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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Chevrolet

    Hey there NASCAR diecast fans!~ It's time for another installment of the NASCAR Racing Champions diecast blog!~ In this post, I'm going to be looking back on the career of Clifford Allison, the youngest son of NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, and the brother of Davey Allison~ Clifford's time in the sport was short lived, so he isn't as well known as his father or older brother, but to those who knew him, Clifford Allison was a wild, funny, unpredictable character, and another link in the NASCAR chain that was the Alabama Gang~

    Clifford's death on August 13th, 1992 was the first racing fatality in the Busch Grand National series since its inception in 1982, and it was later determined that a bolt holding the seat down malfunctioned, making the crash worse than it would have been, resulting in a basal skull fracture, and instant death for the 27 year old driver from Hueytown, Alabama~

                                      Clifford celebrates his 9th birthday with Bobby~ 1973~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Ten years after the above photo was taken, Clifford Allison started his racing career~ He began in the Street Stock division, and went on to drive in the All-Pro Series, the IMSA Sports Car Series, and the ARCA series, before running his first BGN race in 1990~

    Allison was originally scheduled to compete for Rookie of the Year honors during the 1990 BGN season, driving Frank Cicci's #34 Gwaltney Meats Buick, but was released after only seven races due to poor performance~ In his first BGN start, Clifford finished 13th in the "Goody's 300" @ Daytona, following a 42nd place qualifying effort~

    He then failed to qualify for the "Pontiac 200" @ Richmond, and crashed out of the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, finishing in 29th place~ He finished 25th in the "Miller Classic" @ Martinsville, then failed to qualify for the "Mountain Dew 400" @ Hickory~ Allison finished 17th in the "Pontiac 200" @ Darlington, and 25th in the "Budweiser 250" @ Bristol~ Following the Bristol race, he was replaced for the remainder of the season by Jack Sprague~

                                               Clifford chatting with Butch Miller~ 1992~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    After failing to qualify for the 1991 "Goody's 300" @ Daytona, Allison ran a total of three races for Clint Folsom's #23 Seal-Tech Buick team~ He qualified 35th for the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, and finished in 28th place~ After starting from 26th for the "Pontiac 200" @ Darlington, he was able to work his way up to finish 14th~

    Clifford rolled off 29th for the "Budweiser 250" @ Bristol, and held his own throughout the entirety of the race, with a respectable 6th place finish, which was a career best for him in the BGN series~ Bobby Labonte won the race in the #44 Penrose Pickled Sausage Oldsmobile, followed by David Green, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmy Spencer, and Ed Berrier~

   Allison also ran two All-Pro races during 1991, finishing 25th in the "Birmingham 250" @ Birmingham, Alabama, and 34th in the "Snowball Derby" @ Pensacola, Florida~ He also made time during the 1991 season to run 1 ARCA race, finishing 7th in the "Motorcraft Fast Lube ARCA 500K" @ Atlanta, driving the #12 Raybestos Brakes Buick for his father's team~

                                               Headshot of Clifford Allison~ 1989 ARCA~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Cliff had some pretty good success during the 1992 ARCA Series, where he ran a total of 7 races~ He qualified 16th for the "Daytona ARCA 200", and came home in 5th place,  picking up his first top 5 of the season in the first race of the year~ He then nearly grabbed the pole for the "Slick 50 ARCA 500K" @ College Station, but had to settle for the outside pole position~ He led for 32 laps, but was beat out in the end by Eddie Bierschwale and the #23 SplitFire Spark Plugs Oldsmobile team~

    Allison finished 10th in the "Poulan Pro 500K" @ Talladega, and 9th in the "Champion Batteries 150" @ Pocono, before he started picking up momentum~ After starting 11th for the "GM Goodwrench 200" @ Michigan, he went on to finish runner up to Michigan's own, Bob Keselowski~ Loy Allen Jr. was 3rd, followed by Jim Sauter, and Bill Venturini finished out the top 5~

