How They Should Have Made It – Recent Scalextric TransAm Cars – Part 1, Mercury Cougar

We here at VLH have long been fans of Scalextric’s classic TransAm cars ever since the first two, the 1969/70 Mustang and the 1969 Camaro.  These popular cars, produced in a huge number of colorful liveries, have made up an excellent racing class.  They have, for the most part, been easy to drive, easy to tune to almost any reasonable performance level using simple and inexpensive techniques, and easy to equalize for a level playing field.  The addition to the classic TA mix of Pioneer’s very similar 67/68 Mustang and Camaro has only added to the fun.

However, the three most recent Scalextric TA cars, while they are welcome additions to the field, have emerged with issues that need to be corrected.  This article, the first of three, will cover the Mercury Cougar.


Our main disappointment with the Cougar is the way the front end of the body, in stock form, rides too high, making the car look as if it’s constantly experiencing a huge amount of aerodynamic lift at the front.  It has the nose-high stance of a drag race car with a gap between the tires and the body, not a proper attitude for a road racer.  A separate but related issue is that, in a departure from their previous TA cars, they put the same size tires on the front as on the rear. It just cries out to have the front end lowered.   So… we did.  Here’s the result, nose-to-nose with an unmodified car.


We actually did the revision on two Cougars, a red #98 and a green #41.  You can see above how much better the green car on the left looks than the yellow unmodified car on the right.  Getting the most out of the project required backfitting the Cougars with the smaller diameter front tires used on previous Scalextric TA cars.  If you don’t have a supply of the smaller front tires lying around you can turn down the stock front tires to the required diameter or just shorten the front body posts a little less to get the front end as low as possible while retaining the original front tires..

The first step in this upgrade, after disassembling the car, was cutting the front valence off the chassis and CA gluing it securely to the body where it belongs.  We suspect the reason for this irritating quirk in Scalextric’s design philosophy has to do with simplifying the tooling and reducing its cost, but it adds complication to projects like this as well as to simple tuning techniques such as running the car with loosened body screws to let the body float.


We might add that a too-high stance and body elements as part of the chassis have been recurring flaws with many different Scalextric cars over the years.  Google photos of any of their Mustang FR500C’s for one of the more egregious examples.

The second step was to shorten the front body posts by about 3/32″.  You might decide to shorten them more or less, depending on what front height looks right to you and whether you use the front tires that came on the car or switch to the smaller ones.


The next step is to cut off the two round structures sticking down from the bottom of the interior tub, as indicated by the red arrows above.  You may also need to take a little off the ends of the two pegs on the flat area at the rear of the interior tub.  These press down on the top of the motor to keep it firmly in its mounting on the chassis but we have never found anything like this to be necessary on Scalextric sidewinder cars, so you could just cut them off completely if you prefer.


The Cougar body has a piece glued into the inner body on each side just forward of the interior tub.  These need to be cut away to allow the body to be lowered over the chassis.

With these changes made you can re-mount the body on the chassis and go race.  Our Cougars, however, have a few additional improvements, seen in the photo below of our red #98.


Two of the upgrades were on the cars when we acquired them, gently used, from another shop that went out of business.  One is the replacement of the stock guide and lead wire assembly with a Slot It guide and silicone-insulated lead wires, eliminating the DPR-related components.  This is fine with us because we don’t plan to convert these particular cars to digital.  The other is a pair of Maxxtrac silicone rear tires for a major grip improvement on clean plastic track surfaces.

As you can see in the photo, we added a smaller additional magnet atop the car’s stock magnet to bring the total downforce up to the same level we have maintained on all our classic TransAm “runners” for quite some time.  The extra magnet came from our junk box.  It’s a Professor Motor 1063 with part of it broken off, and it just happened to be the right size and strength for the task.  Never discard used or even broken magnets.  You never know when they might come in handy.  When stacking magnets like this nothing but magnetism is usually needed to hold the stacked magnets together.

Also visible is the front air dam, from a Scalextric 69 Camaro, that we added.  This, of course, isn’t “period-correct” for a 1967 TA car and it doesn’t affect performance, but it does give the car a more aggressive look we really like.


This bottom view of the chassis shows how we fitted the air dam in place and mounted it securely.  We used a Dremel tool with a sanding drum to remove material from the air dam so it would fit around the Cougar’s guide housing.  When we got the fit we wanted we tacked it in place with CA glue and drilled holes into the chassis at the mounting points so we could secure the part with two self-tapping body screws.  We have also done this mod on Pioneer Mustang/Camaro chassis where it can be mounted via the front body screws just as on the Scalextric Camaro.  The green car has an air dam from a Scalextric TA Mustang.


