Of the “big three “Japanese automakers, only Nissan has been involved in the GT500 class of the Super GT Series as a factory since the very first race of the inaugural season at Fuji Speedway in 1994. In those first two seasons, the class was known as “GT-1”.
Nissan’s factory-supported GT500 teams have combined to win eleven GT500 Drivers’ Championships, ten GT500 Teams’ Championships, and 63 championship races in the premier category from 1994 through 2020. They’ve been represented in GT500 by four different generations of the legendary GT-R/Skyline GT-R, as well as two different generations of the Z-Car and even the S13 Silvia, early in the series’ history.
This gallery is a year-by-year chronology of Nissan’s involvement in Super GT in GT500, and most of the photos you see in this gallery come directly from the manufacturer’s extensive gallery – some of which were unearthed earlier this year as Nissan dug through the archives of its racing history on social media.
Additional photographs also appear courtesy of Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit, as well as veteran racing photographer Yoshihide Ashizawa.
1994 Calsonic Nissan Skyline GT-R: Built on the framework of the successful R32 Skyline GT-R, Hoshino Racing’s famous Calsonic GT-R won the very first JGTC race at Fuji on 1 May, 1994 – then took the championship with driver Masahiko Kageyama taking five top-4 finishes in as many races.
1994 CCI Water Strider Nissan Silvia S13: Constructed by Mooncraft Engineering and driven by Naoki Hattori, this car finished 4th in the first JGTC race at Fuji, one of three top-five finishes for the GT500-spec Silvia; the car was sold to AIWA Racing Project in ’95 and reskinned in a livery similar to Jeff Gordon’s NASCAR racer.
1994 FedEx Nissan 300ZX-LM: Entered by Team LeMans, this production Z-car took three top-10 finishes in ’94 – Masami Kageyama drove four of the five races that year, and future United Autosports co-founder Richard Dean drove at the summer race at Fuji.
1995 Unisia JECS Nissan Skyline GT-R: Nissan legend Masahiro Hasemi claimed the R33 Skyline GT-R’s first victory at the summer race at Fuji – the Calsonic GT-R of Kageyama wins the top class title for the second straight year.
1996 Calsonic Nissan Skyline GT-R | Kazuyoshi Hoshino – seen attacking the kerbs at Sugo – took Nissan’s only win of ’96 in the Calsonic Impul GT-R alongside co-driver Kageyama.
1996 FedEx Nissan 300ZX-GTS: This American-built, V8-powered Z-Car made its GT500 debut in ’96 with Team LeMans, Masami Kageyama and rookie Yuji Tachikawa finished 9th at the season finale at Miné Circuit – but the car’s racing career ends after a practice crash at the ’97 Golden Week race at Fuji. The car has since been restored and is now maintained by Mr. Jun Hosoi, who has also reskinned the car as a replica of Cunningham Racing’s 1995 Sebring 12h winner.
1997 Zexel Nissan Skyline GT-R: F1 heroes Aguri Suzuki and Érik Comas won the season opener at Suzuka in this NISMO-entered R33, and ended it with a win at the non-championship All-Star Race at the new Twin Ring Motegi superspeedway.
1998 Pennzoil NISMO Nissan Skyline GT-R: Won the first two races of the season at Suzuka and Sendai Hi-Land – Érik Comas and Masami Kageyama win the GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for NISMO – and check out the side of that double-dercker rear wing!
1999 Pennzoil NISMO Nissan Skyline GT-R: The new R34 Skyline GT-R became a champion in its debut campaign – once again it was the Pennzoil NISMO GT-R and Comas who took the GT500 Drivers’ Championship, the Frenchman and newly-crowned Formula Nippon champion Satoshi Motoyama won a thriller at Miné to highlight a brilliant season for a now-iconic sports car.
2000 Loctite Zexel Nissan Skyline GT-R: Comas and Masami Kageyama are reunited at NISMO with a new title sponsor, win the season-opener at Twin Ring Motegi, and finish 2nd in the GT500 Drivers’ Championship.
2001 Xanavi Hiroto Nissan Skyline GT-R: Tetsuya Tanaka and Michael Krumm win the summer race at Fuji in NISMO’s second entry, the two-car team wins the GT500 Teams’ Championship in 2001.
2002 Calsonic Nissan Skyline GT-R: Nissan makes an important change for the future halfway into the ’02 season, replacing the aging RB26DETT inline-6 with the newer aluminium-block VQ30DETT V6 engine – the new motor debuts at the summer race at Fuji, where Kazuyoshi Hoshino drives his final race before retiring mid-season. For the first and only time, Nissan does not win a race in GT500 this year.
2003 Xanavi NISMO Nissan Skyline GT-R: A car at the crossroads for Nissan and GT500 as a whole – the last R34 Skyline GT-R race car and the first car built after the 2003 vehicle regulations overhaul. The #23 car of Motoyama and Krumm wins the title through sheer consistency despite not winning a race – making Motoyama the second person to win both of Japan’s major racing championships in the same calendar year!
