Bob Ward’s Blog is Back!

Hello, Everybody!

A year and a half after closing Victory Lap Hobbies I’m getting involved in the world of slot cars again. I have several projects in mind and lots of things to write about, some of which I couldn’t deal with before for business-related reasons. Now I have a lot more freedom to tell it like it is, giving praise where due and criticism where it’s needed.

As I work my way up to full speed in getting blog posts on line I’ll be working on new kitbashes, tech articles, and product reviews as well as observations on the current state of the slot car hobby and its direction. I will also be issuing my newsletter again. I still have the Victory Lap Hobbies website but now have deleted the e-commerce part of it. That leaves the blog and the link to my Smugmug gallery, which continues to grow as we attend more 1:1 scale races and photograph more race cars.

To start, Here’s a bit of an overview of where I am and what I’m doing now. My charming wife Pat and I are retired and still living in Puyallup, Washington where we have now lived for 34 years. We were all set to move to Oregon and even had a house bought there when family concerns derailed that plan. We will be staying put for the foreseeable future, but we expect to have the time to attend more races and have more time for the actual slot car hobby than we did when we were running the business. It will take a while to get everything moving again but over time you should see an increasing number of blog articles and newsletter editions.

Enough about me – today, here are my initial comments on some of the cars in the 2020 Scalextric product line that was made public just this morning.

This, in my opinion, is far and away the best new car choice they have announced for 2020. It’s the IROC car based on the 3rd generation Camaro that was introduced in 1982. IROC ran this body style from 1984 to 1989. This car has enormous potential both for Scalextric and for slot car hobbyists. The IROC has a unique and lasting place in American motorsports history, which should generate healthy sales over a period of several years. There were 12 drivers invited to participate each year, and each of the 12 cars was painted a different color. If Scalextric does 2 colors per year that’s 6 years of sales to all the hobbyists who want to collect the whole set. In addition, many of the IROC cars went on to new racing lives after their IROC days, usually with body modifications. The earliest iterations of Gen 3 Camaro TransAm and IMSA cars looked very much like the Gen 3 IROCs except for widened front and rear fenders to accommodate the wider wheels and tires allowed in TransAm and IMSA GTO. All Scalextric would have to do to model these cars would be to tool up a body with the widened fenders and a set of early BBS wheels inthe correct diameter and width plus a set of tires to fit them. With only those two changes the car could go on generating sales for decades to come. That said, I truly hope Scalextric will resist any temptation to turn out “on-the-cheap” unmodified IROC cars in the liveries of TransAm teams.

The other great thing about the IROC cars as manufactired is that they will make ideal “house” cars for shops and clubs and for anyone who takes a 1/32 scale track to public-participation events. With identical cars in 12 different colors it will be easy to have cars with body colors corresponding to the track’s lane color coding or vice-versa. These Camaros will make excellent race set cars and will undoubtedly be offered in race sets for years to come.

You can see from the photos that the driver names have been left off, possibly due to licensing concerns or the fact that each driver drove a different car in each race. However, you can expect decals for all the drivers to appear on eBay before long, possibly even before the cars are released. That should enable you to amass a set of IROC cars with every driver name and car color if you have a mind and a budget to do so.

Stock numbers, by the way, are C4073 for the red one and C4145 for the blue one.

For the kitbasher these cars will make it easy to model the early Gen3 Camaro TA/IMSA cars. Only the fenders were widened on these cars, not the whole body. The doors remained at stock width and the fenders tapered toward them. Here’s an example:

This is one of the DeAtley Camaros that dominated the TransAm series in 1983. Drivers included Willy T. Riibs, David Hobbs, and Jerry Brassfield. The DeAtley cars, with different owners, drivers, and liveries, went on for several more years in essentially unchanged configuration. You can see that the front air dam is different, the rear spoiler is wider, and the whole front end of the car sits quite a bit lower, but these things are not all that hard to change. A look around the Internet will find quite a number of cars resembling the IROC Camaros closely enough to make relatively easy kitbashes. In fact, you will probably find TA cars that are even closer to the IROCs and even easier to model. The IROC Camaros themselves went on to post-IROC careers in other liveries. You may even find that it won’t be all that hard to model an early 80s Firebird.

