Why Don’t They Make? #5 – Indy Cars

by Bob Ward

22pagenaud-2-1000

This one should probably be called “Why Don’t They Still Make”, since Scalextric made Dallara IRL cars, such as the one below, for several years.

c2394-3

In addition, Ninco made very well turned-out Lola and Reynard Champ Cars some years back.  Here’s one…

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The last couple of semi-spec Indy Car body designs drew a lot of flak from Indy Car fans who wanted them to look more like the Champ Cars and less like a 70s Formula 5000 car with too many aero add-ons.  They especially disliked the large air scoop atop the engine and the DW12’s  fairings behind the rear tires.

Personally, I didn’t mind any of the recent Indy Cars.  My only real criticism of them was that they had too many fragile body elements that proved too vulnerable to contact damage.  It seemed to me that too many drivers’ races were ruined by body damage from seemingly minor incidents.  Lots of “too manys” there, but it kinda sums up the bodies of those cars.

In any case, the new-for-2018 design, which will remain until 2021, seems to have answered most of the complaints, including, to some extent, mine, and produced a body shape that is drawing a lot of enthusiastic fan support. It’s a significant reason, though not the only one, that Indy Car’s fortunes seem to be on the upswing.  So now, in my opinion, it’s time to bring back 1/32 scale Indy Cars.

The 2018 car has what should be some very attractive qualities for the slot car manufacturers, including:

  • One single tool needed for ALL the cars
  • Design stability for four years
  • Many colorful, attractive liveries available.
  • Rising fan support, race attendance, and TV viewership should increase the potential customer base.

There are now fewer permutations of the body shape for different tracks.  The car owners requested this as one way to hold down costs.  There are now really only two configurations, road course/short oval and high-speed oval,  A slot car manufacturer could produce each new version of the car with fully painted aero parts for both included in the package.  Some ingenuity in making the parts easy to swap out would make every car completely configurable by the consumer.  Hobbyists could race or display the car either way or with a combination of elements from both.  Making the wings and other appendages more durable would help, too.

There will be no shortage of liveries to choose from.  When you add in multiple primary sponsors for some of the cars, changing from race to race, plus one-offs for the Indianapolis 500 there should be, at a guess, around 50 different liveries in 2018 alone. The slot car makers would have an embarrassment of riches where liveries are concerned.

Here are just a few of my favorites:

1newgarden-1-800

Newgarden

10jones-2-800

Jones

14kanaan-2-800

Kanaan

18bourdais-1-800

Bourdais

27rossi-4-800

Rossi

Verizon IndyCar Series

Sato

Any of the mainstream slot car manufacturers could certainly produce models that would do full justice to the 2018 Indy Cars in both appearance and performance. What’s more, Indy Car seems to be on a roll for the first time in years.  Now is the time to bring back slot racing Indy Cars.

Oh, and not just the new 2018 car.  American open-wheel oval racing history is full of amazing cars just begging to be modeled…

Gurney Indy Eagle 1974 040

The 1972-75 Eagle, perhaps the single most influential Indy Car design of all time.

m16-800

The McLaren M16, the Eagle’s greatest rival.

And many more.  Think of the legendary drivers who  have won the Indianapolis 500 just since the mid-engine revolution began: Jim Clark, Graham Hill, A. J. Foyt, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Mark Donohue, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser Jr., Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Tony Kanaan, among others.  And those who didn’t win but could have and should have, people like Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Tony Stewart, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Fernando Alonso, and on and on…

Many of these drivers were champions in Formula One, sports cars, and other top-tier races and series,  Has there ever been any race that deserves to have the cars of its champions and contenders modeled as slot cars and one that probably has as large an untapped customer base?

There is no form of racing that has been woven into the life of heartland America for more than 100 years, as Indy Car, in all its iterations, has been and continues to be.  The 500 still draws the largest attendance of any single-day sports event in the world.  The highest attendance at a NASCAR race is somewhere between half and two-thirds of what Indy now draws and F1 doesn’t come close at any circuit in the world.  And no other form of racing has drawn the greatest drivers from around the world to anything like the degree Indy Car has at various times in its history.

It will probably take a genuine American slot car manufacturer who understands American racing and American race fans to see the potential and do something with it.  Where that manufacturer will come from I have no idea, but let’s all hope it happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Why Don’t They Make? #5 – Indy Cars

  1. Unfortunately, all the current slot car manufacturers are based in Europe, and with one exception they don’t understand nearly enough about American racing and what American race fans and slot car hobbyists want. How much they care is a whole other question I won’t get into here. What’s needed is an American slot car manufacturing company run by Americans who are genuine lifelong enthusiasts for American racing and for slot cars. And we need such a company for more than just making the cars Americans want. A few more years of Europe committing societal suicide and there may not be any slot car manufacturers left there at all. Then we’ll have to start our own domestic industry.

    Watson roadsters may be a bit of a stretch because the generation that grew up with them is getting older and fewer, but certainly the Indy Cars from the beginning of the rear-engine (actually mid-engine) revolution through the end of CART/Champ Car are viable prospects. Even those cars, however, appeal to an aging demographic. The future of the hobby depends on getting the noses of the young out of their game consoles and introducing them to the joys of working with something that isn’t pixels on a screen. The current Indy cars may have a better chance of contributing to that process. And I do think the current design is a real step upward, at least once they have a season or so to get all the aero working right. Then there are those 900-plus horsepower engines scheduled for 2021 and 235mph laps at Indy. Now THAT really will be the greatest spectacle in racing.

    Your thoughts may vary…

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  2. If Scalextric offered $45 Watson Roadsters, I would buy every livery.
    Same with the 70’s Indy cars, just take my money!!

    Like

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