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2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe - “The 1200 Miles Of Sebring”

With ALMS at Sebring Raceway showing Mike De La Cruz the light, the car of his dreams later became a reality.

Mike Maez
Aug 1, 2008 SHARE

It’s hard to say exactly how many Infiniti G35 coupes were sold in 2003 without doing a lot of research, but it is fair to say that when the first generation G35 was unveiled, new ground was broken for Infiniti’s vehicle lineup. The G35 sedan was a huge improvement for Infiniti and led the way towards their brand’s own revolution. The G35 Coupe solidified Infiniti’s position in the market as a car company that is capable of making luxurious, yet sporty vehicles. Since it retained essentially the same platform and drive train as the 350Z, it is easy to understand why Nissan’s assembly plant in Tochigi, Japan couldn’t stamp out G35 Coupe body panels fast enough.

Modp 0812 01 2003 infiniti g35 coupe front headlights Photo 2/12   |   2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe - “The 1200 Miles Of Sebring”

One of the first G35 Coupes to hit the US shores, 7,100 miles away from the womb where it was created, landed near Mike De La Cruz’s hometown of Vero Beach, Florida. When Mike first saw the G35 Coupe in person, he knew it was his density. One of the first things Mike said about his G35 Coupe project to us was, “I wanted to wait until it was paid off before I started modifying it.” There was a brief pause from both parties, an uncomfortable silence, and then simultaneous laughs that ensued on both ends as the interview progressed. Good one, Mike!

It took two months for the Infiniti to float across the Pacific Ocean and make its way to Florida. It took two weeks for Mike to stop by his local speed shop to pick up some parts and start modifying it. A year later, the G35 lost its virginity when it first entered the circuit at Sebring International Raceway. Many Floridians will say that the road racing scene in the Sunshine State isn’t as huge as it is further up the east coast or out west in southern California. What Florida residents do get a taste of however are the exotic, professional road racing series such as Grand Am in the 24 Hours of Daytona and of course the prestigious ALMS stop at Sebring for the 12-hour race. When upgrading the G35 Coupe Mike was influenced by the simplicity, functionality, and high-tech gadgetry that propel the GT-class cars around the track. Simple, yet functional modifications to Mike’s car such as the aluminum rear diffuser panels, front under tray, and super-rigid chromoly cage carry over several similar traits from professional ALMS racers.

By the time Mike settled into his G’s newfound ownership, he began researching outlets not only for driving the car in a high performance environment, but also for ways to test the modifications he had been making to the car. With an SGP Racing built motor pumping out 570whp and 540 ft-lbs of torque at 17psi, it was clear that a safer venue to test out the car was definitely needed. Sebring International Raceway, famous for the 12-hour race every year, is just a quick drive from Mike’s home on the beach. Mike eventually moved up the ranks and settled into his new lifestyle with the National Autosports Association (NASA), participating on a regular basis in the TTU class within their nationally-sanctioned Time Trial program. To this day, Mike has logged over 1200 miles around Sebring in the G35.

Modp 0812 03 2003 infiniti g35 coupe switches Photo 6/12   |   2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe - “The 1200 Miles Of Sebring”

With 3.7 miles in total length, Sebring Raceway is located on a World War II runway system with an original surface that earned a reputation for having long straights and the biggest bumps in the country, making it the perfect venue for fine tuning every aspect of the G35 Coupe. The twin turbo VQ35DE is completely built: balanced crankshaft, CP pistons, Carillo rods, bored and honed block, JWT camshafts, HKS head gaskets, Nissan “RevUp” oil pump, polished everything and a trick twin turbo system utilizing Greddy TD05-18G turbo chargers tuned to run as much as 22psi. “I bought this car and quickly decided I was going to make it into a race car,” said Mike regarding his long-term plan for the G35 Coupe. Surely the “race car” label is tossed around a lot these days – but Mike wasn’t kidding – proving it when he cut a hole in the floor to accommodate the 15-gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell and installing a giant custom double-pass radiator along with a fire suppression system to boot.

