Between coverage of the latest variants of the Nissan Z and Skyline, we’re pretty NISMO’ed out. Instead, let’s return to NISMO’s heyday, when the R32 Skyline GT-R first appeared on the scene. It had been nearly 20 years since the GT-R name had been put on a Skyline, and no one knew yet what an absolute monster the R32 would be on the track. In its inaugural year it decimated the formerly dominant Ford Sierra RS500, the A70 Toyota Supra Turbo A, and E30 BMW M3.
Nissan documented the R32 GT-R’s first season in a video called the 1990 All-Japan Touring Car Championship Digest. It followed the exploits of Nissan’s factory teams — the Calsonic Skyline driven by Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki, and the Reebok Skyline driven by Masahiro Hasemi and Anders Olofsson.
Racing fever was at an all time high in Japan thanks to the Bubble Economy. You think Taylor Swift packs stadiums? The final race of the 1990 JTCC season saw 80,000 fans — 10,000 more than the average number of Swifties at each concert — gathered in the stands at Fuji Speedway.
It immediately became obvious that the NISMO-built Skyline GT-Rs were not to be trifled with. Hoshino and Suzuki won first place followed by Hasemi and Olofsson in all but one race. That exception was Round 3 at Suzuka, in which Hasemi and Olofsson took the top spot, with Hoshino and Suzuki in second. That means the R32 Skyline GT-R finished 1-2 in every single race of the 1990 season.
The other cars had no chance. Toyota abandoned Class 1 mid-season, withdrawing the Supra and putting its star drivers, Masanori Sekiya and Shogo Ogawa into a Class 3 Corolla Levin for the remainder of the year. Object T, the race team for Toyo Tires, switched one of their Sierra RS500s to an R32 GT-R in Round 5 and promptly placed third, giving the Nissan a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium.
The Calsonic Skyline won the season handily. At the time no one knew that the R32 Skyline GT-R would go on to win every single JTCC race it entered for the next four years, a feat reminiscent of the Hakosuka’s dominance 20 years prior. The R32 would win 29 races in all, until it was succeeded by the R33 and the JTCC was succeeded by the JGTC at the same time. The Skyline’s success translated to a massive following, fueling an era in which NISMO’s racing and street cars went hand in hand, sharing technology. There are three good NISMO cars out now in the Z, Skyline, and GT-R. Hopefully that’s enough to spark a NISMO renaissance.