Tag Archives: Datsun

2011 Wings and Wheels

Let me try and explain why this event was by far my most favourite one.

Witzenberg Motor Club Gymkhana series competitors was invited to come and entertain the visitors at the 2011 Ysterplaat Wings and Wheels Air show. No results, no official racing etc. just pure fun, this meant we would have to take members of the press, media and radio personalities around the gymkhana course. We heard rumours of the event early in the year and started saving the old tyres, the best idea to date. A few off us decided to take leave for the Friday as the event was over two days. Friday morning early arriving at Ysterplaat was more or less the same as any other Gymkhana race, besides the fact that we were treated as VIP members as we were issued with security passes etc. We quickly found a space and started prepping the vehicles, for the Friday we had the Golf, Fox and Datsun and quickly sorted them out, it was such a relaxed atmosphere that I even had time to play around with springs and a few other bits, hell I even decided to test “Datto’s” steering wheel on the Datsun, the steering wheel just fitted out with the buttons “Datto’ will need, more of this later. After we had walked and learned the track, I was off to the rally teams, as this was my opportunity to get back what I have been putting into their sport over the last 3 years doing radio communication for them. Today I was going to sit in the suicide seat of these vehicles, come hi or low.

During drivers briefing the rules was explained, safety first and take as much media around the track as possible. What, are your serious, take as much media around the track as possible, Yes was the answer, ok, let me get this correct, does this mean we have unlimited runs, Yes was the answer again. Well that thought took the rest of drivers briefing to completely sunk in. Honestly I can’t remember what was said after that. We waited a while until the official go ahead was given from the organizers and we started lining up. The route was on a cement slap and only one corner was on tar, having had the opportunity in the past to compete on a cement surface, I knew it could be tricky, thus I opted to go out with one of our regular navigators first to get a feel for it. At this point we basically finished our run and got in line again. This went on and on for the rest of the day, Mike unfortunately had to leave to attend a work function which left the Fox standing around for Selina to abuse for the rest of the day, and me. He just asked us to keep the car in one piece and look after the tyres.

We continued to torture the vehicle around the route, Jan had his first taste of the Datsun, Selina went around in it, while I laughed myself silly while navigating for them, Selina had the poor car jerking around the track, Jan was to slow turning the steering wheel, etc. All this while we enjoyed the aircraft in the air, adding a nice distraction from the norm. The Fox went so many times around the track that the front rubber was busy disappearing, well Mike said we should look after the tyres, so I swapped the fronts with the rears, this would show him that we care, at least now we can get the new rubber in the front showing the same wear as the rears, and off we went. Jan also took the Fox around and Selina kept the car busy, to the end of the day I navigated a round for Selina and I started noticing the rear braking away slightly, the thought popped into my mind that today will be the day I’ll enjoy a FWD car. A few seconds later Selina and I swopped seats and I was behind the wheel of this FWD car, seeing that the first few corners was relative slow speed, I could only feel the back moving slightly, once we entered the fast corners the fun started, as you turned the steering wheel to enter a corner, you immediately had to counter steer to keep the nose in the correct direction, pure fun. This is what happens if you provide a bunch of super competitive people to give something back, the end result, everyone has fun.

I completely forgot about the rally teams. damn I missed my opportunity. Not yet, we heard they will be going out again, all in the bakkie and into the convey taking as thru the planes to the special stage. Here we were told to stand in line as the press gets first honours, man was I annoyed, bloody press, they had there opportunity throughout the day. Well we sat around watching the action as one after the other the press was going around, just as i thought our change is coming, the Army Uncle shut us down as the rally cars was making too much dust. Luckily this was only temporary. That was it, the bloody press had there order viagra online fun, while I was seriously not happy, but being a grown up, well sometimes, I was plotting my revenge. If the dust settles and the army uncle allow the cars to continue I’ll get my suicide seat.

I thought to myself, I’m a pretty outspoken person, I do not care which celebrity press person is in line, he will have to add his eggs in a basket to weight them against my 150+ hours of doing radio communication for these people. Then the call came, you can open the stage, and all the cars was occupied, Ashley Haigh-Smith retuning from the stage, he properly saw that I was about to open my own press conference, stopped at the start and showed me to come. I had to pinch myself, here I was going to go a on a special stage with one of the countries hot young talent. All strapped up and ready to start, sitting there waiting for the count down, I had a sense of fear, but this is what these rally drivers do best, drive on gravel. Off we went in the React A6 Toyota Corolla, thru the gears approaching a decently sharp 90, I thought to myself, Ashley it is time to brake, a few meters further, ok it’s too late, maybe it’s time to call a tow truck, if we were on tarmac we would have been fine in my opinion, but this being gravel no way are we going to make it, he got on the brakes hard, a few shifts down, on the brakes again, getting the car ready for his desired line, while on the brakes he applied throttle and he got us thru, these gravel tires is something else. The rest of the stage I had to remind myself to look up as I was concentrating on his foot work. What an experience.

