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350Z SCCA racecar

41164 Views 190 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  dkmura

This Z was built to compete in the SCCA Touring racing classes, and has the distinction of winning in three different Touring categories: T2 (2008-2012), T3 (2013-2015) and T1 (2015). Most of the mods are concentrated in the suspension, with Koni DA shocks, Eibach springs and fully adjustable swaybars. Enkei wheels and BFGoodrich R1-S tires provide the stick, while Cobalt Friction XR2 pads provide stopping power.

For 2015, we had success in winning the Rocky Mountain Division Championship in both Touring 1 and Touring 3. Traveling to Road Atlanta, the Z has won back-to-back Touring 3 titles the past two years in the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC).

There's still plenty of SERIOUS fun to be had with the Z33!
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Wow- despite posting an update on racing the Z, including graphic pics, not even one response!
Thanks for the reply, MartinZ. Yes, it was difficult finishing that race with such a badly flat- spotted tire, but I'm glad BFG has such robust construction!

You must be a much better driver (with a better setup) than me if you are able to race effectively without ABS. Many of my GT racecars lacked ABS, and I had a lot of success without it. But road racing a bigger and heavier car like the Z33 means ABS is critical to threshold braking.
It's become standard operating procedure to check the ABS light before any practice, qualifying or race session. Most times, I like to get to the pre-grid well in advance and shutdown as I finish getting my window net, HANS, shoulder harnesses, etc. all set up and attached properly. I'll light the fire at the two minute mark and if that light comes on, I'll do a quick manual reset to eliminate it.

And you're right..."big disappointments" from ABS failures can range from flat spotted tires to DNFs or a totaled Z. That's about as BIG as it gets!
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I had issues the other week at the track. They did a safety inspection and cleared me, but after the first round of testing the track, I found out my battery anchor broke loose and was throwing my battery all over the compartment. Had to do a quick fix to get it safe again. Ugh...

There are plenty of spares I carry in the race trailer, but after reading this post, it made me think. There's a extra battery tie-down strap and hardware that I rescued from the ZR parts car for storage as a race spare. Probably won't ever need it, but at least it's available NOW...
While it's still over a week away from the 2016 SCCA Runoffs, preparation on the T3 Z are nearly complete. The 40 mm air restrictors and spacers have been reinstalled, and wheels and tires remounted. But those last subjects deserve a bit more explanation: when SCCA's comp board mandated the 350Z use a max tire size of 245 (35-40) 18, to say I wasn't a fan is an understatement.

After running a BFG R1S in the June Majors and July RMDiv races, I took those tires off after a few heat cycles and stored them in the basement until this past week. Mounting them on 18 X 9.0" Enkei RPF-1 and PF-01 front wheels was the best I could do. After all, the 18 X 10.0" rears are too large for those small tires, so those get left at home for this race. That means I'll only have a total of six wheels to use for dry tires for the race.

But looking at those used 245s next to a set of much more used 275-40-18s made me realize my fears had been realized. While tire wear is always variable--with track layout, temperature and other factors in play--there's no doubt these 245 BFGs were already well-worn despite trying to hold down actual mileage. With a minimum weight of 3,300 pounds (in impound) the T3 Z really pounds those R-compound skins. They have twice as much wear after two weekends as the 275s do. I'll use these tires for the first practice/qualifying sessions at the Runoffs, but hope to buy only one new set at Mid-Ohio for the final session and race. There's little doubt the Hoosier R7 competitors who have 4-5 sets of tires will have an even more marked advantage during Runoffs week.
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The original intent of the SCCA tire change was to slow the Z down, but that can be overcome with enough money for fresh tires. My problem (besides not wanting to spend money) is the tires I get usually last several races, but longevity will NOT be part of this package. Rule changes meant to equalize cars usually end up costing competitors in many different ways....
Here's an interesting fact for the '16 Runoffs. Out of the 500+ cars entered, there's only five drivers in 350Zs, myself included. There's another three S30 (240-280Z) Z cars entered in the Production classes, but that's about it. Nissan remains the most winning marque in Runoffs history with 99 National victories over the years. Let's get that 100th win next weekend!
After completing the 1,344 mile trip back home, I can post a bit more on the 2016 Runoffs. First of all, congratulations to Derek Kulach on his stellar drive to his first Runoffs victory and to Nissan for scoring its 100th Runoffs win- most of any marque in SCCA history! That Derek's Z33 managed to win over past champ Chad Gilsinger and his semi-works Acura TL at his home track makes it even sweeter.

My own race was a struggle. At the start, I avoided making any dumb mistakes by going too far off line on a slick track. Since we were the first race out that morning, the early laps were tricky as the field strung out. The setup I prefer on the Z is with just a bit of oversteer dialed in and I hoped the car would be faster as the race wore on. Unfortunately, my lap times stalled in the 1:41s and never dropped from there. That lack of speed meant I couldn’t challenge the BMW and Z car just ahead, as they slowly pulled away.

As stated earlier in this thread, Mid-Ohio doesn’t tolerate pushing too hard and I nearly spun several times in an attempt to shave just a bit of time off in different corners. Pushing the envelope continuously also put me further behind as the race went the full 23 laps with no caution periods. It didn’t help that the ¾ tank of race fuel I started with began running out over the final five laps. Another miscalculation that would seal a DFL finish. One bright spot came when I pulled over on the last lap to allow Derek through and cover his six as we ran under the checkered flag. It was an honor to share his celebration on the cool down lap- two Nissans running side-by-side down the backstraight and waving at each other and the corner station crews!

