Though the Australian V8 Supercar Series and our own NASCAR series are radically different forms of racing, the two series share more than a few common elements. Both base racing cars on popular production sedans, both rely on highly-tuned V-8 engines for power and both use a front-engine, rear-drive layout.

Like our own NASCAR Sprint Cup series, the V8 Supercar Series once frowned on foreign automakers, but times are changing. Just as NASCAR begrudgingly let Toyota compete in Sprint Cup racing beginning in 2007, the V8 Supercar Series will admit both Nissan and Mercedes-Benz for 2013.

Mercedes-Benz will run a purpose-built racer shaped like an E-Class sedan, while Nissan will campaign a car shaped like the new Altima. As this video shows, that’s pretty much where the similarities between it and a production Altima end.

Power comes from a race-prepped version of Nissan’s 5.6-liter V-8, as stuffed between the fenders of the Infiniti M56 sedan, the Infiniti QX56 SUV, the Nissan Armada SUV and the Nissan Titan pickup. In the V8 Supercar series, displacement is limited to 5.0-liters, but that’s still enough to generate some 650 horsepower from the engine in race trim.

Like a NASCAR Camry, the drive wheels are switched from front to rear, and the car consists of lightweight body panels over a steel frame. Also like our own Sprint Cup racing, competition in the V8 Supercar Series is incredibly close, with fractions of a second often determining the difference between the winner and first loser.

If you’re anxious to see V8 Supercars run here, you’ll get your chance on May 17-19, when the series visits the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for its first-ever race on U.S. soil.