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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

1991 Mello Yello 500 Pontiac event car

    Hello once more, and welcome back to the NASCAR Racing Champions diecasts blog~ In today's post, I'm going to be discussing the 1991 running of the "Mello Yello 500", which took place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 6th, 1991~ Racing Champions made a track/event car for this race, and to my knowledge this was the second time they made a track/event car, with the first being the 1991 "Heinz Southern 500" Pontiac~

    Although this one is technically the second track/event car produced, I'm still leaning towards this was the first one ever made, and Racing Champions just produced the "Heinz Southern 500" car to beat RCCA out of a good idea~ At any rate.. this is one of the first, if not the first one ever made, so let's not waste anymore time worrying about that.. and let's just find out what happened during the 1991 Mello Yello 500~

                                                       Custom Racing Champions card~
1991 Mello Yello 500 Ponitac Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Charlotte #91 Winston Cup

    Coming into the weekend of the 1991 running of the "Mello Yello 500" @ Charlotte, Richard Petty made it official, and announced that he would not be returning after the 1992 Winston Cup season~  A replacement driver wasn't named, but Petty assured fans that he wouldn't be stepping away from NASCAR competition, just from competing himself~

    It was hard for the NASCAR world to talk about much else following that announcement, and Mark Martin's pole position played second fiddle to the King's retirement announcement~ Davey Allison qualified alongside of Martin in the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford, followed by Alan Kulwicki in the #7 Hooters Ford~ With the first three positions being held by Fords, other teams knew they had a hard road ahead of them if they were gonna leave out of Charlotte Motor Speedway with a trophy~

   Nine drivers failed to make the 41 car field, with veterans such as Buddy Baker, and Larry Pearson, as well as Jeff Purvis, Mike Potter, Delma Cowart, Jim Sauter, Randy Baker (Buddy's son), Robbie Faggart, and Tracy Leslie all being sent home early~ Brad Teague make the field in the un-sponsored #99 Ralph Ball Chevrolet, and picked up Pearson's Kellogg's Corn Flakes sponsorship following his failed qualifying attempt~

                       Bobby Hillin's #53 Longhorn Steaks Chevy had problems before the start~
Bobby Hillin #53 Longhorn Steaks Chevrolet 1991 Mello Yello 500 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Winston Cup Martin Birrane Charlotte

    Before the drop of the green flag, Bobby Hillin's #53 Longhorn Steaks Chevy stalled on pit road~ The team was able to fix whatever problem the car was having, and he was sent out with the rest of the field for the start of the race~ Mark Martin's #6 Folgers Ford roared ahead of the field, but the caution flag waved for the first time after only one lap of competition, due to a crash involving Darrell Waltrip, and Dave Marcis~

    During the caution flag, Dorsey Schroeder brought the #66 TropArtic Pontiac behind the wall due to a blown head gasket, and his race was over, resulting in a 41st place finish~ When the racing resumed, it lasted only eight laps before Mike Skinner's #13 Glidden Paints Chevrolet spun out, and brought out the second caution of the day~ An oil line had busted on Skinner's car, and his day was done, with a 40th place finish~

   When the green flag dropped for the third time of the day, it lasted for only one lap before Richard Petty and Sterling Marlin were sent spinning, bringing out the third caution in only 18 laps~ Both cars were able to continue on, and up to this point, and the race didn't have its next victim until Gary Balough's #27 Terminal Trucking Pontiac dropped out of competition on lap 42 with a broken camshaft~ At this point of the race, Mark Martin had led every lap of the event, and looked very strong as the race continued~

                                               Mike Skinner's #13 Glidden Paints Chevrolet~
Mike Skinner #13 Glidden Paints Chevrolet Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1991 Charlotte Winston Cup Thee Dixon

    Well, if you're a superstitious kind of person... you can easily see why Mike Skinner didn't last long in the race, with a green car and the #13~ I've tried a couple times to make a custom of this car, but it just never works out right.. anyway, back to the race~ Kenny Schrader took the #25 Kodiak Chevrolet behind the wall after 59 laps with piston issues, and following that, the race went pretty smooth for a change, and so they were off on a 110 lap green flag run~

