Nissan Enters 1971 BRE Datsun 510 in Monterey Historic Trans-Am Race
- John Morton Returns to Drive Championship-Winning Datsun -GARDENA, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2001) -- Thirty years after winning one of the most memorable Trans-Am races in history, John Morton and Nissan Motorsports return to Laguna Seca Raceway with the 1971 BRE Datsun 510 to participate in the 28th Annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, Aug. 17-19.
The 1971 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge championship came down to the last race of the season, held at Laguna Seca Raceway. John Morton, in the BRE Datsun 510, and Horst Kwech, in the Alfa Romeo GTV, battled side-by-side until Morton stopped for fuel. Kwech took the checkered flag in first place, but was disqualified a few hours later for having an illegal fuel tank. Morton, who finished second, was announced the winner.
"That race was the single most exciting set of circumstances that resulted in a race win and championship," said John Morton. "Nothing, not prior or since, compares to the emotions of that day."
The victory was the sixth of the season for Datsun, earning the Morton the driver's championship and Nissan the manufacturer's title.
In 1972, Datsun continued to dominate the 2.5 Challenge, winning nine races and the championship. At the end of the season, the No. 46 BRE Datsun 510 retired to storage at Nissan North America, Inc. John Morton, who won the 1972 2.5 Trans-Am Series driver's championship as well, maintained his relationship with Nissan, winning numerous road racing victories for the manufacturer in the '80s and '90s.
"I am thrilled to get behind the wheel of the No. 46 BRE Datsun 510 once again," continued Morton. "The Datsun you will see this weekend at the Monterey Historic races is the exact same car I raced at Laguna Seca thirty years ago. The technicians at Nissan Motorsports pulled it out of the museum a few months ago, and prepped the car as you would for any race back then. It is prepared in the true spirit of vintage racing."
Earlier this year, Nissan Motorsports decided to bring back the BRE Datsun 510, not only to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 510's greatest victory, but also to pay tribute to the motorsports heritage of Nissan.
"Looking back at the dominance the 510 had in the Trans-Am series in the early 70s, reminds us that our tradition to build cars that are performance-focused dates back to when we first started selling cars in the United States," said Steve Kight, director of motorsports, Nissan North America, Inc. "This same passion for performance still exists today with cars such as the new 2002 Sentra SE-R sports sedan, which definitely has some 510 DNA."
Practice for The 28th Annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca Raceway is Aug. 17, while the Historic Trans-Am Cars will race at 3:50 p.m., Aug. 19. Speedvision will broadcast a two-hour Monterey Historic special in September. Check local listings for date and time.
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