How BRE Got Its Stripes

Peter
By Peter Brock
Nov 19, 2021 | Datsun, BRE, Peter Brock | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2015 issue | Never miss an article

Story by Peter Brock • Photograph Courtesy Nissan

Peter Brock may be best known as an automotive designer who played a key role in the design of the Corvette Sting Ray and Cobra Daytona Coupes, but his real love has always been building and racing cars. His training as a graphic designer helped establish the looks of several well-known racing teams, including Shelby American and his own Brock Racing Enterprises effort. 

Back in late 1968, when we were fortunate enough to score the contract to develop and race Datsun’s hot little 2000 roadsters in the SCCA’s Southern Pacific Division, Japanese cars were almost invisible in the American market. Part of my proposal to the president of the Nissan Motor Corporation in Japan, in addition to making their 2000 a worthy competitor in D Production against the mighty Triumph team that had dominated that class of American sports car racing for several seasons, was to make the Datsun name highly visible to the general public and acceptable in a sport that had up to that time been dominated by cross-Atlantic marques. 

As the new guys on the grid, we had to stand out. And because WWII was not so far in the distant past, we also had to show Japan’s respect for America. I chose a bold red, white and blue “American” livery and accentuated it with speed in the form of stripes to match.  

When I promised visibility, I meant more than making the car instantly recognizable on track. It also needed to be an attractive target for the media shooters who supplied images to the motorsport magazines, which reached a far larger spectator group than that found at many SCCA races. Bold graphics, photographable from any angle, with large numbers were key. 

I’d used the twin stripes longitudinally on the GT350 and the team Cobras I’d designed for Shelby. I chose not to again use that livery, as it had become so identifiable with those cars. I knew something new was needed. 

Instead, I ran the stripes transversely across the hood, picking up the color on the hood. As the stripes continued down the front fenders, they took a dramatic break for the team identity: BRE Datsun. The lower portion of the stripes used a different color than the top. 

Over time, it was a natural progression to make the angle of the stripes a reverse of the windscreen angle on the 240Zs and 510s so subliminally they looked like an arrow shooting down the track. Another advantage of that livery was that it was reversible and adaptable to any set of colors that we might use in the future. 

The identity has been so successful for Nissan that we made it official with our BRE Tribute Vehicle program, licensing literally hundreds of Nissan racers around the world that still use these iconic BRE stripes today.

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Comments
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OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/10/20 4:48 p.m.

One of the most iconic liveries ever, still looks great.

_
_ Dork
3/10/20 6:09 p.m.

"Story by Peter Brock" 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/10/20 7:15 p.m.

In reply to _ :

You know that Peter writes a regular column for us over at Classic Motorsports, right? And the next issue has a piece where he explains the difference between the American-made Daytona coupe and the bodies built in Italy. 

_
_ Dork
3/10/20 7:23 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I did not. I mostly stay here because I thought just about everything in GRM was CM. Looks like I'll have to float (like a stinky fart) over there and annoy y'all. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/10/20 7:33 p.m.
Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
3/10/20 8:28 p.m.

Can you imagine Brock's thoughts on Pantera?  (The band?)

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/10/20 8:35 p.m.

I'll have to break out my new copy of CM. I recently subscribed when the huge cluster of car magazines closed.

Join me, support GRM!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/10/20 9:05 p.m.

In reply to Floating Doc :

Thank you, thank you. 

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/10/20 9:39 p.m.

Is it possible to be 57 years old and a fanboi? If so, that describes my feelings for Peter Brock. Kudos GRM, for bringing this great aboard.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
3/11/20 7:43 p.m.

There's just something about that boxy little grocery getter that translates so well to the race track. How they do that ?

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/12/20 9:03 a.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

I have no idea, but I agree.

Something about the lines and the shape just feel right.

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
3/12/20 9:23 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to _ :

You know that Peter writes a regular column for us over at Classic Motorsports, right?

Nope.  I did *NOT* know that, either.  Hmmmm....you have my attention.

 

Some reading for you:

Peter Brock on turning the 240Z into a champ.

Peter Brock on his first car.

Peter Brock on the Pantera. (The car, not the band.)

Peter Brock on the Triumph TR250K.

Peter Brock on Old Yeller II.

Peter Brock on the Mercedes-Benz T80 land speed car.

And you know the drill: read, like, share. (And look for more to be posted, too.)

You rock.  I'll be reading all of those.  The Old Yeller will be fun to read about because the Mrs and I just saw one of the Old Yeller cars while rewatching the Elvis movie 'Spinout'

 

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/12/20 9:38 a.m.