    The yellow finally came out on lap 130, due to a crash involving Ernie Irvan and Kerry Teague~ Teague got loose coming out of turn 4 when Dave Marcis went by him on the outside, causing him to lose control of the #95 Texaco & Powerup Oldsmobile~ Irvan was collected when he was told by his spotter to go high, and he decided to go low... he then smashed the entire right side of the #4 Kodak Chevrolet into Teague's car~

    Teague's day was done, resulting in a 37th place finish, but Irvan's crew went to work on the Kodak machine in hopes of salvaging some valuable championship points~ The team eventually got the car repaired, but Irvan was over 50 laps down by that point~ NASCAR wouldn't allow his car back on the track with just a roll cage on the right side, so the team strapped their pit sign to the side of the car, and sent Irvan back onto the track~ The funniest thing about this is that they put the sign on upside down, so Irvan's car looked pretty absurd to say the least~

                                                       I told ya' it was pretty absurd~ :P
Ernie Irvan #4 Kodak Chevrolet Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1991 Charlotte Winston Cup Morgan McClure

    As the race was under caution for the Teague/Irvan crash, Hut Stricklin's #12 Raybestos Brakes Buick blew a piston, which put an end to his day, and he finished 36th~ When the race resumed, Mark Martin picked up where he left off, and was blowing the field away~ He was on his way to a fairly easy victory when his engine blew on lap 212, ending his day with nothing but a 35th place finish to show for it~

   Dale Earnhardt inherited the lead following Martin's demise, and the race continued on caution free for 22 laps until a five car accident involving Ricky Rudd, Derrike Cope, Morgan Shepherd, Jimmy Hensley, and Dave Marcis brought out the fifth caution of the day~ This was the only race during the 1991 season where Ricky Rudd failed to finish in the top 20~ Dave Marcis finished 34th following his second wreck of the day, with Cope finishing 33rd, and Rudd finished 32nd~

   Greg Sacks was the next victim of the race, when his engine blew in the #47 Kanawha Insurance Oldsmobile, resulting in a 31st place finish~ Ernie Irvan finished 30th in his dead Kodak Chevrolet, followed by Bobby Hamilton, who had a tremendous run going in the #68 Country Time Oldsmobile before his engine blew~ Morgan Shepherd would limp home in 28th place after being involved in the five car accident from earlier in the event~

                                 D.W. and Brad Teague's #99 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet~
Brad Teague #99 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1991 Winston Cup Charlotte Ralph Ball

   The final caution came out when Stanley Smith and Jimmy Hensley spun out~ Smith's day was done after running a decent race all day long, and Hensley continued after being involved in his second accident of the day~ Smith would finish 22nd, while Hensley finished in 20th~ Dale Earnhardt's engine blew after 302 laps, ending his day with a 25th place finish~

   Davey Allison took over the lead following Earnhardt's exit from the event, and it looked like it was gonna be a battle between Allison, Harry Gant, and Alan Kulwicki for the victory~ All three drivers made pit stops nearing the end of the race, but Geoff Bodine and the #11 Budweiser Ford team decided to stay out and gamble on fuel for the win~

   Jimmy Means and Jimmy Spencer both dropped out of the race within minutes of each other, and both were for ignition problems~ Means finished 24th, while Spencer came home 23rd~ Brad Teague finished 21st in the #99 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet, in what turned out to be his only Cup start of the year following DNQ's in the Daytona 500, as well as the Coca-Cola 600~

                                       Another torn up Bob Whitcomb Purolator Chevrolet~
Derrike Cope #10 Purolator Chevrolet Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1991 Charlotte Bob Whitcomb Winston Cup

    Wally Dallenbach was able to get a decent finish out of Junie Donlavey's #90 Motorsports Sportswear Ford, finishing 19th for the underfunded team~ Rick Wilson had a quiet, yet productive run in the Stavola Brothers #8 Snickers Buick, finishing 17th without ever being shown on television that day~ He was like a Snickers ghost~