So, here are our two modified Cougars.  Both are impressive performers on the track and now look the way proper TransAm cars should. Here are a few more shots…





Not totally period-correct but easy to do and we love the way they now look.  And, as it happens, we ran across this photo, taken at a recent vintage race…


So, it looks like our Cougars are period-correct – if you pick the right period.

NEXT – Dodge Challenger

Have questions or comments on this article?  Post them below or e-mail them to


Ford MkIV – Scalextric vs. MRRC

by Bob Ward

November, 2017

Ford’s historic  GT40 Mk. IV only raced twice, but it won both events, Sebring and LeMans in 1967, in dominant fashion.  Too dominant, some said, and the FIA’s rules change, the day after LeMans, confirmed that it agreed.  With the big-block Mk. IV (and the Mk. II, also) banned from international endurance racing it was left to a heavily developed example of the GT40 Mk. I – the same individual car, campaigned by the John Wyer team – to win LeMans the next two years. Nevertheless, the Mk. IV’s win average in serious competition forever remains at 100%, and there are few, if any, other top-level racing cars that have equaled it.

As historically significant as the car is, it’s surprising that it has not been more extensively modeled for 1/32 scale slot car racing.  In the 21st century there have been three volume-produced models, each offered, or planned to be, in numerous liveries.  MRRC and NSR’s renditions have been around for some time, and they are now joined by a new one from Scalextric.


NSR’s Mk. IV (above), like all NSRs, is optimized for performance and makes no pretense of being otherwise.  Its body shape is subtly stretched, slammed, and otherwise massaged for the “serious” racer in top-level competition, somewhat at the expense of scale fidelity.  This doesn’t keep it from being an impressive-looking car, not to mention by far the fastest and most adaptable of the three, but it’s not meant for the rivet counter.  It’s also a high-end car with all high-end components and the most expensive by a substantial margin.  These factors often make it less interesting to the beginning to intermediate level racer who is more scale-oriented and does not need or want to pay for the NSR’s performance.  Moreover, it’s not very useful to compare it to more basic slot cars such as the MRRC and Scalextric.  For these reasons it’s the other two this article will focus on.


MRRC’s Mk. IV was designed and first offered for sale the better part of a decade ago.  Like most MRRC cars of recent years it’s built on the well-regarded MRRC Sebring universal chassis.   It is powered by an inline-mounted FF “slimline” motor  rated at 21,000 rpm.  MRRC Sebring-chassis cars have come at various times with either one or two neodymium traction magnets.  Our comparo car came with two, one aft of the motor and one forward, using the two snap-in magnet mounts built into the Sebring chassis.


Scalextric’s MK. IV is all new for 2017, though it was supposed to have been out in 2016.  it was designed under the requirements of the quickly abandoned Pro Chassis initiative.  This was intended to give Scalextric an entree into the upper levels of 1/32 scale racing by making available for each newly designed car an upgrade chassis that would accept motor pods and high-end performance parts from Slot It.  The Pro chassis project never really got a chance to prove itself before it was axed.  It appears, however, that the Pro chassis-related compromises baked into their recent (and, apparently, future) car designs will be with us for a long time to come.


One of these is the inline motor installation (in the Mk. IV an 18,000 rpm FF) which Scalextric has said is going to be standard with either the FF or the FC130 on all newly designed cars going forward.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with an inline installation, if it’s done right, for certain kinds of racing, most notably non-magnet wood track racing.  Unfortunately, non-mag/wood track racing is 2 to 5 percent of the slot car market, though its viewpoint dominates the online forums.  The other 95-plus percent races on plastic track with magnets.  And for magnet racing the best chassis arrangement is a sidewinder.  Why is that, you may ask?

First of all, it’s because a sidewinder allows the placing of the traction magnet directly under the rear axle, the optimum location for maximum cornering grip.  In addition, at the grip levels magnets allow (even stock ones, not to mention the aftermarket magnets in widespread use) the stability of the gear mesh is absolutely essential.  Two main things affect the stability of the gear mesh: the distance between the motor and the rear axle and the rigidity of the structure connecting the motor mount and the rear axle mounts.  The closer the motor to the rear axle and the greater the strength of the connecting structure, the less the gears can move out of correct mesh with each other under motor torque and the smoother and quieter the car will run.  A sidewinder places the motor right next to the axle and the pinion gear very close to the shaft bearing and connects them solidly together.  With an inline installation you have to put the magnet forward of the rear axle to clear the crown gear, and that moves the motor farther from the rear axle.