The day ended with the Datsun destroying 2 semi’s and another two half way dead. The Fox on the other hand had chewed its way thru 4 slicks, at least the damage was the same on all 4 as I made pretty sure about that, I was told to look after them. On our way back, I met Mike half way home, he quickly went home after his function to collect 4 fresh slicks for the next day after I told him the news. At this stage we didn’t really bother about the amount off tyres we were using, the amount off fun and the feeling you get when you give something back outweighs the money for rubber, we would safe rubber next year.

Saturday morning arrived, again we were at the venue quite early, way too early for competitors who’s cars are all in order and know the route. We decided to walk thru all the stands and hangers while Ruan had to learn the track. Once we got back the pits was packed, a big part of the Gymkhana troops was visible between rally car, drifters, hotrods etc. We knew that the amount off runs was going to be limited, not like yesterday’s 25+. In the back off my mind I was quite happy as now there was other people to entertain and I could focus on the Rally special stage. Again I went to the teams, and this time round I told them to notify me when they will be going as I need to experience these road going gravel machines again. We had a few runs on the Gymkhana track, I even navigated for one of the cars from the Franschoek Motor Museum, I think it was some sort of a MG, and as you would have expected from a British car, it died.

The call come, I rallied the troops from Race-Tech and we left in convoy for the Rally Stage. Manie Amlay agreed to me on the special stage, he just had to take 1 or 2 of the media chaps around, while we were waiting I arranged with him that when it is my change, that he will first take Selina around, this left her with no time to think about the terror on the way, she just had to strap herself in the seat. Once all strapped in, off they went, on their return we were greeted with smiles, what a relief she made it and loved it. Next in line it was my turn, but I told Mike he must be standing ready once we return. We sat off on the slightly changed route, now a little longer, once we reached the first 90 Left, it was very apparent that we were in a N3 machine, this Toyota RunX needed more time to brake, but again, the tyres had a shocking amount of grip on the gravel. On arrival Mike was ready for his run, on return I could tell he was impressed. I also managed to secure a run for Corne with Manie, on her return she was blushing from ear to ear.

We returned to the gymkhana action, and to our amazement, the queue was shorter and we managed a few final runs on the route. Manie even asked me to navigate for him in the rally car, we completed 2 runs and it was very apparent that these machines is built for gravel and not tight corners on tarmac.

We ended the day on a high. I would just like to thank everyone involved in making this

event a reality, it is indeed very nice to give something back to the community and then a special thanks to Ashley and Manie for providing us with the opportunity to experience a rally car on a special stage.

Picture Gallery: 2011 Wings and Wheels

Hard work pays @ 5th Lions Vredendal Gymkhana

5th VredendalThe weeks preceding the event was very busy, especially in the home of the two Mathee brothers, we basically spend all our time between work, the garage, bed and Selina made sure we had enough coffee to keep us going. Mike played with a combination of different gearboxes, cams, etc. in the Fox. He either had way too much time on his hands or was determined to make the Fox a more competitive vehicle, I ran out of fingers counting the past 12 evenings he spend underneath that car.

After the Piketberg event, Mike and I decided that “Lil Datto” either needs a lot more rpm or a different differential ratio, as 1st gear was way too short for the straights and 2nd to dead. Between building my new race car “Datto LINK” I managed to source a very special ratio BMW E36 open differential. Luckily for me all the talk on the forums was correct when they stated that the E30 and E36 Medium case differentials use the same internals, this made building a custom ratio E30 Limited slip differential quite easy, poor “Datto” had to sacrifice his differential for the custom unit. Ruan and I spend time under the rear suspension of “Lil Datto” to get this new unit installed, the results was better than we expected, there is a big difference between theory and principle. “Lil Datto” was

so abused at the Piketberg gymkhana that we just had to double check every single suspension bolt, gave it a good rub with polishing cream and polish, at least the little car now looks as if it is only one colour.