    Joe Ruttman brought the #75 Dinner Bell Oldsmobile home in 16th for RahMoc Enterprises, and Kyle Petty picked up a top 15 finish in the #42 Mello Yello Pontiac with his 15th place showing~ Ted Musgrave was shown quite a bit during the race coverage, as he drove the #55 Jasper Engines Pontiac to a 14th place finish~

   Rick Mast's day was equally quiet to Wilson's, but Mast was able to crawl all the way up to a 13th place finish in the #1 Skoal Classic Oldsmobile, owned by Richard Jackson~ Richard Petty pulled out a great finish in the famed #43 STP Pontiac after announcing that he would retire following the 1992 Winston Cup season, picking up a 12th place finish despite being involved in the third caution of the day~ Bill Elliott finished 11th in the #9 Coors Light Ford, after starting from the 9th position~

                                Kulwicki's team makes adjustments during a mid race pit stop~
Alan Kulwicki #7 Hooters Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1991 Charlotte Winston Cup

   About as surprising as the King's 12th place finish was Chad Little's 10th place showing in the #19 Bull's Eye Barbecue Sauce Ford, owned by his father, Chuck Little~ Chuck's career as a NASCAR owner was a little bit odd in the fact that Chuck's first time as an owner in the Cup series came in the 1975 season, with himself as the driver, in what turned out to be his only Winston Cup start~ He qualified 19th for the "Winston Western 500" @ Riverside, and finished 28th after blowing the engine only 35 laps into the event~    

   He wouldn't own a Cup series team again until the 1990 season, when his son Chad needed a ride~ He owned Chad's Cup team for two season, and folded following the 1991 season~ This race was the only top 10 the team ever got, though Chad did have several great runs in the car during the '91 season, not to mention he had one of the coolest looking paint schemes of all time!~ At any rate, I'm sure his top 10 in this race felt like a win for the family owned team~

  Darrell Waltrip must have been drinking whatever Richard Petty was drinking, because he was able to wheel the #17 Western Auto Chevrolet back to a 9th place finish, following his lap 2 incident with Dave Marcis~ Brett Bodine finished 8th in the #26 Quaker State Buick, owned by Kenny Bernstein, and he was followed by Michael Waltrip, who finished 7th in the #30 Pennzoil Pontiac, owned by Chuck Rider, who passed away on July 10th, 2005~

                              Morgan Shepherd heads for pit road following  the lap 234 crash~
Morgan Shepherd #15 Motorcraft Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1991 Winston Cup Charlotte Bud Moore

   Terry Labonte miraculously finished 6th in the lame duck Billy Hagan owned #94 Sunoco Oldsmobile~ Hagan's team hadn't been competitive in some time, and the team would only manage four more top 10 finishes before folding following the 1994 season~ Billy Hagan passed away on November 16th, 2007, and I honestly didn't know that until I was doing research for this post~

   Sterling Marlin must have made the drink that Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip were drinking, and I guess he drank a little more of it than they did, because he brought the #22 Maxwell House Ford home in 5th place, following his crash with Richard Petty earlier in the event~ Junior Johnson must have been a happy man that day, but you wouldn't have known it if he was... he wasn't much on emotions, especially back then... he's mellowed out a little more as he got older~

 "Handsome" Harry Gant did everything he could to get Leo Jackson's #33 Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile to the front of the pack, but he never was able to keep up with the raw power the Ford teams had, but still pulled off a 4th place finish, one of two Oldsmobiles in the top 10, with Labonte being the other~ Michael Waltrip was the only Pontiac in the top 10, Brett Bodine was the lone Buick, and Darrell Waltrip's battered #17 was the only Chevrolet to achieve top 10 status~ The rest were Fords, and this race kicked off a streak of 9 straight wins for the blue oval teams~

                                      I'd also prefer Richard Petty over Ty Detmer for QB~
NASCAR Racing Champions 1/64 diecast blog 1991 Winston Cup Charlotte TBS Ty Detmer Richard Petty

   Alan Kulwicki drove the #7 Hooters Ford to a safe, clean, 3rd place finish, although thanks to Bodine's fuel strategy, he was one lap down~ Davey Allison was the only driver left on the lead lap besides Bodine, but he was too far behind to catch up, and the caution flag he so desperately needed never came, so he was forced to settle for the runner-up spot~

