Seeing the way this green blur soars into Mosport’s Turn 1 without any hesitation, we already know we’re in for an impressive lap. Not only is this homebuilt Nissan 350Z astonishingly quick, but it also serves as proof that, given enough time for development, a knowledgeable driver with a strong engineering background can build a car to rival factory racecars.
The always-cool Sasha Anis, owner of OnPoint Dyno and also Mountain Pass Performance, picked this car as it was the cheapest way to start racing professionally. Initially built by Jackson Stewart at Unitech Racing for the GS class of Koni Challenge, the car helped Anis start running in the big-time beginning in 2008.
After growing tired of the immense costs and headaches of running a pro team, he decided to retire it from the GS class and focus on club racing, but he didn’t become complacent. His aim was to make this 350Z run the same times at Mosport as the circa-2005 IMSA GT2 machines. Last week, he finally achieved his goal.
Setting His Sights High
The reason he placed his crosshairs on the GT2 cars of that era was, in large part, because they were relatively simple. Their top speeds were limited to 150 miles per hour, and their aerodynamic elements were strictly regulated. Without a great deal of downforce, the focus was on the mechanical grip with slow- and medium-speed cornering. Of course, these cars were built to incredibly high standards. They had special tires not available to the public, and they had massive budgets to work with. Still, while Anis’ budget couldn’t come anywhere near a prominent manufacturer’s, he felt rivaling these GT2 cars was an ambitious goal but well within the realm of possibility.
Background on the Green Beast
Over the years, Anis’ brainchild has been continuously updated to bring it to the level of a GT3 machine. From the footage, we immediately register just how agile the former heavyweight is. Now lightened by a slew of carbon body panels, the 350Z is sharpened with Koni 2822 adjustable shocks and Pirelli slicks wrapping 12-inch Volk ZE40 wheels. Underneath those wheels, sit off-the-shelf Stoptech ST40 brakes, which the Bosch ABS controls with a level of accuracy enjoyed by GT3 cars.
So much of its speed has to do with its handling, but its 600-horsepower VQ cannot be left out of the appraisal. The most potent normally-aspirated VQ on North American soil — possibly anywhere on the planet — makes this monster something extraordinary. Its incredible grunt allows it to trade paint with Porsche Cup cars — and now, it’s even punchier than it was in that scrap.
The engine has been through several iterations, and the latest version is a 4.2-liter screamer that touches 8,200 revs at redline. With the help of Jim Wolf Technology, the motor is stretched to the limit in a way no other road course-oriented VQ has before. The VQ35HR block and heads benefit from a massive Bryant Racing crankshaft, Carillo rods, lightweight JE pistons, and 15:1 compression. With outstanding compression and a wide rev range, its 537-wheel-horsepower is easy to use.
A Staggering Lap
For a sensible man like Anis to put in a committed lap where there’s the risk of a big accident, the car needs to be communicative. With a tractable motor, compliance over curbs, supreme stability at higher speeds, and reliable braking, the 350Z is confidence-inspiring. Watch how he perfectly negotiates the traction circle via the G-meter display (3:15); shifting from 1.9g under braking to cornering smoothly.
This demonstrates how communicative the car is on the ragged edge. Only twice does it noticeably oversteer. Those instances were in a hairpin (3:21) and over a crest (3:51), respectively, where a little wheelspin is expected, but both slides look predictable and easy to manage.
“While we don’t have even a fraction of the budget or resources of a manufacturer, Kels shows that with enough time and effort it’s not impossible to get close to the factory’s level of performance,” Anis concludes. You don’t usually see the humble man get this emotional, but achieving a goal 11 years in the making fully warrants any gushing, whooping, or hysteric sobbing, so a wavering voice is still pretty stoic.