73 “Col. Franklin & Dave McDowell” 1968 Datsun Fairlady

Fall 2019 — Andy calls Mike, “I think this might be a real racecar?”

Another one with serious history? And so the journey continues…

So Mike went to Ohio to meet Dave McDowell and pick up a car,

In the 1960’s Col. George Franklin, a retired WWII Fighter pilot races a MGA because racing is the closest thing he can find to flying fighter planes. A new car is beginning to show promise in his division and looks quite formidable, the Datsun Roadster. In 1968, he was convinced by his friend Jim Fitzgerald to purchase a Datsun Fairlady from Macon Datsun in Georgia.

The #73 Col Franklin/David McDowell Fairlady has run SCCA since 1969 and has gone to the runoffs 6 times between 1969 and 2002.

The first time to the runoffs was in 1969 when Col. Franklin took the car to Daytona as a D-production car where he finished 5th behind notable drivers Jack Scoville (1st- Datsun), Dan Parkinson (2nd- Datsun) and Bob Sharp (4th- Datsun).

In 1975, the Colonel decided it was time to retire from racing…and his son in law Dave McDowell acquired the car; it continued to run as a D-production roadster until 1983 when it was modified to compete in the competitive GT3 class.
As a GT3 car the #73 again went to the runoffs in 1983 & 1985. Already a 3 time Nationals competitor, but this Fairlady had more to give.

In 1987, Dave McDowell petitioned SCCA to move from GT3 to EP.

He argued that the Fairlady’s of Rock Vest, Bob Studdard and himself were effectively production cars racing against full tube frame racecars. SCCA agreed and the Fairladys moved from GT3 to E Production. That year the car again went to the runoffs in E Production where he qualified on the pole with a new track record and ultimately finished in second to Bob Studdard. The car made 2 more appearances at the runoffs in EP in 1988 and finally in 2002 for its final and 6th appearance at Nationals.

After acquiring the car from David McDowell, Mike asked what # McDowell associated with the car he responded the #73.

As such the car was returned to the famous Silver livery as seen in most all historical pictures. We think you will agree, this Fairlady is special.

The roadsters of McDowell, Studdard and Vest are widely regarded as 3 of the most notable Datsun Roadsters of the 80’s and 90’s.

Perhaps the most storied period in the Fairlady’s history ensued. Between 1987 and 1993 a Datsun Fairlady not only went to the Nationals but they also finished in the top 3 almost every year. In 1987, Studdard finished 1st with McDowell 2nd. In 1988, Studdard finished 2nd. In 1989, Rock Vest finished 2nd. The early 90’s saw continued success starting in 1990, the best finish for a Fairlady was Lee Feineigle in 11th with Rock Vest in 15th after starting 2nd. In 1991, Rock Vest again started 2nd, this time finishing 4th. In 1992 and 93, Vest again was solid with a 2nd place finish.

Palomar Racing is proud to share two very special Fairladys with Vintage Racing.

While many vintage organizers prefer to classify cars based on their original period circa 1968-72, We believe that both the #38 Rock Vest and #73 Col. Franklin/David McDowell Fairladys should be represented in their late 80’s livery.
Not that the storied history of the roadsters in the late 60’s isn’t important, but with flares and big tires is where these Vintage Fairladys punched well above their weight and won against the current modern Porsches, Mazdas and Nissans.
Both of these cars were running for National acclaim for more than 30 years and they were trailblazers in their day. It is fitting that they are now leading the Vintage organizers to bring historically important cars from other eras to our events.