The weekend's Nismo Festival 2016 was a rather special event, for several reasons. Not only was it the 19th running of the Japanese automotive extravaganza dedicated to Nissan's motorsport arm, but this year, it also coincided with the 50-year anniversary of its host location, Fuji International Speedway. Fortunately, CarAdvice was also able to attend…
It’s 6am, dark outside, and six degrees Celsius as we pile into a bus and depart our Yokohama-based accommodation bound for Fuji Speedway and this year’s Nismo Festival.
‘Normal people’ might be less inclined to kick off a Sunday with a 5:30am start, followed by an 80km-plus journey to a racetrack nestled not far from a prominent snow-capped mountain. For Nissan fans, well, this is nothing. And for many attending the Nismo Festival 2016, it’s also nothing new.
Working our way through a delicious, if somewhat mysterious, breakfast bento box, our bus winds its way through Japan's fascinating road network of tollways, tunnels, and over and under passes before we pull in mid-trip for a ‘restroom break’.
Pulling into the Ebina service area (or truck stop) on the Tomei Expressway at just before 7am, we realise, we’re not the only ones to have had an early start. Parked, just rolling in, or already rolling back out, we are met by an exquisite handful of some of Nissan’s finest performance metal.
We’re talking R32 and R34 Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, 370Zs, a stunning yellow Fairlady 280Z, and a super-rare Autech 260RS Nissan Stagea (effectively a Skyline wagon).
We gather our thoughts, and some digital images, and get back on the road. At around 8:00am we have our first clear glimpse of the mighty Mount Fuji, and at 8:15am we arrive at Fuji Speedway, greeted by sunshine, blue skies, and five degrees Celsius.
Located around 40km from the base of Mount Fuji – Japan’s highest mountain at 3776m or 12,389ft – the 4.563km Fuji Speedway circuit is comprised of 16 turns, and is most famous for its 1.475-kilometre main straight, which leads into a downhill Turn One.
Road cars, race cars, classic and historic cars; all Nissans and all insanely cool. This is what the Nismo Festival is all about. Well, that, plus trade stands, grid girls, and hot cans of coffee dispensed from vending machines.
All the usual Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) tuning scene suspects are there – including Advan, Blitz, Bride, Endless, Exedy, Fujitsubo, Greddy, HKS, HPI, Impul, Ings, Mines, Omori Factory, ORC, OSGiken, Project Mu, Recaro, Sparco, Tomei, Top Secret, Trust, and Rays – but it’s what you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see that’s both surprising and impressive.
Walk the open garages, walk up and down the pits, walk through the throng of trade stands and you’ll see families, kids, and even properly little ones in strollers – the works.
As we saw firsthand with the drifting culture at Ebisu in Fukushima Prefecture, the world of cars and motorsport in Japan is not just the domain of hardened enthusiasts, it’s the realm of anyone and everyone with an interest and a passion in something humans have found captivating for over a century.
From here we lose ourselves between rows of B110 Datsun Sunny Coupes, B310 Datsun Sunny fastbacks, L20-powered S30 Nissan 240Zs, S20-powered KPGC10 first-generation Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, and all manner of modified and aftermarket-fettled modern classics such as the Mines R34 GT-R, HKS R34 GT-R ‘Driving Performer’, OSGiken R32 GT-R, and RB20DET-R-powered R31 GTS-R from R31 House.
Of course, a big reason why people travel from all over Japan, and the world, to attend the Nismo Festival – other than to see Mount Fuji and eat delicious food from the gathered food trucks and stalls – is to see icons of the brand’s past, present, and future.
And believe us, they were most definitely accounted for.
From the 1966 Prince R380 (Type A-I), 1968 Nissan R381, 1969 Nissan R382, 1969 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R, 1973 Datsun Sunny Excellent Coupe 1400GX, 1973 Nissan Cherry Coupe 1200X-1, and 1973 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG, through to the 1982 Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette, 1990 Calsonic Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, 1990 Nissan R90CP, 1992 Calsonic Nissan R92CP, and 1999 Nissan R391, they were all there to be seen static and on track, not to mention the raft of new or recent Super GT, Super Taikyu, and GT3-specification R35 GT-Rs and 370Zs also on show.
Topping it all off was Nismo’s latest GT500 weapon, set to tackle next year’s Super GT season, the insanely menacing-looking 2017 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT500.
One of the best bits of the day, though – and the most highly recommended thing to do if you ever get the chance to attend a Nismo Festival event – was walking Fuji Speedway’s many car parks.
In short, they are jam-packed full of simply incredible machinery spanning various manufacturers and disciplines. Very, very cool indeed.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to hop a plane and attend an event as memorable as the Nismo Festival, but if you do happen to get that chance, grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it – whether you’re a Nissan fan or not.
Note: CarAdvice attended this year’s Nismo Festival 2016 as a guest of Nissan Australia.