    Moving on to the "ServiStar 150" @ Pocono, Allison started from the 4th position, and while he didn't lead any laps, held on to finish runner up to Bob Keselowski yet again~ His final start in the ARCA series came in the 1992 "Mello Yello 350K" @ Topeka, Kansas~ After starting from the 12th spot, Allison fell back during the race to finish in 27th place~ A funny side note on this race... Frog Hall finished in 6th place~ Go Frog!~ :)

                                               Clifford and Bobby talkin' car stuff~ 1992~

Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Clifford started the 1992 BGN season with the intention of running the majority of the schedule for Barry Owen~ This was a tactic Bobby Allison was using so that Clifford wouldn't tear up all of his own cars while gaining his BGN experience~ Bobby fully intended to have Clifford driving for him as early as the 1993 season, but unfortunately that day never came for the elder Allison~ For those of you who aren't familiar with Barry Owen, this team eventually became the #9 FDP Brakes car that Mike Wallace won three races in during the 1994 BGN season~

    In his first race with the team, Allison started 35th in the 1992 "Goody's 300" @ Daytona~ He lasted only 87 laps due to an engine failure, and finished in 29th place~ The team would alternate between the numbers 9 and 91 throughout the season, and had various sponsorships, which consisted of: Mac Tools (1 race), Owen Racing (4 races), Holiday Inn Atlanta (1 race), High Point Bedding (6 races), Sports Image (1 race), and QVC (1 race, but was the sponsor for his Michigan car as well)~

    Allison finished 17th in the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, and 16th in the "Hardee's 200" @ Richmond, and was involved in a lap 3 crash in the "Atlanta 300", which involved 12 cars~ His day was done, and he came home in 36th place~ Jeff Gordon went on to win the race, in what was the first BGN victory of his career~ Clifford finished 17th in the "Miller 500" @ Martinsville, and 24th in the "Mark III Vans 200" @ Darlington~

                                       Allison in front of the #12 @ Daytona~ ARCA 1992~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    In his only BGN start with sponsor "Sports Image", Allison started 21st for the "Budweiser 250" @ Bristol, and finished in 15th place, which was at this point his season best~ He then finished 24th in the "Nestle 300" @ Lanier, and followed that up with a 13th place finish in the "Pontiac 200" @ Nazareth~

    He back stepped in the "Champion 300" @ Charlotte after qualifying 21st, blowing an engine on lap 139, ending his day prematurely, in the 26th position, though he did lead 4 laps during the race~ Allison had the best run of the season in the "Goodwrench 200" @ Dover, where he rolled off 23rd, and held on to a 9th place finish, in what would turn out to be the final top 10 of his career~

    Cliff went on to finish 20th in the "Fay's 150" @ Watkins Glen, and followed that up with a 37th place showing in the "Budweiser 300" @ Loudon, following a lap 94 crash involving Jimmy Spencer~ He qualified 30th for the "Fram Filter 500K" @ Talladega, and came home on the lead lap, in 17th place~ This would be the final time Clifford Allison would finish a NASCAR BGN race~

                                Bobby at the garage with Clifford, Davey, and the family dog~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Next up on the schedule was the "Detroit Gasket 200" @ Michigan.. a track that Allison had finished runner up at in the ARCA series, and he was confident going into the race week that he would have a strong run~ He rolled out for the first practice session and put down a strong lap, and pulled into the garage to have some minor adjustments made to the car before he went out and tried it again~

   On his way out of the garage, he looked at Bobby Allison and said "We're gonna get 'em, Dad~" Those were the final words Clifford ever said to his father~ As he was making his way around the track, his car spun out in turn four, hitting the wall with the left rear of the car first, followed by the car being pancaked on the driver's side~ Allison was killed instantly, although there were attempts to save his life~

   To this day, Bobby Allison still has flashbacks of the wreck, and sees his son there in the car, lifeless~ Eleven months to the day that Clifford died, Bobby only surviving son Davey was killed in a helicopter crash on his way to Talladega to watch Neil Bonnett's son David during a practice session~ Seven months after Davey's death, Neil Bonnett passed away following a practice crash at Daytona~ In the blink of an eye, the Alabama Gang was virtually gone~ I can't imagine what that was like for Bobby, who was going through his own battles following his career ending, nearly fatal 1988 crash at Pocono~