With suspension tuning in mind, Mike was already ahead of the game in choosing the G35. The “FM” platform used in the V35-chassis Infiniti G35 was created with a simple concept: design a stiff platform and interior body first, and then make the body panels and exterior design fit around it. With a plethora of “FM” models including the FX, G-Series, M-Series, the new Infiniti EX35 and of course, the Nissan 350Z – extreme chassis rigidity has become the standard across Nissan’s lineup. Furthermore, by adding an Elite Race Car 6-point chromoly roll cage, the remainder of the chassis flex was eliminated, thus making it easier to feel differences in shock and sway bar settings when tuning. Make no mistake though, as tuning a competitive suspension setup is another process that is more easily said than done. Utilizing Sebring Raceway as one’s most accessible proving ground, however, greatly accelerates the process. Eventually Mike decided upon a set of TEIN Flex dampers and their complimentary EDFC to provide cockpit-adjustable ride quality and dampening adjustments over Sebring’s rigorous circuit. Mike then finished off the suspension tuning with a set of STILLEN control arms and sway bars, and is now content with the handling and control he has in the corners.

Since picking up the car in 2003, Mike De La Cruz recently purchased another G35; this one being three years younger but still of the Cou’pe variety (as Clarkson would put it). With the newfound freedom to work on his race car and toss reasonable streetability and comfort out the window, we can only expect even bigger and better things for Mike’s G. In a world where modified G35 Coupes are abundant, very few are built with a vision and tested on a world-class racing circuit. After seeing the G35 Coupe and talking to Mike about its history, it easily becomes fair to say: Sebring tested, Modified approved.

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SPECIFICATIONS AND DETAILS
2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe

ENGINE
Nissan VQ35DE(TT) V6

ENGINE MODIFICATIONS
SGP Racing built engine; bored and honed block, balanced crank, decked block & heads, 5-angle valve job; Carillo piston rods; ARP rod bolts; CP 8.5:1 forged pistons; JWT camshafts and HD valve springs; HKS head gaskets, Nissan OEM “RevUp” oil pump; twin Greddy TD05-18G turbochargers; RC Engineering 750cc fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; APS dual 3” exhaust; Fuel Safe fuel cell; custom 4” inlet FMIC, double-pass oil cooler, double-pass radiator, 3” stainless steel downpipes, solid engine mounts, and custom intake plenum

ENGINE MANAGEMENT
HKS F-CON V-Pro, HKS A/F Knock Amp, HKS EVC5 boost controller; SGP Spec Technosquare ECU

DRIVETRAIN MODIFICATIONS
OS Giken triple disc clutch; B&M shifter

SUSPENSION
TEIN Flex dampers with EDFC; Stillen sway bars and front upper control arms

WHEELS, TIRES, BRAKES
Tenzo Racing 19x8 front / 19x10 rear wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 245/35R19 front / 275/35R19 rear tires; Brembo brake calipers; DBA 2-piece brake rotors; Hawk pads; SGP Racing brake lines

EXTERIOR
Stillen front bumper, Stillen fiberglass hood

INTERIOR
Elite Race Car 6-point chromoly roll cage; Sparco race seats; 6-point belts; Autometer gauges; fire suppression system

With suspension tuning in mind, Mike was already ahead of the game in choosing the G35. The “FM” platform used in the V35-chassis Infiniti G35 was created with a simple concept: design a stiff platform and interior body first, and then make the body panels and exterior design fit around it. With a plethora of “FM” models including the FX, G-Series, M-Series, the new Infiniti EX35 and of course, the Nissan 350Z – extreme chassis rigidity has become the standard across Nissan’s lineup. Furthermore, by adding an Elite Race Car 6-point chromoly roll cage, the remainder of the chassis flex was eliminated, thus making it easier to feel differences in shock and sway bar settings when tuning. Make no mistake though, as tuning a competitive suspension setup is another process that is more easily said than done. Utilizing Sebring Raceway as one’s most accessible proving ground, however, greatly accelerates the process. Eventually Mike decided upon a set of TEIN Flex dampers and their complimentary EDFC to provide cockpit-adjustable ride quality and dampening adjustments over Sebring’s rigorous circuit. Mike then finished off the suspension tuning with a set of STILLEN control arms and sway bars, and is now content with the handling and control he has in the corners.

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By Mike Maez
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