“You Can’t Handle The Truth”
(Quote: Jack Nicholson)
OK, it's time for me to start sipping my Alfa "kool aid! In regards to the 2.5 Challenge, I would like to inform all Datsun 510 fans about what really happened.
Here are the facts, some
noted by George Bullwinkel in an article written in the 1972 February issue of Alfa Owner: 510s where basic below average entry cars and had very little in common with the racing 510s. When Datsun produced the documentary "Against All Odds", it wasn't Datsun that were placed in that position, it was Alfa.
The Datsun team had the 1970 season to figure out what special parts they needed to go faster, then in 1971 rules were set up so they could use all of them and make the Alfas carry anvils in their pockets as well. Alfa twin-cam cars had a 10% weight penalty.
Since Alfa proved their selves unbeatable at the tracks, handicapped methods were used to promote other marques and to make things more interesting. Peter Brook has always been over-rated and without all the money the factory gave him to work with, their results would have paled to the already unbalanced system.
The Datsuns weighed in at 1730 lbs to the Alfas 2140, even though they (racing cars)had independent rear suspension and a generally more modern design than the Alfa coupes. Their horsepower per cubic inch were fully equal to the Alfas because of a modern cross-flow push rod design and other special parts homologated in 1970.
The Alfas had better low end torque and more power at low rpm’s because of a relatively long-stroke engine. Horst’s Alfa was basically a stock 1750 without all the light weight GTAM fiberglass body parts.
Datsun racecars were supported by the factory, while the Alfas were basically prepared by weekend warriors. Sure, the Ausca prepared cars were extremely well prepared, it’s just that they did not have the big bucks and even bigger politics backing them up.
The following are excerpts from another article by Mr. George Bullwinkel called “Out Of The Jaws of Victory”.
“………being kissed by the trophy girl and seeing all the champagne and the victory wreath-and having the whole thing pulled out from under by the SCCA because of an allegedly oversized gas tank.
“They took the money away from us, but they couldn’t take the glory away. We whipped them.” Horst wasn’t just talking about the Laguna Seca race, but the whole Trans-Am series. It would have been all over after Riverside, but someone decided at the last minute to have still another race, and the place was Laguna Seca.
This wouldn’t have been bad by itself, except for one thing. Laguna Seca runs counterclockwise, opposite to most tracks and the SCCA requires cars to refuel there on the right (pit) side. Kwech’s car, being made for tracks like Watkins Glen, Seattle and Riverside, had the filler on the opposite side. “On the Thursday before the race they told us we couldn’t refuel. Then the steward, John Tomanos, sealed the gas cap.
What about Alfa’s arch-rival, Peter Brock’s Datsun team? They had fuel fillers sticking out of the center of the trunk, like horst’s earlier car and Bert Everett’s car, which Horst had driven earlier in the season. The SCCA said they were OK. But not Horst’s proven race-winner.
The official SCCA Trans-Am fuel tank for the under-two-liter cars is a rubber bladed filled with foam, residing in a metal box of specified dimensions. It holds a nominal 15 gallons. When Horst’s car was filled at Laguna from bone dry, it took 15.8 gallons according to the calibrated fuel pump. The race ran one hour and 15 minutes, and when Kwech crossed the finish line ahead of the rest, his engine quit on the cool-off lap. “I thought we were out of gas, but it turned out to be a broken ignition wire. When we drained the tank later, we found 3 gallons left, meaning we ran the whole race on 12.8 gallons. So there was no question that we complied with the spirit of the rule.”
But what about the oversize container for the fuel cell? “There was not one car absolutely bloody legal. No one cheated on the engine – Brock certainly wouldn’t do that – but there are other things you can do. We raised our cell enclosure 2 ˝ inches to pack in some dry ice. This didn’t work out at Riverside because we had a vapor lock, and we didn’t have time to shorten it again. But the cell itself was fully SCCA approved.”
About those other things. If you take the foam out of the cell, you can get in maybe 16 ˝ or 17 gallons. By doing this you can cut out a fuel stop with a gas-eating car like the Datsun. The Alfa is a long –stroke high efficiency engine and gets better mileage, but the Datsun is a very highly modified short-stroke unit that has definitely poor mileage characteristics. For instance, our normal Alfa redline is 7500 rpm, right at the power peak. The Datsun have to rev 8500 to 8700 to get the same power. This has to use more gas.”
So when the racing and trophy-giving was all over, somebody – not a competitor or driver, but somebody –tipped off the SCCA officials, and the cars were pulled in for inspection. The officials took their tape measurements and went at the fuel cell containers. Surprise, surprise! Horst’s was 2 ˝ inches too high.
“This shouldn’t have been news to anyone, since we had been running the same tank at the other races. So we insisted they check the other four or five leading cars, for the possibility that foam had been removed from the bladder to increase tank capacity. They wouldn’t do it. We know our car had the foam left in, but now no one will ever know whether Pete Brock’s cars did or not.”
A little foam taken out of the fuel cell? A harmless trick to increase capacity? Hardly. Those fuel cells aren’t used just because they make the rubber companies happy. They are required because a rear-end accident would spray flaming gasoline all over the track if it weren’t kept in by a flexible bladder and internal porous cellular foam. That’s right, foam. You remove the foam, you have a fire hazard. And that’s what some competitors were doing.
Compare that to jacking up the metal bladder enclosure a couple of inches to use some dry ice. It doesn’t increase capacity (except for the increased density of the gasoline, which isn’t much) and doesn’t pose a hazard to everyone else on the track. “What it amounts to is this. We got the shaft on a body work violation. But they wouldn’t even check to see if a genuine safety violation existed in the other leading cars.”
Good old SCCA. What do they do when “Champagne Peter” Revson spreads black smoke all over the track and thumbs his nose at a black flag for 2 ˝ laps, and yet finishes first so he can win several large pots of gold in the Can-Am series? Is he disqualified? Do they take away his nice trophy and tear up all the pictures of him in his victory wreath? Of course not. They fine him $250 and forget about it.
Horst didn’t forget about it. “We really felt bad after we heard that. But we still feel we won the 1971 Trans-Am. And we always will.”