                                              Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Chevrolet~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Well, I'll start this off by saying that in the post here, I'm calling this car a Buick, based off of his stats in the 1992 ARCA series, where he ran this sponsor during 4 races, and notched 2 runner up finishes, whereas he only drove it once in the 1992 BGN series, at Bristol, where he finished 15th~ His BGN car was an Oldsmobile for that race, so that's why I'm calling it a Buick~

    Now, supposedly this is the car that Clifford was driving at Michigan, but to my knowledge, the only thing that's right about that is that it's a Chevrolet, which is what he was driving that day~ What I'm second guessing is the sponsor.. because I was always under the assumption that he was driving a QVC sponsored car that day~ I could be wrong, and the car would make more sense.. but I've never seen any evidence to prove otherwise~

    This car is 1 of 10,000, so it isn't extremely rare, but can be difficult to find at times~ I would price this car in the 12 dollar range, so if you can get it below that, you're getting a pretty decent deal~ This car was also made in a Premier version, as well as 1/24 scale~ I've never seen a 1/43 version, but I've been shocked before, so you never know~

    I'm going to give this car a B- on the Racing Champions quality scale~ It's a nice looking car, I'm a fan of minimalist paint schemes.. but the card leaves me wanting more~ Clifford photos are hard to come by, and I would have preferred a full photo card, showing Clifford standing beside of the car, or just a shot of the car, and a little pic of Clifford in a small square on the card... anything but this~ I'm just not a fan of this card~ Let's move on to the bonus car for this post~

                                          Diggity Dave #11 McCormick Spices Oldsmobile~
Diggity Dave #11 McCormick Spices Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog custom

    I used Rick Mast's #1 Majik Markets Oldsmobile for this one, and it didn't turn out too bad, though I could have did a little better~ I like McCormick spices, and use them all the time, so why not a McCormick race car?~ I think it looks pretty awesome~ If it was on a real car, it would look way better~ I'd be intimidated by this thing on the track!~ :P

    I hope you enjoyed this installment of the NASCAR Racing Champions Blog, and learned about or rekindled memories about Clifford and his family~ I didn't think I'd have time to get a post out this quickly, but it rained last night and some today, and I was able to make time to get this one done thankfully~ It may be a while till the next one though, but if you click the "follow" button on the top right hand side of this page, you will get notified whenever I make a new post.. that way you don't have to keep coming back to check if I've done anything~

   Please share this post on your Facebook, Twitter, etc.~ It really helps get the message out to people who are interested in the hobby/sport~ Below are some random videos, since there's pretty much nothing on Clifford out there~ Included is a review of the Premier version of the Allison car, recorded by  my new friend on YouTube "WimmerTV"~ Check out his videos, and subscribe to his channel for more diecast reviews~ You'll dig it~ Thanks again, and I'll see y'all next time that I do~ :)

                                                 Bobby talking about Davey and Clifford~

                                             WimmerTV reviews Clifford Allison diecast~

                                         Davey, Clifford, Red Farmer, and others at the river~

                                              A moment at the shop with Davey Allison~

Friday, March 31, 2017

Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet

    Hello again to all of you NASCAR Racing Champions diecast fans!~ I've been busy with work the past couple of weeks, so it took me a while to get this post up, but it's finally here.. Terry Labonte's #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet~ This car was driven by Terry for only one season, 1993, and was owned by Billy Hagan~

    Labonte and Hagan had a previous working history together, teaming up to win the 1984 Winston Cup Championship.. but this time around, things were different~ Hagan was on his way out of the sport, after being in the business for 20 years, and the team just wasn't competitive on the track anymore~ So let's jump into this thing, and take a look at Terry's time in the #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet~

                                               Beautiful sky in this Kellogg's promo card~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

    Labonte first teamed back up with Hagan during the 1991 Winston Cup season, driving the #94 Sunoco Oldsmobile~ He did the same for 1992, but the team switched sponsors for the start of the 1993 season, and along with the new colors came a new number, and the car was now #14~ The team also made the switch to Chevrolets for the season~

