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EVENTS: 2017 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Filed under: Events,Featured Cars and Projects,Performance
by Alvin G @ 3:42 am on September 7, 2017


There are vintage races every month of the year, but few draw such amazing metal as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Now in its 44th year and commonly known as the Monterey Historics, the Reunion is a highlight of the famous Pebble Beach “car week” in August. This event features the best of every decade of racing history, all condensed into four days of qualifying and competition at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway.



The action on the track is only part of the story at the Reunion. The real fun is in the paddocks, where hundreds of cars stand ready to race, attended by their anxious owners, drivers and prep teams (sometimes all the same person).


We had a blast at the RMMR and I was once again fortunate to be on the pit crew for a significant Datsun race car. Read further for our report, illustrated by a 200+ shot gallery with videos. Enjoy!

The BRE Datsun 240z driven by John Morton


For this year’s Reunion, Z Car Garage prepared and supported the #46 BRE Datsun 240z piloted by our hero John Morton. Owner Randy Jaffe restored this Z over several years with fanatic attention to detail. Briefly, the original 1970 car was wrecked in 1977 and sat idle until Randy located it in 2016. The car was rebodied and reconstructed using all of the original surviving parts with help from Peter Brock, John Morton, John Knepp, and Jon Caldwell from the storied BRE team. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at the build.


A sampling of the original parts is shown below including the exhaust header with megaphones, SW gauges, and BRE remote oil filter/cooler. Original BRE heat shield and fuel block pictured above.  All assembled by the crew at ZCG prior to testing:


Randy approached us at the 2015 RMMR and expressed his vision to complete the car and have John Morton drive it at the Historics.  Randy made a fantastic, highly (the most accurate to date) correct BRE tribute Z, but it would need full race preparation to compete at the Historics. After taking the Z to several shops Randy shipped it to us from his hometown in Georgia and we began prepping the car. Here is the Z the day it arrived at the shop and in-progress:


On the dyno making some beautiful, triple-Mikuni carb’d, straight piped, L-series music. We were now ready to run the Historics:



The paddock life



It’s one thing to be at Laguna Seca’s famous Corkscrew to watch the cars wind down that 5-story twisting drop, but it can be just as much fun to walk through the paddock, getting a close look at the race cars and talking with their owners who are happy to answer questions. Before we look at #46 on the race track, let’s first take a trip through the paddock and visit our fellow racers:


Upon my arrival Thursday morning I was pleasantly surprised to see #46 pitted with several fellow Datsun Z racers from Group 4A: 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT,GTX,AAGT Cars.  All of these Z’s were tuned by Rob at ZCG! The camaraderie and good times spent with these folks was memorable. We shared pit space with our friends and fellow vintage racers Glenn Chiou, Dave Stone and Larry Oka. Dave Stone returned to the Historics in his ’73 260z built by Troy Ermish.  Lots of neat details of this one in the photo gallery:


Glenn Chiou’s RMMR debut in the Loren St. Lawrence 1971 240z:


David Martin’s crowd-favorite Frisselle 1972 240z:


The S30s looked awesome together out on the track!


A rare sight indeed, four Datsun roadsters were racing at ‘Seca! Michael Sweeney’s ’65 1500, our friend Ron Carter running his 2nd Reunion in his ’67 2000, Phil Mendelovitz’s ’67 2000 and Michael Chandler’s ’66 1600.


Rounding out the Datsun contingent were Jonathan Ornstein’s 1979 Datsun 280ZX, prepared by Les Cannaday and the Leitzinger IMSA GTU 240sx owned by Phil Mendelovitz:


We’ll visit more paddock candy later, now let’s take a look at these cars on that 2.238-mile, 11-corner wonder officially known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!

Race Day: Keeping Up With John Morton


The RMMR was preceded by a “shakedown” event a week earlier called the “Pre-Reunion”.  We had a successful Pre-Reunion race week where John Morton finished 6th and 8th place in a sea of high-powered Porsche RSRs and 934/935s! The#46 BRE 240z ran flawlessly and John was turning faster lap times with each session clicking off 1:41s down to 1:40s:


With the Pre-Reunion completed and the Z dialed in it was time for our big race at the RMMR on Saturday in Group 4A.  John put on another stellar performance running consistent 1:40’s with a best of 1:39.6 during the practice/qualifying sessions.  Although the routine of running pit crew was familiar to me it never gets old. From fuel filling, engine warm-up to tire pressures and checklists I love sharing the sights and sounds from each session.