2004 Motul Pitwork Nissan Fairlady Z33: The new Z-Car replaces the Skyline GT-R, using the homologation special “Type E” as the base. Krumm and Masami Kageyama win the only JGTC/Super GT race held at Tokachi International Speedway in Hokkaido, one of four wins for the debuting Z33 – Motoyama and Richard Lyons win the title.
2005 G’Zox Hasemi Nissan Z33: Hasemi Motorsports returned to GT500 in 2004 after dropping down to GT300 for three years, veteran Comas and young Toshihiro Kaneishi picked up a win in the first leg of the ’04 JGTC All-Star Race in California Speedway – they then picked up two podiums in the ’05 season, when the JGTC became Super GT.
2006 Xanavi NISMO Nissan Fairlady Z33: The #23 NISMO car of Motoyama and new acquisition Tsugio Matsuda wins at Autopolis, one of two wins for Nissan in ’06. At the last race of the season at Fuji, Nissan replaces the VQ30 engine with the 4.5 litre VK45DE V8 engine, a future legend throughout endurance racing all over the world.
2007 Woodone Advan Clarion Nissan Fairlady Z33: Kondo Racing took their first win in their second season in Super GT, winning at Sepang Circuit in Malaysia with Seiji Ara and João Paulo de Oliveira. This is the last GT500 season for the Z33, with the new GT-R set to debut in 2008.
2008 Xanavi NISMO Nissan GT-R: The R35 GT-R is the first GT500 built with a carbon fibre monocoque, despite a 50kg weight handicap, the GT-Rs win a record seven out of nine races in 2008 – headlined by a NISMO 1-2 finish in its debut at Suzuka, and three wins for the eventual GT500 Drivers’ Champions Motoyama and Benoît Tréluyer.
2009 Hasemi Tomica Ebbro Nissan GT-R: Hasemi Motorsports’ 2009 livery paid homage to the ’80s legend Tomica Skyline Group 5 car – Ronnie Quintarelli and Hironobu Yasuda win at Sepang, the first GT500 victory for Michelin rubber in eight years, one of four wins for the R35 GT-R in ’09.
2010 Calsonic Impul Nissan GT-R: The 3.4 litre V8 engine rules fully kick in as Nissan introduces the new VRH34A powerplant – the Calsonic Impul GT-R of Matsuda and Quintarelli wins at Sepang, one of two Nissan victories in 2010.
2011 S Road MOLA Nissan GT-R: MOLA International step up from GT300 to GT500 – with drivers Masataka Yanagida and Ronnie Quintarelli, and tyre partners Michelin, the team wins its first race at Sugo, and eventually the GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships – Quintarelli also wins the first leg of the Fuji Sprint Cup exhibition event.
2012 S Road Reito MOLA Nissan GT-R: Yanagida, Quintarelli, and the Michelin-clad MOLA GT-R becomes only the second team to clinch the GT500 Championships before the final round, winning the Suzuka 1000km and clinching the title in a wet penultimate round in Autopolis for back-to-back GT500 titles.
2013 D’station Advan Nissan GT-R: By 2013, the last year for the naturally aspirated V8 GT500 cars, Kondo Racing have scored multiple race victories – and from 2012, they also picked up a new title sponsor in amusement company D’station, one of their first involvements in racing that precedes the establishment of their own team in 2017.
2014 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R: Nissan rings in the Class One era masterfully – the NISMO-entered, Michelin-clad Motul GT-R of Matsuda and Quintarelli in its “Red Lightning” livery wins at Autopolis and again at the finale at Motegi to clinch the titles.
2015 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R: NISMO, Matsuda, and Quintarelli win the GT500 Championships for a second straight year with wins at the Fuji 500km and Autopolis – it’s a milestone year for Quintarelli, who becomes the first four-time GT500 Champion in history, and Matsuda, who ties the all-time GT500 wins record for the first time.
2016 Forum Engineering Advan GT-R: Nissan GT-Rs win a record four straight races to open the 2016 season, five in total for the year – this season was Kondo Racing’s best in the top class so far, with Daiki Sasaki and Masataka Yanagida winning twice.
2017 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R: Nissan introduces a slightly reworked R35 GT-R for the 2017 season but fall behind rivals Honda and Toyota in engine development – the Motul GT-R of Matsuda and Quintarelli secure runner-up in the GT500 Drivers’ Championship with a pole-to-win victory at Twin Ring Motegi to end the season.
2018 Calsonic Impul Nissan GT-R: It’s the 25th season of Super GT, and the Calsonic colours are still on the grid after all this time! Daiki Sasaki and GT Academy graduate Jann Mardenborough led 94 laps in the Fuji 500 Miles, before going to the garage with an intercooler issue.
2019 CraftSports Motul Nissan GT-R | NDDP Racing with B-Max, who took over the entry vacated by MOLA in 2018, took Nissan’s only win of 2019 thanks to a wet-weather master class from ex-Toyota man Kohei Hirate, and ex-Honda man Frédéric Makowiecki.
2020 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R | Nissan introduces the new NR20B engine at the start of the Class 1+Ɑ era – and after going winless in 2019, the Motul GT-R of Matsuda and Quintarelli sweeps the season’s two events at Suzuka, giving Nissan supporters hope for a return to form in the years to come.