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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]




Joel Anderson: Datsun Z-Car Racer

Filed under: Events,Featured Cars and Projects,Performance
by Alvin G @ 3:51 pm on June 23, 2014

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At Z Car Garage we are fortunate to work with passionate owners who have great histories behind their cars. Joel Anderson is a Datsun race car driver with an extraordinary story. We also just happen to be restoring one of his famous Z-cars to compete in the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in August! When I first met Joel at the shop I immediately asked him a bunch of questions about racing as a privateer in the 70’s…it’s an era of Datsun racing I’m fascinated with and would love to share his responses with all of you. Enjoy the interview and read further to see our progress on the restoration. Thanks Joel!

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Interview: Race car driver Joel Anderson

How did you end up racing Datsuns?
In 1972 I bought my first Datsun 240Z while living in Southern California. At the time I was driving a 1961 VW I built to autocross in Northern California the year before moving to Newport Beach. The VW had a 1900cc Porsche motor, Big Porsche alum. drum brakes and a Porsche transaxle, Koni’s, 10” wide wheels with intermedate rain race tires and a loud stinger exhaust. On the outside no two body parts were the same color but the interior was nice: full gauges, black leather buckets with thick black pile carpet…a true sleeper and absolute blast to drive.
My employer at the time hated the VW and offered me a car in lieu of a raise. I ordered a Porsche 911S from a local dealer and when I went to pick it up they had added over $500 in what they called “Dealer Prep.” I was pissed and after a few hours of arguing I got my deposit back. On my way home I saw a 240Z in the showroom on a turntable at Garden Grove Datsun…it was beautiful, Safari Brown with chrome wire wheels and it had been in the L.A. car show. I knew nothing about 240’s except they were kinda cool looking and they were fast. I went inside and told the saleman I wanted to buy it and take it home that night. The next day driving in the rain on my way to work in my new Z I came to a red light, hit the brakes and went all the way through the intersection…scared the crap outta of me. Joined a Z owner’s club to hopefully get some help on how to fix the brakes. After a couple of meetings I started running slalom events in the stock class and won most of the events entered that year.
In 1973 I moved back to the SF Bay Area and went to an Autocross and got my doors handed to me. The cars here were more prepared than Southern CA…Lowered, race tires, sway bars and a lot more power than my stock Z. Little by little I started modifing my daily driver to be competive. Within a year I had a few 1st in the Prodified class and the car was becoming less and less streetable. I bought a ‘71 Z from an auto wrecker that had a interior fire, took all the goodies off my street car and started trailering the ‘71 to the events. While preparing the cars I got to know the people at FAR Performance fairly well. In 1974 Walt Maas had just won the National Championship in C/Production in Atlanta, GA in the FAR Performance 260Z called “The Giant Killer”. At the time Frank Leary was Walt’s crew chief and the service manager at FAR. Frank was also building a Z of his own to road race in the carport of his condo in Santa Clara. I helped Frank build his car in exchange for his secrets to make a Datsun fast. While working as Leary’s crew chief I had converted my Z to a full on road racer and ran SCCA solo events and won the C/P class. In 1977 I went through SCCA’s driver’s school and started road racing, by the end of the year I had won most of the races and regional championship and was issued my National license. In 1978 I ran SCCA’s National events and qualifed for the runoffs in Atlanta. At Atlanta I had my first DNF due to running too much timing which split and exhuast valve. In ‘79 I turned the SCCA car over to my wife so she could compete in regionals and I built my IMSA GTU car.

Autocross or road racing, what do you prefer?
Road Racing…The autocrossing was a great learning experience in car control, but it was just over too soon. You wait around all day for under 2 minutes of driving rush. The solo competition was better, it gave me lots of track time and a gauge to judge if I had what it takes to be competive on a road course.

What’s your personal code of conduct on the track?
Clean…The rule I’ve always gone by is…”It’s the responsibility of the over-taking driver to pass safely” I’ll run you hard and close but I won’t rub you unless you bring it and if you’re going to pass me you gotta earn it!

What was it like to be a privateer race car driver?
After doing so well in SCCA Club Racing moving up to IMSA Pro Racing was a rude awakening at first. I soon realized that I wasn’t going to be on the pole or in first place for awhile if ever. My self satisfaction and reward came from the fact that my low dollar effort of me alone, in a car I built with the motor I built, was competing against factory backed efforts with professional driver’s with the best equipment money could buy!

Did Nissan back you?
Back then Datsun Competition offered contingency money for Driver’s and Dealer sponsors. You got money from Datsun Comp. for podium finishes and if a dealer sponsored you he got paid as well. Datsun helped me by  once in awhile when getting parts from Datsun Comp. not invoicing me. If you made the runoffs at the end of the year you would get tow money. The year I went to the runoffs I got $1,200.00 when I got to Atlanta.