    Terry qualified 34th for the 1993 Daytona 500, but Lady Luck was on his side during the race~ On lap 92, Labonte narrowly avoided a 13 car pileup, and thanks in part to that crash, he managed to finish in 7th place~ Davey Allison crushed the field, leading for 127 laps on his way to victory lane~ Morgan Shepherd finished second, followed by Geoff Bodine, Alan Kulwicki, and Dick Trickle finished out the top 5~ Racing Champions made a 3 car set featuring the top 3 finishers in this race, and certain ones had the wrong cars in them, and are worth a bit more than the correct version~

    After a 21st place qualifying effort for the "GM Goodwrench 500" @ Rockingham, Labonte was again able to wheel his way up to the front runners, and again came home in the 7th position~ Bill Elliott won the race, in what was a doozy of a battle with Davey Allison, who finished in 2nd place~ Harry Gant was 3rd, followed by Michael Waltrip, and Ken Schrader~ Even though he wasn't in great equipment, Labonte was looking pretty good early on, and was confident moving forward that he could pick up a win before the season was over~ At this point, he hadn't won a race since the "1989 DieHard 500" @ Talladega~

                                       Terry wishing he was still driving for Junior Johnson~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

    Labonte struggled in the next two races... finishing 24th in the "Pontiac Excitement 400" @ Richmond, and 33rd in the "Motorcraft Quality Parts 500" @ Atlanta, after starting from the 8th spot~ After starting 17th in the "Transouth 500" @ Darlington, he was able to turn his bad luck around, and picked up a 9th place finish~ He then had a minor hiccup in the "Food City 500" @ Bristol, finishing 60 laps off the pace, in 21st place~

    After qualifying 6th for the "First Union 400" @ North Wilkesboro, Labonte was able to get as close as he would all season long to a top 5 finish, coming home in the 6th position~ He followed that up by finishing 9th in the "Hanes 500" @ Martinsville~ Hoping to get back to his winning ways at the track where he got his last win, he qualified 38th for the "Winston 500" @ Talladega, which wasn't exactly what he was hoping for~

   He had moved up somewhat during the race, but due to the tight racing that was going on all race long, Labonte was caught up in a hellacious 9 car accident on lap 130, ending his day, and winding up with a 37th place finishing position~ Ernie Irvan went on to win the race, while Dale Earnhardt crashed Rusty Wallace, who flipped his car across the finish line in 6th place~ Jimmy Spencer was second, followed by Dale Jarrett, Earnhardt, and Joe Ruttman had a strong run in the #20 Fina Lube Ford, to finish in the 5th spot~

                                    During 1993, Terry's life was like a bowl of Hate Flakes~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

     He followed up his poor showing at Talladega with an impressive 9th place finish in the "Save Mart Supermarkets 300K" @ Sonoma~ This was followed by four horrid finishes of 33rd in the "Coca-Cola 600" @ Charlotte, 20th in the "Budweiser 500" @ Dover, 32nd in the "Champion Spark Plug 500" @ Pocono, and 20th in the "Miller Genuine Draft 400" @ Michigan~

    Every now and then, someone would toss some fruit into Terry's bowl of Hate Flakes, and he'd pull off a decent finish~ After starting 31st in the "Pepsi 400" @ Daytona, he was able to use his experience to pull off a 9th place finish~ The bad part is that he started 5th in the "Slick 50 300" @ Loudon a week later, and blew an engine with just 20 laps remaining, resulting in a 31st place finish~

   The series returned to Pocono for the "Miller Genuine Draft 500", and after starting 36th, Labonte was able to crawl his way up to a 16th place finish~ He finished 14th in the "Die Hard 500" @ Talladega, and after starting 3rd for the "Budweiser at the Glen" @ Watkins Glen, he encountered issues throughout the race, and had to settle for a 23rd place showing, two laps off the pace of race winner, Mark Martin~

                                               Early promo card for the #14 Kellogg's car~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

    Labonte had his worst qualifying effort of the season in the "Champion Spark Plug 400" @ Michigan, starting dead last in the 41 car field~ He finished in 29th place, 17 laps off the pace of race winner,  Mark Martin~ He qualified 18th for the "Bud 500" @ Bristol, but was caught up in a crash early on, and finished dead last, in 34th place~

