Is the Nissan GT-R the Ultimate Street Car?
- OPTIMA Batteries
- Las Vegas, NV
The Nissan GT-R started finding homes in American garages back in 2008, but it was Gary Rubio's 2009 GT-R that marked the first appearance of this supercar in OUSCI competition back in 2011. Rubio's debut was an impressive one and resulted in a fourth place overall finish and the start of an impressive streak for the car known as Godzilla.
In 2012, Travis Hill showed up with a 1,000-horsepower 2013 Nissan GT-R, built by Switzer Performance and notched a fifth place overall finish. In 2013, it was Steve Kepler's turn to make an impressive run in his 2013 GT-R, also tuned by Switzer Performance, which posted a seventh-place finish overall.
The following year, four of them found their way into competition. In 2014, it was Ron Adee's 2009 GT-R that took it's turn in the top-ten with an eighth-place finish and Casey Wallace would've been right behind Adee in ninth, had he completed the Detroit Speed Road Rally. Instead, Wallace finished 29th overall. Hugh Bate's GT-R was the lone competitor in 2015, finishing 17th overall, but more GT-Rs were working on a plan for a championship.
Big horsepower from the factory, combined with launch control, anti-lock brakes and all-wheel drive make the GT-R a potent contender right out of the box and so far, five different drivers have proven the platform is very capable of making a serious run at the overall title. Even though none posted a top-ten finish in the 2016 OUSCI, Kepler did take home the 2016 GTS regular season points championship and was the only competitor out of four different classes to clinch a regular season title before the final event of the year. Kepler's 492-point performance was also the third-highest total of the year in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car Series.
Kepler struggled the next year and 2018 with breakage as well, but Brandon Williams was able to post a 15th-place finish in his 2009 Nissan GT-R in 2017. Kepler would finally turn the corner at the 2019 OUSCI and came home just shy of the podium in fourth place.
The 2020 OUSCI was a bit out of the ordinary, as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the SEMA Show and the OUSCI decided to relocate to the Circuit of the Americas. Bob Sobey's Nissan GT-R had qualified, but a COVID-related illness prevented him from attending, so the 2020 field was without any GT-Rs in competition.
As Kepler bowed out of competition and sold his GT-R, Sobey picked up the torch and carried it to third-place finish in 2021, well within striking distance of a victory. It was the 2022 OUSCI where Sobey and the GT-R finally broke through to the championship position and shows no signs of letting up in 2023.
If someone is serious about winning the OUSCI and is looking at vehicle options, a well-built GT-R has to be on the short list, but is it the only option from the land of the rising sun? Mitsubishi Evo owners might be able to make an even better case for using their platform.