Traveling from Indianapolis Indiana, after forging several passports, multiple tramp steamers and shady go betweens, we had a chance to sit down with Jon & Gina Siddins aka the legendary Australian husband and wife rally act known as Team 24oz.
You might have seen their Orange or Green 1970 Datsun 240Z blasting down the tarmac, grabbing pavement by the throat in turns or catching air in races like the Targa Tasmania; because as Gina said, “We like saving rubber!”.
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As we start snacking at the local jazz bar the interview begins…
Jon
“Hi. I’m Jon Siddins. I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia. I’ve always loved cars and have been a motor mechanic for 38 years.”
Gina
“Hi, I’m Gina Siddins. I’ve had a love of cars from an early age when I used to follow my Father around helping him work on cars and pull engines out of cars. My Mum had a Ford Capri that we used to love. I’ve always wanted to race and Jon helped me get there. I race in Improved Production as well as Navigating at Targa events.”
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DPAN GT
“Wow! You both have a long history and love with cars. Is that what brought you together as a couple and how did the Z get involved between you two as racers”.
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G:
“Jon and I met away from the racing scene but quickly discovered that we both loved cars and Datsuns. Jon already had a fleet of race cars including two 1970 Datsun 240Z’s and a Nissan Pintara TRX. Jon got me into racing and I started sprints in the Pintara which is front wheel drive and very forgiving which is great to learn in.”
J:
“When I was young, approximately 18, I first got into racing with dirt rallies in a Datsun P510. I ran that in events for about 5 years. Got out of racing for a couple of years and then bought a Zed in 1990 and have run Zed’s ever since. I am lucky that I can repair my own vehicles, that’s the only way I’ve been able to afford to race.”
DGT: “So it’s safe to assume the honeymoon was probably a rally stage then? LoL! But yeah racing is expensive, even for professionals. Both of you actually sound like you were made for each other especially after watching your in car footage of how well you work together. So of all the different types and styles of racing which do you enjoy most and how do you like working together? Does being husband and wife make it easier?”
G:
“The honeymoon was the Formula 1 race in Singapore!!! Jon might not agree with you about the “made for each other” comment when I’m on his case ensuring everything is prepped for our next event!”
J:
“Driver and Navigator teamwork is crucial as you have to pretty much preempt what each other are thinking. Gina has only navigated in a handful of events and we have only raced in tarmac rally events together for 4 events not including 2018.”
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G:
“We race individually in sprint track events, Regularity track events, Improved Production class (Gina), Sports Car class (Jon) and tarmac rallies. Personally I love being on the track no matter where it is. We recently towed two cars to Bathurst to conquer Mount Panorama – one of the most awesome tracks in the world – https://www.mount-panorama.com.au/.”
J:
“It is not always easy racing has husband and wife!!”
DGT:
“F1 in Singapore!? That’s so romantic to all the Gearheads reading this right now lol.”
J:
“That’s not romantic…what’s romantic is I bought Gina a set of race tyres for Valentines Day!!! She was very impressed!!!
DGT:
“My Man!!! “
G:
“Yes a lot of his mates want to marry him lol!!!
DGT:
“Tell my lady ALLLLLL the time, “Get race parts ”  . Gina you’ve found yourself a keeper!”
G:
“Haha! I get free car servicing which makes it all worthwhile lol!!!”
DGT:
“Lmbo!!! Racing together sounds like fun for you two.”
G:
“We have recently bought another Zed which we will restore back to original. We also have a Datsun P510 which Jon is building for me to race after the Pintara!”
J:
“Yes it is fun – when Gina is not trying to kill me lol!!! We are lucky enough to be able to do what we love to do!”
DGT:
“The 510 crowd here in the states is going to love you guys for also racing one competitively. They’re gaining a ton of steam as far as “mainstream” respect goes. Timeless design and great handling.”
J:
“P510’s are known as 1600’s here in Australia. They were mainly used for dirt rally here. In Australia we only got the four door not the two door. We just had the body sand blasted and all the rust repaired. I’ve got the engine all machined and just have to put it together. It’s going to be a great race car when it’s finished! I am in the process of building the suspension.”