  Geoff Bodine's team was caught cheating before the "Coca-Cola 600", so people were still a little bit mad at him and Junior Johnson.. but that just fueled Johnson to come back and prove his point, and that's exactly what they did~ Some have speculated that the team had illegal stuff on it that day, Larry McReynolds went totally bonkers, saying he could prove that the tank was illegal, but when it was all said and done, Geoff Bodine won the 1991 "Mello Yello 500"~

  Though he probably would have still lost, Ricky Rudd's poor finish in this race helped to seal the 1991 Winston Cup championship over to Dale Earnhardt, in what was his fifth championship, and second back to back championship of his career~ This was final win during Bodine's tenure with Junior Johnson, as he would be replaced by Bill Elliott at the end of the season~ He picked up the Bud Moore #15 Motorcraft ride after Morgan Shepherd left to drive for the Wood Brothers, following Dale Jarrett's departure for Joe Gibbs Racing~      

                                                 1991 Mello Yello 500 Pontiac event car~
1991 Mello Yello 500 Ponitac Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Charlotte #91 Winston Cup
                                                              Click pics to enlarge~
1991 Mello Yello 500 Ponitac Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Charlotte #91 Winston Cup

    So here we have what I'm calling the very first Racing Champions track/event car~ Like I said in the "Heinz Southern 500" post, RCCA had ordered this car to promote the "Mello Yello 500", and it's my theory that Racing Champions realized this was a good idea, and so they came up with the "Heinz Southern 500" car since it was a few races before the "Mello Yello 500"~

   This proved to be a lucrative business move, as track/event cars are still being made to this day, and it all started with this one~ This car originally came with a set of earplugs that said RCCA on the case, and didn't come with a card, stand or standard packaging~ I made the card in Photoshop and stuck it in the picture~

   As far as rarity goes, this car isn't impossible to find, but it's getting harder to get it with the original earplugs~ It's a historic car, being the first of its kind, but it's not that special looks wise~ I like the huge Mello Yello 500 logo on the side, and the silver rims~ The race was much more exciting than the car, but the historical nature of the car makes up for its unappealing color~ I would have preferred a green car, with yellow and white trim~ I give this car a C+ on the Racing Champions quality scale, because it didn't come with a card, and it's pretty bland, and on that note, let's check out the bonus car for this post~

                                                   Diggity Dave #84 White Castle Ford~
Diggity Dave #84 White Castle Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog custom Mike Alexander

    I've got several of these Diggity Dave "fantasy" cars, so I have to put them in the posts from time to time, though I've got a lot of awesome real cars made up to post~ I've just got to balance it out from time to time~ Anyway, this time I'm in the #84 White Castle Ford~ I've only been to a White Castle one time, and that's when I was playing music still, and was in Columbus Ohio for a show at Bernie's Distillery~

   The morning after the show, we went to White Castle for breakfast, which turned out to be a bad idea~ I had gotten drunk at the show the night before, and locked my keys in the car..  so we busted the driver side window out like a bunch of dummies~ So we're driving in near winter with a busted out window, and I didn't have a valid license at the time~ I used an old Elvis Presley shirt tucked into the door to shield the wind from coming in, which was illegal as heck, but I was young~

   Anyway, the whole way back.. all three of us were having to stop and use the bathroom every 20 minutes~ haha~ The White Castle food hated us... I think you've gotta build up a tolerance for it, because we were all basically dying~ We survived obviously, and so I made this car~ Thank you all for stopping by the blog, I hope you enjoyed this post, and I'll be back soon with another one~ Please share this post, and click the follow button at the top of the page here~ Below are some random NASCAR videos because there weren't any videos from the 1991 Mello Yello 500, except for the full race~

                                             Darrell Waltrip doesn't like Geoff Bodine~

                                                           NASCAR pit road drama~

                                                    Buffet Benny~ North Wilkesboro~
                                     Rain stories with Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, and B.P.~


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford

    Hello once again diecasts fans, and welcome back to the NASCAR Racing Champions blog~ In today's post, we're going to be taking a look at Evergreen Speedway, in Monroe, Washington.. and more specifically, we're gonna be rehashing the 1991 "Motorcraft Quality Parts 500", which was the main event in a weekend long excursion at the famed Speedway~

