History of a CP, DP,
GT3 and EP
Datsun 2000 Roadster
The George Franklin years
George Franklin was an Air Force Colonel from Warner Robins, Ga. In World War II he flew combat missions out of England as a fighter pilot. Later, motor racing was to give George a similar buzz to flying, although George admits: "Flying was much more exciting than racing, but racing was the closest thing to it I could find."
George became a regular sight on the SCCA regional circuit in the 1960s, campaigning hard at the wheel of his MGA. Although reasonably successful, it was not long before he, like a number of others, turned to the Datsun Roadster, which was beginning to score win after win across the USA.
Col. George bought his new Datsun 2000 roadster from Macon Datsun in Georgia, took it back to a friend's garage and stripped it down. It was the first 2000 they had received, and information from Datsun USA was non-existent because the car was so new. As Col. George says: "It was all trial and error, and believe me there was a lot of both, as well as a lot of surprises developing the engine." George rebuilt the car and maintained it himself. With limited sponsorship from Macon, he campaigned his immaculate silver 2000 in C Production in the SCCA's South East Division, and was soon proving very competitive.
Col. George went on to win a place in the National Runoffs at Daytona the following year, this time racing in D Production. Qualifying 7th in the #87 car he eventually placed a very creditable 5th, behind Jack Scoville (1st - Datsun 2000), Dan Parkinson (2nd - Datsun 2000), Brian Fuerstenau (3rd - Triumph) and Bob Sharp (4th - Datsun 2000). George finished a whisker ahead of Ivan Crawford in another Datsun 2000. George and Ivan swapped places on nearly every lap, with Ivan coming off the Daytona Banking slightly faster than George, and George, who had the faster car, taking Ivan back on the same corner later in each lap. Col George commented: "It was a close race and plenty of fun." On the last lap George passed Ivan to take 5th place. The pair finished just 3 seconds ahead of Jack Scott (pages coming soon) in yet another Datsun 2000.
Col. George continued racing the car in the early 1970s. He was a reserve for the 1970 Runoffs and did not make the race - in practice his cylinder head overheated badly, literally melting into one of the cylinders.
After picking up some damage to the right front of the car during that time, George painted the car red. In 1975 he decided to sell the 2000. It went to Dave McDowell, who in the year 2001, over 25 years later, still owned the car. Dave's story follows at the foot of these pages.
George Franklin's Datsun Roadster anecdotes
"I can recall one incident at Virginia International Raceway which caused great excitement. The back straight is quite long with a sharp right hander at the end, a short straight and a sharp descending left turn, downhill to a right hander onto the front straight. I over cooked it going into the turn and continued off the track sideways toward a steep embankment. Rather than go over rolling I spun the car around and went over backward, ending up in a ravine about half way down the hill. I had kept the engine running and was able to take off down the ravine through thick bushes filled with berries, back onto the track (maintaining my position!) and finishing the race. My car and I were covered with the red juice from the berries and the corner workers, my crew and the spectators all looked very concerned - they thought that I was covered with blood. It was hilarious when I pulled into the pits."
"In another race weekend in California I was enjoying some practice laps on the Saturday when I came round a bend to be confronted by the side view of a Porsche which had spun off, only to be driven back on the track (against the rules). I could do nothing but hit the car, wrecking my front end, including the suspension. Back in the pits it looked hopeless. We did not carry spare suspension hardware and there were no other Datsun racers with any parts we could borrow. While we were checking it over, a young man came out from the group of close spectators to say that he had a Datsun Roadster back home and we could borrow any parts we needed from that. As this was the only offer we had, we packed our tools and followed him home, over an hour away. That evening we unbolted the front end of his car, leaving it jacked up overnight. Back at the track early the following morning we stripped down the wrecked suspension, replaced it with his stock items and she was ready to race. That day we lined up on the track and, remarkably, we finished well. Afterwards we stripped her down and made the trip back to the young man's home, where we put his stock Datsun back together, very grateful but very weary. If that car is still around it has a story to tell, but the present owner may not know it."
| Col. George Franklin Roadster
Click on thumbnails for larger images.
|1968 Press photo showing Col. George working on his 2000|
|1968 Press photo showing Col. George's car in C Production trim|
|Virginia International Raceway, Regionals, July 1968|
|September 1968, VIR Nationals, C Production|
|Battling with A TR4, VIR Nationals|
|Under braking, Elva gives chase, 1968 VIR Nationals|
|The 1969 ARRC (DP) at Daytona 1969 - Col. George chases down Ivan Crawford|
|George Franklin with his good friend Jim 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald|