It has been a minute since we’ve ventured out to a NissFest—the last time we did in 2016, the all-Nissan/Infiniti/Datsun show and meet was co-opting Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., with Redline Time Attack to present a sort of combo car show-track day. For 2019, the call was Irwindale Speedway, about 35 miles due west from their previous spot, where thousands came out to visually consume featured vehicles placed strategically beneath and beside the grandstand for Irwindale’s short oval. There was also an area for registered display cars in the parking lot, a couple drifting demos on the track throughout the afternoon, and a whole lot of revving—like, seriously, hours of unabated revving. All hopes for conversation with anyone were dashed.
We’re joking, it was fine. But yeah, more than most shows we go to, NissFest attendees like to stick it in neutral, poke at the loud pedal, and see if they can bounce it off the limiter. It’s harmless fun but was getting a little tiresome at points.
If we had to peg a model of the show, it for sure would be the Z, but seemingly mostly those from the 1990s onward; that may not seem like much of a surprise to some, but with so many S-chassis in Southern California we figured they would at least give the sports coupe a run for its money. There were high numbers of modified 350Z and 370Z, and even their Infiniti cousin, the G35 coupe, but it looked like 300ZX rolled out in the greatest numbers. Curiously there weren’t a whole lot of G37, but we did see enough Q50 to finally realize we have a serious crush on that car’s body lines—so good.
While people’s wheel game can be hit or miss at an event like NissFest, we saw a definite trend toward Works on the hotter builds—lots of Meister S1, VS-XX, and discontinued VS-KF. There was a small cluster of G20/Primera in the parking lot, one of the executive compacts rocking VS-XX and looking like it just cruised in from Tokyo.
Maybe it was because we arrived about an hour after the show started, but for whatever reason there were very few classics from either Nissan or Datsun at the show. This SR20-powered racing 510 and the Datsun pickup with camper shell probably clinch it for best execution of old-school rides; the aero on the Bluebird in particular had us in its orbit for a good stretch.
This year NissFest offered drifting demos instead of time-attacking—only fitting at the House of Drift, where in a week from the event Formula D will hold its 2019 season finale. Our friends at The Drift League pro-am championship had a booth at Irwindale, where they posted up newly-licensed Pro 2 driver Pablo Cabrera’s S13.5 street car (S13 + S15 front), which won Best S-chassis of the show.