    Evergreen Speedway is a .646 mile paved track, that has a seating capacity of 15,000~ The track consists of 5/8 mile outer oval, as well as a 3/8 mile inner oval, a 1/5 mile inner oval, a 1/8 mile drag strip, and a figure 8 track, are all incorporated into the track layout~ While the Cup guys had the weekend off, Bill Elliott and several other Cup drivers headed to Evergreen Speedway to compete in the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, in the Winston West Series~ So here we go, off to Monroe, Washington and the Evergreen State Fairgrounds~

                                              Elliott pitting in the 1990 "Motorcraft 500"~
Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford NASCAR Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Evergreen 1991

    The weekend kicked off on Friday, July 12th, with what I would assume would have been a practice, or qualifying session~ I'm not sure what they did on Friday, but they did something~ This was followed up the next day with the "Sound Advice 100", a 100 lap Winston Northwest Tour race~ Canadian Pete Harding led 76 laps from the pole position, but was spun late in the race by Dirk Stephens, who was passed three laps later by Ron Eaton, who led the final 16 laps on his way to the checkered flag in the #7 Lake's Body Shop Pontiac~

   On Sunday, July 14th, the main event took place, and the field was already set for the "Motorcraft Quality Parts 500", with Sterling Marlin beating out Bill Elliott for the pole position, with a lap of 98.907 mph~ Marlin was driving the #22 Maxwell House Coffee Ford, owned by Junior Johnson, while Elliott was in the #9 Motorcraft Ford, owned by Harry Melling~

   Other notable drivers in the field consisted of Rick Carelli, Chad Little, Ron Hornaday, Jr., Geoff Bodine, Bill Sedgwick, Hershel McGriff (ran his final race at age 84, and claims he's going to race one more next year, at age 90), and Jim Bown, along with series regulars Bill Schmitt, Mike Chase, Butch Gilliland (David Gilliland's father), Robert Sprague (Jack Sprague's cousin), and John Krebs~

                                                     Front of the Racing Champions card~
Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford NASCAR Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Evergreen 1991

    From the very start of the race, this thing was a wreck fest~ It's a shame this race isn't posted anywhere on the internet, because it sure seems like a wild, awesome race~ I'm just having to make stuff up the way it looks on the record books~ So on the very first lap of the race, there were two separate crashes that took out three drivers~ The first crash happened when Mike Chase got tapped from behind, and collected Larry Gunselman following his spin, and the second happened on the lap following the crash, when Wayne Jacks couldn't get his car slowed down enough, and he rammed into the wreckage of Chase and Gunselman~

   By the end of the race, the caution flag waved 14 times, totaling 105 laps ran under yellow~ Along with the crashes, eight teams suffered blown engines in the grueling event~ Pole sitter Sterling Marlin led 24 laps before fading, and eventually crashing out of the race on lap 279~ Chad Little started third, and he took the lead over from Marlin, and stayed there for 80 laps before his engine expired on lap 180~ Bill Schmitt stayed out under caution and led four laps, and John Krebs led a lap during green flag pit stops~

    Bill Sedgwick got out front in the #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet, where he led a total of 13 laps in the Wayne Spears owned machine, but for the most part at this point, it was Geoff Bodine leading the way in the #11 Budweiser Ford, owned by Junior Johnson~ With his second car out of the race, Johnson was banking on Bodine to make up the difference, and pick up the win for the famed team~

                           Someone had to put this sticker on the back of every card for this one~
Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford NASCAR Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Evergreen 1991

    Bill Elliott was the 1987 winner of this event, and the pole winner in 1990, and with his outside pole for this event, many people were rooting for Awesome Bill to pull it off again at Evergreen that day~ Bill's approach for the race was to lay low, and save his stuff for the end of the race... a wise move considering how many engine/mechanical issues teams were having~

    The bad thing was, he waited a little too long, and as he was trying to work his way to the lead, he was caught up in a crash on lap 417, which ended his day with a 12th place finish~ With Bill's exit from the event, only 14 of the 36 drivers who started the race were left out there~ The 10th place finisher was 46 laps down.. it was a slaughterhouse to say the least~

