Finding Nemo: How The Car Known as Nemo Changed the Face of Time Attack Racing And Where The Car Is Now.

by John Smallberries

When the Nemo Racing Evo debuted in August 2012 at the World Time Attack Challenge, it underwent little testing prior to the event.  Ran at the hands of MR Tuning from Queensland Australia, it then proceeded to annihilate existing records.  People tend to use a lot of superlatives when discussing track records, even when they are bumped by just a couple of tenths, but this was truly monumental, a jump of 3.8 seconds from the Cyber Evo’s 2011 record and nearly two seconds ahead of Tilton Interiors who were the favorites to win and packing 1000 HP.  Nemo was more than just a champion car; it was a game changer!  Fear and disarray followed among other competitors and even the fans.  The backlash resulted in a shake up of the regulations for the first time.  Nemo appeared once more in 2013 and limped to a third place finish.  Then the car disappeared, with no more public appearances, most notably absent from WTAC 2014.

Be sure to check out our previous in depth coverage on this amazing car!

Part 1

Part 2


Nearly two and a half years after that memorable debut, Nemo’s 2012 best stands only 0.15 seconds behind the current record.  This alone should be enough to stake its claim in the history of Time Attack, but the rumors that the car achieved this with only 450-500 HP leave the ultimate capability of the car to the imagination.  In this article we wanted to separate rumors from facts, so we reached out to those closest to the project.  MR Tuning who ran the car, Andrew Brilliant, the aerodynamicist and GT Auto Garage (now running the impressive PMQ Evo) who programmed the engine management.


In our previous musings about this car we lamented the direction that Time Attack had moved in, and we still do.  We miss the days of true “tuner” and “street-born” cars running stupid lap times with all original chassis, but it seems that no one can stop progress.  Since Nemo rewrote the playbook the top competitors have gotten close to the Nemo level of modification and some have even exceeded it.  Leaving us to reflect on the impact the car truly had.


We wanted to delve into the controversy, the changes to the regulations, just how much of the original chassis was removed, the weight and the aero.  Chris Eaton, the owner had posted photos on the Internet at every stage of the build, every technical detail was laid out there to be copied freely, almost as if to say “catch me if you can.”  It was said that Nemo broke the spirit of Time Attack.  We’ll leave that to the readers to decide, but let’s at least provide some background and facts on what exactly was done and to what end.
Now that the car is no longer competing, those involved in the project seem much more open to talk about it.  We interviewed the major players, sifted through photos and tried to boil it all down for you.

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Matt 86
Matt 86link
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 11:27 PM
Pity it's not around any more. By the way, what happened to prelect 300zx Twin Turbo?
Matt 86
Matt 86link
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 11:28 PM
*Project 300zx
Wednesday, May 06, 2015 7:48 AM
Sad end to a legend. This car doesn't seem so extreme in the WTAC of today. Is there any chance cars can run hot laps during WTAC that don't fall into a class like a "prototype" non-timed session? I'm sure some big name teams would bring out some machines as a promotion and to see how they stack up against the classes. How cool would it be to have the Deltawing run some laps during WTAC?
Wednesday, May 06, 2015 8:18 AM
Sad that they bumped this car completely out of competition. Considering the insane nature of WTAC, I really had hoped that there would be a PRO class with the current rules and a truly unlimited class where anything goes. Although it wont pay the bills, anyone who is a fan of TA will always think of NEMO as a game changer.
Nick B
Nick Blink
Wednesday, May 06, 2015 8:24 AM
@Matt - The 300zx is still with us, there just hasn't been anything done to it so there's been nothing to publish.
Wednesday, May 06, 2015 11:40 AM
Thanks for this article. As much as the car was an "open book" during its creation, there is still more to be seen with this incite. To some NEMO was not in the "spirit" of TA, but I look at it differently. No kid ever grew up wanting to build a SPEC Porsche 944 or SPEC Miata. Many have done so, but very few dreamed about it. Its cars like NEMO that people dream about building, owning, driving or even just seeing in person.

You can even see some of the ideas, designs & technologies that have trickled down to the more grass roots levels of enthusiasts. I see many more front splitters & real rear wings on cars at the local NASA events these days.

Its builds at that level that grow the sport. There will be many people that want the best & settle for what their budget allows. Often times its off the shelf parts that are tried & true. That money is often spent with in the community & the given back to the "supporters" of the sport.
Thursday, May 07, 2015 12:08 AM
Wow, what a build. Not as crazy compared to the current crop. Thanks for putting this together. What an amazing build, wish it was still running. The aero and chassis mods that once were uniquely jaw dropping, are now a WTAC-norm. Crazy what the WTAC cars have turned into.