    After starting the "Mountain Dew Southern 500" @ Darlington from the 20th position, Labonte blew an engine on lap 299, which resulted in a 33rd place finish~ The race was won by Mark Martin, followed by Brett Bodine, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, and Ernie Irvan, who had taken over Davey Allison's famous #28 Texaco Havoline Ford earlier in the season~

    The rest of the season was somewhat kind to Labonte, starting with the "Miller Genuine Draft 400", where he qualified 23rd, but was able to hang on during the race, with an 8th place finish~  Rusty Wallace fittingly won the race, followed by "Awesome" Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, and Brett Bodine~

                                                  Labonte awaits the start of another race~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

    Qualifying wasn't Labonte's strong point during 1993, and that showed once more when he qualified 27th for the "SplitFire Spark Plug 500" @ Dover~ He was however able to move up drastically during the race, finishing in 8th place~ Rusty Wallace won the race, followed by Ken Schrader, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, and "Handsome" Harry Gant~

    The qualifying bug bit again for the "Goody's 500" @ Martinsville, with Labonte starting from the 29th position.. but just like the Dover race, he charged his way up to the front, and held on for a 7th place finish~ Ernie Irvan had an emotional victory following an extremely dominating race, while Rusty Wallace finished runner up, followed by Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Rudd, and Dale Jarrett~

    In what had to be the team's shining moment of 1993, Labonte qualified 4th for the "Tyson/Holly Farms 400" @ North Wilkesboro~ He actually got out front and led 53 laps, and battled till the end for his chance at victory lane~ In the end, he settled for a 7th place finish, in what turned out to be the final top 10 of Billy Hagan's career as a Winston Cup team owner~

                                                        Terry looking forward to 1995~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

    Terry qualified 22nd for the "Mello Yello 500" @ Charlotte, and didn't fare much better in the race, though he did manage to move up to finish in 16th place~ He qualified 24th for the "AC Delco 500" @ Rockingham, and went home in the 15th position~

    Labonte rolled off from 26th in the "Slick 50 500" @ Phoenix, and finished the race in 14th place, one lap off the pace of race winner, Mark Martin~ Ernie Irvan finished second, followed by Kyle Petty, Earnhardt, and Bill Elliott~ In his final race with the team, Terry started 30th in the "Hooters 500" @ Atlanta, and came home in the 14th spot, one lap off of race winner Rusty Wallace~

     Terry Labonte ended the 1993 Winston Cup season with 30 starts, and 10 top 10's~ He had an average start of 21.9, and an average finish of 18.4, and finished 18th in the final points standings~ He would go on to race for Hendrick Motorsports the following year, and won his second, and final Winston Cup Championship in 1996~ A new team, and a new year can do a lot for a driver sometimes, and the end of the 1993 season was a happy ending for Labonte indeed~

                                       Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993
                                                               Click pics to enlarge~
Terry Labonte #14 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Hagan 1993

    This is by far my favorite car that Labonte ever drove~ It's the best looking Corn Flakes car of all time, in my opinion~ Terry was so bad in this car, that when I first bought the Racing Champions version of it, I thought it was a BGN car~ He was rarely seen during the 1993 Cup season, so I just assumed he was driving it in the Busch series~ In reality, he was driving the MW Windows car in the BGN series during the 1993 season~

    The colors on this car go perfectly together, and creates an amazing looking car~ The paint on the rear tire is messed up, but I don't really mind about that.. just makes it look like a used tire~ I'm gonna give this car an A- on the Racing Champions quality scale~ The car is perfect, but I feel like the card could have been a bit better~ If this car had a better card, it would easily be an A+ car~

    I never was much of a Terry Labonte fan~ He was a good driver, a consistent one for sure, but he was always kind of boring for my tastes~ Although I was never a fan of his, this was one of my favorite Racing Champions cars as a kid~ It was a truly awesome car, from a truly horrible team that would be out of the sport completely following the 1994 Cup season~ Now that we're done with this one, let's take a look at the bonus car for this post~