MRRC has dealt with the shortcomings of inline motor installations a little better than Scalextric has.  MRRC, despite using a wider but shorter bar magnet, has managed to place its motor farther aft and has surrounded the motor and rear axle mountings with more and stiffer structure.  Scalextric placed the motor farther forward than it really needed to be and did not give the structure connecting the motor and rear axle mounts the heft it needed.  This makes the Scalextric chassis flexier in a place where it should be as inflexible as possible.  The net result is that in both cars you hear the sound of gear teeth not meshing right when maximum torque is being applied but you hear more of it from the Scalextric car.

In neither case does this make the car unraceworthy but, while MRRC was more or less locked into using the existing Sebring chassis for economic reasons, Scalextric could have designed their car any way they wanted.  They could have, and should have, made it a sidewinder.  It’s a shame they didn’t because their standard 11/36 sidewinder gear set (which you can’t get any more since Scalextric stopped selling spare parts) is probably the best press-on plastic gear set in the industry.  Along with the inherent virtues of their sidewinder motor/axle mounting structure it has been a big factor in making their sidewinder cars superior out-of-the-box magnet racing performers among basic 1/32 scale slot cars and outstanding race set cars that have given countless beginners an excellent start in the hobby.

And they could have made it a sidewinder, though they might have needed to make the body a bit wider than scale.  The scale width is 2.1″ or 53.3mm.  To make it a sidewinder they probably would have had to make the car about another 1/4″ or 6.35mm wider.  Yes, that would have amounted to a certain degree of subtly stretching the car a la NSR, but I’ve never been one to quibble about exact scale dimensions, especially since neither Scalextric or MRRC got the body shape perfect anyway.


You can see in the images above that there are considerable differences between the Scalextric and MRRC cars and between both models and the full-size car. Who came closest is a question I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to decide, but the point is that since nobody’s Mk. IV body is perfect, if Scalextric had made the car a quarter inch wider and made it a sidewinder with an FC130 motor like all previous Scalextric Ford GT40 variants I’d consider that an excellent tradeoff and I’d bet only a very few people would either notice or care about the scale difference.

Here is some key information about the two cars from our testing:

Overall weight:  Scalextric – 75g; MRRC – 75g

Gross Magnet Marshal reading (weight plus magnetic downforce): Scalextric: 224g; MRRC (2 magnets) – 405g; MRRC (front magnet only) – 330g

Wheel diameter/ scale diameter:  Scalextric – 11.2mm / 14.1″;  MRRC – 12.35mm / 15.6″; Full-sized car – 15″ wheels (The diameter of center-rib slot car wheels with no outer rim effectively represents the rim diameter of full-sized wheels.  Thus, the Scalextric wheels are actually closer to 13″ wheels (2″ too small) and the MRRC wheels are about right at 15″ plus a half inch or so of rim.  This explains why the Scalextric wheels look so small and the tire sidewalls so tall, sort of like what you’d see on the rear of a top fuel dragster.  It’s worth noting that the tires Scalextric is putting on its new cars beginning this year are a real improvement in performance over the ones previously fitted.

Rear tire tread width:  Scalextric – 3/8″, 9.52mm; MRRC: 5/16″, 7.94mm

Test track best lap times (clean track, sanded stock tires): Scalextric – 3.369; MRRC (2 magnets) – 3.167; MRRC (rear magnet only) – 3.015.

With both magnets the MRRC is actually too stuck down for best lap times, though it’s easier for a beginner or a child to drive.  The Scalextric car, at 274g gross MM reading (199g net magnetic downforce) is right on the low side of the downforce range I prefer.  When the MRRC runs with only the rear magnet the downforce readings are close enough that some upgrading/detuning work with no more than tires and magnets should be enough to equalize the two cars’ lap times and also to put them on a par with other Scalextric, Flyslot / Slotwings, MRRC, and Carrera cars of similar type and era, though it may be a while before aftermarket tires to fit Scalextric’s Mk. IV appear.

The Scalextric car is digital plug-ready and comes with working headlights and taillights.  The driver’s head is badly in need of replacement by a better-sculpted one but  giving him a head transplant would not be difficult.  An MRRC driver’s head would be a good choice if you have one.

The above gripes notwithstanding, both cars are fun to drive and more than fast enough to challenge drivers of any skill level.  Both cars are well worth their respective prices.





