29 January 2011, Peter
here in Santa Clara, California.
The festivities will begin within the hour.
was 5:45pm Friday, 28 January (2011) before I finally hit I-5
northbound to attend/cover "Peter Brock Day"
festivities in Santa Clara (San Francisco bay area, adjacent
to San Jose... and it's a long way to San Jose).
As fortune would have it, for about 250
miles of that 350-mile drive I had to slog my way through pea-soup
fog... all the way from Bakersfield to Gilroy and beyond. Just
before I hit the fogbank a Guardsman Blue Superformance
Daytona Coupe breezed by me at about 75 mph; I fully expected
that it was headed for the same event... but alas, it never showed
up... wasn't there. I'm not quite sure if it was headed someplace
else, or if it just disappeared forever into the murk... The
Coupe That Never Returned. A bummer, since it's a bona
fide beauty and would've been yet another crowd-pleasing
drivin' machine with the Shelby-metal throng.
I arrived in Santa Clara sometime past
midnight and at the gathering on El Camino Real just before 9:00am
Saturday, where I began clicking my shutter. Here's your photo-feature
peek into the fun and festivities at Peter Brock Day...
GT350s, Daytona Coupes
and droves of attendees
FFR Coupe builder
Russ Thompson (Richmond, California) at left, chatting with Peter.
Left-to-right are fellow Coupe owners: in the red shirt is Ron
Steble, then Peter Brock, then (wearing 2-tone baseball cap)
Hank Lopez and Carl Critz grinning perversely at something offscreen.
enjoys talking about (and listening to personal anecdotes about)
performance cars and road racing; here Carl Critz (his back to
camera) and Hank Lopez take their turn to bend Peter's ear.
Dennis Peck [owner
of (Superformance Dealer) Dynamic Auto West, Redwood
City, California] at left, sharing war stories with Peter amidst
a Daytona Coupe T-shirt for Bob Gardner (also of Dynamic Auto
Dig the spiffy Shelby shirt Bob's wearing!
Russ Thompson, Russ Foster and Ron Steble standing in front of
the Guardsman Blue "Katrina Rescue Coupe"swamped
in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in August/September, 2005.
above: Peter's grand touring Superformance
Brock Coupe, which he and Gayle had just driven down
all the way from Redmond, Washington.
above: Peter beginning his discourse
on his part in the "The Legend Years" when he
(in close collaboration with Ken Miles and John Ohlsen) played
a key role on Team Shelby, especially his and Ken's and
John's part in shaping and designing and then testing and tweaking
the Coupe's aerodynamics. Pete's most challenging task was to
convince the doubting Thomases that the aerodynamically-optimized
sculpturing would itself provide the extra edge that the small-block
Cobra chassis needed to wrest the crown from Ferrari.
Brock: "Ken Miles was really
the champion in backing my concept with Shelby. At first Carroll
seemed all for the idea, but there were so many naysayers within
the shop that he was uncertain. Especially with Remington down
on the idea it looked like it might not go. Ken understood and
believed, as he was learned enough to know that the Germans had
built some pretty trick cars in the late '30s. John Ohlsen, being
a Kiwi, was an "outsider" to the close-knit California
guys, who weren't keen on the idea either. Rem' gave the job
to Ohlsen and to his credit he did most of the initial fabrication.
He was the real "crew chief" on the project. In fact
it was he who was severely burned at Daytona when he crawled
under the car to inspect the rear end in that fateful stop. Lucky
he wasn't burned to death! After he recovered he was back at
LeMans... again leading the teamand the car won!"
Peter explained to
me Ken Miles' bewilderment
upon Ken's track-testing of Peter's new/untested Coupe at Riverside
(it didn't get graced with the "Daytona" label until
it was scheduled to debut at Daytona Speedway): "Ken's
confusion was that the rear-end ratio was in questionKen
was sure we had a lower (higher numerical) gear as he was getting
so much more rpm and speed out of the corners; when he had gauged
the speed of the car via reading the RPMs, he couldn't believe
the numbers, and deduced that the rear end ratio must have been
changed. It's easy to verify a ratio by jacking up the rear and
turning the rear tire one revolution. At the same time you make
a mark on the driveshaft and then count the revolutions as you
spin the tire. Example... three and three quarter turns
would represent a 3.77:1 ratio. Ken was confident that we had
a lower gear as he knew the track by heart and would gauge his
speed in the roadsters by how many RPMs he was turning at certain
spots. The coupe was 3.5 seconds quicker right out of the box!
Also speed went from 160 mph to about 180 mph... moreover, we
didn't know the fuel mileage improvement until we got to Daytona
and ran some tests... 25% betterwhich would of course
translate into fewer pit stops!"
In the end, it was Peter's
dogged persistence that enabled his finely-tuned coachwork to
transform the fire-breathing (albeit aerodynamically-challenged)
Cobra roadster into a world-beating/Ferrari-trouncing racing
machine. The proof-in-the-pudding was Team Shelby's* seizing the 1965 WMC
(World Manufacturers Championship) from the clutches of
lasted over 90 minutes... and you could hear a pin drop throughout
his presentation. Peter is 'history on the hoof,' and no
one was willing to miss a word.
corrected me on my giving unwarranted credit to "Team
Shelby." Here's how Peter set the record straight: "It
all looks fine with the exception of giving credit to 'Team Shelby'
for capturing the World Championship. Actually it was Alan
Mann Racing, of the UK, that did the job. Shelby American
'won' the championship simply because they were the manufacturer
of record with the FIA. The only reason the Daytonas raced
in '65 was the fact that Ray Geddes, our main liaison with
Ford, figured that we might as well give the cars to Alan Mann
to race, as the contract to race the GT40s for Ford had been
given to Shelby, provided he didn't race the Cobras! At that
time the Daytonas were faster than the GT40s, but Ford didn't
want those $1.98 west coast hot rods blowing off their $12 million
investment in FAV (Ford Advanced Vehicles). The GT40s clearly
had more potential, but you can't beat a well-proven old racer
with a brand-new unproven one! Once Phil Remington and the Shelby
crew got hold of the GT40s they began to develop them into winners...
but it took more than a season... and even then they had to toss
out the 289 engines in favor of the 427s. PB"
how Enzo Ferrari's pursuing an FIA rule change in 1963 opened
the door to rebody the 289 Cobra chassis with his Daytona
Coupe coachwork... in Enzo's case it's a definitive example
of the maxim "Be careful what you wish for."
above: Pat Benedict's Malachite Green
Shades of Route
66... if you're eagle-eyed, you've already spotted that silver/blue
1960 Corvette in front of it. The license plate number on that
'Vette is "ZORA"... as in Zora Arkus-Duntov, enshrined
as "The father of the Corvette."
Ron Chin's Guardsman
Blue Daytona Coupe. The license plate
is as close as was available to render "DAYTONA."
"Peter Brock Day" event coverage was brought
Peter will promptly
advise you that you're gazing upon the eminence grise
BRE/Brock Racing Enterpriseshis very lovely bride Gayle.
courtesy of the CobraCountry.com megasite!
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