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Thread: Article: Against All Odds - BRE Datsuns Documentary

  1. #1

    Article: Against All Odds - BRE Datsuns Documentary

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    Up to and including the 1969 SCCA Trans-Am Championship, cars racing in the Under 2 litre class were bundled into the same race as those in the Over 2 litre class. Throughout the first few years of the Trans-Am , from its inception in 1966, the U2 cars heavily outnumbered the O2 cars, but by the 1969 season, the numbers were fairly evenly stacked.

    Therefore, for 1970, the SCCA made the decision to separate the two classes, and give each its own race. With factory and spectator support heavily favouring the O2 V8 cars, the U2 class was given its own shorter race that preceded the O2 race at each event. In 1970, the SCCA also outlawed the Porsche 911 from competing, citing the FIAís recognition that this was now considered a sports car.

    The Trans-Am U2 class was largely structured around FIA Group 2 rules, although tweaked slightly to prevent limited-production parts being used. Outright contenders in the 1970 championship were the existing Alfa GTA teams, and newcomers, BMW, with their rapid little 2002, but the U2 category enjoyed an interesting and varied mix of entries, including Mini Coopers, Fiat Abarths, Renault Gordiniís, and Volvoís.

    For 1971, the SCCA increased the maximum engine size in U2, to 2.5 litres, renaming it the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge. It appeared their decision could have been based around trying to lure American manufacturers into the championship, which was largely European dominated. Chevroletís new 2,287cc Vega seemed an obvious target, but nobody ever took the bait. However, one new challenger did arrive for the 1971 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge. And they werenít American. They were Japanese!

    Pete Brock, a former GM stylist and who famously conceived and designed the Daytona Cobra Coupes while working for Carroll Shelby in 1964, combined with Nissan to prepare and race Datsun 2000s and, later, 240Zs in the SCCA C/Production Sports Car category, and Datsun 510s in the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge for 1971. Run under his Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) banner, his cars were immaculately presented, and extremely well considered and built.

    The BRE 510s featured 1.6 litre motors topped with twin-Solex carbs, that revved to 9,000rpm, and boasted around 175hp. These were backed by a 5-speed gearbox which provided a huge advantage in acceleration over those using a 4-speed. Racing weight was down to under 800kg, through the use of fibreglass bonnet, deck lid, and front fenders. Underneath they achieved a ground-hugging stance by remounting the suspension pivot points, and handling and braking also benefitted through other clever BRE designs.

    The little 510s looked superb with their front chin spoiler, and sat on their American Racing Wheels. Two cars were entered for John Morton and Mike Downs to drive, and were attractively finished white and red for Morton, and white and blue for Downs. For Nissan, who were working hard to break into the lucrative US automotive market with what were essentially cheap and basic products, the BRE Trans-Am efforts were the perfect marketing tool.

    After a season-long battle for the manufacturers championship, both Datsun and Alfa wound up with 60 points apiece, but the Japanese manufacturer took the title on account of having notched up more race wins.

    This fantastic little documentary, Against All Odds, reviews the battle of the 1971 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge, and the BRE Datsuns assault on the series, with some brilliant footage.


  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    Name:  BRE Datsuns.jpg
Views: 1309
Size:  137.2 KB

    Up to and including the 1969 SCCA Trans-Am Championship, cars racing in the Under 2 litre class were bundled into the same race as those in the Over 2 litre class. Throughout the first few years of the Trans-Am , from its inception in 1966, the U2 cars heavily outnumbered the O2 cars, but by the 1969 season, the numbers were fairly evenly stacked.

    Therefore, for 1970, the SCCA made the decision to separate the two classes, and give each its own race. With factory and spectator support heavily favouring the O2 V8 cars, the U2 class was given its own shorter race that preceded the O2 race at each event. In 1970, the SCCA also outlawed the Porsche 911 from competing, citing the FIAís recognition that this was now considered a sports car.

    The Trans-Am U2 class was largely structured around FIA Group 2 rules, although tweaked slightly to prevent limited-production parts being used. Outright contenders in the 1970 championship were the existing Alfa GTA teams, and newcomers, BMW, with their rapid little 2002, but the U2 category enjoyed an interesting and varied mix of entries, including Mini Coopers, Fiat Abarths, Renault Gordiniís, and Volvoís.

    For 1971, the SCCA increased the maximum engine size in U2, to 2.5 litres, renaming it the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge. It appeared their decision could have been based around trying to lure American manufacturers into the championship, which was largely European dominated. Chevroletís new 2,287cc Vega seemed an obvious target, but nobody ever took the bait. However, one new challenger did arrive for the 1971 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge. And they werenít American. They were Japanese!

