managers,” Kastner says. “Nobody could
bring the team together. Then one of the
mechanics, Ashley Page, said he’d take a
shot at it and was marvelous. Now we had
a team. They had someone they trusted.”
The GTP series was trampled underfoot
by Brabham and Electramotive in 1988.
Nine wins, including an unimaginable streak
of eight straight with a Harris-designed
chassis nicknamed “Elvis,” turned the lean,
mean Nissan team into racing rock stars
and earned Brabham the GTP drivers’ title.
“I came home after the sixth win and
there was a big banner across the street at
Nissan’s corporate headquarters that read
‘We won six in a row,’” Kastner says. “In two
years, we’d gone from a team they wanted
to cancel, to everybody standing in line to
Brabham’s second drivers’ crown in ’ 89
was an opposition-crushing formality. But
thanks to 10 wins, including the 12 Hours
of Sebring, grappling the manufacturers’
crown away from Porsche for the first time
since 1983 was the one to really savor.
The GTP ZX-Turbo was a one-two
punch of horsepower and handling, but
Electramotive’s self-reliance and
exhaustive rituals helped the team
become an unstoppable force, too.
“To get that car to where we were
winning races and championships with
Ashley Page, every Saturday night before
the race, it was stripped down to the tub,”
Moss says. “New engine, new gearbox,
new corners put on the car. That was the
routine, until 3 a.m., every time.”
Seeing Electramotive’s transformation,
Brabham had become a true believer.
“It was amazing to go from the first time
I drove the car in 1986 to ‘ 88, where we
just couldn’t do anything wrong,” he says.
“We couldn’t lose a race even if we tried.”
The gang from SoCal – Devendorf,
Knepp, Kastner, Moss, Page, Harris,
Suzuka, Brabham and Co. – had bottled
lightning and out-smarted everyone.
With success came increased funding
from Nissan USA. Then Nissan Japan also
started pouring unholy sums of money
into the motorsports piggy bank, which
set two fateful decisions in motion.
“The 1988 car was getting long in the
tooth through ’ 89, so Yoshi and Trevor
built the NPT- 90,” Moss says. Flush with
cash, Nissan USA bought Electramotive
in 1990, changed the name to Nissan
Performance Technology Incorporated,
moved the operation to a sprawling base
in Vista, Calif., and saw the NPT- 90 (with
While Nissan rampaged
IMSA GTP in the late
1980s and early ’90s,
its parallel attempts to
conquer Le Mans were
spectacular in scale,
but failed to deliver
that elusive victory.
Four Nissans – two
with Electramotive V6s
– raced in 1988, for a
best finish of 14th.
showed up the following
year, but none finished –
Julian Bailey posting
the first retirement
after just five laps...
For 1990, there
were eight Nissans
of varying vintage,
including six factory
cars. Mark Blundell put
his R90CK on the pole
(ABOVE and BELOW),
but the race was a
grind. An all-Japanese
R90CP was best of
the bunch in fifth.
And that was that;
end of the program.
A year later, Mazda
would steal Nissan’s
thunder and become
the first (and so far
only) Japanese marque
to win at Le Mans.
Constantly revised and updated by John
Knepp, the turbocharged, 3-liter, VG30-
based V6 pushed out 1,000hp with ease.
THE HEART OF THE BEAST
(LEFT) Yoshi Suzuka’s aero treatment made the
GTP ZX-Turbo look aggressive from any angle.
(BELOW) Geoff Brabham’s mastery of the
1,000hp Nissans was a huge part of the story.