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post #1 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Alfa GTV vs. Datsun 510s : The Truth

“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.”

George Bullwinkel

L'Alfista

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post #2 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chi Si Dici View Post
“You Can’t Handle The Truth”
(Quote: Jack Nicholson)
............
George Bullwinkel

I love it when people quote this line. The outburst is of the character being portrayed, a corrupt ego-mainical rogue, who orchestrated murder and a cover-up, a man with missile gap cold-warrior fantasies, who probably like many of our current civillian perpetual warriors thinks, the Chuck Norris vehicle: Invasion USA was a realistic scenario.

to the topic, forty years later and people are still pissed off! No wonder we have world peace.

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post #3 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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No one is "pissed off" Roger, have some chilled egg-nog. The title is for fun and not meant to upset sensitive world peace wishers. I thought I would spend an hour of my time tiping something that Alfisti would enjoy reading. It wasn't directed towards BMW enthusiasts. If you want me to talk about all the years BMWs got wipped I can do that on a separate thread.

Merry Christmas and world peace.

L'Alfista

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post #4 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 10:25 AM
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I was just being a little over the top, I thought in the spirit of your original post. Spent the morning changing the fuel pump on ALFA so I can chauffeur the guest for Christmas dinner, I guess the fumes got to me. Merry Christmas

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post #5 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 10:36 AM
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I see several references to rules and who was bending and breaking them, and all I can think of is the words first spoken to me by an old, old freind of mine who has been racing since even before that rivalry:


If you're not cheating, you're not trying.
If you get caught, you're not trying hard enough.

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post #6 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerspeed View Post
I was just being a little over the top, I thought in the spirit of your original post. Spent the morning changing the fuel pump on ALFA so I can chauffeur the guest for Christmas dinner, I guess the fumes got to me. Merry Christmas
I thought your comments were in the spirit of the original post as well.. No worries. you make a great point about the "you cant handle the truth" quote though haha.. be careful who you quote.. heh
so they should say.. "I want the truth!" but thats not as catchy...

Chilled Egg Nog sounds very good right now.. i wish i had some..
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post #7 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 06:43 PM
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I haven't been an auto afficionado for a great long time, and issues like this one from my high school years are far away from me. However, I am interested because human nature is so fascinating to me. Usually, in cases with accusations of unfairness about them, there is a good rule: "cherchez la femme," or in another vein, "follow the money."

I suspect the first is inapplicable here (but who knows?). If the second is applicable, there should be enough in the way of time and after-the-fact observations to make at least a good circumstantial case. Where did money flow to drive inequities? Or who owed favors to whom? If neither of these can be supported, then what reasonable support can be mustered for unfairness? Did someone antagonize the rule-makers? Did some of the rulemaking body later take nice jobs with Datsun? Anything?

For a car with twin cams to bear a weight penalty handicap against a pushrod engine seems unreasonable. One might look at the relative age of the engineering and make a racing field more evenly balanced if newer things blew established technology off the field. But Alfa's engines had a pretty long history. Was Datsun coming in with fresh designs and asking for handicaps against the older engines? What possible reason could there be for penalizing the older design? The whole set of assertions I have heard about this series, including any refusal to examine other cars' fuel cells for capacity, seems like something that must rise out of collusion and conspiracy. Such things usually have some driving motive to generate them, and I can see none being proposed. Am I missing something here?

Michael

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post #8 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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I posted the above comments to keep in the spirit of what was started in the prevoius thread "GTV vs. BMW 2002". In that thread "FAUXGTA" was drinking Datsun kool-aid stating, "If none of you have driven a properly set-up 510, you don't know what you're missing. There's a reason why BRE won the 2.5 Challenge 2 years in a row, they had a dynamite chassis to build upon. Don't get me wrong, I bleed 501 red, but the facts are the facts."

As an Alfa tifoso, I completely disagree, therefore wrote something that could put doubt about "facts are the facts."

Anyway, I was hoping for someone in that era to chime in and give their perspective.

L'Alfista

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post #9 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-25-2006, 09:46 PM
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This is an interesting post, I've heard it all from the other side, this is the first from the Alfa side. However, there is one major fact that is wrong here. The 510 L16/L18 is a sohc engine. No pushrods. I think the weight is off as well, I can't see a 510 being that light.

