Datsun Matsuri in Kelowna — a festival for vintage Datsun fanatics

First published in the Calgary Herald May 11, 2012. All images courtesy David Myers.

Datsuns at the 2011 Alberta Meet in Red Deer.

David Myers is fast becoming known as Mr. Datsun.

The Edmonton man appreciates all old Datsuns, from Roadsters to 510s, and everything in between.

To share his enthusiasm, Myers hosted the Alberta All Datsun Meet in Red Deer last year.

“We had really bad weather on June 4,” Myers said. “It was cold, and there had actually been a couple of snowflakes in the air. But, we still had about 25 or 30 cars, which is a respectable turnout.”

Those Datsuns came from Calgary and Edmonton, and from points further afield.

But this year, Myers is going a step further, organizing Datsun Matsuri 2012 to run on the May long weekend. Matsuri is Japanese for festival, and Myers is piggybacking his show with a long-established event in Kelowna, B.C. – the Turner Volkswagen 55th Annual Knox Mountain Hill Climb.

By hosting the event in B.C.’s interior, Myers hopes to attract more fans of the Datsun/Nissan brand from western Canada and the northwestern United States.

“I graduated from high school in Kelowna, and I was aware of the Knox Mountain race,” Myers said. “I drove through there last year, and I got to thinking about drawing people to the event by hosting a Datsun show during their event.”

Datsun 510 at the start of the Knox Mountain Hill Climb, 2009.

The hill climb is held on Knox Mountain Park Road, in the City of Kelowna. At 3.5 km in length, Knox Mountain Park Road is paved, but is narrow with off-camber turns and steep grades, and climbs some 245 metres in elevation for an average grade of 6.7 per cent.

No other paved road hill climb in North America has run as long as the Knox Mountain event, attracting drivers from several provinces and states. During the run, cars race up the hill one at a time; the one with the quickest time wins.

There are several classes, from open wheeled to GT cars, and of course, there are often Datsun 510s and Z-cars taking part.

“When I spoke to the organizers about the Datsun show, they said ‘the more the merrier’,” Myers said. “There is a car show that is part of the Knox Mountain Hilll Climb, and ours is really going to be a show within a show.

“Entry to the car show is free for car and driver and is managed by the hill climb organization – we’re just joining in.  The hill climb (also) organizes a people’s choice award for the car show, and participation in that is optional.”

Myers has planned three days of events, including an informal meet and greet on the Friday evening. He and several Edmonton-area Datsun owners plan to drive out in convoy, and Myers said plans are afoot for Calgary owners to do the same.

Saturday is the hill climb and car show, with Myers giving out goodie bags to all registered Datsun participants. There are opportunities to win draw prizes from several sponsors, including a 1:18 scale model Kyosho BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) Datsun 240Z die-cast car numbered and signed by Peter Brock.

Brock Racing Enterprises fielded a Datsun 510 in the Sports Car Club of America’s 1971 Trans Am 2.5 series with driver John Morton behind the wheel. Morton won the season. For 1972, BRE prepared three Datsun 510s and had a repeat performance.

Other sponsors providing prizes include Sports Imports from Surrey, B.C. Sports Imports specializes in the Datsun Roadster, and fabricates metal body repair panels that quite simply are not available anywhere else.

Wolf Creek Racing is the national distributor of Mikuni automotive sidedraft carburetors and parts, and also manufactures CV axle kits for Datsun 510s and Z-cars. Wolf Creek Racing has supplied a Triple Mikuni Master Rebuild Kit and Manual.

And, Z Therapy remanufactures the popular SU carburetors. They are up for giving away a set of SU carbs – prepared to a fit a vehicle of the winner’s choice.

On Sunday, Myers has routes laid out for what he has dubbed the Twisties Tour. Drivers can take part in a shorter, 141 km loop around the northern part of Lake Okanagan, or go further, driving a 216 km loop that includes the lake plus a farm loop.

If interested in attending Datsun Matsuri 2012, visit www.myautoproject.com to register. Spectators are welcome.

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