Collin Jackson‘s SCCA Runoff Dominating Nissan 240SX

November 22, 2017 / by Bradley Iger

Collin Jackson and the Specialty Engineering Nissan 240SX are four-time SCCA Runoff winners. Take a look inside the record setting car, and get to know its driver. 

For amateur road racers across America, the annual SCCA Runoffs championship is the Super Bowl. Originally known as the American Road Race of Champions, for more than half a century the Runoffs have been held at the close of each race season to bring together the top drivers from each of the SCCA’s nine divisions to battle it out for top honors.
Jackson and the Specialty Engineering Nissan 240SX GT3 during a debrief at this year’s Runoff event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jackson dominated the qualifying rounds leading up to the Runoffs’ main event, landing in pole position in all four qualifiers.

With thousands of active racers within the SCCA – the vast majority of whom are self-funded – the competition is intense, and the Runoffs take that competitive spirit to another level. So, when a racer wins his or her class in the Runoffs, it is a genuinely noteworthy accomplishment as a driver and wheel-to-wheel competitor. Collin Jackson of Langley, British Columbia, accomplished that feat in this year in the GT3 class piloting the Specialty Engineering Nissan 240SX, and that alone would be the crown jewel in any amateur racer’s career.

The SCCA’s specifications for the GT3 class call for a tube frame chassis, fiberglass body, a 2.4-liter restricted engine, and 15-inch wheels on race slicks.

But it’s not the first time Jackson has taken home the Runoff's GT3 championship. Nor is it the second. No, 2017 marks the fourth time Jackson has secured victory at the Runoffs, making him the first driver in the SCCA’s history to enter the championship four times and win each one. Jackson’s fourth Runoffs victory puts him ahead of Skip Barber and David Vegher, who both had entered the Runoffs three times and subsequently won their class at all three events.

“2017 was a fantastic year,” Jackson told us. “Winning at Indianapolis was truly a highlight in my racing career.” While he’s been racing in the GT3 class since 1995 (the 240SX was originally built to run in the Pro NASPORT Series), his affinity for Datsun/Nissan sports car racing goes back much further. “I’ve always been a fan of Datsuns – I started racing in a Datsun 510 in the GT4 class back in 1980,” he said. “And the 240SX is just a great looking car.”

The 2.4-liter mill in the engine bay of Jackson’s 240SX may be restricted to 270 horsepower, but with a minimum weight of 2195 pounds, it gives this Nissan a power-to-weight ratio similar to Lotus Evora 400. The road-holding and braking capability of GT3-class cars also far exceed that to conventional road vehicles due to the race-spec tires and purpose-built chassis.

But as you might expect, there’s a lot more that goes into a successful showing at the Runoffs than simply being skilled behind the wheel – car setup and reliability are crucial factors as well. “For 2017 I desperately wanted to be ready to qualify for the SCCA Runoffs at the historic Indy track,” Jackson recalled. “I started early with an engineering project to optimize our rear wing and aero balance as well as our shock setup. I tested extensively to ensure we had our setup options well established before we headed off to Indy.” After completing the regular season in July, Jackson and the racing gurus at Specialty Engineering completely disassembled and rebuilt the 240SX prior to the big event at Indianapolis, rebuilding the the 2.4-liter KA 12 valve motor with a set of custom-designed and forged JE pistons.

Simply getting to lap the historic Grand Prix course at Indianapolis is enough for most racers, but to make SCCA history there puts Jackson in some very exclusive company.

“Specialty Engineering has been building my engines since the '80s,” Jackson told us. “I have always used JE Pistons in my race & street cars. I would like to thank JE Pistons for their awesome product that allowed us to run almost 1400 degree temperatures reliably in our highly restricted racing engine. Specialty Engineering is well known for a reliable engine program, and JE is a part of that.”

So what’s next for this record-breaking SCCA Runoffs racer? There’s strong evidence that Jackson might accomplish the same feat again in the upcoming season. “Next year the SCCA National Runoffs are at Sonoma,” he said. “And I am currently the lap record holder at that track!”

After making history at this year’s Runoffs event, Jackson is already looking toward next season’s Runoffs at Sonoma, where he is currently a lap record holder. Can he make it five for five?

Topics: CAR FEATURES, FEATURES, featured

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Written by Bradley Iger

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