This once-plush luxury coupe is the culmination of Kevin Parlett’s decade spent wrenching, crewing, and racing across North America. His 2005 Infiniti G35 has seen more than 25 tracks, several engines, and one unflinching wall — and Parlett has been through numerous crashes, sleepless nights, and cross-country treks. Despite all the headaches, he hasn’t lost any enthusiasm for the sport that captured his imagination so many years ago.
Parlett grew up in a mechanically-inclined racing family. Teenage weekends at drag strips and autocrosses laid the foundation, and a few project vehicles — a 1980 Camaro and a 2004 WRX — in high school allowed him to sample him a few different flavors of speed, but it wasn’t until he picked up a casual sports-tourer in college that he began to experience much in the way of lateral loading.
Parlett’s dedication was obvious from the start. Even while working and attending college, he spent his free time competing in the NASA Mid-Atlantic region’s autocross events, and for three years, cone carving provided him with the fix he needed. Eventually, he wondered if he might get something more for all the hours and miles he was putting in, so he tried his hand at HPDE.
With the greater speeds came a need for more power, and, as he’ll admit, his enthusiasm carried him a little further than what he’d regard as sensible these days. Parlett took his normally-aspirated G35 with sharpened footwork and turned it into a fully-blown Time Trial 1 car in less than a year. Though far from perfect, this temperamental track car had the on-paper stats to attract some media coverage and the ensuing sponsorship enabled him to showcase the car at Time Trial events across the entire country.
As so many eager youngsters without a great deal of seat-time do, Parlett went to extremes with this second iteration of the car. Bigger seemed to be better in every sense. With the support of Soho Motorsports and some key sponsors, he first filled the VQ with forged parts and then turbocharged it. The power figures turned many heads, and its immaculate presentation quickly made it a media darling.
With the G35 featured in most of the popular tuner magazines of the day, Parlett saw his social media followings explode at a time when fewer Time Trial drivers were paying attention to marketing. Like something out of a dream, his newfound popularity provided him the chance to take a step into the world of professional motorsports.
His reputation as a knowledgeable builder opened a door to professional racing. Thanks to his experience with the Z33 platform and connections within the Nissan community, he was approached by Nissan’s World Challenge GTS, then running their stock-spec 370Z, and offered a chance to crew. He took to it like a duck to water, and by 2014, he was promoted to crew chief.
With doors opening left and right, Parlett spent few weekends home during those years. If he wasn’t crewing at a racetrack, he was trailering his car to a Time Trial event anywhere his sponsors wanted him to be and checking off destination tracks from his bucket list. Even California was not too far for a few days spent turning fast laps.
The Price of Pursuing Perfection
The know-how from the pro circuit helped him refine his car and increase his level of commitment on the track. At Road Atlanta, he found himself in the zone, and a shrinking margin between him and third place pushed him to repeatedly drop a wheel at the exit of Turn 7. The speeds down the back straight reflected his growing commitment, but the margin for error was narrowing every lap.
He had just posted a 1:34.3 and felt there was more to be had, and with the elation that comes with setting a personal best, Parlett momentarily forgot that there was something to be lost. After getting away with it for several successive laps, he dropped the outside rear wheel at Turn 7. It pitched him into the inside wall before he could get on the brakes, and the contact crinkled the front end so badly that Parlett needed a donor car, yards of custom tubing, and the entire off-season to get it functional again.
Parlett filled his winter with 12-hour days. Puritan work ethic, a new Garrett GTX35 turbocharger, a tube-framed front, a full cage, and a little know-how gleaned from the IMSA world produced a better-balanced car that inspired confidence.
Sorting out the handling had one unexpected consequence: it highlighted the powerplant’s flaws. As powerful as the turbo VQ was, it just wasn’t dependable — exhausting would be a better word.
“Even with plenty of big wins at big events those first years, I was frustrated,” Parlett said. “I was always wrenching and troubleshooting. Most of the issues were related to heat management, and even when I got the car running, I’d only have just a few laps to set a time.”