At this point, it should be obvious that the top WTAC builds are only like the top WTAC builds and that racing one event per year is not the same as racing multiple events per year. But it is faaar too easy for biased people to dismiss comments that criticize the faultless-WTAC, so I'll let Nakijima-san's words sum it up for me...

"For many years the sport of time attack racing in Japan was strictly for tuning shops and parts suppliers to modify vehicles and test against each other and sell the parts that they were making... but as soon as Nemo appeared in Australia in 2012 it appeared the whole landscape had changed as this was a car that was purpose built just to win world time attack and was nothing related to an actual commercial business but simply built to win one event” - Nakijima-san

It is always confusing why the track changes between 2011 and 2012 are not mentioned when we talk about the lap times falling between 2011 and 2012... is 1.0 - 1.5 seconds on a 1:25.x - 1:26.x lap considered insignificant?? I FULLY understand that Nemo was a giant leap forward, and that the lap times Nemo would have ran with the old turn would still have been game changing lap records, but the WTAC-confirmed 1.0-1.5 second reduction in lap times seem significant enough to at least mention it when you are comparing laps from before the change to laps after the change. Not due to an attempt to discredit or underplay the significance of Nemo's lap times, but because that is what people do when they care about comparing lap times and empirical facts in general.
Thursday, May 07, 2015 6:43 AM
LOL @John Smallberries - I think anyone under 35 will totally miss the craptastic reference to the 80's.
Thursday, May 07, 2015 9:41 AM
All these rule changes make it hard to build a car. My brother has been racing in Sports Sedans. I convinced him to build an all out pro am class car together a couple years ago. With all the rule changes we decided to wait for the dust to settle but we are still waiting. They keep changing every year and too close to the event date... there are some cars that I don’t think even comply with the current ones.
Every time I see a picture of Mick Sigsworth’s car I don’t know how they could have built it like that within the firewall rule? Can I push back the firewall? or can’t I? The changing and flexible rules are the number one reason more cars are not getting built. How can you trust it when they just write rules to help or hurt certain people and throw them in at the last minute? What was the point of all this with Nemo? Now everyone just puts covers over it and hope they don’t get a protest? Everyone has less original than Nemo now but we lost a top car that every fan who knew what they were looking at admired.

PS We run eastern creek all the time, no way 1.5 seconds change.... maybe half that.
Thursday, May 07, 2015 2:39 PM
As much as I admire and respect the craftsmanship and engineering in cars like these. I just can't stop asking myself, how can people justify spend all this money on a race car that runs in a a fairly low profile race series that has not lot of TV money or lot of spectators that come and watch.

Is it just for the kicks? to have the fast lap on a curtain race track. Even though it cost endless amount of money with hardly any change of getting any return of the investment.

Friday, May 08, 2015 1:28 AM
@eeeen Interesting that you chose THAT quote from Nakajima-san. It seems super hypocritical to call Nemo a purpose built car when Voltex's (Nakajima-san) two teams Cyber (2011) and Tilton (2012) were both clearly purpose built cars.
Or is it just easier to hate after a nasty loss? (rhetorical)

As history has already showed us, Nemo just did everything better. It was just a beast of a car. This is what I think Mr. Smallberries is trying to show us in this article. I mean one must be just THAT good in order to have the rules change because of what has been accomplished. (ahem BNR32 lovers)

What I do not understand is why do the rules have to change to limit greatness? Shouldn't the other players have to step up their game pushing for ultimate progress? Just seems like a cop out to retard the growth of such an awesome event.
Friday, May 08, 2015 9:39 AM
Building a racecar to win would seem to be the point. No one races to lose. Product showcasing is all well and good, but the idea is to showcase a winning combination of product. That's what sells.
Any race series will evolve. Change is inevitable and to resist it, folly. Growth is good. Regulations control and direct the rate and focus of growth, hopefully for the betterment of the sport. When things get too expensive or lose the support of the contenders, then a drastic shift needs to occur, such as recent Formula One changes. But at any time and point in any race series, people race to win!
Friday, May 08, 2015 10:04 AM
So...because racecar
Friday, May 08, 2015 2:43 PM
I really enjoyed reading this article, as well as all of the legitimate comments up to now. It makes me think about why I participate in Time Attack and how it's a form of motorsport truly in its infancy. I suppose that it could die out or evolve into something different, but hopefully the people pulling the strings use their power wisely to grow the sport with its original spirit in mind. It might eventually become a bonafide and popular, mainstream TV sponsored event, but who knows? I always thought Ultimate Frisbee would become mainstream--boy was I wrong about that one!

