Anne Proffit looks at the big Nissan announcement via the Superbowl, and Doran Racing, who had a major hand in the production of the Nissan Superbowl advertisements.
Kevin Doran and his namesake team have been stalwarts in endurance racing for well past a decade. Lately they’ve been running in the Continental Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) series that is a companion to the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship (TUSCC), both sanctioned by IMSA. Doran Racing fields a pair of Nissan 370Z entries, No. 14 and No. 41.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the pair of CTSCC Doran Racing race cars had a coming out party, as they appeared in the long-awaited Nissan advertisement that gave us our first look at the company’s World Endurance Championship GT-R LM NISMO challenger. That radical front-engine, front-wheel-drive racecar served as the lightning point for Nissan’s advertisement, making its initial public appearance on television.
The 90-second spot featured a total of 11 race cars supplied by Doran Racing for the secret taping on the Circuit of the Americas road-race track in Austin, Texas. The filming took place in December of last year. “We provided four IMSA drivers, seven IMSA Doran Racing crew members and 11 race cars,” explained Kevin Doran, owner of the team. “Eight cars were from our shop in Lebanon, Ohio. The other three were brought in from other race teams.”
Who participated exactly?
Amongst the drivers were a pair of Rolex 24 at Daytona winners - Didier Theys and Forest Barber - and two men that currently co-drive the No. 14 Nissan 370Z in CTSCC. That car is is helmed by B.J. Zachaarias and Brad Jaeger, the latter seen very briefly in the commercial when he’s on the top step of the podium during a filmed victory lane sequence of the commercial entitled, “With Dad.”
Two days before the commercial aired, Jaeger explained, “I was one of the three guys on the top step of the podium. It was me, the main actor and one of the Nissan GT Academy drivers. I got to drive the older Nissan Prototype too. A lot of our mechanics were extras in various scenes. I was there for two and a half days, but I think the team was there for almost a whole week.”
The storyline of the commercial, set to Harry Chapin’s 1974 folk/rock song “Cat’s in the Cradle” follows a dad with a racing career. His son grows up watching him on television as the father misses many important events in his son’s life as he works on his racing career. He starts in a Doran Racing Nissan 370Z, progresses to a Nissan GT-R (in which he has an accident). The father goes on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Nissan’s brand new LMP1 GT-R LM NISMO. The father and son then drive off together in a new Nissan Maxima road car at the end of the advert.
For Jaeger it was a grand experience to be part of this crew. “I had a wonderful time. It was the first time I’ve ever been exposed to a proper Hollywood production and it was a lot more relaxed than a race weekend. We all had radios and it was very planned out and coordinated. We’d film in one portion of the COTA track and then go to another portion.
“My guess is that there were around 200 people there in all; everyone from the production staff to the people driving the cars to the actors and the wardrobe and makeup people. I’m happy the No. 14 and Doran Racing were able to be a part of it,” he concluded.
Now that Doran Racing has a claim to fame in the making of the commercial, it’s back to business again. The team’s next event is during the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, scheduled for the weekend of March 19-21. The CTSCC race takes place on Friday, March 20, with both Doran Racing Nissan 370Z race cars on-hand. The team’s Fifty Plus Racing Prototype races in the 12-hour contest the following day.