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Bookshelf: Developing a Champion

Give yourself ‘fly on the wall’ status for one of the greatest eras in IMSA


If you loved road racing in the mid-to-late 1980s, it is easy to remember the red, white and blue Nissan GTP cars. The level of technological breakthroughs and championship caliber by the now legendary Electromotive shop (perhaps more of a laboratory) in El Segundo, California, set the standard for racing into the future – or as we know it today. Developing a Champion: The Electromotive Nissan GTP Story truly documents an iconic period.

Author, Chris Willes, who joined the team as an engineer right out of college, tells the tale of tireless work, the excitement of being part of one of the greatest builds in racing to that point, and the success that come with it. Truly a ‘fly on the wall’ perspective – particularly with the archival photographs, drawings, and documentation of the engine, chassis and electronics builds of the famous car.

The book is a very detailed account going back to the earliest days of electronic engineer/rocket scientist and gentleman racer, Don Devendorf, developing engine mapping – or the EECP (Electronic Engine Control Processor for the Datsuns and Nissans he was racing; to the GTU Nissan Zs that took so many race wins; to the early Lola GTP cars; to a race-by-race document of the famed GTP ZX Turbo that spanked the competition.

A ‘napkin design’ of the EECP drawn by Devendorf

Detail on the personnel was amazing too. The design team headed by Trevor Harris actually created a 1/7th scale model of the car to develop in a small-scale wind tunnel. His team also changed the design radically to handle cornering and high g-force loads. The computer programmers working under Devendorf created an engine management system that paved the way to how even we tune our street cars today.

Sweet Victory

Drivers throughout Electromotive’s history, who included Devendorf, Tony a2z Adamowicz, Geoff Brabham and Elliott Forbes Robinson, provided a star-studded sports car racing cast. The story emphasizes the key elements of passion, innovation and collaboration from each member of the team led to amazing success in a factory supported effort.

In the pits at Sebring

For me, Willes’ book was a trip down memory lane. But the depth of the people, the effort and the passion are things that I could not have imagined as I saw this team blow away the field during my college years. It’s a compelling story which I recommend highly!


  • Hardcover : 444 pages/Illustrated
  • ISBN-10 : 0578568799
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0578568799
  • Publisher : Chris Willes (January 1, 2020)
  • Language: English
Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.


  1. It sounds like a great book. One of the rare books where the reader is embedded in the very heart of a racing team.
    I wonder if the publisher has planned to deliver a mechanic’s outfit in ELECTRAMOTIVE colors to everyone who will buy the book.
    Personally, I wait patiently to find a solution to have the book delivered to me in FRANCE, at a reasonable price. But the literature on motorsports and more particularly Sports Prototypes in France is RIDICULOUS. We have the most beautiful Endurance races at home. We have a few good writers (jean-marc TESSEIDRE, laurent CHAUVEAU, etc …) but our editors and distributors are rather reluctant. Pity. I still have to wait. I will be patient while reading the book by John Starkey that I found a few months ago !!!

  2. The book is exceptional and anyone who is a fan of sports car racing or was a fan in the 80’s will enjoy the Electramotive story. Actually its a well told story that will give a casual fan a easy to read insight into what it took to be successful at this level of racing.


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