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2003 Nissan 350Z - A Turn of Events

Cop-dodging street racer goes legit and wins road racing championship

Aaron Bonk
Jun 19, 2017
Photographer: Jordan Lenssen

Today's car culture owes a debt of gratitude to street racing. Not the phony sort of street racing that Hollywood and its MoTeC Systems exhausts thinks it understands, but the gritty and often underhanded sort of street racing that canvased the back roads of industrial Los Angeles throughout the '80s and '90s. Illegal street racing cultivated an entire industry, along with many of its key players, and after a while it was no longer just a Southern Californian rite of passage.

  |   2003 Nissan 350Z Nismo Style Hood

By the century's turn, street racing was also no longer a ticket-earning offense; Nissans and Hondas were being impounded, their drivers tossed in jail, and their winnings confiscated. It was officially an epidemic that stretched from the seaside docks of Long Beach to places like Toronto, Canada, which is exactly where Sasha Anis terrorized his own roads and ultimately lost his license evading authorities.

But Sasha learned his lesson—and not by parking the S14 that got him into trouble for good and going off and taking up something like watercoloring, but by repurposing that 240SX as a full-time track car and, later on, starting up his own performance and tuning business. "Having my license pulled for a year meant that any driving I wanted to do would have to be at the track," he says. "So I bought a trailer and a truck and turned the street car S14 into a ragged drift car."

  |   2003 Nissan 350Z Vq35hr Engine

A ragged drift car that culminated into a road race car, and that earned Sasha a Canadian Touring Car Championship GT class win. It also led to him reassessing this whole racing thing. "I set my sights a bit higher," he says about where his head was at following the win, "and parted out the S14 at the end of that season, bought this ex-Koni Challenge 350Z, and started to make it mine." And by "make it mine," Sasha is talking about the overhauled VQ35HR engine he'd bolted into place along with the individual throttle bodies, dry-sump oiling system, and sequential transmission.

According to Sasha, the Z was built well to begin with, and he'd gotten it for what he says was "a steal of a price," but being built well wasn't necessarily good enough. "I really just wanted to buy a race car to enter into the Koni Challenge," he says, "and the Z was the cheapest option for me, despite its being the least competitive car in the field." That last part, as it turns out, Sasha would change.

  |   2003 Nissan 350Z Dj Engineering Rear Wing

Today, that ex-Koni Challenge backup car is the fastest Unlimited RWD Time Attack vehicle in Canada and, per Sasha, is almost always one of the fastest on the track, period. And when it's not circuit racing, the Z's repurposed for sprint car events, where it's just as formidable. But it didn't get that way overnight. "We've had a ton of struggles over the years racing," Sasha says. Those included a cracked flywheel that chewed up crank angle sensors, a sequential gearbox that never worked right of which the manufacturer had gone out of business, and a cam sensor issue that is the latest in a string of challenges that he'll have resolved by the time you read this.

Despite the car's success, Sasha's Z wasn't always the class-leading Time Attack car you think it was and it most certainly never gave that illusion. After initially prepping the car for its first Koni Challenge in '08, its new owner and driver emerged with a pickup truck and a flatbed trailer when most guys had 53-foot haulers. Sasha explains with a modest laugh, "[We raced] professionally with a budget 1/20th the size of the other guys."

  |   2003 Nissan 350Z Recaro Pro Racer Seat

By '09, Sasha and crew had found their groove, though, winning a three-hour endurance race alongside legendary co-driver and Yuke's video game developer, Yukinori Taniguchi. From there, the whole operation commenced in earnest with the more reputable VQ35HR engine being swapped into place along with extensive aero mods, including carbon-fiber doors and custom, carbon-fiber airboxes. Soon, this'll all be good for as much as 460 hp, provided the appropriate modifications to the cylinder heads are made.

For Sasha, all of this was a giant stride forward from his first serious car, an SR20DET-swapped S13 that introduced him to all of this—and, initially to street racing—some 14 years ago. Today, his head is screwed on a bit more tightly than it was, and any street-racing tendencies are long gone. He's since founded OnPoint Dyno, a Dynapack-tuning provider that also specializes in race car electronics, track-side team management, driver coaching, and vehicle development. It's a far cry from doing burnouts in an old 240 at two o'clock in the morning on Toronto's back roads.

  |   2003 Nissan 350Z C3 Carbon Composites Front Splitter

Ask Sasha how exactly you ought to set up your 240's front suspension or what you can do to eek another 5 hp out of that SR engine and he'll probably tell you. But for now, he's got just one piece of advice: Don't be an idiot. "Could be nice to tell the new generation of kids to not be jackasses on the street," he says, "and to make an effort to do something of substance. It's paid off pretty well for me."

  |   2003 Nissan 350Z C17 Media Wrap
  |   2003 Nissan 350Z Custom Center Console
By Aaron Bonk
402 Articles
2003 Nissan 350Z - A Turn of Events
Tuning Menu
Owner: Sasha Anis
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Owner of OnPoint Dyno
Power: 385 hp; 295 lb-ft torque
Engine: VQ35HR with custom JE Pistons/Jim Wolf Technology pistons; GT-R rod bolts; VQ37VHR crankshaft; Jim Wolf Technology camshafts and valvesprings; ATI crankshaft pulley; Dailey Engineering dry-sump oil system and separator; Peterson Fluid Systems vacuum regulator and dry-sump tank; OnPoint Dyno-designed individual Jenvey throttle body system; C3 Carbon Composites custom airboxes; SG-Motorsport headers and 3.5" exhaust system; Injector Dynamics 725cc injectors; Fuel Safe fuel cell; Bosch 044 fuel pump; Facet lift pumps; Ron Davis Racing radiator; custom swirl pot; Setrab engine oil and differential coolers
Drivetrain: Quaife sequential transmission; custom aluminum driveshaft; NISMO GT-Pro 1.5-way limited-slip differential; 4.08 rear final drive gear; Tilton triple carbon clutch and clutch slave cylinder; Texense strain gauge
Engine Management: MoTeC M800 engine management system, TCMux traction control, ADL2 dash logger, PDM15; custom Sakata Motorsports Electronics/OnPoint Dyno wiring harness
Footwork & Chassis: Koni four-way dampers; Swift Racing springs; Unitech Racing front upper control arms; SPL spherical bearings throughout, front tie rods, rear camber arms, rear toe links, rear traction rods; 350 EVO antiroll bars; custom aluminum rear subframe riser bushings
Brakes: StopTech ST-40 front calipers, front and rear Aerorotor rotors; Unitech Racing front ducts; Project Mu Club Racer pads
Wheels & Tires: 18x12" +20 Volk Racing ZE40 wheels; 325/660-18 Pirelli P Zero slicks; custom 22mm wheel spacers; ARP wheel studs
Exterior: C17 Media wrap; C3 Carbon Composites front splitter, doors, roof skin; Rocket Bunny front over-fenders; OnPoint Dyno front bumper extensions; replica hood and side skirts; DJ Engineering rear wing; Seibon carbon-fiber rear hatch; Crown Carbon Crafting rear over-fenders
Interior: Recaro Pro Racer seat; Sparco steering wheel; Unitech Racing rollcage; Lifeline fire suppression system
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