A big thanks must go out to Johan Spies from Bergsig Motors 023 3412826 @ Worcester who extended an invitation to Pietie, Mike and myself to transport our vehicles to Vredendal and back, this meant we could drive thru to Vredendal without the worries of towing a vehicle and could have a nice and relaxing drive to Vredendal, the only drawback to this was the fact that everything had to be ready Wednesday evening as we had to take the Fox and Datsun to Worcester Thursday evening were they were loaded the Friday morning for their journey to Vredendal.

Saturday morning started with the usual, 6am wake up, get everything ready for the day. On arrival at the venue we were greeted with quite a surprising fog cover, something one of the locals told us is very uncommon this time of the year, well this was not going to stop us from getting everything ready for the fun to follow later in the day. Selina and Natasha was in charged off the gazebos while the boys kept themselves busy with preparing the vehicles. The usual documentation was finished and the weapon was put to good use learning the track. The use of the bicycle really aids in getting the route faster in your head.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 9th Overall

Herman and Mike Class F Datsun 1200Being on an Airfield, we were allowed to warm our tyres and drive train before a run, an opportunity I grasped with open arms as this would’ve been the first opportunity to get a feeling for the new differential with tight turns and hard acceleration. On the start line, looking at the first corner, it really looked very far and I knew we will be sitting on the limiter to the breaking point, we launched, what a surprise, it was must faster and the acceleration was much better than with the previous differential, but this was short leaved as we hit the limiter, which felt like just after the start, we went thru the 1st figure of 8 and on the entry changed to 2nd, this felt very nice as ‘Lil’ really accelerated hard to the next figure of 8, back to 1st and on the entry shifted to 2nd. Drifted the car into the slalom, once at the bottom, Mike quickly realised that I was

way too busy keeping the car on the racing line, he quickly changed the car back to 1st, all I had to do was time the clutch pedal. Entering the slalom, changed to 2nd, thru it and then a hard acceleration thru the last kink to the finish. This being Vredendal and the one course that I really like to test a cars handling and my own abilities, I had a nerves lift going thru the kink. At that point I forgot about the competition and set my own goals for the day as trying to flat foot “Lil” thru the kink.

Herman and Mike Class F Datsun 1200-1We ended the round with a 1:04.95. With the goal set, the 2nd round was all about flat footing “Lil” thru the kink, moving thru the route went as previous, only with me trying to change back to 1st coming out of the slalom, which was to slow, on our way back to the finish i almost got the feeling Mike was getting ready for the fact that his little brother is really going to tackle the kink and flat foot it, well he was quite right, I had my mind set at flying thru the kink on the limiter at 78km/h, and that was exactly what we did. Goal achieved for the weekend. Round 3 was almost exactly the same thing, how fast can we enter the kink and sit on the limiter to the end. We flow thru that thing, surprising more than one person with the superb handling and braking capabilities of “Lil Datto”. Only then I realised that the day was at an end, I must admit, Kobus Wilson was untouchable on this specific route, if only I started concentrating at driving the complete route and not only the kink, maybe just maybe I could have tried chasing him. The day ended with a 2nd in class position and 9th overall.

I even managed to get “Lil Datto” as the photo on an article on Motorsport South Africa’s website, follow the link to the article: http://www.motorsport.co.za/News/DisplayNewsItem.aspx?niid=11105

Mike Mathee and Pietie Erasmus in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 5th Overall

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Bjorn Venter and Jan van der Vyver in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 7th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 10th Overall

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Jan van der Vyver and Bjorn Venter in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 4th in Class D and 16th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 4th in Class F and 17th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class G Ford Focus ST– 3rd in Class G and 34th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda F1000 – 5th in Class F and 36th Overall

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Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 7th in Class D and 43rd Overall

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Thanks to all the sponsors, marshals for making this event the highlight on the calendar.

Slippery on Tarmac @ 10th Flamingo’s Langebaan Gymkhana

10th Flamingos Gymkhana 2011 RouteWork was frantic on the VW front within the camp. Power steering on the Golf and Fox was the only topic discussed, luckily for me Ruan returned back from his absent due to work commitments in Zambia, at least now I have someone to talk about building our two big project cars, but later more about that. Mike and Jan toyed with the idea of power steering on a VW Golf MK1 shell for a long time and finally decided that they had enough of trying to turn 7″ and 8″ slicks in anger, the time has come for power steering, Jan volunteered to take his motor and gearbox out to help the design process for the modifications, after allot of measurements they could start. Mike spend endless hours in front of the computer designing all the mounting brackets and hardware for the kit to work, after the positive feedback Jan provided after the 5th Fairbridge Mall Brackenfell Gymkhana where he used his newly installed power steering for the first time, Mike started with the Fox, having to make a few changes due to different donor racks, everything looked on track to have the Fox turning with ease at the Piketberg Gymkhana.