    In the end it was the dominant Budweiser Ford of Geoff Bodine who would come out victorious, having led 378 of 500 laps on his way to victory lane~ BGN regular Jim Bown was runner-up, followed by Bill Sedgwick, Jon Paques in the #09 Red Line Oil Ponitac was fourth, and Billy Jac Shaw finished out the top 5 in the #93 Taco Bell Buick, owned by Troy Beebe's father, Allen~ Bodine won the race from the 21st starting spot, in his only ever race at Evergreen Speedway~

                                                        Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford~
Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford NASCAR Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Evergreen 1991
                                                              Click pics to enlarge~
Bill Elliott #9 Motorcraft Ford NASCAR Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Evergreen 1991

    I was really excited to get to work on this post at first, but once I found out that there was no film of it anywhere on the internet, and no photos from the 1991 event, I was pretty bummed out~ Footage and photos are all we have left to remember these races by, other than stat sheets, and when there is not footage or photos, a part of history is all but forgotten~ I did everything I could to find out more about this event, but it's just one of them things where sometimes all you can do just isn't good enough~

   This is a great looking car however, and the card is beyond awesome for the 1991 set~ Why couldn't Racing Champions make awesome cards like this for all of the drivers?~ Some guys got pretty junky looking cards, and that sucks~ I tried to look up if there was a possibility of Motorcraft becoming a primary sponsor for Elliott at some point during his tenure with Junior Johnson, but I couldn't find anything about it, so I'm guessing this was just a deal they had when they ran the Winston West races~

   I give this car an A+ on the Racing Champions quality scale, as it's a beautiful car, and an awesome card~ I really wish I could have found more out about the race, but sometimes you just come up empty~ Maybe someday in the future someone will post the race, or photos from the event, and I can include them into the post at that time, but until then, this is all we've got.. so let's move on to the bonus car for this post~

                                              Steve Boley #10 Ingram Racing Chevrolet~
Steve Boley #10 Ingram Racing Chevrolet 1992 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog BGN Busch

    Well, this was probably the easiest Photoshop custom I've ever made~ In 1992, Steve Boley made his BGN debut in this #10 Ingram Racing Chevrolet, owned by Jack Ingram~ Ingram bought up some old Sterling Marlin #10 Maxwell House cars, well.. at least one, and simply took the Maxwell House logos off of it, and ran it with the same paint scheme that Marlin raced with~

    Boley's first race was the "Miller 500" @ Martinsville, where he qualified 29th, and finished 18th~ He then ran the "Mountain Dew 400" @ Hickory, where he crashed out after 198 laps, and finished 21st~ His best finish came at Lanier for the "Nestle 300", where he qualified 21st (career high), and finished in 8th (career high)~ His final race for Ingram came in the "Granger Select 200" @ Dublin, where he rolled off 24th, and finished in 19th place~

    Steve made two more starts in the BGN series in 1995, with a best finish of 25th @ Richmond in the "Hardee's 250", driving the #05 Key Motorsports Chevrolet, owned by Curtis Key~ He was a dirt track ace from Iowa, as well as the 2000 NASCAR O'Reilly All-Star Dirt Track Series champion~

    Thank you all for visiting the blog~ Please share this post on social media with your friends, and click the "follow" button that the top right hand side of this page~ Below are some videos on Bill's career, since I can't find any footage of the Evergreen race~ Enjoy them, and I'll be back soon for another installment of the NASCAR Racing Champions blog~ :)

                                                       Bill Elliott - In Their Own Words~

                                                         Bill Elliott flips at Eldora - 2007~
                                                          Bill Elliott Coors commercial~

                                                       Crazy Racing Man - Bill Elliott~

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Ford

    Hello, and thanks for stopping back by the NASCAR Racing Champions blog~ With Summer now officially over, and the weather starting to cool down, I'm hoping I'll be able to get these posts done quicker, and more often~ It seems like I always post more in the fall/winter months, and I'm sure that trend will continue this year~ The winter time gives me time to sit around and get all nostalgic for old NASCAR history~ So much goes on during the short off-season in the NASCAR world, and a big part of the winter months was spent talking about driver/team changes, and Daytona Speedweeks~

