Monday, December 9, 2019

Nismo Festival 2019

Those of you familiar with Nismo Festival might have noticed that this is an event that doesn’t tend to change much. And rightly so. It’s a tradition, a celebration of all things Nissan/Nismo, and sights like the one below are what the day is all about. 

Driving towards Fuji Speedway on a crisp early winter morning is just a pleasure, and running into fellow GT-R and Nismo cars owners the closer you get to the circuit just adds to the sense of occasion. I chased this beautiful M-spec Nür on the last leg of my trip, just to end up parking next to it!

Call me a man of habit, but a nice cup of coffee and this view are more than a good reason to warrant a 5AM early rise on a Saturday morning.

While the event has stayed the same, certain things have changed. I remember making my first trip years ago and spending the day by myself; as time has passed I have connected and met with so many people (including blog readers) that this year I barely had a couple of hours to check out the cars.

I made my early morning visit to the pits with my South African friend Graham. Hearing these machines waking up on a cold start and watching Nismo racing mechanics preparing them for hot laps is always an experience.

Not all cars run and some are just brought for display. Nonetheless, I’ve been told that almost 100% of them are pretty much in working condition and could easily race after proper maintenance.

It was great to see again the Nürburgring 24 hours R35 GT3 with its Kenwood livery. Earlier this year I saw this very car racing in anger on the Nordschleife during one of the coolest experiences of my life.

The organizers also never neglect older models and, while these are cars that I’m not too familiar with, it’s great to see them out as they probably spend most of their time at Nissan DNA Garage in Zama.

As much as the Festival is a celebration of the past, Nismo always makes sure to let fans know that it’s well projected into the future.

Thanks to my friend Justin’s kindness I was also able to get up and close with the soon to be released GT-R50 by Italdesign, which seemed to have pissed Aki off beyond imagination. The old man was smirking and flashing his VIP pass from far away, while hanging in the off-limit area and I could almost hear the “crack” his heart made the exact moment he saw me crossing the rope. 

In all fairness he eventually made it up and introduced me to fellow Italian, and one of leading member of the GT-R50 project, Andrea. Great guy and a long time R34 fan (another smack in the old man’s face!).

Once I parted ways with my new friend I headed towards the Omori Factory stand to chat with Takasu-san and Nagatsuru-san, while showing Aki’s friends around and walking them through the hidden details of the CRS demo cars.

This also turned out to be another refreshing experience because, unlike Mr. OCD, they both proved that R33 owners are actually very nice guys! Along with them I also met with fellow BNR34 owner and blog reader Neill, who rented a R35 to drive to the Festival! There was plenty to see at the booth, but this will have to wait for a dedicated post.

Once Aki decided that he had enough of mixing with regular paying peasants and climbed back up in his ivory VIP lounge I was free to roam around and check out the various exhibitors. 

Nothing really new here, but one addition to this year’s edition was the introduction of a small Tuner Time Attack session, where the likes of HKS and Top Secret took over Fuji Speedway for the fastest lap. You are looking at a combined 2,400ps in this photo alone.

And it didn’t take long before I’d run into another friend, this time was fellow Z33 Nismo Version owner Nitta-san, who also regularly maintain his rare Premium Passion Orange Fairlady at Omori Factory. He had participated in the Z Challenge exhibition race earlier in the morning.

As a Fairlady owner I’ve found myself becoming increasingly curious about the history of the model. The BCNR33 made Midnight Purple famous, but not everybody knows that it was an optional color available also for the 300ZX.

Global Auto was, as always, present with their Z-tune/400R combo. Interestingly, quite a few people have approached me asking about my opinion on the recent #15 Midnight Purple III respray. All that counts is that the owner is happy, but for me: KY0 all the way!

Colors are a pure matter of personal taste and, as you can see from Yashio Factory choice for their drift cars there is really no right or wrong. Or is it?

With the day slowly unwinding I moved over the main stand side of the track, where GT-R Magazine had set-up a pretty cool display for owners to take photos.

The parking area didn’t lack quality nor depth and, honestly, Nismo Festival almost makes R’s Meeting redundant as the number and variety of owner’s cars is incredibly vaste.

Ironically, most of the cars that are celebrated at Nismo Festival are long out of production. Nonetheless, there is definitely a huge commercial aspect to an event like this, and every year Nissan makes sure to display it latest models in the hopes that GT-R owners will stay loyal to the brand once the for need a more sensible family car will come up.

The R35 is now infamously 12 years old, but I must admit that the new Wangan Blue looks great. I’m sure the new GT-R wouldn’t look as good in the original Bayside Blue: it’s crazy how small differences in the paint can change the look of a car.

On this table there was comparisons display between the upgraded parts on the GT-R Nismo MY2020. The carbon-ceramic rotors look absolutely gargantuan next to the already massive steel ones!

With the sun slowly setting over the circuit I then headed towards the main stand for the final part of the day and the closing ceremony. 

2019 wasn’t particularly successful for Nissan, both in business and in motorsport, but I’m confident that 2020 will be better.

Old friends, new friends, the best GT machines in the world and the most incredible backdrop of any racing circuit on the planet. Sure, Nismo Festival hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but - as they say - if it’s not broken...

Thanks for stopping by today.

Until next time.

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