In 1967, more or less as a consolation prize, Toyota - which now controlled Hino - hired BRE to design and build a Le Mans prototype and race the lovely new Toyota 2000GT in the States. But Brock ran into another minefield. While negotiating the purchase of an American distributorship, Shelby had convinced Toyota that he, rather than Brock, ought to run the 2000GT program. When Brock realized that the Toyota deal had been snatched out from under him, he knew exactly what he had to do. "I got in my car and drove straight to Nissan," he says. "I told them, 'I can change your image and put you on the map.' "
Brock understood, as only a designer could, the importance of presentation. He painted his Nissan race cars red, white, and blue to make them more appealing to Americans. He created graphics that were memorably bold so the cars photographed well from every angle. The crew wore embroidered uniforms and Brock modeled a fashion-forward neckerchief that prompted endless ribbing. "We hated wasting time cleaning and polishing the cars," says Trevor Harris, the team's chief engineer. "But in retrospect, I realize that Pete was way ahead of his time. He made sure that the team always looked great, and he was always romancing the media. He turned this nothing team with nothing race cars into the star of the Trans-Am series."
BRE earned Nissan a road-racing championship with the Datsun 2000 roadster in 1969. (The Toyota 2000GT racer turned out to be a dud.) Then, with the backing of Datsun's iconic Mr. K - Yutaka Katayama, the first president of Nissan Motor Co. U.S.A. - BRE did even better with the new 240Z. Buoyed by this success and featuring ace driver John Morton, the team moved up to the 2.5 Challenge, which featured import sedans in the Trans-Am series otherwise headlined by American pony cars. BRE won back-to-back national championships, dominating the series so thoroughly that the 2.5 Challenge was soon canceled.
In 1972, Brock quit racing cold-turkey and embarked on a second career in hang gliding. Before it was over, he was a major manufacturer, and his team won six out of seven world championships. "Hang gliding is the most fun thing I've ever done, period," he says. But, eventually, he came back to his first love.
Brock lives in an inviting Prairie-style house designed by his wife in the upscale city of Redmond, Washington, best known as the home of Microsoft, which is where Gayle worked as an executive before retiring. The two of them, both previously married, met at a Cobra club event and connected immediately. Since marrying ten years ago, they've enjoyed a Tracy-and-Hepburn romance that straddles work and play. He taught her how to handle a camera, and they now travel together constantly, photographing races around the globe. At home, Gayle is the administrative powerhouse who manages the vast BRE portfolio of photo archives, models, art, calendars, clothing, and so on.