John was happy with the Z’s performance. Sylvia Wilkinson, John’s lifelong partner also told us good things by giving us a breakdown between sessions complete with lap times and feedback from John. After qualifying 16th place Saturday morning the only change we made was a fresh set of spark plugs.:


After the Z was ready for the big race, John got strapped in and he motored away to the starting grid. John Morton was driving #46 again.


We anxiously followed John on foot to the starting grid. A wave of colors from vibrant livery was displayed as the cars staged. I was in heaven because all of the rad machinery in one place…with #46 in the middle of it:

The signal was announced and group 4A rolled out to the starting grid.


This video coverage of the group 4A race from Motor Trend and Travis Baraki gives you a sense of the staging, rolling start and a few turns, watch for #46!


Want to know what it’s like behind the wheel of the BRE Datsun 240z? Take a few laps with John Morton in #46 in this video we compiled from in-car GoPro footage. Lots of multi-camera angle action highlighted here from dicing it up with Porsches to passing BMW M1s 🙂  Turn up the volume and enjoy!


Great on-track shots of #46:



John’s fastest lap (1:39.6) with telemetry from Harry’s Lap Timer:


The race was exhilarating and both nerve-wracking to watch. John was driving insanely well yet again, even battling an M1 and 934 for several laps! With only 4-laps to go and in 12th position the halfshaft failed exiting turn 3 and John (thankfully safe) waited to be towed back into the pits. It was heartbreaking but that is racing. We will be back! With help from our friend Glenn a new halfshaft was installed Sunday so we could load up the Z. Thanks Glenn!



We were thoroughly impressed by John’s skills (at 75 years old!) and how the Z battled big-dog cars running full aero with massive rubber.


John said on several occasions, “This is the best prepped race car I’ve driven”. We couldn’t have been happier to hear this. Worth toasting to!


Of course none of this would be possible without a great team so we give a huge thank you to family, friends and the crew at Z Car Garage.


The Z was a success off-track as well. Randy drove the BRE car along with other racers via police escort to the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue Show. Icing on the cake: he even won an award with John Morton riding along:


Enjoy this video from the event including the police escort, nice revving amongst expensive show cars and some good times with Pete Brock and John Morton:

Paddock Highlights



This year’s RMMR was the most enjoyable because of the wonderful people that we pitted with and folks that stopped by to visit. Randy Jaffe really put in a tremendous effort creating a Datsun-lover-friendly atmosphere. In addition to commemorative stickers he placed posters up for friends to sign in memory of John Knepp:


John Morton spent time signing memorabilia and taking photos, a true class-act.


Another aspect of the fun is family. Randy invited his sisters to be part of the race weekends and Josh’s father Keith Corwin was an integral part of our team:


We were humbled by the number of people that stopped by including Pete and Gayle Brock and Mike Joy. I caught Pete Brock taking iphone pics of our engine bay!


Here is Mike’s interview with John for Motor Trend’s race coverage:



Our pit-buddy Glenn Chiou was great to be with. The vintage Datsun race world had better keep an eye out for this rising star!


Rob and crew always willing to lend a hand, even if it’s for the competition!


It was great to see our friends from Bring A Trailer who had a tent with several cars on display including a Lancia Delta Integrale:


Epic Racers


At every corner there is wicked metal with history begging to be told. Please visit our photo gallery for more! Here is a Shelby Cobra factory team car CSX2136:


One of several gorgeous Porsche 934s. This one mixed it up with John for many sessions:

Mazda’s incredible collection of racer cars from the 767B to MX-6:


From highly collectible and expensive to downright zany you never know what to find in the paddock. Check out this Deathmobile from the movie Animal House:


Extravagant and impressive rigs:


We are huge fans of Canepa and this 935 and 959 were a treat to see:


Street Standouts

Throughout the weekend, open areas around Laguna Seca are filled with a selection of vintage and exotic cars that would put most stand-alone car shows to shame. This year we held another Datsun/Nissan Corral but attendance was relatively low. We did spot a few gems like three S30s, a Datsun 510 and ’69 Datsun 2000:



Lovely E34 M5 and 356:


The Vintage Wheels of RMMR

I am a wheel addict and I love vintage wheels. Once again the paddock did not dissappoint. BBS, Volk, Minilite, American Racing…all shod with meaty slicks of sometimes incredible proportions:

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Thank you!

