Between 1985 and 1990, the Nissan GTP car became the only competitor to defeat the Porsche 962 for the IMSA GT Championship. It was a product of the experts at Electramotive Engineering Inc. and to this day remains an epic story in motor racing.
Now, one of the mechanical engineers who was there every step of the way has released a new book telling the entire story.
Chris Willes’ ‘Developing a Champion: The Electramotive Nissan GTP Story’ contains a wealth of information from technical specifications and diagrams to stories from the designer’s desk, production line and test bed.
This 444-page, 9” x 12”, coffee table-style book describes in detail the design, build, and development of the dominant IMSA Nissan GTP car of the late 1980’s. It includes professional photography of the car on track, never before seen in-shop photos taken by my colleagues and I, and drawings and diagrams of various component designs that compliment the incredible story of converting this car into a multi-time champion against some of the toughest sports car competition in the world.
It begins with Electramotive’s racing history starting in 1974 with the Datsun B210 and the Datsun 280ZX, which resulted in several IMSA category championships. It details Don Devendorf’s conception, design, and development of one of the first electronic engine control units ever produced for racing, Electramotive’s Electronic Engine Control Processor (EECP). It gives a full description of Electramotive’s 1/7th-scale moving ground plane wind tunnel, and the testing and results that produced one of the most dominant shapes in IMSA GTP racing. There are complete details of the design, build, and development of the 1,000+ bhp Nissan 300ZX V-6 race engine and the aluminum block designed by Electramotive to replace the stock iron block. In addition, it chronicles all the IMSA race storylines the Nissan GTP car entered from 1985 to 1989, including the championship seasons of 1988 and 1989.
The foreword was written by championship-winning driver, Geoff Brabham, and team principle, Don Devendorf, wrote the introduction. I enlisted the help of my former colleagues to help me expose the true story behind the record-breaking success of the Electramotive Nissan GTP race team.
“Most of the technical information in the book is being made public for the first time,” explains the author. “The design and development phase of the 1988 GTP was extremely intense, and we were lucky enough to document it every step of the way. For example, in 1981, Don Devendorf, owner of Electramotive and an electronic genius, designed and built his own electronic engine control box – and we can now share all of the previously-confidential information that has been kept under wraps since.”
Continuing, “Readers will also discover the details and story behind Electramotive’s 1983 construction of its own 1/7th-scale moving ground plane wind tunnel - explaining how it was built and how well it performed. We also dive into the IMSA GTP races themselves – including some very illuminating home truths of the rivalry with the Tom Walkinshaw Jaguars, and competition from Porsche, Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Buick, and Pontiac. It’s a beautiful, heavy and unforgettable book – so grab your copy now.”
Reviews have been extremely positive. Norm DeWitt writes, “This book is the absolute authority on how that greatest of GTP cars came to be after three years of struggle in the class. There is also a great deal about the GTO cars and Mickey Thompson Stadium Truck development, which is also highly interesting. But have no doubt that this is first and foremost the story of developing a dominant GTP car. This book tells that tale exceedingly well, in detail that is never available outside of being on the team itself.”
Ken Tripkos adds, “I finished your book last night, high praise to you for your attention to detail, and what a story! I am surprised that Nissan didn't pull the plug in those early years. I hope that your readers will now appreciate what it takes to make a winning car/team. People have no idea how much behind the scenes work is involved just to get to the track let alone putting a competitive car together. I don't know how Don kept up both jobs let alone design a cutting-edge engine management system and form a top-notch race team. Your engineering drawings should be framed, very impressive!”