Journal: This Period Film Shows The Datsun 510 Racing Against All Odds

This Period Film Shows The Datsun 510 Racing Against All Odds

By Michael Banovsky
June 3, 2016

Brought to you by Datsun, this 25-minute documentary comes from the so-called golden era of SCCA Trans-Am racing—or, as it was called then, the “Trans-American Sportscar Club of America 2.5 Challenge”. Why should you watch? It’s Datsun versus Alfa Romeo.

Forty-five year spoiler alert: Datsun won the 1971 series. Horst Kwech in the Alfa Romeo just couldn’t match the BRE-prepared 510 coupés. Though the video quality is awful, the sound, camera angles, and interviews make this a very watchable trip back in time.

Which of these cars would you have wanted to race in 1971?

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6 years ago

from what I recall Alfa’s were run by independent drivers who owned and worked on their own individual cars. While the Datsuns showed up with the Datsun Company race trucks, providing Datsun mechanics and automotive parts. They called it the “Datsun Program”. That’s got worse when Paul Newman showed up with 240Zs and 260Zs, he brought the Datsun team to work on the cars he drove. Every other independent car owners (Alfa, BMW) got smoked by the Datsun Corporate Team who had all the cash, cars and mechanics who showed up at each race. And Alfa independents still gave the Datsun Corporation… with all itsavaoilable racing budgets and race crew members, a race for their money.

B Frank
B Frank
7 years ago

The Trans-Am was divided into under-2 liter and over-2 liter classification in a previous era, but for the 2 years of the 2.5 Challenge it was upped to a 2.5 liter displacement – probably hoping to attract American manufacturers. But it was dominated and defined by Datsun, Alfa and BMW that still ran with 2 liters or less. It’s all out there on the internet for anyone who wants to know.

This IS a great look into the BRE team and 2 of its legendary figures, owner Pete Brock and driver John Morton.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson
7 years ago

Mr Banovsky’s right about the name (2.5 Challenge) but I think the cars had to be under 2 liters. I never did understand that name.
I do understand, however, how exciting these races were, having had the good fortune to see them at Watkins Glen. That turned me into a life long 510 fan.
Thanks for posting this film. Who cares about the video quality, it’s still one of the top 5 reasons to be thankful for YouTube!

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

A very minor correction there Banovsky . The overall series … which included the fire breathing V8’s who more often than not ran together on the same track with the mini me Trans Am cars was called the SCCA Trans-Am series . With the 2.0 liter ( and under .. not 2.5 ) class designated as you stated ( with the 2.0 correction ) And you’re almost right … this was the tail end of the Golden Era of Trans-am racing . THE Golden years were from 1967 – 1969 . By 1971 things began slipping and by 1972 the whole thing was going downhill so fast its descent made the cars look slow by comparison .

All corrections aside though .. a great video ( I’ve seen it many times but it always bears repeating ) and a document of the last of the truly great North American road racing series . Watching those mini-me’s and the fire breathing monsters at CDR [ when it still existed ] was truly a sight to be seen .