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C L A S S I C  F A I R L A D Y  R O A D S T E R  R E G I S T E R



This interview was conducted with Jack Scoville on 18th February 2000, and gives an excellent insight into Jack's campaigns. The content, including all images, which are from Jack's personal collection, must not be redistributed in any form.



Jack's first race

Victory in the Speedster

Victory in the Triumph, '68

Jack's first Datsun race


'Fast Jack' - The Early Years

Jack's race career started in 1952 at Shelton, Washington in an MG. His career evolved through Porsche Speedsters and Triumphs until his first race in a Datsun 2000 in 1968, some 4 years after taking over the Datsun franchise. 

JS- I started racing in the 1950s with TD and TF MGs. In the early days you did not modify your cars at all - you could drive to the race, put a straight pipe in, put the windshield down and go. Once we made a round trip to Los Angeles, hit a race and drove home!

When we picked up the Triumph dealership we started racing Triumphs. We had a green one and a yellow one - the yellow one stuck. We were just going to do a little autocrossing...(Laughs). It turned into something more than that!

Our Volvo and Triumph dealership started in 1963, and, in June 1964, we acquired the Datsun franchise. Fisher Implements had the Datsun franchise from around 1960 in both Albany and Corvallis and they wanted to unload it. The local Datsun rep came by, seeing if we might be interested in picking up the franchise. He gave me a list of probably twenty names of Datsun owners in the area. All of them were pleased with their vehicles, so antiquated as they were at that time, so we took it on. We are now one of the oldest Nissan/Datsun dealers in the Northwest.

Our opportunity to race Datsuns came in 1968 when we were able to obtain a 1967 Solex equipped 2000 for Ray Kaehler, one of my mechanics. These were difficult to come by at the time as Datsun built so few of them. We essentially prepared the car for Ray. Vern (Colvin) built the engine and Ray ran it at the Regional in Newport in May 1968. Newport used to have May Day races every year. All the big names from the West Coast showed up for these races, including Dan Parkinson, Steve Froines etc. That was my first opportunity to race a Datsun. 

The Solex cars were run in C production in 1968 and 1969. The D Production cars of course needed to run SUs.

1968 was the first year that we went to the runoffs (at Riverside) with the Datsun. We took a lot of verbal abuse that year because we also had the Spitfire in the Datsiun tent (Laughs).

I finished 5th that year in C Production.



Vern Colvin, ARRC 1969


The Crew

Unlike BRE, who employed a team of eight or more, Jack's team comprised his wife Gloria, Vern Colvin, his mechanic, Bob Blue, his driver and his children, Jeff and Lisa.

JS- Vern had some interesting theories on porting that made meaningful improvements. He was very instrumental in engine building and was a marvellous fabricator in every sense, be it engines, frames or specing out a transmission. I can attribute a great deal of our success to Vern.



SRL-00004 at Kent

SRL-00004 - Vern & Jack


The Cars - SRL-00004

Jack picked up his first racing Datsun, a 2000, chassis number SRL-00004, in 1968. The car was not in good shape. But Mr K saved the day.

JS-Shortly after running Ray's 2000, Datsun gave us a production low windshield 2000 to run. It was the one that Dwayne Feuerhelm raced, number 00004. Feuerhelm had raced the car at Riverside. It had popped out of 5th gear going down the straight and had blown a hole in the block when the engine over-revved. My comment when my son Jeff and I took a trailer down to pick it up was that the only good part of the car was the seat, and they'd taken the seat out!! (Laughs).

We took the car back to Nissan headquarters in Gardena. Mr Katayama came out of the building and crawled up onto the trailer. He looked under the hood and said "Oh my!". Less than twenty minutes later, a man came out with a forklift with a complete new engine assembly - when I say complete, it came with EVERYTHING, right down to the Solexes, starter, alternator, flywheel - you name it - it was there. Mr K just smiled and wished us a good day!!



The lightweight


The Cars - The Factory Lightweight 

The factory lightweight, or 'Purple Panel' 2000, was passed to Jack by Nissan following the excellent form shown in 00004. One of around 10 lightweights exported to the USA, this 2000 was the eventual 1969 ARRC winning car.

JS-00004 was the start of our Datsun backing - the lightweight came later. Our car had been raced in the mid-West, with little success. Datsun picked the car up from them and delivered it to us.

The Purple Panel cars (so called because they had purple paint on the inner panels to identify them) were described as FIA homologated and prepared. They had lighter wheels, panels and frames. The first time out at Kent, on bona fide race tires, the front crossmember just collapsed! It was so thin. We had to cut a crossmember out and put a standard one in. It was a truly flexible flier! It had no rigidity in the chassis at all.