    Back in 1994, Hut Stricklin was getting a lot of attention after parting ways with Junior Johnson after only one season in the #27 McDonald's Ford, to drive the #23 Smokin' Joe's Ford for rookie Cup series owner, Travis Carter~ This was a totally new team, and Hut had high hopes that this would be the start of something good~ That sadly never happened, which we'll soon learn, as we look back on Hut Stricklin's sad 1994 season driving the #23 Smokin' Joe's Ford~

                                             Camel hyped the heck out of Hut Stricklin~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    By the time 1994 rolled around, Hut Stricklin had already been racing full time in the Cup series for six years, and had spent basically all of that time driving in sub-par equipment, for sub-par teams~ He ran his rookie season with Rod Osterlund, who was on his way out of the sport by then, and drove for Bobby Allison from 1990-1992, and Bobby wasn't pumping money into his race team, but Hut still had some great runs with that team, having his career best season in 1991 with 3 top 5's, and 7 top 10's~

    He next went on to have a disastrous 1993 campaign driving Junior Johnson's #27 McDonald's Ford~ The team was sponsored quite well, but Johnson's divorce from his wife that year had his mind elsewhere, and the team suffered without Johnson's full attention, and Hut finished the season with 1 top 5, and 2 top 10's~  Stricklin left the team at the end of the season to drive for Travis Carter, and was replaced by Jimmy Spencer in the #27 car~

    After driving for such junky teams, I'm sure Hut was enjoying all the attention he was getting from his Camel sponsorship~ Camel had tons of money to throw at the team, and they advertised the heck out of Stricklin and the newly founded team~ In every magazine, you'd see a picture of Joe Camel and the race car, it was all over the place, and people loved it~ This car was amazing looking back in 1994, and I was a huge fan of this team, and at first.. a lot of people were pulling for them~

                                                            Hut on track, smokin' it up~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    By the time Speedweeks was underway, it was obvious it was gonna be a rough season for Stricklin, and he eventually started the 1994 Daytona 500 in 38th place~ At least he made the field for the race... 69 drivers showed up for their shot to make the Daytona 500, two of them (Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr) died, one (Jimmy Means) retired due to Neil Bonnett's passing, and 24 others were sent home to try another year~

   Stricklin's car was a turd for the entirety of the race, and he had to settle for a 33rd place finish, 26 laps off the pace of eventual race winner, Sterling Marlin, who won his first Cup race driving the #4 Kodak Chevrolet after 279 attempts~ He beat out former Kodak driver, Ernie Irvan, who was driving the #28 Texaco Ford, Terry Labonte (who was driving the #5 Kellogg's car for the first time), Jeff Gordon, and the wily veteran Morgan Shepherd finished out the top 5, driving the #21 Citgo Ford~

  The following week at Rockingham for the "Goodwrench 500", Stricklin was again slow (this will be a recurring theme during this post), qualifying 24th, and finishing 26th, fourteen laps off the pace of race winner, Rusty Wallace, who destroyed the field, leading 347 of 492 laps on his way to an easy victory of Sterling Marlin~ The win was Rusty's third in a row at Rockingham, and his first win driving a Ford~ Rick Mast was 3rd in the #1 Skoal Classic Ford, followed by Mark Martin, and Ernie Irvan~

                                          Things were smokin' alright, but it was fail smoke~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    At this point, one would assume things couldn't get much worse for the highly hyped new team, but the Smokin' Joe's team was just getting started, and they proved that by failing to qualify for the "Pontiac Excitement 400" @ Richmond, in only the third race of the season~ Stricklin was able to bounce back somewhat at Atlanta, for the "Purolator 500", and although he qualified 39th, he was able to drag his car up to a 17th place finish, which at this point, must have felt like a win... or at least a top 5~

    Moving on to Darlington for the "TranSouth Financial 400", Stricklin cracked the top 20 for the first time in qualifying, with a 15th place effort~ He would slip a couple spots to again finish 17th, but remained a stagnant 33rd in the points standings~ The next stop on the schedule would bring the Smokin' Joe's Racing team into Bristol, for the "Food City 500", where Stricklin would qualify 26th, but due to the amount of carnage in the race, he was able to squeak out a 14th place finish~

