Nissan Has a Surprisingly Rich Racing History

Nissan has a long, somewhat up and down history, and is considered a fairly reliable brand. The Japanese automaker has had incredible highs, such as the 2021 Rogue, and some equally incredible lows, such as the Carlos Ghosn saga.

What many people might forget is that Nissan was a big player in racing in the ’60s through the ’90s. And the company is trying to recapture some of that history.

Nissan’s racing history

Between 1967 and 1987, Nissan’s 2000 Roadster won 10 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) championships according to Nismo.com. In 1971 and 1972, John Morton and his crew won two championships in the Datsun 510. They also held their own in off-road racing, winning 29 championships between 1982 and 1992.

One of, arguably, the most famous drivers for Nissan, was actor Paul Newman. He raced during the ’70s and ’80s, winning four SCCA national championships.

Nissan has also been prominent at Le Mans, the famous 24-hour race, however, the team has not taken home top honors, though it generally shows quite well, and make the podium.

Nissan also races in several Japan races, having taken home top honors in the Japan GP and All Japan Championship. The company has also raced in Australia, East Africa, and Daytona. The company have not yet been able to crack NASCAR though.

Nissan’s more popular race cars, that transitioned well to use off the racetrack, include the Fairlady-Z and Newman’s SRL 2000. Both cars embodied the sporty, lightweight, and agile cars people wanted.

Nissan is not big in racing now

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Nissan has not been making big waves in the racing industry in the last several years, with its main focus being on production of value-oriented cars according to a video from CNBC.

This has not had the greatest results for Nissan, the company has struggled to keep up with more popular companies like Toyota. However, they do continue to produce racing-oriented cars, with the Nissan Skyline GT-R being one of the most famous, particularly after Fast and Furious cemented it in racing history, at least in the movies.

Earlier this year, an R32 Skyline GT-R was modified and clocked as the fastest AWD drag car in the world. These cars are also prominent in the video game, Gran Turismo. Unfortunately, most of the company’s racing accomplishments continue to be overshadowed by other, not as positive, but way more dramatic events. 

Can the company turn things around?

While Nissan seems determined to forge ahead into racing turbocharged cars that can drag and drift, it might be more successful if it return to the roots of its racing history.

Producing cars reminiscent of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s could be exactly what Nissan needs to survive the current scandals and problems. It would make sense to take the focus off of the Ghosn Nissan era and return to the racing heyday era, that featured the charismatic Paul Newman.