                                                      Rick Ware #22 Otter Pops Pontiac~
Rick Ware #22 Otter Pops Pontiac Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Watkins Glen D.K. Ulrich

    First things first, this obviously isn't a Pontiac, but heck.. the Rob Moroso car that I used for this one looked pretty much just like the Otter Pops car that Rick Ware drove in the 1990 Budweiser at the Glen, in what turned out to be his only Cup series start~ He qualified 35th in the D.K. Ulrich owned Pontiac, and lasted 42 laps until dropping out of the race due to brake issues, finishing in 36th place~

    Rick attempted to make the field for the 1998 "Save Mart / Kragen 350" @ Sonoma in his own ride, but failed to do so, thus ending his endeavor as a Cup series driver~ He ran two BGN races, 1 in 1990, and the other in 1995, with a best finish of 25th in the 1990 "Pontiac 300" @ Nazareth, where he was also sponsored by Otter Pops, this time in a Chevrolet, and also competed in a total of 16 Truck series races, with a best finish of 13th in the 2000 "O'Reilly 400" @ Fort Worth~

    Ware eventually retired from the sport, and became a car owner, mostly in the BGN/Xfinity series~ As an owner, his stats are 417 total races ran in 10 partial seasons, with 1 top 5, and 4 top 10's~ His drivers are almost always the worst of the worst, and the team has only led a total of 15 laps in 417 races~ Even though Ware sucked as a driver, as well as an owner, he brought the Otter Pops sponsorship to the series, and that's pretty cool~ Jeffrey Earnhardt is the only other driver to drive an Otter Pops car in the Cup series~

    Thank you all for stopping by to visit the blog again!~ Posts may become sparse in the coming months, because I'm gonna be out of state working music festivals... but I'm not gonna forget about y'all~ I'll find a way to get a few posts out here and there, and things should get back to normal in a few months~ Below is some clips spanning Terry Labonte's career~ As I said earlier, he wasn't much in this car, so footage is hard to come by~ Please share this post on social media, and don't forget to click the follow button at the top right hand side of this page~ :)

                                                       Terry and Bobby talk about 1996~

                                                    The spin and win @ Bristol - 1995~

                                                              The Iceman from Texas~
                                                1989 DieHard 500 finish~ Labonte win~


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Pontiac

    Hello again, and welcome to the NASCAR Racing Champions blog~ I hope you didn't get too wild on Saint Patrick's day, and if you did, go get yourself a tall glass of V8 juice with a splash of Tabasco, and come on back here and we'll talk about Jimmy Spencer's time in the #57 Heinz Pontiac, owned by troubled former Cup owner, Rod Osterlund~

    Following the real estate crash of the late 70's - early 80's, Osterlund, who was a big real estate man had lost tons of money~ So much that he had to sell his team to probably the worst Cup series owner ever, J.D. Stacy, just to stay afloat~ The worst part of that deal was that Dale Earnhardt (who was driving for Osterlund at the time) had just won his first of seven Winston Cup Championships~

    Osterlund would return to the series in 1989, following an eight year absence, first with Hut Stricklin, then Spencer, followed  by a three race stint with Jim Bown, and ending with a one off Daytona 500 start for Buddy Baker~ So let's get into this post, and find out how Jimmy Spencer fared in the #57 Heinz Pontiac~

                                            Spencer hanging out in the garage area - 1990~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    Following a partial Cup season driving for Buddy Baker in 1989, Jimmy Spencer signed on to be the driver of Rod Osterlund's #57 Heinz Pontiac, that had been driven the year before by Hut Stricklin, who was fired~ Spencer started 17th in his 125 mile qualifier, and finished in 3rd, netting him a 6th place starting position for the 1990 Daytona 500~

    Spencer found himself leading for the first time in the Cup series when he only took two tires in the pits, and got out in front of Dale Earnhardt~ He led a total of four laps before being gobbled up by the field, and wound up finishing in 15th place~ Derrike Cope ended up winning the race due to Dale Earnhardt cutting a tire down on the final lap~ Terry Labonte finished second, followed by Bill Elliott, Rudd, and Earnhardt ended up finishing in the 5th position~

