Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Panties in a Twist: Alfa Guys Debate the '71 Trans Am

Some excitement lately over at this thread on the Alfa Bulletin Board. A fine chance to watch some Alfisti debate the finer points of the '71 Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge, and rehash the coulda/shoulda/woulda of 35 years ago. I'm into it.

A quick recap: At the final Trans-Am race of 1971 at Laguna Seca, John Morton finished 2nd on track to Horst Kwech's Alfa GTV, which was later disqualified by the SCCA for racing with an oversized fuel tank. The BRE Datsun team, and specifically driver John Morton, went down in the record books as the 1971 Trans-Am 2.5 Liter Champions.

I really suggest reading this thread, as it's loaded with interesting historical info pertaining to this age-old Trans-Am debate. There are some truly knowledgeable and objective participants who can see both sides of the story.

Now, I love Alfas, and I love Datsuns too. At home my '72 BRE 510 is parked proudly next to dad's '71 Alfa GTV 1750. But I must admit I get a kick out of a few delusional Alfisti trying to knock down the efforts of Peter Brock and the BRE racing team.

Delusional? Think I'm being a bit harsh? Let's take this gem from the original poster:

"Every dog has it's day, I can see a brighter future for Alfa than Nissan."

Um....yeah...whatever you say, buddy. Actually, it warms my heart to know there's someone who actually believes that.

That said, here are some truths:

1) A stock Datsun 510 isn't even 1/3 of the car that a stock '71 Alfa GTV is. I know. I have them both. The stock Alfa shames the stock Datsun in the same way that a Z06 might compare to a Chevy Aveo.

2) The Alfa GTV of Horst Kwech DID beat the Datsun 510 of John Morton on track in the '71 Laguna Seca Trans-Am. His fuel tank didn't meet SCCA rules, the SCCA impounded the car and disqualified it on this technicality.

3) Peter Brock and his team at BRE built spectacular race cars, and any comments made to belittle his efforts are truly uninformed. (Yes, I'm referencing you, the AlfaBB commenter who noted that "Peter Brock has always been overrated". You know who you are). The Alfa guys (Horst Kwech and others) also built great race cars and were fierce competitors, which is what made the T/A 2.5 Challenge so damn interesting!

4) Winners cheat. The Alfas cheated. The Datsuns probably cheated too. Cheating in SCCA is nothing new, wasn't new in 1971, is still going on in 2008. Debate all you want. If you're not bending the rules, you're not trying hard enough!

To paraphrase one level-headed poster, being an 'Alfista' (or an enthusiast of any particular marque) should never preclude you from appreciating other cars. Variety is the salt of life. Enjoy it!

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