    Pete Brock, a former GM stylist and who famously conceived and designed the Daytona Cobra Coupes while working for Carroll Shelby in 1964, combined with Nissan to prepare and race Datsun 2000s and, later, 240Zs in the SCCA C/Production Sports Car category, and Datsun 510s in the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge for 1971. Run under his Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) banner, his cars were immaculately presented, and extremely well considered and built.

    The BRE 510s featured 1.6 litre motors topped with twin-Solex carbs, that revved to 9,000rpm, and boasted around 175hp. These were backed by a 5-speed gearbox which provided a huge advantage in acceleration over those using a 4-speed. Racing weight was down to under 800kg, through the use of fibreglass bonnet, deck lid, and front fenders. Underneath they achieved a ground-hugging stance by remounting the suspension pivot points, and handling and braking also benefitted through other clever BRE designs.

    The little 510s looked superb with their front chin spoiler, and sat on their American Racing Wheels. Two cars were entered for John Morton and Mike Downs to drive, and were attractively finished white and red for Morton, and white and blue for Downs. For Nissan, who were working hard to break into the lucrative US automotive market with what were essentially cheap and basic products, the BRE Trans-Am efforts were the perfect marketing tool.

    After a season-long battle for the manufacturers championship, both Datsun and Alfa wound up with 60 points apiece, but the Japanese manufacturer took the title on account of having notched up more race wins.

    This fantastic little documentary, Against All Odds, reviews the battle of the 1971 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge, and the BRE Datsuns assault on the series, with some brilliant footage.

    Great viewing Steve .

  3. #3
    Great video - seen it before but good to watch again.

    It is shame we did not get the Datsun 510 (aka 1600) 2 door saloon's cars here in NZ (what the BRE 510's were based on). Or the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) Nissan 1600sss or 1800sss 510 coupes (different to the 2 door saloons, different rear window, rear 1/4's, C pillers and boot lid to name a few of the differences)

    Talking about JDM only models it was also a shame very few know of or have even seen the Nissan KPGC10 Skyline GT-R. These were the first cars in the world to be badged as a GT-R and had a very good racing career locally in Japan. These Skylines won 50 races from 1968 to 1972 with 49 of them consecutive. This racing history has lifted these cars to legendary status in Japan. There was a little over 1900 of the first generation GT-R made in either 2 door hardtop saloons or 4 door saloons. The 2nd gen GT-R was even more limited in production with only 197 produced during their short production run. The 2nd gen was the last time Nissan use the GT-R badge until the R32 Skylines some 16 years later. These early generation GT-R used an engine that was an interesting piece of engineering.

    The S20 engines were used in these early GT-R and is a pure race bread piece of kit. The have 4 bolt main bearing caps (2 come from the outside of the block into the side of the cap with the other 2 in the more common location. I have been lucky enough to have see a number of these visiting a friend in London who has 3 of the rare engines - there are only a handful of these engines outside of Japan. There were 2 versions of these engines. The Skyline version and the Fairlady Z version.

    Yes that is Z as in Datsun 240z or more to the point the S30 chassis. I would love to own one of the Fairlady Z's that was factory fitted with one of these S20 engines - who wouldn't want the 240z body with a factory fitted DOHC 4 valves per cylinder 2000cc inline 6 cylinder with triple mikuni 40phh putting out 160HP in road trim and over 250HP in race trim. However with only 480 of these models produced (aka Z432 as they are known) they too have reached legendary status in Japan so finding an owner willing to part with one is hard enough and if you do you need very deep pockets -a good one will cost you more than $150K NZD before you think about moving it out of Japan.

    Anyway here is video of the S20 engine running sitting where the accountants and Skyline engineering team did not want it - between the struts of the S30 chassis (aka same body shape as the Datsun 240z)


  4. #4

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by nzeder View Post
    Great video - seen it before but good to watch again.

    It is shame we did not get the Datsun 510 (aka 1600) 2 door saloon's cars here in NZ (what the BRE 510's were based on). Or the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) Nissan 1600sss or 1800sss 510 coupes (different to the 2 door saloons, different rear window, rear 1/4's, C pillers and boot lid to name a few of the differences)

    Talking about JDM only models it was also a shame very few know of or have even seen the Nissan KPGC10 Skyline GT-R. These were the first cars in the world to be badged as a GT-R and had a very good racing career locally in Japan. These Skylines won 50 races from 1968 to 1972 with 49 of them consecutive. This racing history has lifted these cars to legendary status in Japan. There was a little over 1900 of the first generation GT-R made in either 2 door hardtop saloons or 4 door saloons. The 2nd gen GT-R was even more limited in production with only 197 produced during their short production run. The 2nd gen was the last time Nissan use the GT-R badge until the R32 Skylines some 16 years later. These early generation GT-R used an engine that was an interesting piece of engineering.

