Mar 21, 2014 update to the Nissan 350Z project car

Z Car Survives Competition Debut

Despite a lack of prep, our Z took to the autocross course like a natural.
We hope further development just accentuates what we feel is an already good overall package.

We paid our money and took our spot on the grid next to the “real” STU cars.

Our project 350Z made its competition debut at the Tire Rack SCCA Dixie National Solo Tour event this past weekend, and although it’s still a ways from being competitive in the tight STU class, its performance gave us high hopes for the rest of the season.

Yes, complete with its mismatched springs, 170,000-mile OEM shocks, and 340-treadwear tires built in Asian countries that probably don’t exist anymore, we paid our money and took our spot on the grid next to the “real” STU cars. The STU—or Street Touring Ultra—class is made up primarily of higher-end sports and GT cars. The BMW M3, Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Evo make up the bulk of the competitive cars in the class, which is a formidable lineup indeed. For 2014, the 350Z moves from STR into STU to compete with those cars, but it is allowed a wider tire (285 max width vs 245 for the AWD cars), which will hopefully put it on more equal footing with the turbo AWD monsters.

Or, at least we hope, since we’ll be prepping our 350Z to compete in STU this year, ultimately taking it to the Solo Nationals in September.

Our debut in Cecil, Georgia, was hampered mostly by a completely undeveloped chassis and crap tires. Still, we found the car to be relatively neutral, grippy, and easy to drive. We hope that adding grip will just crank up the knobs on all those traits. We were only a couple seconds away from the trophy spots against some cars built to the rules and running competitive rubber, so we definitely see light at the end of the Z tunnel when it comes to competitiveness.

Our sights now turn to the next big National Solo event in the Southeast, which is the Match Tour in Atlanta in mid-May. By then we expect to have wheels and tires in place, some suspension sorted out, and some actual testing completed. Since many of the drivers from the Cecil event should be returning to Atlanta, it will be a good opportunity to measure our progress.

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