, became the first president of NISMO.

1972 Nissan KPGC10 GT-R Motoharu Kurosawa

Prior to NISMO, the Omori Factory was where the famed Works hakosuka GT-Rs and S30 Fairlady Zs were tuned and serviced. There was a separate racing department, based in the Oppama factory south of Yokohama, that took care of privateer teams. Pre-NISMO, Nissan offered hop-up parts distributed though Nissan Sport Corner shops located in dealerships.

1985 Nissan R85V Le Mans

After the end of Group 5 racing in Japan, Nissan retired its KDR30 Skyline Silhouettes with an eye towards a global effort. NISMO was formed, combining the two motorsports divisions.

1991 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R Calsonic2012 Nissan GT-R SuperGT

The modern age of Nissan motorsports took off from there, with full-on assaults in everything from Group C Le Mans prototypes to IMSA in the US, the Japan Touring Car Championships to the Paris-Dakar Rally.


But NISMO wasn’t done there. Throughout the years, they’ve also released a number of super-tuned street cars so different from their stock counterparts that the company branded them as NISMOs with their own model names.


The Silvia S14-based NISMO 270R was produced as a 15th anniversary model, named after the number of horsepower the tuned engine generated. However, perhaps the most famous of the NISMO cars were the Skyline-based 400R and R34GT Z-Tunes.

01_Nissan GTR R35 NISMO

And modern day NISMO is still at it, with a newly 370Z NISMO redesigned for 2015 and a 595hp GT-R that’s even more insane than the standard-issue R35. The NISMO-fications also trickle down to models like the Juke and, in Japan, even the Note.


However, NISMO has since outgrown its Omori digs, and opened a new headquarters building in Tsurumi, Yokohama.

Now they’re working on what they calls their most ambitious project yet, the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, which will challenge the Le Mans P1 class next year. From the teaser video, it appears to be a prototype-class car with GT-R styling cues.

In honor of its 30th anniversary, NISMO is hosting a week-long celebration, and fans can join in anywhere Nissans are racing around the world. Tickets to motorsports events will be given away via local car clubs in the US and Germany this weekend. Find an event near you below:

  • Wednesday Sept. 17 – Official NISMO 30th Anniversary Party in Yokohama, Japan
  • Saturday Sept. 20 – FIA WEC race, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, USA
  • Sunday Sept. 21 – Nürburgring 1000kms, Blancpain Endurance Series in Germany
  • Monday Sept. 22 – Customer preview of new NISMO roadcar in Nürburgring, Germany
  • Tuesday Sept. 23 – NISMO Nürburgring Experience in Nürburgring, Germany

Last but not least, Nissan created the following infographic, charting the milestones of the company’s racing efforts of the last three decades. Happy birthday, NISMO.


Images courtesy Nissan.


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9 Responses to MOTORSPORT: Happy 30th Anniversary, NISMO

  1. Nigel says:

    Cheers NISMO, to another thirty years of lusting after the cars and parts you make !!

  2. JHMAB2 says:

    This is what I’m talking about. I love when Japanese manufacturers embrace their heritage (Honda needs to jump on board…)

    Just look at this collection of beautiful racing machines! I can’t wait to get home and watch these videos. But, we need a photo of the 400R in here!

  3. Chase says:

    Glad to see that Nissan will be entering the Le Mans racing series again with a real car, instead of that embarrassing and ridiculous Deltawing in previous years.

    • Power Tryp says:

      In my opinion the Deltawing itself is stupid except for the fact that Nissan didn’t fund the project from the get go. They bought into it and put a tiny little experimental motor in it.

      The real benefit to the Deltawing is the fact that it’s actually a modern day Trojan horse for racing. Every body is looking at it as a design study with a cool super light engine where as Nissan sees it as a way to get on the track with Audi, Porsche and Toyota without giving anything of their own info away.

      That’s right, they get to collect data up close on their competitors all the while they are running a non competitive car that gives ZERO information on the package that they are going to run. Now we get to see if what they did will pay off in the long run.

  4. Dave Yuan says:

    I LOVE the original NISMO logotype. If you look closely at the black&white photo of hakosukas, you’ll see a couple of Capellas (RX-2) and a Savanna (RX-3) lying in wait to ruin Skyline’s day =P And that Amada logo on the R85V, kinda reminds me of the rotary graphic in ’70s Mazda ads. Happy 30th NISMO!

  5. SF says:

    They should switch back to the old logo for their anniversary and going forward.

  6. RainMeister says:

    Although Nissan never ventured into F1, they are probably the most successful among Japanese car companies in the variety of categories of racing that they achieved championships and wins.

    I’m sure it’s common knowledge to others here, but Nissan usually tries to secure the #23 racing number for its factory race car. 2=Ni and 3=San in Japanese.

    I have a cabinet full of most of the historically significant Nissan race cars in miniature, including those pictured here, and the majority brandish the #23.

    The personalized license plate on my G35 reads: NISMO 23

  7. Skylinefreak says:

    Great to see the R31 GTS-R as the headline photo!

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