I heard stories of Nissan having tons of spares ready just for racers like you at the track…true?
Only at the runoffs they had a giant Datsun tent for you to pit in and next to the tent a 40 foot trailer full of parts. All you had to do is ask and you got it FREE…if they didn’t have your part it was flown in the next day.

Worst crash?
Runoffs at Atlanta…turn 7 before the back straightaway…the first lap of practice…the first time on the track ever…on a cool track…on cool tires and I’m trying to set a new track record? I hit a concrete wall at 80 mph, move the wall 1 ft. and moved the left side of my car 2 ft…really hit hard!! (some good‘ol NASCAR boy’s at a shop near the track fixed the car overnight)

Best pass?
Regional race at Laguna…last lap, front straight, went up the center of 4 back markers, for the win, leaving 2nd place car nowhere to go!

Best race?
3rd National race at Riverside, finished 2nd behind Leary in pouring rain.
Co-Drove with Leary at Sears Point Enduro, Finished 1st finishing production car and 2nd overall.

Favorite track?
Laguna Seca

What was the first win you remember
The race I remember the most was my ever first race. I started on the outside pole next to Carlos Garza in a Lola T292. After 6 laps he retired with motor trouble. On lap 10 of 15 while running in first overall I got a flat tire and had to dropped out. Even though I didn’t win or finish…I started on the pole, ran first overall and if it wasn’t for a flat tire I was going to win.

What percent of your career races can you remember?
100 percent…racing is so intense it’s like it was just yesterday!

Tell us about the Z that is being restored at Z Car Garage
The car was originally presented by Mr. Katayama to Mr. John Cooper, President of Ontario Motor Speedway in 1972 to be used as the Official Pace Car for the Third Annual ” California 500″ held on Sept. 3, 1972. (it still has the built in flag holder) The car was later given to the Bob Bondurant Driving School at Sears Point. In 1977 I purchased the car from Datsun Comp. for one dollar and picked the car up at Sears Point. I ran the car at all the west coast IMSA races in GTU for three years. Starting in 1980 I ran the car in SCCA Super Production setting the track record at Sears Point and Laguna Seca and winning The Pacific Road Race Championship as well in S/P. The car had been through three owners since I sold the car in 1982 to Rich Johnson as a GT2 car, with smaller flairs and wheels. Rich raced the car for one year and won his class. The car was then sold to Roger Edsinger and he used parts off the car for a car he was racing at the time. It was then sold to Grant Brown and he autocrossed and solo one’d the car. When I got the car back it had been in a storage shed for 15 years or more.

What motivated you to restore the Z and how did you end up taking it to Rob?
In 1989 I started buying back all my old race cars. I bought my 1971 SCCA C/P car that had been turned into an autocross car and setting in a storage lot for 20 years, My IMSA car that had been in a storage shed for 15 years and a IMSA body street Z I built for my son, that he sold and was in storage for 10 years. My plan was to restore the cars with my Son and Grandson and race them. Shortly after getting the cars my Son died of a massive heart attack. At that point I changed my plan and decided to sell the cars. I listed the cars on Craigslist and sold the street Z right away and got all kinds of interest in the race cars. At the point I met Rob I was talking with Les Cannaday owner of Classic Datsun in Vista, CA. During a phone call Rob made me an offer I couldn’t refuse…and here we are today.

You got accepted to race at the 2014 Historics, when they announce your name on the grid how will you feel?
Special for sure since the first time the car came to life and moved under its own power was the IMSA GTU morning practice 25 year ago at Laguna Seca…it will be a rebirth of the car with its creator at the wheel.

 

Interested in some really cool vintage racing print? Check out this 1978 article featuring Joel and his Autocross efforts, HERE

The Restoration

 

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Restoring an old and tired vintage racing car is both art and science. Z Car Garage is both honored and excited to bring this Z back to life! Present day vintage racing expects both performance and concours condition, in the same car. It is a much different process to restore a forty year old car that will be used at high speed under constant stress and strain than it is to spruce up an old Packard for boulevard cruises. The goal for Joel’s IMSA 240z is to restore it back to its condition cosmetically and mechanically as it was raced decades ago. This means keeping little details like original suspension parts and period-spec braking components intact but using modern tires and saftey equipment as required by the racing bodies.

One of the best parts of any IMSA car and especially the Z’s are the enormous fender flares. Lucky for us most of the bodywork was present or sourced easily. Time for paint! We turned to the best: William’s Auto Body.

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William did an incredible job of laying the black paint with bespoke striping.  Single-stage paint was chosen of course to give it that 70’s vibe. Here’s a shot of Joel at Laguna Seca in #49:

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Striping begins:

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The livery is complete!