Following the race at Kent, when the car was still red, we took it to Sears Point. I had agreed to let Dick Roberts (head of Datsun Competition at the time) drive it Sunday at the race. The only problem was that I crashed 00004 on the Saturday so, needless to say, Mr Roberts did not get to drive the car on Sunday!

That Sunday at Sears Point was the first stenuous exercise for the featherwight car. After the race we stood round the impound holding our breath, as there was a 5 gallon plastic can full of water lashed to the rear of the passenger seat to bring it up to legal weight! (Laughs). Fortunately the tech. committee overlooked it. (until we fitted the fuel cell with a very heavy canister to hold it, we had to weigh 1745 pounds - and it was about 80 pounds light).

Following the succesful 1969 season, the last time I ran the lightweight was at Atlanta in 1970. I sold the car in 1971.




JS- The front suspension was straight out of the Datsun competition  catalog. We used comp springs, Koni shocks, and anti rollbars with Delrin bushings. The only modification that we made to the system was we put a Panhard bar on the car at Daytona - going through the banking the lateral forces were dragging on the tires as the suspension loaded.

We did pioneer a couple of things - one was a differential that was designed by a specialist company in Portland. The company ultimately sold out to Warn, and used the same principle as their front drive hubs today. It was a limited slipped differential, which worked beautifully in the roadster. Datsun put up the dollars to create them for the roadster but they only made a dozen or so and we were the sole recipient of them. The inside wheel automatically free-wheeled, if the outside wheel started to slip it would catch up and lock up. Unlike a 'Detroit locker' it was seamless in locking and unlocking and would not clank.

We tried using these diffs later in the Z-car but because they had to be machined so thin to fit, when they got hot, the metal just expanded.

One modification we derived from BRE were the rear springs in the car - they were something special. These springs were something that Peter spent an inordinate amount of money developing, and obviously they made up a bunch of them because they sent a couple of sets over to us. For leaf springs you have never seen anything like them. The leafs were tapered from the very center all the way to the ends - it was one constant taper. Instead of being perfectly straight they had an arch over them to increase tire clearance, something over 1/2 inch both sides. Each spring came with something like 9 leaves so you could take leaves out or add them back to change the rates.

At a meeting at Sears Point the BRE team had convinced themselves that Jack had found out a way of achieving over 9000rpm from the 2000.

JS-At Sears Point I had missed a shift - this was the first time I had raced the FIA (lightweight). The tattletale on the tachometer was resting at 9900rpm. The Japanese Nissan technician (Tom Kanbe) who was travelling with BRE, leaned over the car and took a photo of the tachometer. The following meeting, at Kent, both John Morton and Frank Monise blew engines in practice trying to turn them to 9000+rpm!! If I am not mistaken, Morton blew three engines that weekend. We told them, "Look, I missed a shift- it's just that simple!". But oh no. Scoville had figured some way to turn those things high - which was silly - we had our rev limit set at 7800rpm, there was just no power above that point. 



Dan Parkinson  

Frank Monise


The Competition

Jack enjoyed some excellent competition during his Datsun racing years. From the 4 times National Champion, Dan Parkinson and the ex-Lotus campaigner Frank Monise, to the then new talent of John Morton.

JS- Dan Parkinson, Frank Monise and John Morton were the three in particular who always fielded a competitive car. Monise and Morton of course drove for Peter Brock, and Dan Parkinson's car was prepared by his father EB Parkinson. Unlike the big dollar teams of BRE on the West Coast and Bob Sharp in the East, Dan enjoyed the same status as me in that he was supported by Datsun, through parts and expenses, although we did not receive any development funding.

Dan's father was an ingenious technician. At one time he had incinerators in his back yard in Burbank, Southern California, to burn garbage. When those were banned, EB would use the incinerators as his muffler for his backyard dyno and the swimming pool was his cooling tower!

On the track, the June Sprints Race at Road America stands out in particular. This is one of the most beautiful courses I have ever seen, in both layout and preparation, with smooth challenging turns of all shapes and descriptions - some uphill, some downhill, around the hill and through the bridge. We qualified 17th and finished 9th out of 75 starters in A,B,C & D Production.  That week both Bob Sharp and Dan Parkinson had stayed in the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin area prior to the race for publicity  work including radio and television. Dan was something of a jokester and he loved to needle people.He had convinced Bob that I was the meanest, nastiest and dirtiest driver in the world and that he should never, ever challenge me on the racecourse. It was kind of fun when Bob came up to me just prior to starting the race. He was ahead of me on the grid, and he said "If I get in your way and I see you coming, I will get out of your way - but don't hit me!"