We hope you have enjoyed our recap of the 2017 Monterey Historics! Please browse our mega-gallery of pictures from race weekend below. Big thanks to our friends and family members that helped us make this possible including the Keith Corwin, Dave Stone, Tim Arnett, Ron Carter, Michael Anderson, Josh Corwin, Andy Vargas, Larry Oka and Meghan Fuller.  We certainly enjoyed the company of friends and visitors in our paddock, here’s to another 60 years of vintage racing in Monterey, California.


Special thanks to the following contributors to our photo gallery:

Ricky Silverio, Josh Corwin, Naveed Abed, Mark Hutchinson, Matt Dockery, Kurt Hafer, Chris Brewer, Alex McDowell

Huge thanks to Randy Jaffe,  John Morton and Sylvia Wilkinson!
Long Live The Z!


More pictures in our gallery below: …[read more]


One of the major events of the annual car week on the Monterey Peninsula is the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Held since the early 1970s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the event attracts a staggering variety of historic racing cars, which competed in a total of 15 different races.

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Adding to the diversity of racers was the addition of Formula 5000 cars for the first time.  Other highlights were a special race to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Mustang GT350,  factory efforts from Acura, BMW, Mazda and our beloved Nissan. We had a blast at the RMMR. Read on for our report, illustrated by a 300+ shot gallery of the Reunion and a few video clips. Enjoy!

John Morton Drives Our IMSA 240z!


With the help of Joel Anderson we made our RMMR debut last year running the #49 IMSA Datsun 240z. Find out more about Joel and the restoration of #49 HERE. Our letter of acceptance into the 2015 event included Joel as the driver but unfortunately health issues prevented him from racing.  With race week fast approaching Rob enlisted the help of his hero and legendary race car driver John Morton. Before I arrived at ‘Seca, the crew had John fitted into the race seat and the Z passed tech inspection:

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Paddock Life

Before I describe the sheer awesomeness of just being in the presence of John Morton, let’s first take a trip through aisle G: our pit row in the paddock. The paddock at RMMR is pure sensory overload with incomparable sounds and sights of old race cars. There’s nothing like the sight of pit crews working frantically to put together vintage race machines whether it be from the Pre-War Bugattis to early 90’s IMSA cars. This video sums it up nicely with a mix of machines and their cacophony of engines being fired, revved and idled:


Upon my arrival Thursday morning I was pleasantly surprised to see #49 pitted with several fellow Datsun racers from Group 4A:  1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT-GTX, AAGT, GTU Cars.  On the final race day we gathered even more Datsuns to create a “Datsun Row”:


Here is quick video of the row:


The camaraderie and good times spent with these folks was memorable. We shared pit space with our friend Ron Carter and fellow roadster owner Michael Anderson. Ron is an avid vintage Datsun Roadster racer running RMMR for the first time in his 1967 2000.  Fox Sports even interviewed him, we are proud of you!

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A rare sight indeed, TWO Datsun 2000 roadsters racing at ‘Seca! The silver car is Craig Carter’s 1968.

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Dave Stone is no stranger to vintage racing Datsuns and this latest ’73 260z build by Troy Ermish was very impressive.  I personally loved the paint color and authentic magnesium minilite wheels. Lots of neat details on this one in the photo gallery:

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We’ll visit more paddock candy later, as the real fun at the Historics lies on the actual track. Yes, that 2.238-mile, 11-corner wonder officially known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!

Race Day: Keeping Up With John Morton

“I am on the pit crew for John Morton. I am not worthy”. That is what runs through my mind when I see John Morton walking towards our pit to jump into #49 for the practice session. I remain composed and follow instruction from Rob, Josh and Andy, the other members of the pit crew. We are all serious when the announcement is heard on the PA for our run grup to head to the pit lane.

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The car is ready, John is strapped in and he motors away. John Morton is driving our IMSA Z.