Since Ruan’s returned the two of us tried at every possible occasion to catch up on all the car and life related discussions that we missed out on the last two years. Seeing as his car is the one that started this whole idea of racing was standing on blocks half way stripped, there was no possibility for him to use it to compete, Mike was generous enough to allow him to use “Lil Datto” to have some fun with us. Having a set of extra rims and slicks he no longer was going to use on the new and improved Escort, he had there PCD changed for use on “Lil Datto”, this however meant the two off us had some work to do to use these wheels on the “Lil”. The amount I extended the track on the car makes it difficult to use wheels with almost no offset. At the end of the day we had to cut a little more out of the front part of the fenders to get them turning to the maximum at full down travel.

Selina unfortunately injured her back on Friday and was unable to compete, every time I got to the gazebo I could see the pure frustration on her face, sitting and watching everyone else compete was getting the better of her. A few physio sessions later and she will be able to compete at the next event.

Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 15th Overall

23F Herman and Mike Mathee (2)_0.jpgMy track record at all the events that I participated at Flamingo’s speak for themselves, this isn’t my favourite venue and for some or other reason I just can’t do to good here, maybe it is the surface, slicks not working or just pure driver errors like hurting my arm and then driving over tyres, route errors, I don’t know. This particular route had in everything that I love in a route, fast flowing sections into slow and technical corners etc., a little bit of slow and fast sections is always nice. The route was covered with a new layer of asphalt, something we all looked forward to, as the old asphalt was prone to very high tyre wear. The first few cars onto the route posted some very good times, but from about the 5th car we started seeing the asphalt breaking up and getting the characteristics of a gravel road. As Pietie was only coming thru later on the day I had to navigate for Mike, his starting position is 10 and right from the get go, we noticed that the route had no whatsoever grip. This had me going for a while as “Lil Datto” is quite tail happy exiting a corner when stepping on the gas to much, with the gravel conditions this was either going to be a lot of fun or a huge frustration.

The 1st round went well considering the grip levels, the time was in line with the other fast class F runners, knowing there is huge potential for improvement as the run was very conservative to get a feel for it. Ruan went out with me next to him for his first time this year and also his first time with “Lil”, I must say with a little encouragement from my side he really started driving the car as a RWD should be driven, tight lines with the rear on the border of stepping out. Standing in the line for the start, me and Mike had a discussion around keeping the lines tight to get the times lower. Pulling away and on the route everything went well with Mike keeping me in line very nicely, the rear shifting only marginally from time to time, keeping everything under control and what felt quite fast, then all of a sudden I made a mistake entering a left hander to wide and all hell broke loose when I shifted

to second not realising I was off the clear line starting to form. Once the clutch pedal was completely released and my right foot totally down on the fuel pedal the rear stepped out at which was around 60km/h, Mike shouting all sorts of things at me that sounded quite strange, as he was sitting in the suicide seat it probably looked rather bad from his viewing point as we were approaching a tyre barrier on the right. Luckily I just kept my foot planted in a desperate effort to get the “Lil” under control, once this was done we over shot the braking point by at least 2m, with a combination of a poor man’s ABS braking, Mike on the handbrake we made it, a little wide but safe, the video footage was going to be interesting.

IMG_0228_0.JPGSeeing that the route was cleaning and a racing line was forming on the gravel, times started coming down, as we posted a time 2seconds faster than the first run. We were allowed a fourth run on the day, I was lying in fourth at the end of round 3. We went out not really trying to post a even better time, just wanted to drive the car to its limits as fast as we and the route would allow; and this is exactly what happened, we posted the second fastest time for class F for the day and brought “Lil Datto” home in 2nd position for the day with Ruan marginally behind me in 3rd. I must say he really adopted quit fast to the lesser power levels of “Lil” compared to his Escort. This was the best day of racing this year, hopefully the rest of the events can also compare to this memorable event.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 10th Overall

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Mike Mathee and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 11th Overall

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Ruan Reynders and Herman Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 3rd in Class F and 16th Overall

