RACE: Valvoline Runoffs: Nissan drivers preview

Nissan drivers converge on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for 40th Running of SCCA National Championships. 13 Division Champions among 47 Nissan Teams competing. GARDENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 12, 2003--With more victories than any other...

Nissan drivers converge on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for 40th Running of SCCA National Championships. 13 Division Champions among 47 Nissan Teams competing.

GARDENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 12, 2003--With more victories than any other auto manufacturer, 82 total, in the previous 39 runnings of the Sport Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championships, Nissan has the numbers in its favor entering the 2003 SCCA Valvoline Runoffs September 19 - 21 at the famed Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington, Ohio. Among the expected 700 entrants will be 47 Nissan drivers, including 13 Divisional Champions.

Teams qualify for the Runoffs, America's largest sports car weekend, by finishing on top in points in 24 competition classes in the eight SCCA geographic divisions. Nissan drivers will compete in nine of the 24 classes, including Showroom Stock, Production, GT and Touring categories. While Nissans of all vintages going back to 1968 will be represented, eight of the 47 Nissan teams are racing two of Nissan's current models -- the high performance Sentra SE-R Spec V and the powerful 350Z sports car.

The race weekend will receive full television coverage on the SPEED network. Each race will have its own one-hour show.

"Famed New England road racer Bob Sharp became the first Nissan driver to win an SCCA National Championship in 1967," said Ron Stukenberg, senior manager of Motorsports Marketing and Operations, Nissan North America, Inc. "In the years since, the list of Runoffs competitors who have gone on to successful professional careers includes Bob's son Scott Sharp (with three SCCA Championships), along with Paul Newman, the late Mark Donohue, Jimmy Vasser and Bobby Rahal. Future racing legends will likely be adding their names to the Nissan victors roll again here this year."

Nissan Motorsports will be heavily represented at Mid-Ohio, providing technical assistance and parts support for all Nissan racers. Nissan is providing more than $75,000 in contingency and bonus money to successful Nissan drivers in 2003. Nissan Motorsports will also have special displays on hand as part of the company's strong ongoing commitment to racing, especially among the amateur contingent.

"While SCCA Club Racing is a tremendous 'feeder system' into the professional ranks, for the majority of drivers, Club Racing is their version of weekend golf," said Stukenberg. "No matter what their aspirations, if they have the faith in our products to race them, then we're more than happy to share with them the technical expertise we've learned over the years, and financially reward them for their success.

"Nissan North America, Inc. feels strongly about giving people a distinctively satisfying driving experience -- so much so, we offer a sports edition for every model," Stukenberg continued. "Our new Sentra SE-R and 350Z are perfect examples of bold and thoughtful performance vehicles which shine either on the highway or, in modified-for-racing forms, on the race track."

Nissan Motorsports and NISMO, the company's performance parts division, re-entered the professional racing ranks in the U.S. this year, backing Peter Cunningham's TeamRTR Sentra SE-R Spec V's in the Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship.

Cunningham put the Sentra in the winner's circle at Road America in August, in only his sixth start with the car, in what is widely-regarded as the most hotly-contested inter-manufacturer road racing series in North America.

Cunningham will be at Mid-Ohio on Thursday, meeting with Nissan's Runoffs teams, and serving as a guest speaker during a banquet at the track to honor all of Nissan's teams.

-nissan-

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