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When we are staged in the pits waiting for the cars to roll out onto the track it is a different scene. A wave of colors from vibrant livery aligns as the cars park against the garages. I’m in heaven because there is so much rad machinery in one place:

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It’s noisy here from the current run group roaring down the front straight, yet serenely calm as the 4A drivers collect their thoughts behind the wheel, engines idling.  For John, that moment seems to be interrupted as driver after driver comes to his side for a chat. It was fun to watch:



The signal is given and group 4A rolls out to the starting grid:


Watch this video to get a sense of the sounds and staging of Group 4A with a few glimpses of John behind the wheel:


As each practice session ends we run back to the pits to hear from John. He hops out of the Z and tells us, “Engine’s good and brakes are good.” The crew was hoping for more feedback but you see, John is also driving a Porsche 908 in the following session, so off he goes. That’s when Sylvia Wilkinson, John’s lifelong partner comes in. She gives us a breakdown between sessions complete with lap times and feedback from John.


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Turns out he doesn’t need much. In his first practice session John was running 1:44s and by Friday he ran 1:41.4. He liked the car, but the tires were getting greasy and oil temps climbing. It was record-setting hot during RMMR with temps close to 90F. Before the final race we made some tire adjustments and cooling aids. Ultimately we’ll have a fresh set of slicks ready next time around.


We were completely ecstatic to have John Morton pilot the Z and also have zero mechanical issues over the week. John placed us 19th overall in the race with some really great S30 battles between our friends David Martin (Frisselle Z) and Dave Stone. Enjoy these on-track/paddock shots of #49 followed by a longer in-car video with multiple camera angles.

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Take a few laps with John with multiple camera angles in this longer video:


Paddock Highlights

Between prepping #49 for the next session and helping fellow Datsun racers we certainly enjoyed cruising through the paddock and soaking up all of the fascinating hardware. Can you identify the familiar Vans shoes under Larry Oka’s S30?  That’s Rob and Josh helping Larry pull a half shaft:



An increasing presence from automakers is always welcome and this year Ford helped by honoring the 50th anniversary of the Shelby GT350 Mustang. Their display was filled with vintage Shelby’s and the new GT350:


We spotted more Datsuns in the Nissan garage…this duo of 411 and 510 sedans was actually driven by our friends over at Japanese Nostalgic Car!Next door, Acura displayed the new NSX and Ford had their new GT supercar. Stillen even had their own garage space housing the wild #75 300zx. It was in pieces at the time but put on a flame-spitting show in Saturday’s race!

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Here is the very first production 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso and one of only three known examples that were used in competition…


From highly collectible and expensive to downright zany you never know what to find in the paddock. Check out this Reliant Robin of Top Gear fame (or shame):

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This insane Audi 200 Quattro made some neat sounds coming squirting out of the Corkscrew. Check out those BBS Turbofans!


1963 Ferrari 250GTO berlinetta, rumored to have last sold for $38 million (or more depending on the source)


Jim Froula is well-known for his controversial (yet cool) Hakosuka Skyline but he also helped create this badass 1980 280zx. This S130 has some trick design features and amazing attention to detail:


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The Colors of RMMR

As if your sense of smell and sound weren’t assaulted already, the paddock is brimming with every color of the rainbow. The race liveries, trailer rigs, even the concession stands…your eyes are on overdrive at each corner. Ferraris, Porsches, Lotuses, MG’s, Alfas, Fords,Chevrolets, Maseratis, Bentleys …it seems that every era and every manufacturer has some intensely significant car, and they are driven in anger.

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We are huge fans of Canepa and these two Porsches were a treat to watch. At the left is a 962 that we recently dyno’d at the shop! It ran an amazing 1:26.049 and the 935 driven by Bruce Canepa made an epic sweep to first place our group.


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One of my favorite races is the Trans Am series. These muscle cars with their blistering fenders and V8s are entertaining to watch. Ear plugs are a must for this group! The liveries are pretty incredible with some intense history behind each machine. If you stare long enough these cars have a lot to tell you.

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This year we held another Datsun/Nissan Corral but attendance was relatively low. We did spot a few gems like this Kenmary Skyline, Datsun 510 and Skyline-powered S30:

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The Vintage Wheels of RMMR

I am a wheel addict. I love quality, vintage wheels. Once again the paddock did not dissappoint. BBS, Volk, Minilite, American Racing…all shod with meaty slicks of sometimes incredible proportions:

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Thank you!

