Peter Brock and BRE (Brock Racing Enterprise)
Pete Brock has one of the most interesting tales to tell in the history of performance automobiles,
one that has more twists and turns than Leguna Seca.
His first interest in automobiles came when he was just 11 years old and living in Sausilito
California. Pete grew up in the same neighborhood that legendary race builders Bill Breeze and
Nade Bourgeault had their shops in. While in high school in Menlo Park, Ca. Pete bought his first
car, a MG-TC. This car was dropped in favor of a custom 46 Ford that Brock converted to take a
After high school he went to Stanford, but couldn't focus on the tasks at hand
there. Pete had cars on the brain. He left Stanford, headed back to LA and tried to enroll at the
Art Center College, a place where many a car designer had honed his pen strokes. Pete had no portfolio
of car drawings, so they initially rejected his application. Pete hurriedly went and got some
paper and set about drawing a whole collection of hot rod sketches. He went back a day or so
later and was accepted. Five semesters later, his family stopped paying his bills, and his tuition.
Pete needed a job fast. Fortunately Pete had caught the eye of Chuck Jordan, then assistant to
Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell of GM. Brock called Jordan looking for a job, and got an invitation
to come meet Bill Mitchell in Detroit. Brock, at the age of 19, was hired on the spot and went to
work in GM's design studios.
Brock's time at GM was well spent, working on cars that would eventually become the Corvair, and
the Corvette Stingray . If fact Brock says that he, and designer Chuck Poehlmann, did the vast
majority of the work on the design of the Stingray, and that its based on his original design
sketches of 1957.
1965 Stingray Racer
After two years, Brock left GM after losing interest in what they were doing.
GM, at the time, was in their anti racing period, and performance cars were not really on their
agenda. Brock went back to California, and got a job working for Old Yaller racer Max Balchowsky.
One of Max's drivers at the time was a fellow by the name of Carroll Shelby.
Brock was into racing on his time too. He had bought a Le Mans Cooper racecar, and spent all his
spare time rebuilding it. He began racing it at Palm Springs in the SCCA southern pacific division,
then he bought a Mark II Lotus XI and finished second one season in that car. Pete drifted from job
to job, until one day his path crossed with Carol Shelby again, who hired him in 1962 to run his
new Performance driving school at Riverside raceway.
He was there when Shelby designed the original Cobras, and did the first testing on them at Riverside.
Brock, meanwhile was designing the Cobra Daytona Coupe, one of the most beautiful American racing
cars ever, a car that would go on to win the US road racing championship and the World Manufacturers
championship. At the same time as the Cobra was having success, Pete had gone to Italy to help
design a car that would eventually become the Ghia De Tomaso.
Cobra Daytona Coupe
Brock left Shelby in 1965 after the company came bogged down under the corporate influence of
Ford. He then did a variety of jobs, including setting up his own enterprise Brock Racing Enterprises
BRE's first task was developing the Hino Contessa for Californian Club racing and also designed a
prototype for Triumph, the TR250K.
The Pete Brock designed Triumph TR250K at Sebring - 1968
Brock then developed a relationship with Toyota, designing the Toyota JP6 protoype
, with help from Chassis designer Trevor Harris, and builder Bruce Burness. Brock was also
contracted to develop Toyotas new 2000GT for the SCCA's 1968 D production season.
Around the same time as Brock was signing with Toyota, Carol Shelby lost his contract with Ford,
and bought the distributorship rights for the entire East Coast from Toyota. As a perk in the deal,
Shelby convinced Toyota to let him have the 2000GT for racing. Brock was out, and was he ever furious!
The best way to get back at Shelby and Toyota was to beat him on the track, and the best way to do
that was with one of Toyotas archrival's cars.
Brock approached the marketing/advertising manager and the man then in charge of national parts
distribution (who knew nothing about racing ...just happened to have the responsibility for
dealing with racers because that's where they went for parts) to request support in building
a team of Datsun 2000 roadsters.
Nissan USA execs turned him down, saying the roadster wasn't good enough for that type of
competition, and that they wouldn't risk embarrassing the company. Brock countered that he could
make a winning car out of anything, even the 2000 roadster. Nissan USA sill said no.
Brock called an old friend at Hino back in Japan who contacted the Chairman of Nissan
and convinced him that Brock was worth the chance. Nissan Japan agreed to Brocks request and
sent him 2 roadsters.
The Datsun years
Brock got the cars and cash, and sets about building a racing team with the new 2000 roadsters.