I'm a bit weird, but I always liked Brock's Hino Contessa (not that I dislike the Datsuns, of course) :

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/12/20 12:03 p.m.

Nothing wrong with some Hino love. 

slowbird
slowbird Dork
3/12/20 12:06 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I just assumed it was someone else with the same name. Cool!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/12/20 12:08 p.m.

While there are (or, were, sadly) two Peter Brocks in motorsports, the one who writes for us is the one who penned the C3 Corvette, worked with Shelby, and ran the famed Datsun program. 

Satch_Carlson
Satch_Carlson New Reader
3/12/20 12:59 p.m.

@Kreb asks, "Is it possible to be 57 years old and a fanboi? If so, that describes my feelings for Peter Brock."

Just 57? Oh, you child! There is no age limit to admiration for one of the legendary heroes of American racing. (I should know!) Ask him about discovering the effect of the front spoiler on the 240Z sometime....

 

Matt
Matt Reader
3/12/20 1:23 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to _ :

You know that Peter writes a regular column for us over at Classic Motorsports, right? And the next issue has a piece where he explains the difference between the American-made Daytona coupe and the bodies built in Italy. 

Editorial Director, Grassroots Motorsports & Classic Motorsports

I DID I DID!!  im going to get that copy post-haste.  For those who don't know, there is an absolutely fascinating story tied to the first Daytona Cobra, not just why it was faster than the Italian built cars but more - it was locked up in a storage unit, in a spinsters garage, Hollywood mogul Phil Specter, Bonneville, Murder...its almost too much to believe.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
2/17/21 1:45 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Peter Brock on his first car.

While a lot of us know about the Cobras and even his first car, how many know about his second car, a '46 Ford convertible full custom with the probably first application of what would be known as the Cobra stripes:

Quite the different look to what other paint jobs were being done at the time. I do believe this was the second iteration of the car, too, with the original finish being red and a more stock looking nose. I hadn't seen it like that in magazines, but did see the striped version in old magazines growing up.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
2/17/21 2:12 p.m.

Digging some BRE at Road America.


Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
2/17/21 2:14 p.m.

Digging the guys at JCCS.   Super friendly and approachable.  

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/17/21 2:48 p.m.
_ said:

"Story by Peter Brock" 

Satch Carlson posts in a thread started by Peter Brock?

Damn. When does Csaba Csare show up?

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
2/17/21 4:23 p.m.

I've had the pleasure of talking to Peter Brock on several occasions and always find him to be extremely down to earth as well as passionate.

ZOO (Forum Supporter)
ZOO (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/19/21 8:02 a.m.

A 510 is just so right in so many ways . . .

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/19/21 1:28 p.m.

Speaking of supporting the GRM/CMS  would GRM/CMS consider offering a 5 year / $100 and we get both magazines?  I do the 10 year things with GRM I would prefer a 5 year and get both. 

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
2/19/21 1:40 p.m.

On another forum I frequent, one of the posters recently bough this BRE replica and is taking it to the track.

This car has racing log books back to 1979 and has been raced by a number of amateurs in SCCA, CSRG, HMSA, HSR, and SVRA. It is a replica of BRE driver Mike Down's #35 car (before the number change to #85 for "guest" driver Bobby Allison, which is the livery that remains on the original car with Adam Carolla now).

 

Man, I love these cars. Big influence on me back in the day, even if I did gravitate to the BMW 2002 instead.

jharry3
jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/1/21 1:03 p.m.

I have a book called The Stainless Steel Carrot by John Morton written about racing the BRE Datsuns for Peter Brock.    

twentyover
twentyover Dork
6/2/21 9:12 a.m.
dean1484 said:

Speaking of supporting the GRM/CMS  would GRM/CMS consider offering a 5 year / $100 and we get both magazines?  I do the 10 year things with GRM I would prefer a 5 year and get both. 

Two years or so back my 10 year subby to both magazines ran out. I called (I forget who, and the number) and asked if I could re-up for another 10 on both magazines. The subscription desk accomodated my request and I'm now good probably until they plant me

carpeforza
carpeforza New Reader
11/19/21 8:57 a.m.

Don't forget how the BRE Datsun 240Z and Roadster got their numbers. The factory cars are always 23 and 46. In Japanese, 2 is pronounced "Ni" and 3 is pronounced "San", so 23 is Ni-San (Nissan is the parent company of Datsun). Then it's multiples of that for subsequent cars. We had to unabashedly steal the livery for our 260Z LeMons/Chumpcar.  

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