The Short Story
On September 17th 2010 a 1972 Datsun 240Z Powered by a 3Liter, L6 Rebello race engine broke the 25 year old F/GT record at the World of Speed at a USFRA sanctioned event. Victory Motorsports Driver Douglas “Burton” Brown together with his Dad (Donald) realized a long term effort by beating this record by more that 4.2 MPH. The record, was previously held by a Ferrari 308 QV.
"Car was ready to load Sept. 12, 2010. We set out a little early only to end up spending 63 hours getting the 1800 miles put behind us. A Broken Hydraulic pump on the tow vehicle left us on the side of the road in Nebraska for 33 hours.
After arriving at the track we passed Tech inspection on Sept. 14th. On the 15th our first run was cut short with a shifter problem. After a quick fix in the pits we were back up to the line for our next run. The runs were done for the day but we were given a number for a place in line the following morning.
On the 16th our first run qualified us for impound at 172.275. The car went to impound where the next morning we backed up our run with a speed of 173.673. The average of the two runs set the new record at 172.9 MPH. There is still some speed left in the car and we believe we can get it up over 180 with this engine and stock body. We would like to move up 1 engine class in the E – engine (4.2L) and see if we can break the 200mph mark. You will have to wait and see if this happens." Bonneville Nationals Inc. 2013 Certified Records
Our Z-Car Story by Burton Brown
Growing up in Canada, (Nestor Falls, Ontario) I think our first exposure to the Z-Cars was when Dennis Dalseg bought a new one. The year was a 75 or 76 280Z. I remember it had fuel injection. It just had it as far as looks and performance. I remember going up to the Grocery store that the Dalseg,s owned just to look at Dennis’s car. I do remember him having it about 1 summer and then rolling it and totaling it. I don’t remember if Dennis was seriously hurt or not.
When we moved to Wisconsin my Dad (Don Brown) started talking about running the 33 Chevy 3 window coupe at Bonneville and try to get into the 200mph club. This was before we had any experience running there. I was told it would take 600+ HP to do it and that idea kind of fizzled after that. At the time I started racing oval track cars and have been doing that for over 20 years now. We talked about Bruce Mueller at B&B building a BB Chevy but around this time he had acquired the 240Z from Rob Kruger.
The decision to run the Z was my Dads. He looked over the record book and thought the F/GT class was the one that fit the best. This must have been around 1995. It was quite a bit of work as the front end had some damage and we did end up dismantling the whole car and painting everything.
I decided to help with the project and started looking on line for an engine. Came across a Blue 73 240Z with some work done to it. It was in Idaho and had a stroker engine in it, Webber Carbs, Cam, Header, suspension modifications (Struts, sway bars, BMW brakes). I bought the car just buy looking at Pics over the internet. Dad took a bus ride out to Idaho and drove the car home.
Initially we had thought to pull the engine out and put it into his 72 but the 72 was not that far along. We decided to take the 73 as it was and put the required “roll Bar” in and went racing. I remember we borrowed a white van and a car dolly and we went to Maxton first. I do remember drilling Rotors out for bigger studs in a Holiday Inn bathroom somewhere along the way at 3 or 4 in the morning?
We went to Maxton and had problems right out of the box. We smoked the clutch and had to find a replacement. We did find a stock replacement and put it in and made a few passes. We ended up with the F/GT record at 119 and change I believe. We returned home and prepared for Bonneville. The white van again and a car dolly. I Think Duke Chick, Dad and I went and I believe it was the 50th anniversary of speedweek in 1997 We went 130 something maybe 138 on one run?
After this we realized we would probably need more HP and went looking again. We put an ad in National Dragster and immediately someone answered it from Kansas that had a 3.1L stroked engine with some heavy modifications. It was used as a Drag race engine in a rail car running in the 1/8 mile. I think it was a national record holder @ 140MPH in the 1/8 mile. If I remember correct we paid $600-700 for the engine in a box. This is the engine we ran in the next two attempts.