DGT:
“Now the Zed “using Aussie slang” is running a Les Collins engine. Is that what the P510 running too or is that puppy home built? Don’t know if you both are aware but you Aussies are known here for your engine building skills.”
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J:
“I’m building the engine for the P510. I normally build my own engines. The first time I’ve had anyone build an engine for me was Les Collins who is renowned around the world for his engines. He’s based in Victoria in Australia which is over a 1000 miles away from we are on the Gold Coast in Queensland. http://lescollinsracing.com
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DGT:
“Over a thousand miles! That’s a pilgrimage. Great engines are worth it though. Here in the states our equivalent engine builder is Rebello and that’s about it far as a recognizable names goes.”
J:
“That’s how far we have to drive to some of our events. Targa Tasmania is over 1300 miles including towing a race car and a ferry trip across from the mainland.”
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DGT:
“Ferry trip? Geesh the journey to the race itself is an adventure. So what makes a Zed successful and competitive in such a technically challenging rally as the Targa Tasmania?”
J:
“I’ve heard Rebello produce good engines. In Australia, we also have Stewart Wilkinson – http://swmotorsport.com.au/.
He builds East African Safari Rally Cars from start to finish and is also renowned worldwide. Yes, the trip to Targa Tasmania is certainly an adventure in itself. The stages are across the state of Tasmania and are spread far and wide. It is quite a distance between days and stages. What makes the Zed successful is they are simple lightweight. You don’t want anything too technical in a car in this event. We only get six tyres for the entire event which is around 1200 miles. We are very fortunate to have Dunlop Motorsport sponsorship for this event. These tyres are an excellent all round tyre. They are a DZ03G and work excellent in the wet and dry conditions that we face in Tasmania. http://www.dunloptyres.com.au/motorsport/ “
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DGT:
“East African Safari Rally!!? Don’t get me started on that lol. Gina how do you keep track of all those turns in a car doing every bit the speed and G’s of a rocket ship in an era where most people can’t even find their way home without a GPS!!?”
J:
“This is the course map from 2017 which gives you an idea of the distance between stages.”
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G:
“We use Smoothline Stage Notes but you can’t just read the information out. You have to think about what you are reading and how far ahead the driver needs the information. He doesn’t want too much information too soon. Conversely, if we are coming up to a very tight turn he needs to know that to position the car.
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DGT:
“So it’s a knowing your team mate kind of thing? Knowing them mentally that is?”
G:
“You will see from our in-car footage (GPS and speed bottom left corner) that we can at times, be doing over 125 miles an hour. You have to enjoy travelling at that speed and not be phased by it so you remain focussed on the notes and the information in front of you. Funnily enough, I have been known to get lost between aisles at the supermarket lol!!! The hardest part at this event is getting from the finish of one stage to the start of another. We must follow the notes we are provided with and follow the correct route between stages. A bit like the Dakar in that you get penalised if you don’t follow the correct course between stages but you are on tarmac on public roads which are closed for us for the event. You definitely have to know your team mate and preempt what they might need. The same goes for our service crew. We could not compete without them. This year two of Jon’s long time mates who are mechanics are service crewing for us. They are very good at what they do. We are also on strict time limitations between stages and for servicing at the end of each day. It’s hard to meet up with your crew because of the remoteness of some areas in the event.”
DGT:
“Well; when you’re hunting supermarket sales I can see how that’s possible lol! Big props to your service crew, the real hero’s of every racing team.”
G:
“You know me too well!!!”
J:
“Yes they are the guys behind the scenes that play a very big part in the event. Knowing your car is critical with driving. When you have issues you need to know how to drive around the issue. For instance at Targa Tasmania last year, we broke a Rod Tyler diff mount bracket at the start of the stage. The bracket broke on a bend in the bracket which was clearly a weak point. I drove the car so that we didn’t do any more damage and could complete the stages until we could meet with our service crew.”