Art Ohleri built the engines, Trevor Harris looked after the extensive chassis modifications,
and Frank Monise and Pete's old friend from Shelby, John Morton looked after the driving duties.
It was the right combination of people at the right time in the right place. Monise, Morton and
the BRE team won the 1968 SCCA Pacific Coast D Prod title.
Support for the team was handed over to Nissan USA, much to the dislike of Dick Roberts, who
had no love for Pete Brock after Brock had gone over his head to get the original roadsters. This
is when another ingredient in the BRE Datsun success story was added, Nissan USA President Yutaka
Katayama, or "Mr. K".
Mr. K loved racing, he had done it ever since he was a youngster in Japan. He was even the founder
of the Japanese version of the SCCA, the Sports Car Club of Japan. If you wanted to race, Mr. K was
the guy you wanted at your back. Brock and Katayama began a mutual respect society. Brock didn't
race for Nissan, he raced for Mr. K.
Monise and Morton took the 1969 SCCA D prod title again for BRE. Mr. K was ecstatic. Datsuns were
winning on both coasts now, with Bob Sharp doing his duty on the East Coast.
Mr. K new what was coming for 1970, the 240z, and He and Brock wanted to be ready for it. The 240z
Wasn't going to arrive in time for the new season, so John Morton and the BRE roadster were entered
in the 1970 C production series, as a way of maintaining Datsuns position in the class the new 240z
would compete in. Morton was now going head to head with Porsche 914's and Triumph TR6's, all in an
attempt to accumulate enough points to qualify for the SCCA runoffs, where BRE would switch to the
John Morton BRE 240Z
Morton won the race and the 240Z had its first victory. The roadster did all the hard work, and
rightfully is the car that probably should've earned the 1970 title. But it was a grand start for
the 240z, a win that would launch a ten year dynasty for the Z car in SCCA C production.
Meanwhile Sharp had won Datsun's first race with the 240Z a national at Lime Rock, Connecticut,
in 1970, in a car that had been damaged by a model sitting on its roof at the New York International
Auto Show. Sharp drove that car to consecutive C-Production title in 1972 and 1973, then in 1975.
The Z was back for 1971 and won the C production for John Morton and BRE, with Dan Parkinson driving
a second BRE team Z. The run-off line up had Morton, Parkinson, and Bob Sharp lined up side by side
on the front row. The 1971 season saw constant improvement in the 240z's, an improvement that would
start to show the weaknesses in the other cars in the field. The more the Z's pushed, the more the
Triumphs and Porsches broke.
After winning two consecutive titles, BRE left C production and the 240z to Bob Sharp, and moved
to the SCCA's new Trans Am 2.5 series in a very successful attempt to improve the market for Datsun
sedans. The demand for the 240z was so high by then that there was no way to justify throwing racing
money at a car that had a 6-month waiting list for buyers.
BRE's knowledge and expertise were thrown into the development of the Datsun 510, which Morton
took to two successive Trans Am titles, a series of wins that was so devastating, it actually
killed the series.
BRE would enter a Formula 5000 (Lotus chassis powered by a 5000cc Ford V8) in a couple of
Continental series events, before Morton crashed
in spectacular style in the rain at Watkins Glen. BRE also entered Datsun BRE 510's and a Nissan
"works" 240Z in the Baja off road race in '72 and 73 with unfavorable results. Brock had had a bit
of an obsession with the Baja and had put entries into it before.
Pete Brock disbanded BRE in early 1973 after Nissan pulled out of the Trans Am series. Nissan
gave the contract to race sedans to Don Devendorf and ex BRE employee John Knepp, who would go
on to make a champion of the B210 with their Electromotive racing team.
In the end, Brock Racing Enterprises most likely imploded from its own success and the ambition
of its teammates. Morton wanted bigger faster cars, the engine builders Floyd Link, John Caldwell
and Art Ohleri all went off to bigger successes. Trevor Harris, BRE's chassis designer, is still
considered one of the best race car designers of the last 40 years.
Pete would go on to design hang gliders and ultralight Aircraft, making innovations in that field
for the next dozen or so years. He continues to dabble in the experimental aspects of the
He now lives in the Seattle area, working as freelance writer for magazines, and with his wife,
as an acclaimed racing photographer.
The latest achievent of Pete is a modern version of Daytona Cobra Coupe. These "Brock Coupes" are
built in South Africa by Hi-Tech and distributed world wide by Superformance International. Over
100 have been produced and they are one of the best performing production cars in the world!
One of his current project is to build the "world's fastest 510". It will be powered by a 550