August 20, 2005--Nissan Design America (NDA), known for designing cutting-edge vehicles, has used its automotive design expertise to win the Best in Design Category at the 5th Annual 2005 Extreme Gravity Racing Series held yesterday atop Jack's Peak Drive. Dubbed the Nissan Flying Torpedo, this sleek race machine competed with ten other automotive manufacturers for charity.
Nissan's participation in the event supports America Works for Kids, a charity organization founded to provide paying jobs for foster kids as well as help to develop their professional skills and introduce them to the field of car design.
A team of designers from NDA's La Jolla studio designed this long and sleek racing machine around the principal of aerodynamics. Measuring a slick 4'x4'x9', the Nissan Flying Torpedo is best described as an elevated fuselage with completely covered wheel skirts. After many months of concept work and design renderings, designers built the lightweight racer composed of a custom-built welded trussed frame and body that features an aerodynamic fiberglass shell and wheel covers.
Its exterior was designed in collaboration with Easy Racers, a local bike shop in Santa Cruz, Calif., which provided NDA designers ideas for the most efficient design. The exterior shell, with a distinct smoked-gray polycarbonate window, provides the least amount of frontal area to the vehicle and allows full, wrap-around visibility for the enclosed driver. Coming in at a lean 145 pounds, extra ballast was added to bring the total weight of the vehicle, plus driver, to 320 pounds, which represents the maximum weight allowed for the race. To increase driver safety, the racer is equipped with a complete roll cage and safety harness. In addition, its unique body color is directly taken from the color palette of the Infiniti FX45.
Robert Bauer, design manager, NDA, served as the design lead on the project; Richard Plavetich, technical design manager, NDA, served as the lead engineer; and Charlie Postins, design sculptor, NDA, was the driver. According to the team, Nissan was eager to participate in the event as a means to support the foster kids program and to take advantage of a chance to create something unique.
"The entire Nissan team is very proud of the design and we're pleased to have won the Best in Design category," said Bauer. "This project gave us an opportunity to work on something which ultimately benefits a great cause."
"We are all delighted of the outcome," said Postins. "It was a fun and exhilarating show and we look forward to our next race in Irvine."
"Clearly the winners from the race are the kids," said Victor Nacif, vice president, design business aspects, NDA. "The Nissan design team worked really hard but also had fun designing and building the racer. We hope that all the kids involved walk away with excitement, inspiration, and a smile."
The Nissan Flying Torpedo will travel next to Irvine, CA, in which a subsequent race will be held on Saturday, September 17, at Shady Canyon.
As with the design of the Nissan Flying Torpedo, NDA has adopted a philosophy that encourages designers to work on projects outside of the automotive industry to stimulate creativity in their automotive designs. These design projects include boats, furniture, golf clubs and, most recently, the Airstream BaseCamp. At its 25th anniversary celebration last month, NDA unveiled this micro-light tent-trailer hybrid set to create a new standard in trailer travel. Designed by Nissan, it blends the convenience of RV travel with the versatility of car camping. The BaseCamp is the first of its kind offering a whole new level of versatility, durability and comfort for today's adventurer.