10/15/18 8:33 a.m.

This story ran in an old issue of Classic Motorsports. Want to make sure you're reading all the latest stories? Subscribe now.

Story by Peter Brock • Photos as Credited • Illustrations by Sarah Young

If not for a small but highly talented group of racers in Southern California, the Datsun 240Z might not have become such an American success story. While there were political and cultural hurdles to overcome, the Brock Racing Enterprises team was able to grasp the emerging situation at the car’s introduction and help create one of the most dominant production racers ever built.

But this story starts with the man whose vision, corporate power and trust in this small team made it all possible: Yutaka Katayama, the president of Datsun USA and a highly unusual business personality.

Unlike most Japanese automotive executives of that era, Mr. K understood the American psyche-perhaps even better than some Americans in similar positions in Detroit. His radical ideas about automotive design, marketing, and building quality and respect into a struggling, war-ravaged entity were not always well received in the boardroom in Tokyo.

He’d actually been “banished” to California several years earlier by Nissan’s highly conservative management in order to try to establish a sales beachhead in North America. He was awarded this position as much to eliminate his contentious ideas as to test his controversial theories where it was believed that an embarrassing failure might not be blamed on their collective decision.

Read the rest of the story

Coupefan Reader
10/16/18 11:15 a.m.

We engineers have a saying.  If you throw enough money at a problem, we can solve it.  This was BRE's advantage over most other teams that got little to no factory support; the 'three M's'. They got money, machinery and manpower from Datsun to help them. 

ClearwaterZ New Reader
12/9/18 10:39 p.m.

Peter Brock and BRE were given a Competition Budget and supplied with Datsun's by Nissan Motor Co. Ltd (in Japan). BRE prepare and race Datsun’s in 1968. The Factory supplied Works Rally 510’s for BRE to run the off road races at Baja. Then the Factory sent Light Weight Roadsters to BRE from Japan -  before Nissan USA and Mr. K. were ever involved.  Nissan Motors in USA did sponsor a local team via the Nissan Competition Dept. but that effort was not really successful. When BRE starting winning races on the West Coast with the roadsters - was when Mr. K first heard of them, and in turn wanted to met them.

ClearwaterZ New Reader
12/9/18 10:45 p.m.

It is also significant to note that most Datsun Dealers on the West Coast  had long "Customer Order Waiting Lists" for DATSUN 240Z's before BRE or Bob Sharp Racing ever appeared with them On Track. By March of 1970 backorders were running 6 to 8 months at most Dealerships. While the success of BRE and BSR certainly enhanced sales - that first year they didn't drive the demand.

ClearwaterZ New Reader
12/9/18 10:55 p.m.

"In Japan, few in Nissan’s hierarchy had any understanding of the American market or its impending federal regulations regarding cleaner air. "

The above statement is far from accurate.   In 1965 Mr. K was promoted to President of Nissan Motor Co. in USA. Mr. Kawazoe had been Vice President of Eastern Sales. Mr. Kawazoe was a Degreed and experience Engineer with excellent English Language skills. He was reassigned to Washing D.C. to represent not only Nissan’s interests, but the interests of Japan’s Automotive industry. Specifically to work on pending US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and DOT/EPA Emissions Standards. These were all followed closely and were well known by Nissan Japan, during the design of the Datsun 240Z.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
12/10/18 4:57 p.m.

I always feel that attention to detail, thoroughnesss and neatness overcome some budget deficits.

SteveJ New Reader
7/19/20 8:43 p.m.

Here is an photo of John getting ready to take to the track for his first testing session at Road Atlanta in 2018. At the end of that testing day, John was talking with another driver, Gary Savage, about the line to take coming out from under the bridge and going into the last turn. After getting the suggested line from Gary, John went out to walk the track in that section so he would be ready to run it the next day.

Our Preferred Partners