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Joel originally ran some “Trick Mag” magnesium wheels which are no longer available. We thought the closest replica would be the V48 from Vintage Wheel Works. These are custom sized and will have gold centers with some meaty Avon slicks to provide grip. For now we drool over the mock-up:

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The 80’s vs 2014:

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William also shot the interior in gloss white. Check out the cagework:

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With paint complete chassis restoration is underway. All suspension pieces originally run will be zinc plated:

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Next, we tackle the engine! More updates to come with Joel and friends helping with the build.

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We are extremely amped and looking forward to the Historics when Joel races this very special 240z. It will even be towed on the very same trailer that took Joel to Road Atlanta over 30 years ago, and me to the Solvang Roadster Show last April!

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Long Live the Z!

Lots of pictures of the restoration in the gallery!

…[read more]




Cool It Now: Patrick’s Time Attack 350z

Filed under: Events,Featured Cars and Projects,Performance
by Alvin G @ 1:17 am on September 15, 2013

We’ve known Patrick for a long time and when he is not running City Tech Auto Body he is out on the track his Time-Attack prepped Porsche orange 350z. Patrick was running an NA motor then made the jump to forced induction via the Vortech supercharger. He installed the kit himself and visited ZCG for tuning and advice on how to keep the VQ cool during blazingly hot track days ie. Buttonwillow Raceway. Here is an update from Patrick from Round #5 of the Redline Time Attack:


As some of you might know, our Z Car Garage and CityTech Auto Body Sponsored 350z has been through a lot of struggling with overheating problems after we installed the a Vortech Supercharged Kit. We have spent tons of time and testing to make it cool down. Our goal is to make it last through the whole 20mins session without worrying about overheating with full power.

07/20/2013 Saturday: The first practice day of the Redline Time Attack event was at 102F, a perfect day to put a ultimate heat test to our new setup. Compared to our last event which the Z lasted only 2 laps before overheating, we installed a 2nd oil cooler, running 50/50 Methanol water injection and de-tuned. Also, Rob suggested that to remove the aftermarket electric fans and put back the stock fan with shrouds. With all the help from our crew and Z Car Garage, we double checked all the fluid levels are full, adjusted tire pressure and started our first 20mins session. The Z felt great with the supercharged power on the first lap, pulling on every gears to the redline. But will it last full 20 mins without a drop of power? 4th lap passed by, our Nitto NT-01 tires started to get greasy due to the heat, but Oil temperature still stayed at 230F, intake and water temp stay cool without a sign of overheating, no power dropped. We are so amazed because our last event only last 1 ½ lap before oil temp reached 290F. We managed finished with the best lap time of 1’58.8 running CW13 configuration.

07/21/2013 Sunday: This was a much hotter day at 107F. In our first qualify session, everyone was running slower time than yesterday. We managed to qualify at the lap time of 1’59.5 which placed us third in our class. All other vehicles in our class were full race gutted car and our Z still have the full dash, door and windows in place. During the race session, temperature got worse which rose up to 108F. Despite the burning sun and air, the Z’s water and oil temp were both stayed cool and no overheating throughout the entire race session, however, the tires were giving up after the 2nd lap from the heat. We couldn’t get any better time than the qualifying session due to the hot temperature and traffic on the track and ended up the time 2’00.391. We ended up third place in modified RWD Class.

Special shout out to Z Car garage crews for their awesome work keeping the Z at operating temperature while making great power in this extreme operating environment.

The next event will be at AutoClub Speedway, Fontana on Sep 15, 2013. We will be doing some more modifications and possibly installing a full roll cage on the Z. We will keep you guys updated.

 




Speed Record Studebaker

Filed under: Events,Featured Cars and Projects,Performance
by Alvin G @ 12:03 am on September 10, 2013


Stunato Racing Machines is breaking speed records again! Z Car Garage helped tune their #477 Sprint car and recently dyno’d their Studebaker to go after a record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. While on the dyno the Studebaker blew a tire! This was a first and fortunately nobody was injured.

 

275hp/416tq to the wheels! We love helping this great group of racers and look forward to more record breaking passes!




VQ35HR Datsun Roadster On Track!

Filed under: Featured Cars and Projects,Performance
by Alvin G @ 11:44 pm on September 6, 2013


Remember Todd Green and his VQ-powered Datsun Roadster race car? Here are a few pictures from him running Solo2 at Grattan Raceway in Michigan earlier this week. Shown above, Todd is crossed-up going sideways at the top of 4th gear (8,000rpm) preparing for a 90 degree right hander!

 
We love this beast of a roadster and how Todd runs it hard. “I was at the top of 6th gear going across the finish line. I could hardly see as my head was getting beat around violently by the turbulence”
Keep at it Todzilla! Datsuns Are Driven!




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