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The 1976 National Runoffs - G Production

Father v Son - Col. Joe's story of his first National Championship at the wheel of a Datsun

1976, my first runoffs in the Datsun, and son Joe was ahead of me on the grid in his Sprite. He was on the outside of the front row and I was inside second row. I got a good start after the pole sitter got a little out of shape on the second or third turn and both Joe and I got past him. In fact I was ahead of Joe about 100 yards going into turn 6 on the far end of the course.  

1976 Grid The 1976 Grid - Joe starts third behind Ransom Meade (Triumph Spitfire) and Joe Hauser Junior (A-H Sprite).
1976 Runoffs The 1976 Start - Joe slow over the line soon catches and passes Meade and Joe Junior.

(Please click on the above thumbnails for larger images)

Since I knew that the Datsun was faster down the long back straight I slowed up between turn 6 and 7 so that Joe caught up as we turned on the long straight. What went on behind I don't know but between us we led the entire race. I did not lead every lap as Joe passed me a number of times, however in the end the superior speed of the Datsun on the back straight was enough to get me the win. Joe claimed that drafting me down the back straight gave his Sprite 600 to 800 more RPMs so that he could keep up (hence the whale on a chain motif - see below).

Whale motif

Joe's 'Whale on a Chain '  was painted by his then daughter-in-law, Linda,
following a comment from Joe about how good a draft the Datsun made for the car behind. 

We had practiced together so I knew the draft would help him in the race. The times he passed generally was through turn 12 which was the turn onto the pit straight. We had a great time and it would have been nice if both could have won.

Col. Joe Hauser

Joe Rusz, writing for Road and Track on the 1976 runoffs noted the following:-

"In the G Production Class it took split second accuracy of the track's Zetachron timing equipment to measure the victory margin between winner and runner-up.

It all came to pass after one of the competitors, 1974 class champion Joe Hauser Sr, jumped the British Leyland ship to take over the helm of an old Datsun 1600 for this year's runoffs. Hauser reckoned that the Datsun was faster on the straights, and at Road Atlanta "the race ends in a chute." Smart move because ol' Joe was able to fend off the horde of Triumph Spitfires, MG Midgets, and Austin-Healey Sprites that has dominated the class for nine out of the last ten years. But who did Joe Sr. hold off for those 18 heart-stopping laps? Why Joe Jr. in (you guessed it) a Sprite. Father and son played tag for the entire race and finished just 0.3 sec apart, a more than respectable showing for the 57-year -old retired U.S. Air Force pilot."

1976 GP Results


See also Page 1 of the Joe Hauser Gallery for further images from the 1976 event.

Joe Hauser Page

These pages and images, unless otherwise stated, are copyright ©1999 & 2000, Joe Hauser, Rob Beddington & The Classic Fairlady Roadster Register. Do not redistribute in any form without the prior permission of the owners.