Here's the Le Mans race car that everyone is talking about in the carbon-fiber nude. The Nissan GT-R LM Nismo had largely been kept out of public view until a group of traveling fans saw it turning laps at Circuit of the Americas yesterday. Now we have clearer photos and video of Nissan's wild new car.
Because the Total Arse Racing Team spotted the car at Haywood's Hill yesterday, I wanted to see if I could spot anything interesting from the same vantage point. Haywood's Hill is one of the more popular campsites near the track, as it's a property that backs up to the straight between Turn 10 and Turn 11. It's a gorgeous, well-groomed grassy hill with expansive views of the Austin skyline and the track itself, which makes it popular for campers as well as car-spotters and the occasional photographer.
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If there are spy shots of not-yet-public cars out on COTA, there's a good chance that they came from here. Sure, you could get a really good zoom lens and probably snap cars from FM 812, McAngus or Elroy Road.
Haywood's Hill is a tad more convenient if you plan on sitting and waiting for something special to show up. I should've brought a lunch, enjoyed the view and made a totally not suspicious picnic out of it, I guess.
But this is better than any tuna sandwich: A test version of Nissan's Le Mans entry. Gone was the cheerful red livery from yesterday's cell phone pics and our render from last month. If Nissan wanted the car to be as unrecognizable as possible, that's one way to do it.
The shape of its headlights and nose combined with its long front—highly unusual for a modern prototype—gave it away. This Nissan LMP1 will reportedly be the first front-mid-engined Le Mans prototype since the Panozes of the early 2000s.
One headlight wasn't working on the car, but this appeared to be a shakedown day, plus it was running in the daylight. Whether the one-eyed look is intentional or a glitch to be fixed before its inaugural race weekend, I couldn't say. Either way, I love the angular lights on the front of this car. That combined with the all-carbon look for the day made this car look incredibly aggressive.
Cue the Batmobile comparisons. C'mon, you've been holding them back. Do your worst.
It's hard to tell in these photos, but there is a vertical support in the middle of the rear diffuser area on the back, and a horizontal support across the middle of that area as well. That whole area appears to be divided in fours, but you know it's probably more complex up inside the rear end of the car. Of course, I couldn't get any closer to have a look at that.
The front tire does look just a tiny bit larger in many photos than the rears. A filler neck hole (presumably for fuel) can also be spotted on the side of the car behind the cockpit. Finally, yes, those are rear-view mirrors atop the front fenders, not unlike a classic Skyline GT-R. It's living up to its "GT-R" moniker with a nod to the past and, hopefully, a nod to the future.
Now that we've seen several different angles of the car, what does it sound like? Does it sound like unicorn flatulence or bars of unobtanium crashing on the floor repeatedly? Or does it sound like an engine running at speed?
Wonder no more:
It sounds like a V6 to me. In person, there was also an audible hum alongside the big growl, likely from the car's hybrid energy recovery systems.
This car is being built to compete in the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship this year, and will likely make its official debut during the Super Bowl.