    The S20 engines were used in these early GT-R and is a pure race bread piece of kit. The have 4 bolt main bearing caps (2 come from the outside of the block into the side of the cap with the other 2 in the more common location. I have been lucky enough to have see a number of these visiting a friend in London who has 3 of the rare engines - there are only a handful of these engines outside of Japan. There were 2 versions of these engines. The Skyline version and the Fairlady Z version.

    Yes that is Z as in Datsun 240z or more to the point the S30 chassis. I would love to own one of the Fairlady Z's that was factory fitted with one of these S20 engines - who wouldn't want the 240z body with a factory fitted DOHC 4 valves per cylinder 2000cc inline 6 cylinder with triple mikuni 40phh putting out 160HP in road trim and over 250HP in race trim. However with only 480 of these models produced (aka Z432 as they are known) they too have reached legendary status in Japan so finding an owner willing to part with one is hard enough and if you do you need very deep pockets -a good one will cost you more than $150K NZD before you think about moving it out of Japan.

    Anyway here is video of the S20 engine running sitting where the accountants and Skyline engineering team did not want it - between the struts of the S30 chassis (aka same body shape as the Datsun 240z)

    Thats great info! Thanks for posting.

    Its amazing to think now, with Japanese cars enjoying such a strong foot holding in the US that when the BRE cars first ran in 1971, it was to build the brand within the market, as the Japanese car industry in the US at that time was a virtual unknown.

  6. #6
    And in the US a Datsun Z be it 240z, 260z or 280z (all S30 chassis) won some class somewhere state side from 70 Through to 78 IIRC. Also the Datsun 510's took a number of titles during this same period. There are at least 2 x 510 2 door saloons here in NZ that were imported from the US one is a road car BRE look-a-like. It would be great if one of the period cars was racing on our tracks

    Here is good site with info about the racing history of Nissan/Datsun.

    http://www.datsunhistory.com/Racehistory1.html

    I guess Datsun USA wanted the cars to do well in the weekends on the track so sales on the Monday could capitalise from the success.
    Last edited by nzeder; 04-01-2013 at 09:56 AM.

  7. #7
    Hey Mike,
    Some good stuff on that site. Shame they didn't hit the mark on the Z432 description.
    Our favourite little Zed's certainly did well in their day.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Limezed View Post
    Hey Mike,
    Some good stuff on that site. Shame they didn't hit the mark on the Z432 description.
    Our favourite little Zed's certainly did well in their day.
    Karl you know as well as I do there is a lot of info about the JDM models that is incorrect. Over the years too many have not bothered looking to the country of origin, but rather get info from the US that had gone through the "Chinese Whispers". For a number of decades the wrong person was given credit for the design via errors in a few early books/publications, also for years many tbought only 420 Z432 where produced but it was actually 480. Also very little is known of the Z432-R factory spec'd race cars that were offered for sale to the general public in Japan.

  9. #9
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  10. #10
    If you're a fan of the Datsun 510, then you may be interested in the two 1:43rd TrueScale models we have available at SPR Models. Both models were $132.75 each, but are now discounted to $113.85.

    We only have two of each left in stock, so be in quick! Check them out at www.spr-models.co.nz. And remember, SPR Models will make a $10.00 donation to The Roaring Season for every model purchased by a member.

    Datsun 510 #75, Bob Sharp Racing, SCCA Championship 1974 (Paul Newman)
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    Datsun 510 #75, PLN Racing, SCCA Championship 1976 (Paul Newman)
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  11. #11
    Great little models these ones as have them both as well as the 'signature' 3 car set as well.

    Cheers
    Sean

  12. #12
    Whats the signature 3 car set? I assume signed by Pete Brock and the drivers? Got photos?

  13. #13
    Sorry Steve is packed away at the moment as we have run out of room for all of our stuff - need to buy a bigger place or build a cave upstairs.... We have the set signed by Morton, Allison and Brock (the top set in the photo below)
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  14. #14
    Wow that is fantastic!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    Wow that is fantastic!
    Sorry Steve - just in case you're thinking what I think you're thinking - no I can't sell you one. We have sold out of that model.
    Cheers, John

  16. #16
    Ha ha ha, probably just as well! But I can guarantee my collection is going to grow.

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