Dale Malone might have the best Silvia in Australia.
Dale first saw his S15 Silvia on television. Racing GT300 in Japanese Super GT, around 2001. Being an Australian Super GT fan pre-internet required commitment. There were no live streams. Watching a race meant waiting five weeks for an SBS highlights package, which at best lasted half an hour. A snapshot of the world that showed Dale everything he needed to know. He followed the car, leveraging a network of contacts acquired as a chassis and suspension design contractor to top flight racing outfits in GT3. Wrapping its racing career, it headed to storage where it remained until 2009.
Reappearing in Norway with the original motor swapped for a problematic European six, cogs started turning. Things fell into place, and after a wait and some anxious excitement Dale ended up unloading the car that filled his head for 15 years. “I had to chase it to get it,” said Dale. A car not able to be reproduced or bolted together with go-fast-bits, but a project that had taken a team, consuming hundreds of hours of engineering, design and fabrication.
“I couldn’t do that myself. That’s almost the main appeal. You compare the car to the time you could spend building a car, trying to get to that level and you would still never get there. When an opportunity comes up like this, sometimes you should take it.” That is how you end up with a Japanese racing icon in your garage.
Dale’s passion started with his dads’ Torana. His dad maintained the car himself, and Dale spent hours in the shed watching his old man, trying to understand what was going on. Now a mechanical engineer, the time in the garage paid off.
Dale gave his young heart to Holden V8’s until a ride in a 300ZX gave him a double-dragon punch of forced induction he couldn’t ignore. “It wasn’t until my late teens that the import thing started. My first experience was as a passenger in a twin-turbo 300ZX. I remember it scared the absolute living sh*t out of me,” said Dale. “Since then, imports have been it. I dropped off V8s completely. My first Japanese car was a Pulsar SSS, and I have gone up from there.”
In 2001, just as Dale’s JDM racing passion was taking form, the GT300 Silvia was driving its first laps in anger for Hasemi Motorsport, taking a third outright in its debut championship season, and another third place in 2002. If GT and touring racing are your poison, there is no shortage of options. DTM, Endurance racing, V8 Supercars – Working in chassis design and suspension setup for GT3, something about the Japanese version of GT grabbed Dale, unlike any other track he had seen before. “It was their engineering. If you look at how race cars are built, whether its British touring cars or DTM in Germany or endurance racing, they have all got their own characteristics. The British are very much into their machinery and engineering and quality of componentry, but the Japanese cars are so precise about everything they make. It has to be done to the millimetre, to perfection.”
Precision engineering is Dale’s vice of choice. “That sort of engineering is where I get my kicks. It’s why GT3 is so good. The manufacturer goes into such length to develop these cars. When they upgrade these cars that they have already got the technology in them, and you are looking at a twin turbo V8 that can race for 12 hours straight.”
Here’s a sneak peek of Dale’s GT300 debut at World Time Attack Sydney. Want to see it in action? Get down to Sydney Motorsport park tomorrow!
Posted by Nulon on Thursday, October 13, 2016
The GT300 had a difficult debut at World Time Attack Challenge in October. With only a few clean laps and the kind of teething issues you encounter when you buy a race car with no instruction book, Dale took heart in the comments of Japanese drivers Under Suzuki and Nobuteru Taniguchi.
“Under Suzuki helped me out and Taniguchi had a look. He told me he remembers racing against the car from the 2002 GT300 season when he was racing an RX-7! It was a great event, and it was very fun, but the car’s set up for a different kind of racing.”
Now, Dale is ready for the next step. An expert in data analysis, interpretation, testing and development, his next focus is race craft. A skill he hopes to hone competing door-to-door in the Sports Sedans series, where the GT300 Silvia will push its potential on slicks and show Australian racers the difference Japanese precision makes.
“I have got one of the best cars in the world, but race craft is not something that happens overnight. Some people have it naturally, and some people don’t. Next January we will see, and until then, I will be rebuilding the SR20 and learning more every day,” he said.