Why Don’t They Make? #4- Fox Body Mustang

I was recently watching an online video of the 2017 SCCA Runoffs American Sedan race.  A-sedan, as it’s commonly referred to, is a class for 80s and later American muscle cars prepared to a set of rules that bears a strong resemblance to that of the original 1966 through 72 TransAm series.  No tube frames, silhouette bodies, or wings here; the cars are all built from assembly line unit bodies.  But they aren’t showroom stockers, either. They have full roll cages, stripped interiors, fuel cells, modified suspensions, and built smallblock V8 engines with horsepower figures not too different from the engines that powered the original TA cars. They do run on DOT (street) tires, not racing slicks, but that really just makes them even more like the classic TA cars.  It’s supposed to be a class for people who want to race a V8-powered sedan on a budget.  Of course, the size of the required budget depends on how competitive you want to be.   If you just want to have fun in local SCCA races anywhere up to mid-pack or so you can pick up a perfectly serviceable car more or less ready to race for under ten grand.   From there, it goes up until you get to the Runoffs where a car with a chance of winning will run to several tens of thousands, at least.

In numbers, A-sedan grids tend to be dominated by 80s and 90s Camaros and Firebirds, and 1994-2004 Mustangs – cars you could buy cheap at a used car lot and make a race car out of.  In recent years, however, the sharp end of the grid has been increasingly populated by late-model cars, including Pontiac GTOs (Australian version) and Cadillacs, but mostly Mustangs, especially the ones driven by Andy McDermid (below), who has won more A-sedan national championships than anybody else in the history of the class.

This year, however, McDermid crashed in practice and retired early from the race.  That left some breathing room for everyone else, and the race came down to perennial multi-class champion John Heinricy, in a 90s Camaro, chasing after…wow! An old Fox body Mustang.  Where did THAT come from?

This particular one had qualified on the pole and held off the vastly experienced Heinricy to take a flag-to-flag victory. The driver was Bryan Long, who had made two Runoffs podiums before but in GT-1.  After watching the video I got to wondering when was the last time a Fox body had won at the Runoffs.  It had to have been a long time, if ever, I thought.  Well, not really.  It turns out that it was as recently at 2014, at Laguna Seca, and the car and driver came from my own home state of Washington.  Not only that, he won the class championship on his first try.

Here’s the winning car, a notchback even, Driven by Dylan Olsen of Kelso, Washington, about 100 miles down the road from my hometown of Puyallup.  I wonder if he built it from an ex-Washington State Patrol car.  The WSP used notchback Mustangs as pursuit vehicles for several years, and they were fairly common on used car lots for a while until they were bought up by racers and hot rodders who recognized them as a great starting point for building really strong but lightweight performance cars.  Speaking of light weight, if you look at the photo of Olsen’s car you will see, just forward of the racing number, the figure 3100.  That’s the car’s weight.  On McDermid’s car the figure is 3300.  that 200 pound difference may not seem like much but even in a 40-minute Runoffs race tire management is vital to success.  Especially in classes where relatively heavy sedans (compared to smaller sports cars) have to run on street-type tires a 200 pound weight advantage can make a real difference.  It may help to explain why what appears to be a relatively low-dollar car was able to prevail over a field of cars many of which likely had a lot more bucks dumped into them.

Anyway, all this got me to wondering about the Fox Mustang’s racing history.  Of course, being a lifelong TransAm fan I knew the Fox body shape had formed the basis of the wide, low fiberglass and carbon fiber bodies used on frontline TransAm and GT1 cars for more than a decade.  But what about the actual production-based cars?  Well, It turns out there is more there than I realized, including some really trick-looking cars that, along with all the American Sedan competitors, would make great slot cars.    And a slot car manufacturer with some clever tooling designers could make a tool for producing the bodies that incorporates the various parts needed to make modeels of a lot of them.

The three Foxes pictured above amply illustrate the AS cars, but there’s much more.  There is an organization called the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and Fox Mustangs abound there.  Take a look at these…

This Camaro-Mustang Challenge (CMC) car looks pretty basic.  Not much change to the stock body.

This CMC car has a couple of possibly homemade add-ons.

This American Iron (AI) car has a blade spoiler and tacked-on front airdam and side skirts, but the body is still essentially stock.

This notchback has a big rear spoiler and front airdam plus a humped hood, but still mostly stock bodywork.