    Jimmy qualified 21st for the "Pontiac Excitement 400", with Ricky Rudd on the pole~ At the drop of the green flag, Spencer was able to bash his way up through the field to finish in 9th place, scoring his first top 10 with the Osterlund team~ The race was won by Mark Martin, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott, and Dick Trickle, who ran a great race in the Cale Yarborough owned #66 TropArtic Pontiac~

                                                  Spencer on track in the #57 Heinz Pontiac~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    Spencer again had qualifying troubles for the "GM Goodwrench 500" @ Rockingham, where he rolled off 26th, but just like the Richmond race, he was able to claw his way up to finish in 8th, which ended up being his season best finish~ The race was won by Kyle Petty, who completely dominated the event, leading 433 of the 492 laps~ Geoff Bodine finished second, followed by Ken Schrader, Sterling Marlin, and Rusty Wallace~

     Jimmy had a strong car for the "Motorcraft Quality Parts 500" @ Atlanta, tying his season best qualifying position with a 6th place effort~ He wasn't able to do much in the race, but held on to finish in 15th, three laps off the pace of race winner Dale Earnhardt, who led 216 of the 328 laps to take the checkered flag~ Morgan Shepherd was runner up, followed by Ernie Irvan, Ken Schrader, and Mark Martin~

    The team then had a string of bad races, with finishes of 25th (TranSouth 500 - Darlington), 18th (Valleydale Meats 500 - Bristol), and 20th (First Union 400 - North Wilkesboro)~ This was followed up with an 11th place finish in the "Hanes Activewear 500" @ Martinsville, after starting from 21st~ Following this race, the team is in for nasty weather.. I'm talkin' Gilligan's Island style weather!~ Have Mercy!~

                                               Spencer was no match for the Intimidator~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    Spencer qualified 12th for the "Winston 500" @ Talladega, but a blown engine turned his Heinz Ketchup Pontiac into rotten tomatoes, relegating him to a 32nd place finish~ Following this race, he wouldn't qualify higher than 21st for the rest of the season, and would only finish in the top 15 one more time~ Like I said, it gets bad.. it gets really bad~ After qualifying 26th for the "Coca-Cola 600" @ Charlotte, he ended up 21st, six laps of the pace of race winner, Rusty Wallace~

    In the "Budweiser 500" @ Dover, Jimmy couldn't keep his dumb foot off of the gas again, blowing another engine, and finishing in 32nd place~ In the "Banquet Frozen Foods 300" @ Sonoma, Spencer qualified 40th, and still managed to finish three laps down, even though it was a road course~ He finished in 27th place~

    Jimmy rolled off from the 23rd position for the "Miller Genuine Draft 500" @ Pocono, and crashed out before lap 200, finishing in 30th place~ In the "Miller Genuine Draft 400" @ Michigan, he started 21st, and finished in 20th, in what must have seemed like a win for the team, following the horrid finishes they'd been having at the time~

                               A track worker checks on Spencer following a crash @ Pocono~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    Spencer rolled off 33rd for the "Pepsi 400" @ Daytona, and though he finished three laps down, still managed a 15th place run~ In the "AC Spark Plug 500" @ Pocono, he finished 19th, after starting from the 29th position~ After starting 31st for the "DieHard 500" @ Talladega, he was only able to move up a few positions  during the race, finishing in 24th place~

    Jimmy followed this up with a 29th place finish in the "Budweiser at the Glen" @ Watkins Glen, following another blown engine~ He then finished 25th in the "Champions Spark Plug 400" @ Michigan, and managed to crack the top 20 in the "Busch 500" @ Bristol, with an 18th place run~

    Due to his association with the Heinz Company, Spencer had high hopes for the "Heinz Southern 500" @ Darlington, but that was soured when he finished 23rd, seven laps off the pace of race winner, Dale Earnhardt~ Next up was the "Miller Genuine Draft 400" @ Richmond, but Spencer was again hampered with an ill handling car, which resulted in a 27th place finish~

                                  Spencer leads his first Cup series laps in the Daytona 500~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    Jimmy qualified 30th for the "Peak AntiFreeze 500" @ Dover, and finished the race twelve laps down to race winner, Bill Elliott, who crushed the field, leading 364 of the 500 laps~ Elliott was followed by Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, and Michael Waltrip finished out the top 5~

