Ernie Smith Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV was a nice looking car, but it lacked the power to go for the class win.
ALFA ROMEO ALFETTA GTV
|Front suspension and brakes
||Ernie adapted Lockheed brakes designed for Formula Atlantic to fit inside the 13" wheels. The other transaxle was a unit that Del Taylor had Saenz custom make for him to use in his IMSA RS Alfetta sedan.|
||V6 2 liter engine - with 48 DCOE's, Norman cams, Carillo rods, Venolia's.|
First, some background on the car. In the mid-70's, one of the ships bringing a load of Alfa's to the United States caught fire while on the water. Many of the cars received damage that was mostly cosmetic, but were deemed unfit for retail sale. Most of the vehicles were Alfettas, both coupe and sedan. Initially, Ernie ran a dry sump, but later went to a wet sump with a stock pan modified with a box with trap doors. It worked fine. The dry sump system was donated to an Alfa-powered sports racer-type car (Lola S2000 chassis) that Del Taylor built for IMSA. The dry sump system was Ernie's price of admission to co-drive the car at Sebring. Ernie adapted Lockheed brakes designed for Formula Atlantic to fit inside the 13" wheels. There weren't a lot of choices for brakes back then like there are today. Ernie Smith had sold his 105/115 GTV (to me) that he had raced in IMSA and decided to prepare and race an Alfetta GT for IMSA. So he purchased one of the fire cars. All of the damaged inventory (they were referred to as "the fire cars") had been wholesaled to dealers, and the dealers were the ones selling them to individuals. The dealer that I worked for then in Nashville, Tennessee, (Madison Smith) had purchased a dozen or so of the cars (a mix of coupes and sedans), but had sold all of the coupes by the time Ernie was ready to move on the project. So he ended up locating one somewhere like Oklahoma.
His first race, the 24 Hours of Daytona, was a disappointment. In the old days, people could actually drive their race car to Daytona, race it, and then drive home. In fact, some guys did just that in a GTA in '68 or maybe '69. So Ernie decided to prepare the car mildly (Shankle suspension, Weber conversion with mild cams, BFG street radials, etc,) and count on reliability for a decent finish. Then, he would keep developing the car as the season progressed.
Unfortunately, it was the same year that the Porsche 935 showed up at Daytona for the first time. Closing speeds of the 935 on the Alfetta were almost 100 MPH! So for the first time, IMSA officials felt it necessary to enforce the 125% rule (your qualifiying time must be no more than 125% of the pole qualifier). Consequently, they were not allowed to run. Ernie and his co-driver, John Foshee, were upset, but I think secretely relieved. I remember Ernie saying that the 935's would come out of nowhere - one moment his rearview mirror was empty, and two seconds later it was filled with 935!