Copa Tecate Nissan Sport Prototipos – when Mexico had it’s own Group C

When it comes to race cars, Mexico isn’t probably the first country to come to mind. Therefore, it is surprising to discover that in the 1990s a kind of mini-Group C raced on Mexican tracks, and where several pilots from the three Americas competed for victories.

At that time Nissan was active in competitions, with teams competing in Japan, Europe and the United States. Seeking to expand its operations in the Mexican market, the local branch of the Japanese automaker commissioned the development and build of a closed prototype inspired by IMSA’s Group C and GTP monsters.

To develop this project, Nissan sought support from local manufacturer Tame Racing, a company founded in 1964 by engineer Alfredo Tame and which already had a long experience in the manufacturing and track support in various categories of Mexican motorsport. Development began in 1992, when the Tame Composite Division was also started, with the aim of developing and manufacturing the monocoque and carbon fiber bodywork. By 1993, there were already 22 cars ready for the first season of the series, which was disputed regularly until 1996.

During its brief existence the category was dominated by Mexican drivers, but received the participation of riders of different nationalities, including a, by then, unknown Juan Pablo Montoya. A notable exception to the Mexican dominance was the Brazilian José Cordova, the foreigner with the highest number of victories in the event.

Tech Analysis

Part 1 – Chassis e mechanics

The biggest technological highlight of the Tame 120 TA prototype is certainly the use of a carbon fiber monocoque. Although it is a hybrid construction, since there is a roll-over protection cage, the monocoque not only serves as a survival cell but also as an attachment point for the front suspension and the powertrain.

Source: Casey Putsch [1].

By the way, the engine-transmission assembly is a “semi-stressed” member, as the engine is attached at four points directly to the monocoque, with additional wishbones attaching the transaxle directly to the monocoque. The suspension is also of a modern design, double A type at the front with an in-board spring/damper assembly and push rods at the rear, mounted on the transaxle.

Source: Casey Putsch [1].

The engine, Copa Tecate being a one-make championship, is a 2,389 cm³ Nissan KA24E, as used in several Nissan cars and pickups. One curious feature of this engine is that it has three valves per cylinder (two inlet and one in the exhaust), which with the preparation of Tame Racing reaches 257 HP of power, transmitted to the rear wheels by a five-speed Stauff sequential transaxle. The resulting package is extremely light at just 499 kg, resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of 1.94 kg/hp, higher than that of European CN-class prototypes.

Source: Race Cars Direct [2].

Part 2 – Aerodynamics

Conceptually, the aerodynamics of the Tame 120 TA prototype are strongly inspired by the prototypes used in Le Mans and Daytona, using typical solutions of the time. Such is the similarity that, not by chance, the prototype was called Sport C-3 2.4 in the promotional material of the time, alluding to the similarity with the prototypes of the C1 / C2 Group.

Source: Tame Nissan Sport Prototipo Fan Club Mexico [3].
Adapted from: Casey Putsch [1].

The radiators are located on the side of the cockpit (3), with air intakes for the rear brakes (4) and for the transmission oil cooler (5) located in the engine cover.

Adapted from: Race Cars Direct [2].

Cooling air from the radiators is vented through louvres just in front of the rear wheels. The rear wing is a double element design (7), and works together with the rear diffuser (8). Also in the rear fairing are the openings for ventilation of the rear wheels (9).

Adapted from: Casey Putsch [1].

Other iterations were built, such as an open cockpit version inspired by the LMP1/WSC prototypes that competed with the closed models.

Source: Tame Nissan Sport Prototipo Fan Club Mexico [3].

Tame Racing also went on to develop a higher-performance variation, equipped with the Nissan 300 ZX’s V6 engine and Hewland transmission, but only one unit was built before the project was cancelled.

Tame Nissan V6 prototype. Source: Tame Nissan Sport Prototipo Fan Club Mexico [3].

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Sources:

Our Mexican race car is Amazing! Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XukRaRLE9bk.

Tame Prototipo, Carbon tub and Nissan powered. Available at: https://racecarsdirect.com/Advert/Details/122041/tame-prototipo-carbon-tub-and-nissan-powered.

Tame Nissan Sport Prototipo Fan Club Mexico. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/Tame-Nissan-Sport-Prototipo-Fan-Club-Mexico-511028348963557/.

Historia. Available at: https://tameracing.com.mx/historia/.

Victorias Prototipos. Available at: http://www.notiauto.com/static/wp/cat/mexico/protos.php.

Nissan Tame. Available at: http://www.kumschickracing.ch/cars/nissan-tame-/index.html.

Images:

[1]: Our Mexican race car is Amazing! Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XukRaRLE9bk.

[2]: Tame Prototipo, Carbon tub and Nissan powered. Available at: https://racecarsdirect.com/Advert/Details/122041/tame-prototipo-carbon-tub-and-nissan-powered.

[3]: Tame Nissan Sport Prototipo Fan Club Mexico. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/Tame-Nissan-Sport-Prototipo-Fan-Club-Mexico-511028348963557/

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