There would be several benefits for Nissan in joining NASCAR. They would likely see increased sales from the exposure and, likewise, NASCAR may find a new breed of spectators from Nissan lovers. These possibilities leave fans wondering if it is likely for Nissan to join NASCAR in the future.
Nissan will not likely join NASCAR any time soon. Several manufacturers have been part of NASCAR since its first season in 1949, but this does not include Nissan. It is possible for Nissan to join NASCAR in the future. However, it would take several changes to the series to pique their interest.
If Nissan were to join NASCAR, they would give the series at least four manufacturers for the first time since 2012. Below we discuss everything you need to know about the relationship between the two and what NASCAR would need to do to attract Nissan or other manufacturers.
Nissan has never been in NASCAR. However, they have a small presence in the organization despite never becoming an official partner. They outsource engines to the International Motorsports Association (IMSA), a NASCAR-owned entity. Nissan has previously expressed interest in becoming a manufacturer.
Since there is a nominal but real presence, Nissan and NASCAR are familiar with each other. Nissan has expressed interest in the past about potentially becoming a manufacturer for the organization. In 2018, Dodge and Nissan were reported to be lobbying for a spot in NASCAR.
For Dodge, this would be yet another return to the circuit. For Nissan, it would mark as a debut. However, per NASCAR rules, prospective manufacturers must present plans and even models to corporate offices within a calendar year, something Nissan has not yet completed.
Since 2013, NASCAR has only had three manufacturers: Chevrolet, Toyota, and Ford. However, the series has been home to several manufacturers in the past. From 2000 until 2012, Dodge was part of the NASCAR Cup Series family. Through 2003, Pontiac joined Chevy, Ford, and Dodge on a full-time basis before the manufacturer switched to a part time schedule in 2004. By 2005, Pontiac left NASCAR for good.
Many people don’t realize that NASCAR has had dozens of manufacturers since it started in 1949. In fact, the Generation 1 cars sometimes saw over a half-dozen in a single season, since there was little standardization in those early days.
While many manufacturers have been reduced to asterisks in NASCAR history books, popular names once graced the Cup Series circuit. While Chevy, Ford, and Toyota are the most prominent in manufacturer championships, other brands also hoisted the hardware on multiple occasions.
For example, Buick won two NASCAR Cup Championships while Hudson won three. Oldsmobile and Plymouth each snagged one championship. While neither Chrysler nor Mercury won a NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, or Truck Series Championship, they too had a prominent presence.
Nissan could potentially be in NASCAR in the future. Nissan would receive many benefits, including exposure. However, they would like to see some changes in the series before they consider further interest. One aspect many potential manufacturers want to see is for NASCAR to adopt a hybrid system.
With the advent of the Next Gen car, NASCAR is pushing to return its product back to resembling its cars’ production line equivalents. This tactic, best known as “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” would help any manufacturer looking to gain exposure through NASCAR.
NASCAR would also benefit from increasing its reach. Not only will they see a greater influx of fans loyal to Nissan tune in, but the more manufacturers NASCAR gets, the better off they are. Increased rivalries between manufacturers would likely generate more interest too.
With only three manufacturers, this would not be an easy feat. However, add Nissan to the mix, and perhaps Dodge, or even Hyundai, whose name has also been thrown around, and there are suddenly six manufacturers vying for a Cup Series Championship.
NASCAR teams would also need to be willing to jump ship from their stalwart Chevys and Fords, which have long dominated the series, to the incoming manufacturers. This would create tension between teams that continued to race with Chevy or Ford and those who previously aligned themselves elsewhere.
The general consensus among NASCAR fans is that the sport remained largely American from a manufacturer standpoint until Toyota joined in 2007. This is not a true statement. While NASCAR was predominantly American for decades, it was not exclusively American early on.
In the early days, NASCAR had manufacturers from Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany compete. In fact, this was the case through the early 1960s. Italy’s Alfa Romeo competed in 1962, while the United Kingdom’s MG Motor ran in NASCAR events in 1954, and again from 1960 to 1963.
For the next 44 seasons, American manufacturers dominated the NASCAR landscape before Toyota’s time. Toyota’s entry was met with criticism from some fans who were used to seeing Chevy, Ford, and Dodge, among other American manufacturers, grace the track.
Toyota proved itself, and has since snagged 19 Manufacturer Championships, including two in the NASCAR Cup Series, four in Xfinity, and 12 in the Truck Series. Toyota’s success has certainly caught the attention of other foreign manufacturers, Nissan included.
Toyota first joined NASCAR in 2004, but they spent three seasons in the Truck Series racing the Tundra before they advanced to the Cup Series in 2007. Dodge returned to the Cup Series in 2000, but they spent four seasons racing in the Truck Series (1996 to 1999).
Considering Toyota’s and Dodge’s pathways, you may think Nissan and any other manufacturer looking to enter NASCAR’s ranks must do the same. However, this may not be the case now, as prospective manufacturers may see a quicker path to the Cup Series.
Nissan would face the challenge of building an engine design and submitting it to NASCAR. This would take time, research, and money to build. Nissan could also expect NASCAR, given its strict specs, to provide feedback for the company and take the prospective engine through several revisions.
Once Nissan has the engines ready to go, that alone would cut down on potential wait time for entry into the Cup Series. Further, NASCAR would be courting new manufacturers to join, and as part of a potential agreement, those manufacturers may stipulate immediate entry into the Cup Series.
Other manufacturers could potentially join NASCAR. This includes Hyundai who previously expressed interest but did not provide NASCAR with a definitive answer in 2019. Like Nissan, other manufacturers would likely wish to see changes from NASCAR before committing to becoming a manufacturer.
With NASCAR going out and looking for teams to join its ranks, Nissan would not be the only manufacturer on their radar. In 2019, Hyundai neither gave NASCAR a definitive yes or no. Their product strategies suggested that they were looking into potentially joining later on.
Honda also has a presence in the NASCAR-owned IMSA Series. Honda and NASCAR are familiar with one another, like Nissan. Volkswagen, which joined the NASCAR circuit for one season in 1953, almost re-entered NASCAR via Andretti-Autosport. However, “Dieselgate” struck and the deal never panned out.
As of 2022, Nissan and Hyundai, among others, remain long shots to partner with NASCAR, despite potential interest. For them to join, NASCAR would need to continually find ways to make its cars cheaper. However, NASCAR cars, from their engines to their bodies, are not cheap.
Many prospective manufacturers would like to see NASCAR adopt a hybrid system before they commit to entering, as this kind of technology is easily transferrable to the manufacturers’ road car departments. The problem is that it would take a massive learning curve for NASCAR’s builders to learn how to design hybrid powertrains.
Besides building them, hybrids also require a different procedure of repairs. NASCAR’s builders would need to commit time to learn how to design, repair, and rebuild hybrids before they are ready to attract new manufacturers that are demanding them.
Nissan may potentially join NASCAR in the future if they see some changes from the series. They, along with other prospective manufacturers, want to see more cost-efficient designs, preferably a hybrid model, before committing to outsourcing their designs to NASCAR teams.