The Frontstretch: Driven to the Past: Nostalgia on a Smaller Scale... by John Potts -- Friday August 6, 2010

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Driven to the Past: Nostalgia on a Smaller Scale...

John Potts · Friday August 6, 2010


Maybe I’m stepping too far afield this week, but it does have something to do with racing history, and that’s what we’re usually about here.

Nearly every day, I visit a forum on the Internet which has to do with NASCAR modeling. I’ve always been interested in models, and I admit to doing quite a bit of it when I was a kid. In case you’re interested, it’s

Not like these guys though. These people are experts. Now, back in my slot racing days in the ’60s, I could paint an AMT or Revell hard plastic body well enough that it would look just like a car being raced in the NASCAR Grand National Series or in ARCA. It wasn’t anything like the work these guys do, but it would pass muster with the casual observer as it zipped by them at about 300 scale miles an hour.

We even had a class of stock cars at a slot racing center in Louisville. Hard plastic bodies only, three-inch maximum track width, fenders cut for tire clearance only, maximum 0.375 tire width, etc.

Lots of fun.

These guys, however, build what we used to call “static” models, those that
just sit on a shelf and look nice.

I know a little about how much work goes into these things because my son
built models of one of John Force’s Funny Cars and one of Don Garlits’ Swamp
Rats. Bob Daniels thought so much of them that he put them in the trophy case at what was then Indianapolis Raceway Park, and had our trophy guy make a plate telling everybody who made them.

For a number of stock car model builders, their recreations go far beyond an accurate paint scheme.

As much time as he spent on those, it’s nothing compared to what these
people do.

It’s easy enough to pick up a diecast model of one of the NASCAR or other
series racers that has campaigned in the last several years, I know. You might find a Dodge Daytona or Plymouth Superbird, but just try to find a 1/24 diecast of say, Richard Petty’s 1964 Plymouth. Or the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 driven by David Pearson. Or any car from what these guys call the “darkside” era – 1948 through 1972 – when guys named Fireball, Pops, Little Joe, and Fast Freddie showed the way.

They also have a “grayside” era, from the beginnings of the fabricated
chassis up through 1989.

My favorite, as you might expect, is with the darkside era.

These people don’t content themselves with making the body look EXACTLY as
it did when the car was raced. They get down to basics. Engine wiring, the
whole works. They get questions about what color the seat was in such-and-such a car, just exactly where the fire extinguisher was mounted, was the steering wheel dished or flat, etc.

What I’m saying is that a lot of loving care goes into these pieces.

So, I was somewhat unhappy early last week when I read of something that
happened to what amounted to a pet project for some of them. A display in the offices at Atlanta Motor Speedway containing models they had built, models of famous cars in the speedway’s history.

One of the modelers happened by the speedway offices and noticed the display
was gone. He asked what had happened to it, and was told that the case was
either damaged or destroyed.

Now. I know there was a pretty severe storm that damaged the main building
at AMS some years back, and I understand all that. What bothers me is what he found out.

This individual was told that they were thinking of putting it up again but
had no idea if or when they would. He told them to contact him if they needed help repairing some of the models.

On his next visit, still no display, so he asked about it again. The lady
called somebody and was told where the models were, and was told to take his
name and number just in case.

What he saw next made him “freaking, smoking mad.” The lady hung up, turned
around and opened a long file cabinet. Inside was a stack of models which had just been thrown in there, one on top of the other and with no consideration for possible damage – and there was a lot.

No consideration for the loving, painstaking care that went into the making
of these models, and the countless hours spent on them. When the time came to change the display case at IRP, my son got his models back.

This particular situation, to me, smacked of serious disrespect for a part
of the Atlanta Motor Speedway fan base.

And from everything I’ve heard Bruton Smith say about his feelings for his
fans, I’m willing to bet he doesn’t know a thing about it.

Maybe he does now.

Contact John Potts

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08/06/2010 02:13 PM

Oh the memories of model building in the 60’s and the 70’s! I had so many, including a 1965 Ford Galaxie by AMT that actually came with the correct #28 Lafayette/Fred Lorenzen decals! That car was my pride and joy! Alas, about 15 years ago, my ex-wife (notice I said “Ex-wife”!) forced me to get rid of them! Well, at least someone bought them who seemed to appriciate them! And I wonder if he still has them all! I do have a set of decals for Lorenzen’s #28 and David Pearson’s #17, and have been thinking of getting a Fusion COT and building tribute cars, but wonder if it would be the same? And yes, I do have the #28 Lafayette Ford that Kvapil ran at Darlington in 2008! Oh, for the good old days of model building!

08/07/2010 09:39 AM

As a member of Randy’s Modeling Board I must say thanks. While I did not have a model in Atlanta, the guys who did put countless hours and frequently more than a few dollars into those cars. While I think everyone understood there was storm damage, to just pile them into drawer like junk shows no concern or respect. Would it have been so hard to wrap them in a paper towel and place them in a box? Obviously, it was.