The same weekend, Gloria towed the other car to Kent, some 2500 miles away. We flew back from Road America Saturday night to race at Kent on Sunday. Unfortunately the car dropped a drain plug in practice and the engine fried. Although I felt the water run out on Turn 3a and I shut off the engine immediately, back at the pits you could slide a 50 cent piece under the warped cylinder head - It would have been an easy win with all the competition 2500 miles away, but my dream of two nationals that far apart in one weekend had gone!



Nissan/Datsun Support - Mr Katayama

JS- It is important to remember that Mr Katayama was the man primarily responsible for Datsun being active in racing in the USA. He was a racing enthusiast in the first degree. In addition, Lee Wiley, the National Service Manager and number two man at Gardena, was also very interested in racing. Datsun was very supportive all the way round, in that Mr Katayama frequently appeared in races in Southern California.

Nissan never neglected us if we needed parts and never neglected our expenses. However, to Datsun's chagrin we did not accept their red white and blue race schemes. We went with the yellow car, which was a Triumph Spitfire yellow, with the black racing stripes. This was our signature. 

(Note - see how Datsun even changed the color of Jack's car in the 'Datsun sweeps the field at Daytona' ad to cream with red and blue stripes!).

Although Datsun ran the Daytona ad, the Riverside ad (also featuring a disguised Scoville roadster) and the 'Driving the Ragged Edge' movie, I am disppointed that Datsun did not publicise their racing success like they did in the early days. I still believe that you race cars on a Sunday and sell them on a Monday and to do that you need to race a car that looks like the product you are selling.  



Datsun Tent, ARRC 1969

Two #61 cars! - see text

The Podium


The 1969 ARRC

Jack will be best remembered for his victory in D Production at the 1969 American Road Race of Champions at Daytona. Most pundits expected a BRE win for Monise or Morton and that is also where Nissan's expectations lay. Jack however changed all that.

JS- I was very disappointed with our qualifying in Daytona. We went down with an engine that Vern had prepared that had between 12 and 14 horsepower more than the engine we ultimately ran. Unfortunately the power was clear at the top end, with no mid-range torque. In qualifying we entered the banking at 7000rpm and it would stay there all the way through the banking. When we put the other cylinder head on that engine we entered the banking at 7000rpm and came out at 7500rpm. That modification and the addition of the panhard bar were the only changes made for Daytona.

We did get in trouble with the tech inspection crew before the race. They thought that we were doing something wrong in that we took both the C Production and the D Production car to Daytona but we were not sure which one to race. We could have changed the carbs and cylinder head and raced either in D Production. Somewhere along the line the C Production car was numbered '6' and the D Production car '16'. If I remember right we actually went down to practice with both numbered '61'. We ultimately peeled the '1' off one car and switched the numbers on the other. That was when they impounded both cars, measured the track, measured the frame and really got nasty with us.

We qualified 5th on the grid, with Monise 1st, Morton 2nd, Parkinson 3rd, Fuerstenau 4th and Bob Sharp right behind us.

Monise led the first lap at Daytona and I was second. Morton was third when I got the wrong gear on the second lap, (fortunately I got a wrong gear rather than missed one) and that is when Morton got around me going out onto the back straight away. We got onto turn two of that lap and that is when Morton blew the valve cover gasket out and span in his own oil. Monise also went out in the early laps leaving me to lead and eventually win the race.

After the race it turned out that the Florida State Department of Agriculture had random tested our gasoline. They initially stated that the fuel we and another team were using was Avgas 110/130. They did not like the color of our gas which was light green. Dick Roberts (Head of Datsun Competition) commissioned a fuel analysis and it turned out that our fuel was identical to the gas they tested in California, which was Chevron Custom Supreme - it was super gas, consistently 108 octane that you could get from the pump! It was really great stuff! When the announcement came that Datsun was doing a chemical analysis everyone started scrambling. **** **** was downtown on someone's chassis dyno trying to get the timing set to run on legal fuel (Laughs). He was not the only one - there was a whole bunch of them!

In the February following the championhip win we were invited as guests of Nissan to go to New Orleans for the SCCA National Convention. At that time we were presented the 'Chrome Can Award' (the film about about the 1969 ARRC runoffs called 'Driving the Ragged Edge') and an extraordinary trophy with swans and a turtle, very symbolic of the Japanese. It is a treasured trophy and something I am very proud of...


Interview edited by Rob Beddington. From an interview by Michael Spreadbury on behalf of the Classic Fairlady Roadster Register.