ZCON, the annual celebration of the Datsun and Nissan Z, celebrates 30 years
Group shot of ZCON cars at the Circuit of the Americas. Photo courtesy of Z Car Club Association.
[Editor’s note: This piece comes to us from Dr. Chris Brewer, director of public relations for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and regular Hemmings contributor.]
Very few vehicles have had the impact of Nissan’s Z car. Launched for the 1970 model year, the original Datsun 240Z swiftly shifted the public’s opinion of the brand, and quite possibly of Japanese automakers. Previously known for building inexpensive no-frills transportation, Nissan’s attractively-designed sports car proved to be a strong competitor in the segment and the relatively-ignored manufacturer began to be seen as a viable mainstream contender. Sales numbers were excellent and the Z Car’s success set a new path for the company, causing the leading automakers to take pause and reassess the sports car formula. Almost fifty years have passed since the first Z car rolled off the assembly line, but the passion for Nissan’s sports car is alive and well.
Perhaps the best-known 240Z of all: John Morton’s championship-winning Datsun, prepared by Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE). Remaining photos by Chris Brewer.
On June 20, 2017, the Z Car Club Association gathered in Austin, Texas to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the International Z Car Convention. Started in 1988, the formula for the annual ZCON event is simple but effective. Each year, Z car clubs from around North America are asked to present bids to host the convention rather than having an executive team plan and organize the event. Once the bids are in and a decision is made, the winning club carries the majority of the workload to facilitate the convention. The model serves the Z Car community well. Although the basic ingredients remain the same featuring multiple cars shows, track days, autocross events, workshops, social events, and banquets, the variety of locations and the individuals who flesh out the details change keeping the annual convention fresh and new.
Z cars from all eras were well-represented.
Hosted by Capital Z of Texas, this year’s convention was held at the Hilton Austin Airport with events at the Harris Hill Raceway and the prestigious Circuit of the Americas. The 2017 host hotel provided a central location with car-enthusiast-friendly accommodations and plenty of parking. Located about thirty minutes from the hotel, the Harris Hill Raceway in San Marcos, Texas is an eleven turn 36-foot wide asphalt course with over 150 feet of elevation change. The track’s environment is excellent for beginners and provides experienced drivers with a nice setting to hone skills and challenge themselves.
As this roadster demonstrates, other Datsun models were welcomed, too.
With more than 700 registered guests and many more Z fans in attendance, the 2017 convention was a strong success. Informal interviews proved that the event organizers, participants, and guests were delighted with the venue. Austin’s world-class motorsports park, Circuit of The America’s, provided an excellent environment for Friday’s autocross event and parade laps as well as Saturday’s All Nissan People’s Choice Car Show. Completed in 2012, the picture-perfect 3.41-mile racetrack sits on 1,500 acres of gently-rolling hills. The freshly painted track also created the perfect frame for the conventions group photo shot atop the 251-foot observation tower.
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