We hope you have enjoyed our recap of the 2015 Monterey Historics! Please browse our mega-gallery of pictures from race weekend below. Big thanks to our friends and family members that helped us make this possible including the Keith Corwin, Troy Ermish, Dave Stone, Tim Arnett, Ron Carter, Michael Anderson, Josh Corwin, Andy Vargas and Meghan Fuller.  We certainly enjoyed the company of friends and visitors in our paddock, please let us know how we can do better next time!

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Huge thanks to John Morton and Sylvia Wilkinson.  Joel Anderson, wish you were here!

Thank you to Mike Garret, Mark Hutchinson, Sri Gogineni, Ann and Paul Devor for sharing your wonderful photos.
Long Live The Z!



More pictures in our gallery below: …[read more]

EVENTS: SpoCom Norcal 2015

Filed under: Events,Featured Cars and Projects
by Alvin G @ 2:16 am on August 10, 2015


Last Saturday I attended the SpoCom Norcal Edition car show held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose, CA. If you do a quick Google search of the word “spocom” you’ll find more images of scantily clad women than actual cars–this may explain why legions of adolescent males paid the relatively high $25 spectator fee, but more on that later. Look harder though and you can find some sweet J-Tin at this show claiming to be aimed at “automotive & pop culture tastemakers alike.”


The Venue

I don’t claim to be a tastemaster of any kind, but here is my review of the show from a Datsun owner’s point of view.  Let’s start with the venue: Club Auto Sport is a large, retail/commercial complex and home to exotic-car rental agency Club Sportiva and Borelli Motorsports:


Inside the main building there were several aisles for show cars to be parked and a main stage for a DJ and wait for it…bikini contest! Club Auto sport offers private garages so naturally I peeked at various man caves…found a Porsche 959 in hiding!


The Cars

Those tall orange “Swords” above are actually the coveted SpoCom Awards. I learned that this was a highly competitive show with “teams” vying for these 4-ft tall trophies. Here is a taste of the cars placed near the main stage area:


There were about 25 cars lining the aisles inside the building…scattered about in random fashion with one aisle having only 3 cars vs 18 in another:


The car scene inside the building was quite different from the cars placed outside, and this is where I found some pretty neat machinery. Let’s begin with my roadster which was staged near this S30 sporting an old-school body kit:

…[read more]

Datsuns and Exotics at Apple

Filed under: Events
by Alvin G @ 5:15 pm on May 17, 2015


On Sunday we attended a private screening of the new movie “Winning” about actor/driver Paul Newman. The venue for this event was held at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA.  Our crew of eight cars met at the shop but before we departed a friend offered us a ride in a new Tesla Model S “P85D”.  This is the one with two electric motors, 690hp and the fabled “insane mode”.


The Tesla lived up to its hype. With 4 adults on board Rob launched the car and our heads abruptly hit their headrests. We couldn’t resist weighing this marvel and it tipped the scales at 4,920lbs.  With that experience checked off the bucket list, we proceeded to Apple:



When we arrived the parking lot scene was surprisingly like a Cars & Coffee meet with high-dollar/exotic machinery everywhere, like this $1.6 million Mclaren P1:


An entire section was taped off just for our Nissans/Datsuns! It was great to see enthusiasts appreciating the mix of cars, both vintage and modern. Here a few Datsuns that caught my eye, starting with Dave Stone’s 610 on Watanabe wheels:


This Datsun 240z (S30) also sported Watanabe wheels and a striking red interior. Loved the fender mirrors too!



Before watching the movie we admired some amazing cars from all marques.  There was a large turnout of Ferrari’s, more new than classic like the 458, FF and F12:


This Dino and familiar Lusso of course will always be the pinnacle of Ferrari’s design:


I really dig the interior on the new Mercedes Benz AMG GT S:


Cool muscle cars too like these Mopars and Shelby GT350:


We enjoyed the movie and it gave us Datsun geeks a chance to shine as Paul Newman piloted everything from 510s to 900hp Nissans on famous road racing tracks throughout his career. “Winning” is a must see documentary for every automotive enthusiast. You can catch it in theaters May 22 and on demand through iTunes.  Cheers to Adam Carolla! Please check the picture gallery for even more wonderful cars from the Apple parking lot.

…[read more]