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Pietie Erasmus and Mike Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 3rd in Class D and 21st Overall

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Rudolf Marais and Mike Mathee in Class F Mazda 616 – 6th in Class F

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Confusion @ 2nd Weskus Mall Gymkhana

 

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The week leading up to the event was spent under “Lil Datto” front suspension, having taken it completely apart, to widen the track more. Some interesting male/female extension pieces was machined to allow for further adjustment of the track. The original pieces was on their limits and didn’t allow for more adjustment, the steering arms, was adjusted to use only 10mm of thread, which isn’t considered to be very safe. But from time to time these extreme measure are needed to test a theory in the practical world in order to make the decision if it is worthwhile to spend money on the modification, luckily for me this proved to be a huge success and I went ahead. The end result was a front end which is +- 85mm wider per side.

Another early morning start at 04:00am, packed the cool bags, attached the race vehicles and off we were at 05:15. On arrival at Weskus Mall at 07:00 we immediately started with swapping tyres, adjusting the suspensions and getting everything in place ready for the action to start. Went thru documentation and scrutineering; then the mega task of learning the route started, the itself not that difficult, but the venue with all the little bushes making it very confusing. Once we started with the learning of the route we had absolutely no rest what so ever. Being the most intimidating venue that we have come across in Gymkhana to date, the rest of the season can only be easier. This venue is so bad, I bought myself a video camera, maybe some previewing of the venue would help in the future.

Mike Mathee and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 1st in Class D and 13th Overall

10D Mike and Herman Mathee - VW Fox (1)_0.jpgAt 10:30 the action started with the first car on the line. Having to

navigate for 6 different entries on the day, the first outing is always the most important, my nerves was shattered and in the back of my mind I was struggling to keep the doubt under control as I was very uncomfortable with the route. Mike was the poor soul that was first on my list, placing the VW Fox on the line, we set off and all of a sudden the doubt cleared and we navigated thru the route with no navigation errors. On his first run he had to select reverse as his incoming line to a hairpin corners was completely off, something that I think was a first for me. Selina found it very difficult to remember the route thru the 30+ identical looking bushes, hopefully being the last time we compete at the venue this year, we can only looking forward to the other venues with their own challenges. The day continued with a straight battle between Mike and Jan for Class D honours, at the end of the day, the battle was decided with a very quick time from Mike on his last run which secured the title for the day. Hopefully on the next event Mike’s regular navigator will be back and for filling his duties next to my brother, as I really do feel additional concern in navigating for my brother and Jan in the same class when they are this competitive.

Jan van der Vyver’s view:
Jan van der Vyver and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Golf 1.4i – 2nd in Class D and 14th Overall

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Herman Mathee and Mike Mathee in Class F Datsun 1200 – 2nd in Class F and 12th Overall

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Starting the first round in “Lil Datto” at 5000rpm was a complete nightmare, as the vehicle launched hard and then all of a sudden the revs fell and I had to sit there and wait for it to pick up again; SU’s your days are numbered, going thru the first few corners I could feel something isn’t 100% correct, but once we got to the very technical side of things these concerns was highlighted, the front end felt slow to accept input. We continued thru the route and was the only vehicle in class F to have a clean run thru the route after the first round. Still trying to figure out what was causing the lack of response and front end grip we launched again for the 2nd round, with the revs higher and a little longer on the clutch it was much better. Having decided that we should drive much tighter lines and not overdrive the vehicle we swept thru the corners to stop at the finish line a full 3sec faster than before. Very pleased with this time, we came to the conclusion that the car really does not like to be overdriven and forget about the front end. The 3rd round I was very confident and determined to finish the day with a sub 1min 21sec time, this over confidence soon became apparent as I skipped a part of the course and had to turn around to correct it. Not very pleased with this I set off to have a little fun and practising my handbrake cornering, going thru a ditch and losing 1 bar of air pressure in the one rear wheel was a result of this. After the event when torqueing the wheel nuts on the street wheels, we realised that the front wheels had allot of play on, after inspection it became apparent that the front track rod bushes wasn’t tightened enough, causing the spongy feeling and lack of response.

Never the less, a very fun filled and enjoyable outing and one that will be with me for a very long time seeing that a made a big driving error and need to concentrate on it to rectify it, Lesson of the day: Listen to your navigator, it is there role next to you to keep you on route.

Selina Botes and Herman Mathee in Class D VW Fox 1.4i – 7th in Class D

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