    In the "Goody's 500" @ Martinsville, Spencer qualified 29th, and finished in 18th place, twelve laps behind race winner, Geoff Bodine~ Up next was the "Tyson Holly Farms 400" @ North Wilkesboro, where after starting from 31st, he was able to move up only a few positions to finish in 23rd place~ Mark Martin won the race, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Brett Bodine, Bill Elliott, and Ken Schrader~

     Spencer qualified 34th for the "Mello Yello 500" @ Charlotte, but was involved in crash early on, which took him out of competition, and relegated him to finish last in the 41 car field~ The race was won by Davey Allison, followed by Morgan Shepherd, Michael Waltrip, Kyle Petty, and Alan Kulwicki~

                                          Custom Jimmy Spencer Racing Champions card~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    Following the Mello Yello 500 @ Charlotte, Spencer was fired from the Osterlund team, and replaced with Jim Bown, who drove the remaining three races left in the season, and did even worse than Spencer did, with finishes of  27th, 28th, and 39th~

    Spencer's time in the Osterlund car consisted of 26 races, with 2 top 10's, and 10 laps led~ He earned $219,775 in race winnings, and finished 24th in the points standings, with an average start of 26.3, and an average finish of 21.7~ He would go on to drive Travis Carter's #98 Banquet Frozen Foods Chevrolet during the 1991 Cup season, posting 1 top 5, and 6 top 10's~

    The Osterlund team went on to field Buddy Baker's #88 Marines Pontiac for the 1991 Daytona 500, where Baker qualified 16th, but suffered a blown engine just 35 laps in, resulting in a 37th place finish~ Osterlund then sold his team off, and went back to making tons of money in the real estate business out west~ And that's all she wrote, folks~

                                                   Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Pontiac~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~
Jimmy Spencer #57 Heinz Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1990 Osterlund

    I can tell you one thing for sure.. this car is a lot more appealing than that boring 1990 season Spencer had~ This Heinz car was one of my favorites back then, and it still dazzles me today~ Heinz has the best ketchup in my opinion, and although I'm not a fan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry, I can't knock her ketchup, it rules~

    As with almost all of my custom cars, this one is a Photoshop custom, and not a real diecast~ I sure wish it was real though, because it's pretty amazing~ I'm gonna give this car an A- on the Racing Champions quality scale, with a couple points taken off due to it's just a custom~ After I thought I was done with this one, I had to go back and add the Heinz 57 logo, and I also added the gold rims to match the original car~

    Jimmy Spencer was a raging bull on the track, and that gained him a few fans, but it also cost him a few as well~ Personally, I always liked the guy, and his first Cup win was super awesome!~ I still have the newspaper article from when he won, and I look at it from time to time, and then re-watch the race on YouTube~ Those were some exciting times in NASCAR, and I yearn for them to return~
                                **BONUS CAR** Diggity Dave #16 Chocolate Soldier Buick~
Diggity Dave #16 Chocolate Soldier Buick Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog custom

    This is another one of my Photoshop customs, and it's sponsored by one of my all time favorite drinks, Chocolate Soldier~ Chocolate Soldier was basically like Yoo-Hoo, but much better~ It has been discontinued for several years now, but I can still taste its awesomeness to this very day~

    When I was a kid, we would have races to see who could chug a Chocolate Soldier the fastest~ I would usually win, although the winner didn't get anything for winning, but it's always good to be first at something, even if it is chugging Chocolate Soldiers~

    Thanks again to everyone who visits the blog!~ Please share this post with your friends on social media, and click the "follow" button at the top right hand side of this page~ Below I have included some clips from Spencer's career, enjoy them, and I'll see you next time, right here on the NASCAR Racing Champions blog!~ :)

                                   Spencer pitches a fit on Wally Dallenbach~ Dover - 1996~

                                    Spencer pitches a fit on Kurt Busch, then belts him one~

                                                      All of Spencer's Cup wins~ 3 total~

                            Spencer being awesome and telling the truth about current drivers~