Editor’s note: Vintage Racing Journal is a new segment on JNC following the exploits of Glenn Chiou, owner, restorer, and vintage racer of two historic Datsun race cars. Glenn is based in California and actively participates in vintage motorsports, and his series will document what it’s like to own, drive, and campaign a Japanese nostalgic race car.
For over 30 years, the Mitty has been vintage racing’s diamond event of the South. Road Atlanta offers the ideal racing venue with its perfect formula of long straights and challenging bends. Before the Sports Car Club of America started rotating track venues for their championship finale, the SCCA Runoffs, Road Atlanta was the track that crowned SCCA National Champions for 23 years.
Why is this year so special? For the first time, Japanese cars are starting to be recognized for their historical racing significance. In the Mitty’s long history, Nissan has never been honored as the featured marque until this year, with racing legend John Morton as the Grand Marshall. It was not long after this announcement that the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion also announced Nissan as their featured marque for 2018, a first for a Japanese nameplate. As a vintage racing driver who races a historic Datsun 240Z and 510, I have would never imagined that this could happen in my lifetime. I knew I had to add the Mitty to the bucket list.
The Datsun 240Z that I have been lucky enough to restore and race began its motorsports career in 1971. The car started its life in a little shop in Mountain View, California called FAR Performance. FAR Performance won the 1971 San Francisco Regional Championship with this very Z and brought it to the SCCA National Runoffs at Road Atlanta in 1971.
At the wheel was well-known driver Walt Maas, who held the highest running position for a non-factory supported team until he experienced a brake failure in the closing laps. In the 47 years since, the car has made six appearances at the SCCA Runoffs at Road Atlanta — in 1971-73, 1976, 1978 and 1982.
For me, reliving the history of these wonderful historic cars is part of what makes the vintage racing experience so special. I knew I had to bring my Z back to Road Atlanta on this momentous occasion.
The exciting decision to participate in the Mitty 2018 was not met without challenges, however. Several weeks after applying, my race trailer was stolen. This was especially disheartening, as I had planned a cross country trip with my family and friends to celebrate Nissan at Road Atlanta. This could not have been a worse year for this to happen, and it has certainly put a huge dent in my racing season. With no leads or ideas on how to retrieve the stolen trailer, I was at a loss.
However, the wonderful part about the vintage racing community is that fellow racers are always willing to help each other out. Our friends at Z Car Garage came to the rescue by providing transport to Atlanta. We are now back on track and the Datsun 240Z will indeed make its first return to Road Atlanta in 35 years.
The Mitty begins on April 27. Stay tuned for continued coverage as we make our way to Road Atlanta.
To be continued…