We worked on trying to de-stroke it to make it legal. This is where the 50mm SK carbs and intake came from we run now. At this time I was working on my house at Shaky Lake road (I believe in 2001) and Dad and Duke went with an Orange Van he bought from Duke, a trailer from Jim Rigowski and the Orange Z. I do remember having head gasket problems and Dad going out to Bonneville with Duke and having a copper head gasket sent to meet them out there. There are pictures from another hotel room (somewhere) fitting the head gasket. I do remember trying to send a Cam gear out and then seeing the pictures of my Dad and Duke buying another Z car JUST FOR THE TIMING GEAR! Another attempt was made but I think the car was restricted to 125MPH because of a technicality of a drive shaft hoop.
Another attempt was made in 2007 with this engine again at the World Finals. We went 143? We were still not having the best of luck with this engine. We had ignition problems as well. We were trying to use a stock distributor with an old ASA V-6 MSD box.
In 2009 Rick Jeffrey came down to help get the car ready to go to Maxton. We worked many late nights. We spent the last couple of weeks basically round the clock then set out on the road for Maxton. We showed up on the last day with about 45 minutes left to run. We made three passes, missing the record (now 138 with a Porsche) by 1 mph.
Somewhere in this time frame I was looking for some Rods (as I had messed a set up). Sat down at the computer and found the Rebello site. After looking at his site for about 15 minutes and then I decided to call…….only looking for Rods. After talking with Dave for 45 minutes, (and some of his enthusiasm) I decided to give him a credit card number and have him build an engine. BEST DECISION I MADE. We met the engine at Salt Lake city as there was not time to send it to Wisconsin and install it before we left. We put it in, in the Montego Bay Parking lot with the help of the Pepperoni Bros. Motorcycle team. They just volunteered to help and we were running out of steam. ON another note the casino has really good lighting at night. Our initial run out of the box was 160+. We made a few more runs trying different tire sizes, pressures etc and missed the record by .8 MPH. Fuel Pump failure. (Interestingly enough the Mercedes Benz 300SL that tried in 2005 had a fuel pump problem)
In June of 2010 Aaron Tiff and I set off for Maxton again. We unloaded the car and immediately broke the record by 11 mph. We made 7 runs and broke a record each time. The record at Maxton is now 154 in the F/GT class. We set 3 others in classes above ours.
Returned home, talked to Dave about what we could possibly do and pulled the engine and sent it back to Dave and his guys. Engine came back and after a couple of really late nights off to Bonneville for the World of Speed. The rest is History……172.9 F/GT record.
Dad's Story By Don Brown
It all started with a phone call from my son, Doug "Burton", back in about 1994. He and I always liked the Nissan “Z” cars, for their style, their speed, and their price. In his phone call to me he told me about a 1972 240Z that a friend of his had for sale and did I want to go look at it. I very quickly said yes Because it sounded like it was in my price range and I had always wanted one of “those cars” He and I looked at it and I decided that it was too much work to get it back into shape. Two years went by and my son is on the phone again about this same car. The guy had not sold it and he was trying to raise money to do work on his house. This time I bought the car for a “rock bottom” price of $500.
At the same time this is going on I am fulfilling a dream of mine to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats to see some of the machinery that showed up out there. Then it happened, along the way my son had picked up a 1973 240Z that had been driven by an amateur sports car racer and we decide that just for the experience of it we would take it to the salt and see what it would do. No record breaking was intended but in the back of out minds the thought was forming. What if? What if we could run that speed. Well, it is harder than you think. I believe we ran 143 mph against the existing record of 167. Two more years go by and I get the itch to go again, but this time I want to take my 72 240Z. My son didn’t go with me this time and I clocked a 138. I do not have the tuning smarts that my son does and it showed in the speed. I had spent all the money my budget would allow and I promised my wife that that was the last time I would run a car on the salt.
My son had different ideas, by now he has seen this record breaking as a challenge. His idea, we form a father /son team, we use my car and we use his engine. He goes to the salt flats a couple of times and he is creeping up on the record, which by the way is held a Ferrari owned by Bob Norwood.This F/GT Record is a very rock solid record. But you don’t know how determined my son is. This fall at Bonneville my son had it all together and the 167 record, a 25 year old record fell to a new record of 172. Here’s what we have: A completely self sponsored car beating a well funded Ferrari. And the car is a 1972 “Z” car. I did not get to go to Bonneville and see Doug break the record, but I kept in touch all the time via U-Stream, Texting and phone calls.
When Doug came back home, I gave him the car. He is the brains behind making this “beauty of a Z car” do what it needed to. He also knew where to spend the money to capture that record.