This American Iron Extreme (AIX) car is really getting serious with fender work, a blended-in front airdam, and that big wing and hood.  And then, we come to…

This.  It’s still a unit body car, not a tube frame, but check out the widebody kit and the whale tail.  These could easily be included in the slot car body tool as separate add-on parts to be used or not as needed for the particular model being produced.  And from here it’s not that big a step to…

An 80s/90s DTM car.  Here is the point where we probably cross the line to new tooling for at least the body and probably the chassis, not to mention whels and tires.  The car is very like an early tube-frame Transam car, though I do believe the DTMs were unit body cars, also.  Here’s another DTM Fox…

By this time the TransAm tube frame cars had gone full widebody without distinct fender flares but they had not yet gone to wings.  This configuration probably represents the ultimate unibody Fox Mustang, and what a totally gorgeous car!  I can’t believe these two European racing Foxes (and there are others) wouldn’t sell well on both sides of the pond.

Why do I think the Fox Mustangs would make popular slot cars?  It’s because these cars, most of which are still racing in serious competition, as opposed to vintage events, where preservation of the cars precludes all-out racing, are cars people can relate to.  Anybody with a decent middle-class income can still afford to buy a Fox (though prices are going up) and turn it into something that at least looks like one of these cars.  Millions of them were produced and a great many of them are still on the road, and for many enthusiasts they are still the car they wanted when it was new and now have or still want to have.   They are quintessentially American but they have been raced in Europe and Australia as well, so they will have at least some kind of following there.  Americans love Mustangs (and Camaros and Firebirds of the same era; they would also make popular slot cars) and so, I think, do more people in other countries than the manufacturers might imagine.  There are more than enough of them to provide colorful liveries for years, enabling the manufacturer to get its money’s worth out of the tooling.

More on this in another blog post.  There’s lots more to show and tell.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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…


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

Work in Progress 7-20-17

Toyota Supra GT1


The decal work is finished!  All the decals on this car, except the racing numbers, are my own creations.  I downloaded the various logos from the Internet, sized and edited them in Photoshop, and printed them on an HP inkjet printer at 4000 pixels per inch.  The numbers, as on my C6 Corvette GT1, are from an Ultracals peel-and-stick 1/43 scale sheet.

The orange paint, by the way, is the same Krylon spray can color as on the Corvette, and the Scalextric TA Jaguar wheels and tires are the same. also.  The match between the wheel centers and the body color is not quite perfect but it’s very close, and the paint color is a perfect match for the Gorilla Glue logo’s orange.  The wide stripe around the back end of the car is made up entirely of decals.

I picked Gorilla Glue as the car’s primary sponsor because I really like their gorilla graphics and also because I have been impressed with how the glue has performed in recent projects. The product also seems like one that might logically be promoted via a racing sponsorship.  And, of course, one can easily imagine Toyota getting on board with a GT1/TransAm car powered by one of its Toyota Racing development NASCAR pushrod V8s.


I might add a few more small decals but beyond that what remains to be done is to clearcoat the body and get it all nice and shiny, install the headlight and taillight pieces, complete the interior, install the motor and electrics in the chassis, and complete final assembly.  That shouldn’t be too long from now.

Work In Progress 7-7-17


It’s finished!

I finally got the Corvette C6 GT1/TransAm car completed.  You’ll recall that his is a conversion of the Scalextric Corvette C6R.


This isn’t really a perfect GT1 conversion. That would involve much more body and detail work, most of which would not be evident to any but the most expert observer.  I do think, however, that his car does a good job of capturing the aggressive character of a GT1 Corvette.  It looks the part quite well and wasn’t really all that hard to do.  The chassis remains unchanged except for trimming off the rear diffuser and adding a deeper airdam at the front.  It doesn’t look like it in the photos but the airdam does clear the track.


The wider but smaller-diameter wheels and tires, from a Scalextric TransAm Jaguar, fit under the body without the fenders having to be widened.  The wheel arches were reduced in size by adding sheet styrene, snugging them in nicely around the tires. Performance upgrades include a Professor Motor guide and magnet, a 21.5k Piranha motor and silicone tires.  The Piranha is really just for testing.  It will eventually be replaced with a motor delivering around 30,000 rpm.  1:1 scale TransAm cars typically run NASCAR 358 engines that crank out around 850 horsepower, and I want my 1/32 scale version to have power to match.


Added details such as the hood hump. made of sheet styrene, and the rear wing, an NSR part that looks more like the GT1-spec wing than the original C6R wing does, help complete the GT1 bad boy look.  The car retains the C6R interior and windows, though I cut out the driver’s side window and added a window net CA glued to the roll cage.  A more complete kitbash would involve scratchbuilding a different interior and roll cage, but for my purposes the original looks more than good enough on the track.


