Nissan featured marque at 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

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Nissan featured marque at 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Bob Sharp's success in Nissan/Datsun cars recently landed him in the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame | SCCA photo

Editor’s note: Follow all of the action and updates on our special Monterey Car Week page.


2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Nissan’s corporate involvement in motorsports and in recognition of that half century, the company’s cars will be the featured marque at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, scheduled for August 23-26 at Laguna Seca.

“It was in 1968 that Nissan captured its first of two consecutive wins at the Japanese Grand Prix with the Nissan R381,” the track said in its news release. “In America, Bob Sharp was setting the tone for things to come when he won the SCCA F Production Championship in his Datsun 1600 Roadster.

“In 1969, former Shelby American designer Peter Brock became the West Coast Datsun factory team with his Brock Racing Enterprises team and his iconic BRE-liveried red, white and blue Datsun 2000 Roadsters. From 1970-72, BRE, with driver John Morton at the wheel, won four national championships. Two C Production Championships with their Datsun 240Zs and two prestigious Trans-Am 2.5 Championships with the BRE Datsun 510s.

Steve Millen drives championship-winning Nissan 300ZX in 2014 Rolex Reunion | Laguna Sema photo

“From 1970 to 1975, the powerhouse Bob Sharp Racing team dominated SCCA B Sedan and C Production with ten podium finishes in eleven season-ending races, as well as the IMSA GTU title in 1975. During these years, Sharp introduced actor and aspiring racer Paul Newman to his team.”

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In the late 1980s, Nissan dominated IMSA, sweeping the manufacturer’s championships from 1988-90 with drivers including Geoff Brabham and Morton. Then, from 1990-95, Morton and Steve Millen won 20 races and 23 pole positions in IMSA GTS racing in the No. 75 Nissan 300ZX campaigned by Clayton Cunningham Racing.

“This is the first time an Asian automaker’s racing heritage has been celebrated at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion,” Gill Campbell, senior VP of Laguna Seca, was quoted in the news release. “From the early Datsuns to more modern-day Nissans, their achievements have earned the respect of racers and deserve to be recognized.”

More than 500 vintage racing machines of various periods and from various makers are expected to participate in the annual racing program at the track. The races are held as part of Monterey Car Week.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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