Twenty years from now, when racing historians look back at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, they will likely make note of Nissan's entry of the innovative ZEOD RC's historic full competition lap under all-electric power. And they may also mark the sweep of the first five places in the LM P2 class by cars powered by Nissan VK45DE V8 engines.
But without a doubt, racing scholars in 2034 will still be talking about the 1994 season when Steve Millen and the No. 75 Nissan 300ZX won the IMSA GTS class at the 24 Hour of Le Mans (including 5th place overall) and the 12 Hours of Sebring, along with the 1994 IMSA GTS Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championship. Millen also won the 1994 24 Hours of Daytona behind the wheel of the No. 76 Nissan 300ZX.
To commemorate that championship season, Nissan and Millen are bringing the Le Mans-winning No. 75 300ZX (chassis no. 7), as well as a number of the original crew members, out of retirement to compete at the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, Calif. from August 14 through 17.
The No. 75 Nissan 300ZX was prepared by Clayton Cunningham Racing (CCR) and featured a chromoly steel tube structure, steel and aluminum body, a 2960cc twin-turbo VG30DETT V6 rated at more than 800 horsepower, and a 5-speed Nissan transmission with Hewland gears. It is one of just 550 vehicles invited to compete in what has become the cornerstone of the Monterey Peninsula's annual Classic Car Week. The race cars are selected based on each vehicle's authenticity, race provenance and period correctness – benchmarks that the No. 75 exceeds by every measure.
"From the original 1994 Le Mans inspection sticker to the twin-turbo V6 and Nissan 5-speed Hewland crashbox, the No. 75 is the real deal, and we can't wait to see it back on the track at speed with Steve Millen at the controls," said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. "It's also fitting that it will be sharing the paddock space with our new 600-horsepower Nissan GT-R NISMO – which might just give the No. 75 a run for the money today."
The road to running the No. 75 Nissan 300ZX in Group 6B at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will include a vehicle shakedown and practice sessions at Willow Springs Raceway in late July, along with on-track practice and class qualifying on August 14 and 15 at Laguna Seca. The activities can be followed on Nissan's Facebook page and on Twitter with the hashtag #NISMOLife.
Millen has remained connected with Nissan through his STILLEN aftermarket performance parts company (which specializes in Nissan vehicles) and as part of the North American launch of the 2009 Nissan GT-R. Millen has the most victories in IMSA GTS history with 20, along with a series record 23 pole positions. He retired from competition in 1996 following a 1995 accident at Road Atlanta.
"The past 20 years have flown by like they were 24 hours, so getting back behind the wheel of the No. 75 with the support of many of the original team members will be like stepping into a time machine," said Millen. "People might forget that this car was so dominant in 1994 that IMSA banned its twin-turbo V6 engine. I think we've got a great chance to bring it into Victory Lane one more time against some other amazing race cars at Laguna Seca. I can't wait."
Nissan will be setting up a display in the Laguna Seca garage area in support of the No. 75 300ZX's return to competition, as well as showcasing its latest performance models – the new 370Z NISMO and GT-R NISMO.
"Nissan and NISMO, our motorsports group, have a deep history and a commitment today to providing innovation through technology – bringing the lessons learned on track to enthusiast-worthy production vehicles like the NISMO-branded JUKE, 370Z, and GT-R," added Loing. "That spirit of driving enjoyment is also present across the entire Nissan lineup, from Versa to Titan and every model in between."