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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Samurai race car story from banned to be hero

Hino Motors, Ltd., or more popularly known as Hino, it's a Japanese multinational company that produces diesel engines, trucks, and buses. The company is headquartered in Hino, Tokyo, and founded in 1942. And since 1973, the company has been transformed into one of the major manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty trucks in Japan and is part of Toyota today.
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai never be raced at the 1967 Japanese Grand Prix, after was disqualified and banned of the race event by the JAF due to it did not have sufficient ground clearance. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rV8jhS)
Although known as a truck maker, it turns out that this Japanese manufacturer had produced passenger car models in the 1960s. (See Hino's pasengger car). Besides that, in the same era it turned out that this Japanese manufacturer also ever had involved in the racing world with a race car called the Hino (BRE) Samurai.

The racing car was the result of a collaboration between the Hino Motors with the Brock Racing Enterprise (BRE) owned by Peter Brock, the famous American racing car designer. He was also known as the man who designed the legendary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe.
Pete Brock while driving the Hino Coupe 1300cc and won the 1966 Times-Mirror race at Riverside Raceway. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rV8jhS)
Before Brock started his career in the Japanese auto racing with Hino (BRE) Samurai, turn out he ever had great success while driving the Hino Coupe 1300cc and won the 1966 Times-Mirror race at Riverside Raceway along with another Hino's BREs finished in second.
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai's timeless front-end still looks good today. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rV8jhS)
As quoted from mycarquest, this unique racing car was created by BRE with the help of the great Troutman-Barnes team. The sleek and gorgeous hand made, low drag aluminium body ensured the Samurai made the most of its rather small 1.3L GR100 4-cylinder Contessa powerplant. Nevertheless the twin Mikuni-Solex carbureted unit still belted out a healthy 110 horsepower, then an amazing figure for such a small engine.

The power was handled through a bespoke 5-speed manual transmission. As a result of BRE’s clever engineering and packaging, the finished car only weighed a lively 530 kg (1170 lbs). Considering these figures, the car looked to be a worthy competitor in the JAF 1300 class.
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai race car initially used a 1,300 cc 4-cylinder Hino Contessa engine. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rV8jhS)
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai pictured on
the November 1967 cover of Road&
Track
magazine.
(Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rV8jhS)
Initially, Brock had a vision to enter this car in the 1967 Japanese Grand Prix and even aspired brought it to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately, the Japan Automobile Federetion (JAF) as the race organizers later disqualified the car due to it did not have sufficient ground clearance. Despite the failed venture, BRE’s lovechild got its fair share of attention not long after being denied its racing career, by featured on the November 1967 cover of Road & Track magazine. 

The project was eventually disbanded then Pete Brock contracted by Toyota to developed a mid-engined 2L Toyota's prototype, and soon the Nissan Fairlady Z also got his hand touche. The Hino Samurai race car was later known to be bought by Terry Hall and brought it to America to race in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing event. At the American sports car club racing championship, the Samurai raced in Class C Sports Racing, but unfamiliarity with its mechanicals lead to setup issues and poor reliability. 

After that Hall sold the Samurai to former Porsche class competitor Ron Bianchi. At this time, the side windows of the car had also been removed, and the nosecone suffered minor damage from the impact. Bianchi also faced the same problem as the previous owner, due to ignorance of the Samurai's engine ins and outs.
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai built with a tubular frame to support a highly aerodynamic aluminum body. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2ZizsPG)
Many mechanics come and go to handle this race car but the results were none, and always has the mechanical mishaps happened to it. Finally, Bianchi consider forming his own team whose members consisted of those who had reliable expertise. The team members are John Hamilton known as a former Mercedes-Benz motorsport development engineer, Paul Albertson who had been part of Cosworth's race engine department, Paul White known as tire specialist.

Together with the team members then Ron Bianchi tried to give a new breath to the Hino Samurai, but it was not easy. In one race the brakes failed, then the next time out an oil line sprung a leak, killing the engine, then a new throttle cable snagged, over-revving the engine and grenading it yet again. Problems keep coming, as if this racing car remains wild and difficult to understand.
The 530kg-weighted Hino (BRE) Samurai race car mounts its 110 hp engine in the mid-rear position. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rTO5oH)
Finally with the help of a friend specialized in cam construction finally solved the engine issues, then Paul Albertson was finally able to safely extract the desired power. With the engine sorted, and John Hamilton having resolved the braking problems.
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai's movable ring airfoil predated Ferrari's F40 by over 20 years. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3blIkK7)
While for the car's handling problems, Bianchi then contacted Red LeGrande, who was known to be involved in the chassis fabrication process of the Samurai commissioned of Peter Brock. Then he discussing with Red to solved matters, and decided to completely remodel the rear suspension. After that Paul White adjusted the tire compounds and pressures accordingly. 
 
After all the team members have managed to solve their respective problems, the Samurai began to record reliable times in competitive times. On another occasion, the race car comfortably won its class. Over the next four years, the Samurai never be finished lower than fifth.
1967 Hino (BRE) Samurai race car waiting in the paddock, waiting to win another race. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3rV8jhS)
And when Ron Bianchi decided to retire from racing, Samurai managed to give him and the team about 25 winning trophies, 12 awards for second place and 2 trophies of the club racing championship. After that the Hino (BRE) Samurai idled in the garage, at that time Bianchi started receiving calls from its creator. Peter Brock had learned of Ron's ownership of the Samurai, and wanted to buy it back. In several discussions, they finally agreed on the price of the car.
However, Brock didn't hold onto the car for long, because he later sold it to Satoshi Ezawa, a wealthy Japanese collector. As if it wasn't enough to have Hino (BRE) Samurai physically, the last owner of the Hino Samurai having learned of Bianchi's adventures with the Samurai, he wanted to know in minute detail just how Ron has turned the aborted project into a proven race winner. His curiosity even led him to visit Ron Bianchi in person. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | BRE | MYCARREQUEST | DRIVETRIBE ]
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