Why Don’t They Make? #3 – Formula 5000 Cars

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There was a time, in the 1970s, when formula cars powered by American-made 5- liter  pushrod stock-block V8 engines were as fast, and in some cases faster, than formula 1 cars  We’re talking here, of course, about Formula 5000.  F5000 was every bit as much of a worldwide formula as F1, with big grids of cars showing up for events in the US, Canada, Britain, Europe, and Australia.  As top-level racing goes, F5000 was the best speed-per-dollar bargain to be found anywhere.

Huge crowds turned out  to see many of the world’s best drivers, such as Brian Redman, Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter, David hobbs, James hunt, Tony Adamowicz, Vern Schuppan, Graham McRae, Peter Gethin, Sam Posey, and more.  Today, F5000 is one of the most popular categories in historic racing.

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In recent years slot car manufacturers, notably Scalextric and Policar, have produced excellent models of F1 cars from around the time of the F5000 era, including the McLaren shown above and the Lotus shown below.  Many of the components used in these models, including motors, gears, wheels, tires, wings, driver figures, and basic chassis design, could be carried over or adapted to F5000 slot cars very easily.

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Compare, for instance, the photo below of a McLaren M10 F5000  car with the McLaren F1 car above.  You can see that the cars have many similar features.

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I have several favorites among the historic F5000 cars that I would like very much to see produced for 1/32 scale slot car racing.

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Eagle Mk5.  This particular one carried Tony Adamowicz to the 1969 US F5000 championship. a similar car also won the 1968 championship.  Lots of colorful liveries and wing variations for this car.  The 1968 Eagle Indy car is almost identical except for the engine and aero add-ons.   Much of the tooling could possibly be made to serve for both F5000 and Indy cars ,including Bobby Unser’s 1968 Indy-winning
Eagle-Offy.

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Eagle 74.  Not the most successful of the F5000 Eagles but one of the coolest-looking F5000 cars of all time.

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Chevron B24.  This one was raced by Peter Gethin.  I’ve always liked the “sports car” nose.

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McRae GM1.  Graham McRae drove a similar car to the US F5000 championship in 1972 and 1973.  That’s an elegant, slick-looking body shape.

And of course…

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The ultimate and by far the most successful F5000 of them all, the Lola T332.  The one pictured here is one of the T332s in which Brian Redman dominated the US F5000 series for four straight years.  Many of these cars were built, and there would be no shortage of really attractive variants and liveries to model.

Feedback from customers is that the Scalextric and Policar historic F1 cars are fun to drive and seem to work well with few problems.  If those qualities could be carried over to F5000 cars there would be a long term worldwide market for them, as historic racing will keep introducing new generations to these exciting and powerful cars.

What cars would you like to see produced?  Your thoughts are welcome.  You can leave your comments below or e-mail me at bob@victorylaphobbies.com.

2 thoughts on “Why Don’t They Make? #3 – Formula 5000 Cars

  1. Excellent thought. While I’d like to see the GTP Corvette and the recently retired Corvette DP produced, the liveries are too limited to be profitable. On the other hand, I have to wonder if Slot.it has produced every Porsche 9XX to ever see a track. Really I don’t need or want any more of those, as the Bud and Miller cars have rounded out my collection nicely.

    F-5000 is another story altogether. But while there’s no shortage of cars and paint schemes, are there enough of us left to buy them? Would the younger generations give up their next purchase of a DTM to buy an F-5000 because they’re neat?

    There’s no F1 cars in my collection because I was never a fan. My preference was always the Indy cars in general, and the USAC era specifically. Still, I’m certainly ready for something different, and F-5000 would cause an expansion of the collection.

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    1. I don’t know if you are aware of it but there is an effort underway to revive F5000 in Australia with racing to begin next year. There are two prototypes now being tested, one that looks a lot like a Lola T332 and another that looks more like a modern day formula car but still has some of the classic F5000 appearace elements. If the series is a big success down under the concept might spread to the US. That might spike interest in F5000 among the younger generations.

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