Our First Mitty at Road Atlanta Down to the Wire

May 7, 2010

There was no time for a last report prior to our departure for the Mitty, as the car was completed, well, almost completed, the night before!

Five Days Before Departure

At 10:30 at night, after installing the temporary FS5W63A gearbox, it was noted that the new clutch would not release. At this point, we feared we would not make it, but failure was not an option.

Four Days Before Departure

We made a couple of phone calls to inquire about our clutch dilemma and received similar responses regarding some flyweights used by this brand of clutch. Out comes the gearbox and clutch, again. We analyzed the problem and it was confirmed that the flyweights were interfering. The offending “extra part” was removed and all put back together – the clutch worked! We called it a day by 11:00 pm, but we still needed an exhaust pipe, a distributor, corner balancing and alignment.

Three Days Before Departure

Alex and Christian cleaned the car and trailer and took it to the muffler shop, while I worked on the new Pertronix-equipped distributor. This distributor would check OK on the bench, but the engine refused to start with it. While the car was on the rack at the muffler shop, it was noticed that one of the rear wheel stub shafts had backed out. It was very fortunate that this was noticed, as it would have been disastrous if the half shaft would have come out while on the track. The nut that holds the stub shaft had not been staked by a previous owner and had fallen out, but held captive by the U-joint flange. Luckily, there was no damage. The nut was reinstalled, torqued and staked. The other stub axle was checked and the nut was found to be tight, but not stacked. This was corrected.

Two Days Before Departure (Sunday)

After not finding any fault with the Pertronix, it was decided to build, from scratch, a dual point distributor. It was tested in our street 510 at Nestor’s house, but no time to install it in the racecar, which was at another location.

One Day Before Departure

Still running on the distributor borrowed from the old 510 wagon that saved the day at Sebring, we went to the alignment shop. Incredibly, corner balancing and suspension adjustments were uneventful! The distributor was the last planned item. It would have to be installed at the track.

Finally The Mitty

Since there was a Datsun reunion, we had to take our red 510 that we’ve owned since new. It hadn’t been on a long trip in decades, and there was only time to check tire pressures and oil level. However, we did not anticipate any problems for the 1500-mile round trip, since this car’s maintenance is always up-to-date. It ran as expected.
We enjoyed meeting so many Datsun people at the BRE dinner and Datsun corral. Factory racecars and Ron Carter’s #46 240Z replica were incredible. Meeting the original BRE Team members, legends we had only seen and heard of in magazines in the last 40 years, was also an experience not to be forgotten.

Now to the racing:

The dual point distributor ran flawlessly. Our racecar went on the track 10 times. The first time out, we noticed we had unstable fuel pressure; a new regulator corrected this. Earlier problems with the starter casting cracking came back. One cracked, then the spare cracked after only one outing. The problem appears to be caused by some vibration resonance and not just weak castings, as our newly designed alternator tensioner bracket also cracked. A replacement starter was located at an auto parts’ store 43 miles from the track. We rushed out to get it in the red 510 and got back with 20 minutes to spare. This time we tried something new to keep the starter from falling apart. It must have helped, as there were no more starter failures in the last four track outings. Weld modifications to a spare bracket for the alternator were made with the help of the Porsche folks at the 901 Shop, who were very accommodating. The modified bracket was installed at the same time as the last starter, and it also held. The car only required topping off the fuel cell for the final four track sessions.

We gradually improved our confidence as we acclimated to the new track. Changes we had made to the braking system and suspension worked, and we soon got into a good rhythm and consistent lap times. We earned second place in class on our last race on Sunday afternoon. More improvements are on the way, but finally feel we can be competitive!

We were presented with an award by none other than Pete and Gayle Brock for 2nd Place BRE Datsun 510 Tribute Car. First place went to Bob Leitzinger. This was truly an honor. Also, while looking through racecar photos at a kiosk, we found a photo of our own 510 on the track. Needless to say, we purchased it.

As always, we thank all those fans and fellow competitors who stopped by and certainly appreciate all the nice comments. Visiting with old friends we hadn’t seen in many years completed a fabulous weekend.

Until next time …

6 comments to Our First Mitty at Road Atlanta Down to the Wire

  • Hi Guys, it was a real pleasure to meet you all! And your 510 is stunning!! What did you do to temporarily fix the resonance problem with your 510?

    I would strongly suggest sourcing an ATI Damper for your 510. I know that Les sells them and they do work great. Perhaps you can contact ATI directly or I can see about getting one from Les for you if you would like.

    I enjoyed watching your car go around the track and I am hoping to return with my 510 or my Roadster some time in the near future to race on this track instead of parade laps.

    Best!

    Ron Carter

  • Hi, Ron —

    A damper is a must before the next race.

    The vibration problem was affecting the starter (one failed in a single track session) and the alternator tensioner bracket. We came up with temporary fixes for each. These fixes were incorporated at the same time and they held for the rest of the event:

    >For the starter, a damper between the starter motor housing and the engine mount was made from a piece of 5/8″ hose.
    >For the bracket, the spare bracket was welded from both sides of each component piece for full weld penetration.

    In your conversation with Alex regarding changes to our brakes, we decreased the diameter of our front master cylinder, not increased.

    Competing took up a lot of our time. We wish there would have been more of it to talk with you and many others … Maybe next event.

    Regards,

    Nestor Moya

  • Nestor,

    Remind me of our discussion regarding your brakes…a smaller master will generate higher pressures, but less volume.

    Let me know what you decide to do with the crank balancer. I am sure you will stop breaking parts as soon as you install it.

    Best,

    Ron

  • Alex had complained that the brakes were too hard and not confidence-inspiring. Then I drove the car for a couple of hot parade laps at Sebring and confirmed I could not lock them up at high speed, no matter how hard I tried. It’s amazing how big a difference a small change in master cylinder diameter can make. We adjusted the brake balance in our garage after the master cylinder change and didn’t get an opportunity to test them until The Mitty. Alex reported the brakes worked so well, it felt like a new car. It didn’t even need making any adjustments to the bias.
    I already have a part number for the damper from the supplier we discussed. I’m sure we’ll go that route before our next race. I’ll keep you posted.

    Regards,
    Nestor

  • Hi Nestor,

    Sounds great! I am sure that damper will stop you from breaking parts off the motor. I have had brake issues with the Roadster and know exactly what you have been going through. It took several months to sort out my problem…but the difference was amazing.

    I am looking forward to your next race and update! We will be getting the roadster ready for California Speedway in June and will be moving the Z to the Riverside International Automotive Museum for an extended stay.

    best,

    Ron

  • […] Our First Mitty at Road Atlanta Down to the Wire […]

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