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The colourful story behind the accidental hero

A little green Datsun is set to continue its cult following in North Queensland by returning to competition in Targa Great Barrier Reef from August 30 to September 1.
Photo credit: Angryman Photography
Graham Struber and his co-driving partner Angela Watts are ready to take on the Classic Handicap field in their vibrant green Datsun 1200 Ute, affectionately known as the ‘mighty midget’.
After finishing seventh in their class at the maiden Targa Great Barrier Reef rally last year, Stuber has overseen some tweaks to the popular Datsun.
“We’ve made some changes for this year. They are not huge but we’ve closed up some ratios in the gearbox,” Struber said.
“We have also gone to a different wheel and tyre package to give us more RPM.
“It was just a matter of tidying things up after having its first run in Targa Great Barrier Reef last year. 
“The transport stages for us are painful. We get out of the car at the end of transport stages and it’s a relief to stretch your legs.”
The popular Datsun has a colourful history around the Cairns area.
“The story behind the ute is that it has been a workshop car basically since it was new in 1980,” Struber explained.
“I acquired it off another workshop about six or seven years ago. It is a bit of an icon around town. Everybody knew the little green Datsun.
“I used it as a customer drive car. We would give it to other workshops that were dropping jobs into us.
“At some point in time a lot of people in town drove that car.
“Then a few years ago someone dented it fairly substantially. So I made the decision that it is impossible to replace if something worse happened.”
So the Datsun was confined to being parked in a shed for a period of time before it was given a new lease on life when TGBR was announced last year.
“When Targa was announced I said, ‘righto let’s do this’. My partner Angela agreed and said, ‘what will we use as a car’?
“I looked at the Datsun and thought why the hell not?
“That’s really why it looks like it is. Like an old work ute. We didn’t want to mess around with the look knowing that so many people knew the car. 
“At Targa Fest and Targa Expo last year so many people came up and remembered the car.”
Struber has been involved in motorsport his entire working life, firstly in drag racing, go karts and worked for several V8 Supercars teams last decade.
“I’ve fixed racecars for a living. I’ve flown around the world working on racecars and driving them.
“Then I had a stint importing American NASCAR trucks which we ran as the OZ Truck Series.”
A few years ago Struber then decided to concentrate on a more routine work life by running his Northern Wheel Aligners business in Cairns.
“I call it a more routine life now. Before particularly when I was involved in Supercars it was fly in fly out regularly through the year.
“After everything I’ve been involved in over the years, the Targa event last year was the most enjoyable event I done. 
“One of the biggest reasons is that I did it with Angela.
“When I was driving or crewing over the years you would get to the end of a race weekend and your partner would say ‘how was that?’ but they weren’t involved.
“But with Targa the conversation Angela and I have is, ‘when are we going to do reconnaissance?’ and ‘what is going on with the car?’ etc. 
“She is 100 percent involved and it has been a really good thing for us.”

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