Bob Sharp racing is famous for 2 things. 1: Paul Newman raced for them. 2: Racing and winning with Datsuns and Nissans. Sharp’s Datsun 510’s were giant killers and his Z cars dominated SCCA racing for years. You can not mention Nissan racing in North America without mentioning Bob Sharp.
Bob Sharp’s Nissans and Datsuns have certainly left a mark on me. As soon as I have the budget I am going to build my own version of a Bob Sharp Racing tribute Datsun 510. Just something about the GT racing cars of that era resonates with me.
Bob Sharp’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention. But if you ask him, his proudest racing achievement is his son, Scott Sharp. Scott has been a stalwart in Sportscar Racing for years now. He raced in Indycar before that. He is part owner of Extreme Speed Motorsports. ESM won overall at the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 Hours. In addition his team fields 2 cars in the World Endurance Championship, with customer Nissan V8 engines. While competing on the global scale Sharp’s roots are in North America. His primary sponsor, Tequila Patron is North American based. It makes sense for his team to return.
“Tequila Patrón ESM has had an incredible experience over the last 24 months going to some amazing race tracks, but we are very excited to return to the IMSA WeatherTech Championship,” Scott Sharp told Sportscar365.
On Tuesday ESM announced they will return for a full season effort in IMSA’s new for 2017 DPi class. They will field 2 Ligier JS P217 based prototypes with Nissan engines. In accordance with IMSA rules the car will have custom brand associated bodywork. The technical partnership was only finalized in the past few weeks and signed on Monday.
Onroak will continue to offer support with their Ligier JS P217 chassis. Nissan will supply the twin turbo V6’s only while Onroak will tackle the custom bodywork. While the deal came together late Nissan is the first manufacturer to officially announce a DPi program for 2017.
Ed Brown, who not only drives for ESM but is also the President of Patron Spirits is understandably excited about the partnership. “The DPi program is going to be really exciting, and it will be fantastic to be able to compete not only on our home turf, but for the overall win. It’s going to be wonderful to be associated with a world-class brand like Nissan. I think the synergies between the two companies and each of our consumers will give us great opportunities to activate our brands.”
While not made official Nissan joins Mazda and Cadillac as brands embracing the new class. Ironically Nissan is the only one to make the news official as Mazda and Cadillac have yet to announce what everyone knows. They will be racing in IMSA’s DPi class in 2017. Cadillac will make their involvement official at the LA Auto Show. With the 2 ESM Nissans that brings the DPi count up to 8. Mazda and Cadillac will have 3 each in addition to Nissan’s 2. Plus it is believed that several teams are exploring the option of going with 1 of the 4 approved chassis with the spec Gibson V8. It wasn’t that long ago that the DPi car count looked bleak. Now there is the opportunity of double-digit Prototype entries for the first time in years.
2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for IMSA. Honda and Lexus are both on track to make their Daytona Debuts and now the Sharp name returns to its rightful home. Driving factory supported Nissans.