The Fontana Nissan 350Z by Alex Butti

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Time attack might not have started in Japan, but Tsukuba Circuit certainly helped the sport to grow tremendously. On the other side of the pond, here in the US, many folks have taken notes. In this post I would like to focus on the “unlimited” class; more specifically about the Nissan Fontana 350Z. Last year Nissan Fontana showed up with an immaculate Z chassis and very competitive car built originally for GRAND-AM usage. I think this car needs a spotlight !

Fontana Nissan 350Z

You won’t find crazy aero on this Z. A simple front splitter, a proven rear wing are pretty much the only aero visible added to the car. What you will find though, are tons of details.

Fontana Nissan 350Z

In the picture above the first thing that catches people’ attention is the unique intake manifold. The VQ35DE is known to have problem with lack of air supply in the cylinder 1 and 2. Companies like Fontana Nissan started to do some R&D using CFD (Computation Fluid Dynamics) analysis results; and a bigger plenum was fabricated allowing more air into the first two cylinders.
Another detail seen in the picture is the radiator breather tank. When the coolant raises in temperature due to the high workload of the engine, air-bubble start to appear in the cooling system decreasing output performance. The breather tank helps to avoid this issue and keep the cooling system free from bubbles.

Fontana Nissan 350Z
Behind the shock towers you’ll notice the fire extinguisher nozzles. The nozzles are attached to light-weight aluminium brackets to keep the weigh of the car down to a minimum. Also notice the 4 way JRZ remote resevoir as well as the DR-25 Raychem tubing that isolates the heat of the engine from the wiring harnesses.

For those of you that are interested: this Z sports a fully built Cosworth long block using its stroker kit that bumps the displacement to a healthier 3.8 liter. The Fontana Nissan Z puts down roughly 420-430 hp to the rear wheels. Not shabby considering a stock VQ35DE dynos at about 230-240 hp at the wheel.

Fontana Nissan 350Z
Like I said earlier, details. The X-Trac sequential transmission can cost around $45.000-that’s not a typo. Clearly this shows how bad the Nissan Fontana Team wants to win. Of course the transmission’s gears can be swapped depending on the road course and the setup of the car. Take also a look at the dry carbon fiber dash. (all the exterior body panels are made of the same material as well).

Underneath the switch panel you see a red Tilton knob. This knob is a manual brake bias that allows the driver to adjust the amount of brake force applied on the front vs. the rear. A must for any serious race car.

On the right side of the stick shift there are two small levers. A red one and a black one. They are responsible to adjust the front and rear sway bars respectively; again, a must.

A mandatory MoTec M800 ECU controls the engine’s vitals and makes sure everything runs properly.

Fontana Nissan 350Z
Look how clean the Woodward steering column clamp with the MoTec data aquisition SDL monitor. I am sorry for the lack of words, but I don’t have much to say in regard. Just top of the line components here. The three white cups on the right are the Tilton remote brake-fluid resevoirs.

Fontana Nissan 350Z

You might ask why, the Tilton brake pedals are mounted on a rail?
The reason being, the bucket seat is bolted onto the chassis, and can not be moved forward or backward. Nissan Fontana wanted to keep the weight distribution of the Z at 50/50. The driver is the second heaviest “thing” in a car after the engine. Moving the driver’s seat forward would upset the weigh distribution. So what Nissan Fontana did was to mount the pedals onto a carbon fiber platform that can be moved forward or backward if necessary. That way different drivers can drive the car; clever.

Anyway, I have a little bit more to share about this car. I will do another entry in the near future, as well as more coverage about time attack.

Thanks for reading.

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