I think I will have a few quibbles with this car once I actually get my hands on one but for now I have to give Scalextric an A grade on it just for producing it at all. Something like this is long overdue and should fill a profitable niche in the slot car market and make a lot of American hobbyists happy.

Another car that is raced in America is the GT4 Mustang. There are, if my information is correct, at least two professional series and a number of amateur classes and stand-alone events in the US where these cars can be raced or soon will be. Scalextric has an all-new GT4 Mustang coming this year in two liveries. Both, if I understand correctly, are liveried as cars racing in the British GT Series, but this one, stock number C4173, at least carries the name of Multimatic, a North American organization and one of its drivers, Scott Maxwell, is well known in the US. We can hope that Scalextric will do this car in some US series liveries next year. Meanwhile, If you are into repainting you will probably find that the Internet decal makers will soon be producing decals for cars racing in the US. So, I at least have to give Scalextric credit for producing another car that at has some NA connections. The stock number of the other GT4 Mustang isC4182.

I’m not a great fan of non-racing movie cars, but this one, the Back To The Future Delorean (C4117), is certainly an icon to countless American film fans and has at least a chance do well in the US. It may even introduce some cinema buffs a new hobby. in It looks to me as if they have made the rear tires too big; as far as I know Deloreans came with the same diameter tires on all four corners. However, fans of the flick will probably neither notice nor mind. I do hope they did the tooling so that a stock Delorean can be made later. I can imagine some significant percentage of this car’s buyers going to a lot of trouble to remove all the sci-fi add-ons. There are race set possibilities here, though I don’t know what the other car might be.

I don’t know enough about the 1:1 scale car to offer much in the way of a critique of the model, but If I were designing it I’d put Dr. Brown in the car with Marty McFly.

Here, again, is a car that one would think has primarily US appeal, but not exclusively so. Scalextric again deserves credit for producing a car with appeal on my side of the Atlantic, but I’d be a lot happier if they would do a US-specific race car instead.

I guess the Scalextric designers think the Brumos name will sell VW vans in the US – I doubt most of the rest of the world has even heard of Brumos Porsche – but I’ll give Scalextric credit for trying. But for cryin’ out loud, if they are going to pay Brumos a licensing fee (or are they?) why not do a Brumos race car? Not to knock the Scalextric VW van itself. It’s a nicely done model by any standard, but it’s next to useless on the track. They should do what they have done with a few other slot cars – make a static model version that we can all buy for much less than the slot car version to populate our pit areas and parking lots.

The Scalextric C3 Corvette just keeps rollin’ along. They will keep making and selling them as long as they can find new liveries to put on them. This car has to be an all-time cash cow for Scalextric. The tooling has to have paid for itself several times over. This version is the car Ike Knupp drove in 1973. Applause to them for making this car which nobody outside America except for diehard Corvette fans has ever heard of instead of another one that ran in Europe. As welcome as this car is I do wish Scalextric would do a new C3 Corvette tool with a much more accurate body, a flat tray interior, and the motor moved to the rear. I’d also like to see a C3 coupe and more different bodywork variations. The C3 Corvette I’d really like to see is this one:

This is the notorious Duntov “funny car” corvette built for SVRA Group 6. This has to be the leanest, meanest C3 Corvette going, even more so, in its way, than the Greenwood widebody Corvettes of the 70s. Unfortunately, this car would require all new tooling to get it right. Please, Scalextreic, don’t try to do this one with the existing tooling!

This is getting a bit long and I’m still not through all the cars I want to comment on, so I’ll save several cars for another post later this week. If any of you out there are interested in re-establishing contact with me I can be reached at (253) 820-9017. That’s my cell phone. The old store number is no longer in use. If you don’t get an answer please leave a message with your name. phone number, and something to tell me you are calling about slot cars and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I would really enjoy talking with you and I will still be happy to give you as much as I can of the kind of information and advice I gave when I was running the shop

Until later,

Bob

One thought on “Bob Ward’s Blog is Back!

  1. It’s good to hear from you Bob. That year and a half feels like a decade. Glad to hear things have settled down and I look forward to your blogs.

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