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G:
“We have a new sponsor that I’m happy to announce. They build race transporters – Lusty Trailers. https://www.facebook.com/GrahamLustyTrailers/ “
DGT:
“Have ya’ll noticed your popularity of your team increasing, especially here in the states? A lot of the “who’s who”‘ whom I converse with here, mentions Team 24oz and the “Orange Z” in our racing conversations. Being as such how have you guys adjusted to this in responding to your fans and their enthusiasm? And I think Ron Tyler will think ya’ll for that bit of R&D work lol”
G:
“We have recognised that our fan base is expanding. We also have many fans in Japan including renowned Datsun engineers. We are obviously a small team. We don’t have a media crew although we do have Otherside Productions to thank for all the Video Highlights of each day throughout the event and an event highlights package at the end of the event. http://othersideproductions.com/.
In terms of keeping the fans up to date with where we are at in an event, I post photos during the start of each stage and post up the in-car footage. I also arrange the posters for the fans during the event. We know that the fans want to know what’s happening so we try to keep them informed as best as we can.”
J:
“By the way, The company that now manufactures these brackets didn’t really want to know us when we contacted him so we have gone back to the original bracket. They could have used our information to inform their design but they weren’t interested.”
G:
“Team24oz rely on the artistic skills and creativity of their signwriter Gary Austin from Colorworld Race Graphics based on the Gold Coast. Gary is an old school signwriter with an amazing talent for creating quality race graphics, racing letters and numbers, advertising campaigns and is renowned for the dying art of shopfront advertising with brushes. Contact Gary by emailing colorworld12@hotmail.com”
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DGT:
“Any company should be proud to have their products on your car and get your feedback. Not only are you a great team and well experienced but you’re great people too. So where can the fans go to kept up on your racing adventures in the Internet world?”
G:
“Thanks Citizen Z. Our Facebook will keep all fans up to date and provide links to in-car footage, photos from the professional photographers during the event and other relevant information. Our Facebook page can be found at – https://www.facebook.com/Team24oz/.
Targa Tasmania runs from 16th April – 21st April 2018. BTW, The origin of the name “Team 24oz” comes from the early introduction of Datsun 240Z’s in Australia where they were affectionately known as 24oz (24 ounce). The 240z was seen as the poor man’s E-Type Jaguar. As for the background of this mis naming tale, the Datsun 240Z was introduced in 1969, and over the course of its history it attracted the affectionate nickname of “the 24oz” a playful corruption of “240Z” “
DGT:
“Haha!! Well the term “ounce” (at least here) are usually associated with states like California and Colorado lol! It’s nice seeing how different countries develop their own unique bond to classic cars such as the Z. TEAM 24oz FTW!!!
G:
“DPAN GT Fairlady Z Katakana Badges ROCK!!!! Check them out on Team 24oz’s ride!!!!”
DGT:
“Thank you both so much for sitting down with us here in Queensland (I’m so totally lying about my passport right now) and sharing your wonderful life stories and racing adventures with us and our readers. We wish you luck and a safe victorious win at the Targa Tasmania this year! Well I guess before we go what advice, tips or words of encouragement would you each have for inspiring racers both solo and teams?”
J:
“In terms of the car, the one thing to remember is preparation. Our motto is to ‘have fun”. It’s not about winning but about competing.”
G:
“Sadly my Mum passed away at 59 and never saw me race but she was a wonderful woman and absolutely selfless. I will never forget a quote that she wrote in my Autograph Book when I left primary school to head to high school.
– “When the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he marks, not that you won or lost but how you played the game”…
Grantland Rice. –
This for me is the epitome of racing and of how we should live life!”
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~ BUILD SPECS ~
+ 1970 Datsun 240z
+ L28 Series engine (3280cc)
– Les Collins Racing –
http://lescollinsracing.com/
+ Triple 47mm OER Carburetors and Manifold Custom Extractors
– Les Collins Racing –
http://lescollinsracing.com/
+ Gearbox – 71B
(with 71C internals Standard ratios)
+ R180 Differential – 4:4 ratio
+ Wilwood Brakes
+ MCA Shock Absorbers –
https://mcasuspension.com/
+ Dunlop Motorsport DZ03G tyres
– 205/50/16 –
http://www.dunloptyres.com.au/motorsport/
+ Konig Rewind Main Line Wheels 16 x 7
~ SPONSORS ~
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Team 24oz Interview by…
~ Citizen Z ~
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