All the graphics, with the exception of the numbers (from an Ultracal peel-and-stick sheet), and the logos tampo-printed on the window assembly, are waterslide decals I made in Photoshop and printed on an HP inkjet printer using Bare Metal decal paper.  The paint is from Krylon spray cans purchased at Walmart.  You can get big cans of Krylon there for around $4.00 each and the selection of colors is quite extensive.

Like most of my kitbashes I made no attempt with this one to create a museum-quality model exact in every dimension, contour, and detail.  My goal with these projects is to turn out a car that captures the character and overall look of the type of car I’m building and looks good on the track, all without putting so much time and effort into it that I wouldn’t put it on the track and race it if the opportunity came along.  The rivet counter will find endless nits to pick but I don’t think anybody will have trouble figuring out what kind of car it’s supposed to be.  And that’s good enough for me.

Vintage Racing (1:1 scale) At Pacific Raceways


I spent Saturday, July 1, out at out local road circuit, Pacific Raceways.  It’s nice living half an hour from a place where all kinds of motorsports takes place, everything from karting to drag racing to road racing for many different kinds of cars.  My favorite event of the year is the Pacific Northwest Historics, conducted by the Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts (SOVREN).  It’s their biggest event of the year and always draws an eclectic mix of cars spanning all eras and types of racing machinery.

One thing that keeps me going to vintage races year after year is the prospect of seeing in person and photographing particular cars I’ve seen in magazines and on the Internet.  Last year’s big catch was the iconic Lou D’amico Corvette.  This year I had the good fortune of meeting up with another Corvette, a car I have been chasing for years but never caught up with.


This is Greenwood Customer Car #2010, one of a small run of Corvettes built for SCCA racing, in particular the TransAm series.  These cars had many of the features of the well-known Greenwood widebody cars raced in IMSA but were built to SCCA rules, the most visible feature of which was less extreme bodywork.  Way back when Pat and I were SCCA corner workers we watched John Greenwood win the 1975 Portland TransAm on his way to the championship in a car very similar to this one, and I’ve been interested in the Greenwood SCCA Corvettes ever since.


#2010 spent most of its life on the East Coast.  I’ve been to a number of East Coat vintage races over the past several years, but this car was not at any of them.  So, you can imagine that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s now owned by a vintage racer right in our local area, so I expect I’ll see more of this car in the years to come.


Racing is full of “one-offs”, cars of which only one was ever built or raced.  The CanAm Series had more than its share of them.  One such car is the “Open Sports Ford”, designed by Len Bailey for the CanAm and built in 1969 by Alan Mann Racing.  It was based in part on the Ford P68 endurance racing car but you’d never know to look at it.  This beast is all CanAm car, shoved down the road by a Ford Boss 429 “cammer” engine.  The single overhead-cam 429 was intended to be Ford’s killer NASCAR power plant.  It was intended to take NASCAR engines to the same kind of extreme the Dodge and Plymouth “Winged Warriors” had taken aerodynamics.  Fitted into Torinos with aero enhancements it was all set to one-up Chrysler in NASCAR’s escalating factory arms race.  NASCAR, seeing that the factory wars were taking speeds into scary figures and pushing  budgets and technology beyond the reach of too many of its teams, decided to ban both exotic engines and spacecraft aero before the cammer could have its shot at stock car racing glory.


But engines had already been built, and Ford looked for other places to use them.  One of those places was the CanAm.   By 1969 big-block V8s ruled, and this big-block looked like it could be the baddest one of all. Unfortunately, AMR’s CanAm project suffered from the all-too-common woes of too little time and money to give both the car and the engine the development they deserved.  A third place in the 1969 Texas race with Jack Brabham at the wheel was as close as it came to road racing glory.

The restored car is a brutally beautiful piece of racing history and engineering. We can all hope it keeps providing eye and ear candy to vintage race fans for many years to come.


Not all the cars that capture my fancy at historic races are ground-pounding V8-powered monsters.  The car above is a Japanese and European market subcompact that, when it came to America, became the Toyota Corolla.  The 4-cylinder engine displaces all of 1200 cc’s but it sounds marvelous at full song on the long front straight.  The paint scheme is perfect for the car’s scrappy personality and the overall aggressive look makes one think of a small dog who isn’t afraid to take on an opponent twice his size.

You can find 135 photos of race cars from the 2017 Pacific Northwest Historics on my Smugmug page.    Enjoy!