Still, this was a sobering Runoffs as it’s clear my vision, reaction time and overall driving have deteriorated enough to drop me from the top rank of drivers. This race had a good group of talented Runoff rookies (Like Derek and Lans Stout, who finished third is his Z33) and four former National Champs to contend with. Usually, I hold my own with such company, but not this year. Still, the lure of driving in competition and being part of the short-lived, but intense community in the Nissan tent makes it difficult to give up. I’m not sure what the 2017 season will hold for me, but as far as a finishing position, there’s only one way to go!

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Hail to the victor! Following Derek Kulach's NISMO 350Z through to the checkered flag at the 2016 SCCA Runoffs:

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Nice professional race report on the T3 Runoffs race:

350Z owners take note: the Z33 scored Nissan's 100th Runoffs victory! With multiple victories in SCCA competition it's proven a worthy link in the legendary Z racing heritage. And YOU can still be part of it if you learn to race or rally your Z at organized events around the country.
2017 SCCA Runoffs update- The 350Z has won yet another National Championship at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Derek Kulach has taken back-to-back Touring 3 title against opposition from BMW, Ford, Mazda and Porsche. His luck was better than T3 polesitter Rob Hines, who was taken off track in a battle with a Porsche driver. He fought back to finish fifth in his 350Z after falling to the back of the pack.

The 350Z remains a potent force in door-to-door racing!
So, here we are, 14 model years after the 350Z was first introduced and the car still has relevance in the racing world. Despite the handicaps the SCCA comp board has imposed, the 350Z has bested the latest V6 Mustang, MX-5 Cup and RX-8 Mazdas, Porsche Boxsters and BMW E46 Cup cars...and still not a SINGLE RESPONSE in 2017?

This on a board dedicated to the 350Z and just after it's once again proven its worthiness to the Z legacy.

For 2018, my tentative race schedule with the 350Z is as follows:

May 5-6 T1 Rocky Mountain Div Regional LaJunta Raceway, CO
May 26-27 T3 RMDiv Majors Pueblo Motorsports, CO
July 7-8 T3 RMDiv Majors High Plains Raceway, CO
August 25-26 T3 RMDiv Majors High Plains Raceway, CO
September 29-30 T1 RMDiv Regional LaJunta Raceway, CO
October 15-21 T3 SCCA Runoffs Sonoma Raceway, CA

Racing will be in two SCCA classes: Touring 1 and Touring 3. Why? Due to recent rule changes (effective 3/1/18) the air restrictors on my VQ35HR went from 40 mm to 37 mm and minimum weight went up to 3450 pounds (from 3400 with driver). Moreover, T3 Z33 and Z34s are restricted to 245 max tread width. While the T1 class includes cars like the Ferrari F430 Cup, Porsche 911 GT3, Corvette Z06, Mustang Boss 302 and others, at least I can drop the restrictions and allow the Z to run without any restrictions in regional races. My plan is to work towards a flawless finishing record to achieve my goals in 2018. What's everybody else up to this year?
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Just added a race to my 2018 race schedule. May 20-22 at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas. It's about a 400 mile trip from my home and the first race back from injury. It's an SCCA Majors race for the Mid-America Conference with strong competition from Porsche in the Touring 3 class.
Mic- glad you're here! And there's still plenty of time to select a car from your fleet of Zs to come race with us! Nomex can be made to fit, my friend, and you've probably forgotten more about Sears Point than I know!

Or, in the current parlance: "Come at me, bro!"
Success in my first race of the 2018 schedule. The Heartland Park Topeka (HPT) Majors results for T3 show Nissan 350Z in first, Porsche Boxster second and Mazda RX8 R3 third for both weekend races.
Ready to leave for the second race weekend of 2018. For the Rocky Mountain Divisional opener at the LaJunta airport course, the Z will run in Touring 1 trim. That means no air restrictors, no extra weight and big, meaty (but used 275-35-18) BFG R1-S tires. There'll be no less than THREE races on Saturday and FOUR races on Sunday. Wanna win a 2018 SCCA RMDiv Championship? You'll be entered at this race!
Monday race report from LaJunta Raceways: 7 races, 7 T1 wins. The Z's durability was a factor, and I won the final race overall after all the faster cars broke or packed it in for the weekend. For all those who say the 350Z and the VQ aren't a competitive package any longer, I beg to differ.
Thanks, Mic. Yeah, the Z33 in T1 (even T2) trim is a slightly different animal. But I'll never get it down to the 2,450# minimum weight, although I'd love to see how it would run with that kind of power-to-weight ratio! Most of the T2 Zs I've seen are stretched to the limit trying to keep up with the V8 Corvettes and Mustangs. Still, I'm happy to represent and be a part of the Z's storied race heritage!
A comparison of lap times around the 7-turn, 1.5-mile LaJunta circuit turned up some interesting comparisons and memories. Back in '08, the last T1 lap record was set by Scott Tucker in a Ferrari Challenge F360 at a 55.521 seconds, while my 2018 best was a 59.429. While that's less than a four second difference, the cost to prepare, transport and race the two cars couldn't be more apparent.

Tucker had his own Level 5 Motorsports team transport the Ferrari to LaJunta and flew in and out of the airport on his Citation jet. Level 5 used a gorgeous black/red/chrome 18-wheel transporter with a huge awning and 4-5 crew to get that car to the track and prep it between sessions. Tucker went on to a successful racing career, winning several Runoffs titles, and competing at Daytona and LeMans with Level 5.

But there's a more ominous story behind it all: Tucker was running a payday scam operation, using Native American lands to flaunt Federal and state lending laws for years. While he made millions, he was eventually arrested and convicted under RICO and is set to serve 16 years in Federal prison. He's also been ordered to pay back $1.2B in illegal funds and has been openly unrepentant about crimes he perpetrated.
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