My Car Quest

August 20, 2019

The Unique Story Of The Hino (BRE) Samurai Race Car – Part 2

by Mike –

The Hino (BRE) Samurai race car story continues from Part 1.

by Ron Bianchi

Sorting out the Samurai

For the next race season we tried to sort the Samurai out. It seemed we could not finish a race. We would qualify well in front then things would start to happen. I lost the brakes in one race, an oil line coupling broke costing an engine, a brand new throttle cable bound during a race while the peddle was full on the floor; one more engine.

We replaced the rear up-rights with brand new magnesium ones, the right rear one broke during a race sending me into a wild ride, I lost fifth gear while leading, a brand new right rear tire went down during a race, I would enter a corner at the same set up and without warning the Samurai would, snap, swap ends going into a hair raising skid or spin.

I had a solid first place when the engine blew on a back straight away on the last lap.

Hino (BRE) Samurai race car

Paul A. was trying to get all he could out of the engines but he felt we were on the edge but not there yet. I was about ready to give up on our engine project.

During one of our post race meetings at the shop I was convinced to keep going with what we had.

I decided to contact Ed Iskaderian the cam builder. I had used Ed’s cams in my midget days. Ed asked me to bring in the engine specs. I was introduced to Mr. T. Willie Hutchens who was instructed to do a work up for my engine. In about an hour T. Willie came in and said they could produce two sets of cams, one for a maximum of 8200 RPM, the other for a maximum of 9200 RPM, both with a power band of 2000 RPM.

Ed waived the price for old time sake. If I would put his decals on the car, with the promise to supply cams till we get it right.

Hino (BRE) Samurai Race Car

A couple weeks later U.P.S delivered the four new cams.

Paul A. did his magic with the engine. On the dyno the engine came alive and developed the horsepower we were looking for.

I had always been into chassis tuning and decided to visit Red LeGrande’s race car shop, the manufactures of the Samurai chassis. Red had produced several winning chassis.

After several discussions with Red I decided to go it on my own and re-do the suspension. I had read and studied the results of placing the attachment points for the rear A arms as close to the center of the rear frame as possible. We completely re-worked the suspension.

John had completely up graded the braking system. Paul A. had the combination to developing horsepower. Paul W. knew what tire compounds and pressures we needed for different track conditions. I had dialed in the chassis. The next step was testing.

A competitive race car

We went to Willow Springs Race way in California to do our testing. By the end of the day we knew we now had a competitive race car.

The very next race we finished first in class.

Hino (BRE) Samurai Race Car

For the next four years the Samurai never failed to finish less than fifth with a total of over twenty-five first and about half again as many second place finishes, with two class championships.

I had made a personal promise to myself that when I grew tired of racing I would stop.

Ron Bianchi retires from racing

During a race at Riverside Raceway as I was coming down the back straight away I asked myself what I was doing. My foot came off the throttle, I headed into the pits, and the crew came over the wall wanting to know what the problem was. I said simply “we are through racing”.

I re-located to the southern part of the United States where the Samurai sat in a rented garage for several years.

Hino (BRE) Samurai Race Car

Peter Brock

Mr. Peter Brock the designer of the Samurai and a prominent figure with the Hino Samurai racing project, among other outstanding race cars, contacted me several times wanting to know if I would sell the Samurai. I knew Pete from being around the Shelby Cobra operations. Pete is well known for the Shelby Cobra, Shelby GT350 Mustang as well as the Shelby Daytona Coupe.

Finally Pete and I agreed on a price and the Samurai was his once again. Pete in turn sold the Samurai to a Japanese gentleman I had the pleasure to meet and entertain at my home, a Mr. Satoshi Ezawa.

Satoshi contacted me and said he had purchased the Samurai and would I be agreeable to him coming to America to discuss what had been done technically to turn the Samurai into a winner.

I am still in contact with Satoshi. It is my understanding that the Samurai has been totally restored and is in the Satoshi Hino collection.

~~~

Ron Bianchi has heard recently that the Samurai may be back in the US and he wanted to know its whereabouts.

If anyone has any information about the location of the Hino (BRE) Samurai please send me a message and I will relay it to Ron.

Hino (BRE) Samurai Race Car, Road & Track magazine


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Comments

  1. Great story and fantastic writing style. Kept me waiting for Part 2. Hopefully there’ll be Part 3.

  2. ScuderiaPacNW says

    Loved the Hino Samurai story…these true stories are always the best…and they abound in vintage cars and racing. It’s this fascinating blend of ‘man and machine’. Please encourage others to send in their pictures and let’s keep these illustrated stories comin’ in.

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