Additionally, it might’ve had the on-paper figures to turn heads, but running a forced-induction V6 in without the traction needed to handle the violent power delivery meant he was usually late applying the power, and even when he timed it correctly, the tires faltered under the strain.
It was a difficult decision to make, but he knew that he’d found an answer to his problems in the stall next to his. Studying his Apex Garage teammate’s performance and relaxed disposition around race time suggested that the VQ engine might be holding him back. “I just got tired of wasting so much track time. I’d come in early due to overheating, and her V8 would be running fine, no heat problems and no wrenching between sessions!”
His colleague had fitted her TT3 350Z with a Chevy LS, which would turn lap after lap without issue. It was more economical and more flexible, too. Even if Parlett would have to sacrifice a hundred horsepower and some cult appeal with such a swap, he knew he’d be spending more time in the seat. After nine seasons tracking the G35, he recognized how big power figures only meant so much. Seat time was more important.
A desire for a reliable, easily serviceable engine encouraged him to overbuild the LS3, but only with readily available off-the-shelf parts — this was during the height of COVID. The ISR kit simplified the swap, and some newly sponsored forged internals helped fortify the motor for the long haul. With all the headaches he’d dealt with courtesy of the turbocharged VQ35, he was hoping to never have to pop his hood once at the track.
No exotic materials were necessary when 500 horsepower is the aim — 520 at the wheels was the final figure, actually. However, Parlett felt that building the motor would improve his chances of enjoying numerous seasons without issues. With Callies Crank Star crank and rods, Mahle Power Pack pistons, a custom COMP camshaft, and 13:1 compression, it produces a healthy 520 horsepower at the rear wheels on VP Racing Fuels’ Q16.
The ISR kit certainly simplified the swapping process. The kit retains the factory Aisin CD009 gearbox and Nissan/Infinity subframe, so it’s remarkable how clean and orderly it all appears. With the help of a Canton oil pan, an adapter plate, a shifter relocation bracket, and ISR’s own headers, the Chevy lump looks right at home in the Infiniti’s bay. It sits lower and farther rearward than the VQ did, and the removal of the turbo kit and associated parts shaved almost 100 pounds when all was said and done. With a few corner balance adjustments, the G35 was back to its pre-turbo 50-50 weight distribution.
As for suspension, Kevin’s long-time sponsor BC Racing supplied him with a set of ZR three-way coilovers. SPL arms and bushings help stiffen the car and help administer the torque cleanly, which is sent through a set of BC Forged RS40 wheels wrapped in Hoosier A7s. Underneath those sit a set of Stoptech Trophy brakes.
It was at the front axle that tire trouble became a problem. His growing confidence in this, the most approachable iteration of his old friend, led to quite a lot of lockup. “I’d been running the car without any aids for a while, always having to learn where the threshold point was and getting familiar with cadence braking.
However, the cost of ruining multiple Hoosier A7s had him looking into a way to make his rubber last longer. The growing aftermarket for race-oriented G35s and 350Zs made adding a dependable Bosch Mk60 ABS a plug-and-play affair. “After flat-spotting a few sets of Hoosiers, you could buy one of these Bosch ABS kits. It was impossible to argue with the price,” he laughed.
That brings us to the current state of the car. “At the end of the day, it’s still just a G35, flawed geometry and all. It’s not a Corvette or a Porsche, but I plan on doing comp school next year with it, and I’ll continue to race it at my favorite tracks across the country,” Parlett said. “I know I’ll be bringing a sharpened baseball bat to a gunfight, but I don’t care — it’s about having fun now and improving every lap. Who knows — maybe there’s some Super Touring in my future.”
That’s only part of the pleasure for Kevin, who savors most moments spent with this car over the last 10 years. More than just a source of thrills, the G35 has opened doors for him; both expanding his circle of friends and his business prospects.
“It’s funny what a car can do for you. We all love them in our own way, but this one has done so much more for me than what most cars can ever do. It has introduced me to amazing people, it has shown me incredible places, and it’s provided me with so many professional opportunities that I … I would’ve had a very different life without it. This car has taken me on a journey I never would have imagined, the good, the bad, and everything in between. Best of all, it’s not over yet.”