I'm confused, though, as to what the original spirit of time attack racing really is. If I take that hilariously paradoxical quote up there literally, it's saying that time attack is about commercial retailers "putting their money where there mouth is" in order to prove that their aftermarket performance parts truly work, in order to sell more parts! That's not a sport! That's marketing.

This is the quote:
"For many years the sport of time attack racing in Japan was strictly for tuning shops and parts suppliers to modify vehicles and test against each other and sell the parts that they were making... but as soon as Nemo appeared in Australia in 2012 it appeared the whole landscape had changed as this was a car that was purpose built just to win world time attack and was nothing related to an actual commercial business but simply built to win one event” - Nakijima-san

To be upset about a build that came out to win, rather than for commercial interests, is hilarious! Is that really what Time Attack is supposed to be? Because I have no sponsorship or commercial interest whatsoever, with all kinds of competing companies' parts in my car and I compete at a local, grassroots level. I'm in it for the love of driving and pushing my limits, which are qualities that help define "sport", no?

For me, an average guy who has always loved driving, Time Attack has given me a relatively inexpensive and accessible form of motorsport, in which I can take my daily driver out onto the track, have an awesome time thinking I'm a race car driver, and drive back home again. How lucky am I?!

I actually hired both Andrew Brilliant and MR Tuning to design and build aero on my modified VW Golf R. I like the comment up there about how entry-level players are taking cues from those at the pointy end (such as by adding aero bits to their cars), to help to grow the sport. I never thought about it that way. I've wondered if being the first person to put a proper massive rear wing on a Golf was innovative or stupid, but I feel better knowing that it might be revolutionary. At the very least, it has helped in my own personal evolution as a Time Attack track car builder and racer :)

But if I'm in it for the wrong reasons, someone please let me know now! ;)
Sunday, May 10, 2015 9:24 AM
LOL, the assumptions here are absurd, the denial of fact is laughable. Some of you act as if wtac invented TA and all TA events from the past are irrelevant and inferior to wtac.

I enjoyed following Nemo just as much as I enjoyed following Tilton. I don´t hate Nemo. I ADMIRE Nemo, and the people who created it. I can also see where WTAC is different.

WTAC has posted 1.0 - 1.5 seconds, dismiss that if your bias is so thick it skews reality.... The point of his quote was to show Nemo altered the game. Obviously after Nemo, many teams adopted the same WTAC-purpose built goal, and are now at that level.

To act as if Nemo was cut from the same cloth as past TA cars, and did nothing to alter WTAC, is absurd. And to completely ignore the track change is downright inaccurate.
Sunday, May 10, 2015 11:51 AM
@johnsmallberries we also need an article FINDING SIERRA SIERRA which i find more interesting mostly because the company is still managing and servicing for the a couple spec series.
Sunday, May 10, 2015 4:25 PM
@eeeen I think you need to get your facts correct and read Worltimeattack.com article on the time difference of the track.


Also most people seem to forget as it only ran 1 event that HKS was the first Tuner shop to go extreme.


G-Performance EU
G-Performance EUlink
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 2:11 AM
Loove this car - it was the beginning of a pro era in Time Attack. Before that like sayed in the article, the cars were build to an amateur level.

Would like to see more build photos of the car.

A shame that the owner did what he did to suppliers and that he didnt want do sell the car - Nemo should compete in TA again, I think it would be still possilbe to fight for the 1st place in 2015 if the engine would be build by proffesionals to a 800whp level.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 12:14 PM
broke the spirit of time attack? I think the opposite. this is an unlimited class car, and thats how it was built, unlimited, fully embracing the term.

I really don't understand the hate, for those wanting to see cars that more directly relate to the car that rolled off the show room floor, look at the limited and street classes... and let unlimited be unlimited.
Thursday, May 14, 2015 11:15 AM
The opinions of Nakajima-san carry far more weight than any of your opinions.

Criticism is not equal to "hate"
Friday, May 15, 2015 6:28 AM
@eeeen The facts were posted, Nakajima nut swinging isn't going to convince us.
Friday, May 15, 2015 3:55 PM
Nakijima-san's actions are more telling then his word's.

He has created for Cyber Evo a race specific kit and undertray that you could not purchase all of it. He has again created for Tilton a similar race kit and is doing so again. Again you can't purchase the entire kit.

Nemo was just the first to do there own for the entire car, not just add on little bits and pieces.
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