That said, I cant see how this was even a fight. The alfa is a much better car. I can't wait to get my suspension bushings all redone so I can go carve some canyons. I have to say the BRE guys were good, however I think they were lucky as well.

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post #10 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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That's how the GTV vs. BMW 2002 got started, "BlpltGTV". My point was that a stock 510 couldn't hold a candle to a GTV. The specs of the racing 510s were completely different, the had very little in common with the production run. The series was fabricated to give marques like Datsun a chance to beat the unbeatable Alfas and to make the series even, the specs show that different methods where accepted in making the series interesting. Let's be serious, how much can a sprinter gloat if the competitive sprinter is givin a 20yard lead on a 100 yard dash?

In a no match contest, Alfa would have ran their 1750s with light GTA body (loosing 500 lbs.) including the later GTAM plastic flares, big wheels and we would not discuss any of this today.

L'Alfista

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post #11 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 06:42 AM
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What do you completely disagree with. the fact that the 510 had "a dynamite chassis to build upon", or that the "facts are the facts"? We've all read the stories of the '71 T/A 2.5 Challenge season, so you're not presenting any new information here. As far as my drinking "Datsun kool-aid", I respect them because I've driven one, unlike those who base their opinions on the writings of other people. You forgot to mention how Horst Kwech "bumped" John Morton in the corkscrew @ Laguna Seca, spinning him off the track, but I guess that was only fair since Alfa had the weight penalty and all!
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post #12 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 06:50 AM
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Pic of me and my favorite car at Watkins Glen, 2004. Is that a kool-aid stain on my upper lip...

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post #13 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 07:14 AM
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Whoa, here, guys.... The assertions which formed the start of this thread are perhaps part of an old and acrimonious debate, but they are at least fodder for debate. The truth (or otherwise) underlying them should be establishable. If they are true statements (and I have no reason to think otherwise, apart from numerical issues like actual weights which might be misremembered but which should be part of the paper record), then there should be no reason for the debate to heat up. Che Si Dici mentions things which argue that the "competition" was truly no competition. I note that such things tend to be driven by other concerns than track "fairness." In fact, the quote below:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chi Si Dici View Post
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.
would seem to indicate that there were significant inequities involved. When such things occur in human affairs, there are usually traceable reasons.

My personal question was directed at whether any motives might have been identified. A good set of reasons, well-supported, would be to my mind a worthwhile addition to the debate. The actions claimed for SCCA seem too deliberately directed at favoring one side. No competition can be fair when the rule-making body takes an interest in the outcome.

I've never understood why a rule-making body would ever "ban" a car which was too successful. I thought that one of the actual goals of racing was to encourage technological improvements. The racing of antique/classic cars is a different matter entirely, as that is directed at improvement of skill levels of drivers and maybe at encouraging the preservation of certain classic cars which are not really street material. But that is not the case in the Alfa/Datsun debate.

Even the issue of Kwech vs. Morton that FauxGTA mentions above is not really relevant, unless the action was forbidden under the rules in force. If I remember correctly, that same technique of ridding oneself of competitors has been favored up to quite recent times. I don't follow racing very much at all, but I've heard stories of someone "Intimidating" his fellows by such actions. And he is generally, if not universally, mentioned with favor even after his demise.

Michael
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post #14 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 08:39 AM
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MrT, I wasn't knocking Kwech when mentioning the "bump" on Morton, he's actually one of my favorite drivers, and I would hardly put him in the same category with the "Intimidator"! I actually got a chance to speak with Horst for a few moments at Watkins Glen, and he was more than happy to autograph the famous pic of him bumping Morton in the "Pony Car Wars" book! He actually had alot of kind things to say about John Morton, Pete Brock AND the 510's! Bottom line is, you can't change history, and whether or not the 510 was as good stock as a GTV ( I suggest checking out the Bluebird 1800 SSS), it proved itself on the track as a racecar, period.
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post #15 of 159 (permalink) Old 12-26-2006, 12:07 PM
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Interesting read - thanks! And what about the blistering RX-2 and RX-3 and the continuous rules and restrictions that were slapped on them year after year until they could not compete.

GV
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