    Chuck Bown won the pole award for the event, in what turned out to be his only Cup series pole~ Bown was driving the #12 Masterbuilt Ford for Bobby Allison, and was slaughtered by Rusty Wallace in the early goings of the race, and he finished 23rd~ The race was won by Dale Earnhardt, followed by Kenny Schrader, Lake Speed, Geoff Bodine, and Michael Waltrip~ Dave Marcis also picked up his final career top 10, with a 10th place finish in the #71 Tri-City Aviation Chevrolet~

                    Chuck Bown got the Smokin' Joe sponsor for Richmond following Hut's DNQ~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    Following the Bristol race, Stricklin and the team then posted back to back 20th place finishes in the "First Union 400" @ North Wilkesboro, and the "Hanes 500" @ Martinsville~ This was followed up with an 18th place finish in the "Winston Select 500" @ Talladega, and another 20th place run in the "Save Mart Supermarkets 300" @ Sears Point~ In the next three races, Stricklin would put on his best performance of the season, and perhaps the team started thinking things were finally gonna go their way for a change.. we'll just see about that~

     After qualifying 40th for the "Coca-Cola 600" @ Charlotte, the Hutster held on to the end, and finished the race four laps off the pace of race winner Jeff Gordon (his first career Cup win), in 12th place~ Sadly, Loy Allen, Jr. still beat him, as Allen finished 11th~ Rusty Wallace finished second, followed by Geoff Bodine, Dale Boringsticks Jarrett, and Ernie Irvan~

    Stricklin again qualified poorly for the "Budweiser 500" @ Dover, with a 38th place starting spot, but pulled off his best finish of the season with a 9th place showing~ Rusty Wallace won the event, followed by Ernie Irvan (who was a complete beast in 1994, until the crash), Kenny Schrader, Mark Martin, and Jeff Gordon~ I'm sure at this point Stricklin was pretty pumped up.. but he was setting himself up for disaster, and there was no way out.. at least until after Atlanta~

                                Midway through the season, the team switched to this scheme~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    Hut qualified 23rd for the "UAW-GM Teamwork 500" @ Pocono, and was able to move up to finish 13th by the checkered flag, one lap off the pace of race winner, Rusty Wallace, who won from the pole, leading 141 of 200 laps~ Dale Earnhardt finished 2nd, followd by Kenny Schrader, Morgan Shepherd, and Mark Martin~ The following week at Michigan, Hut finished 22nd in the "Miller Genuine Draft 400", and this started a downward spiral for the team that would last nearly the rest of the season~

    Back at Daytona, where this disaster first begun, Stricklin qualified 20th for the "Pepsi 400", but a blown engine less than 50 laps into the event relegated him to a 42nd place finish~ Things didn't get much better the following week at Loudon for the "Slick 50 300", where after qualifying 30th, Stricklin finished a dismal 36th place~  Back at Pocono the following week, the team managed to do a bit better, with a 22nd place finish in the "Miller Genuine Draft 500"~

    Stricklin's next three races consisted of a 25th (DieHard 500 - Talladega), a 36th (Brickyard 400.. can you believe he even made the field for that one!~), and a 30th in the "Bud at the Glen"~ He then failed to qualify for the"GM Goodwrench Dealer 400" @ Michigan, which was the race that Ernie Irvan had his bad practice crash in~ Robert Yates considered putting Hut in the #28 car since he DNQ'd, but Ernie wasn't expected to live, so the team withdrew the car from the event~ 

                                          The #23 Smokin' Joe's car hauler was pretty nice~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    In his return to Bristol for the "Goody's 500", the lights must have gotten to him, because he didn't have the same luck he had in the Spring race, qualifying 26th, and finishing 35th, after crashing out on lap 142, after already being many laps down at that point~ Rusty Wallace went on to win the race in his famous "Midnight" car, followed by Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, and Bill Elliott~ After getting a top 10 finish in the Spring race, Dave Marcis failed to make the show for the night race~

   Next up was the mean ol' "Mountain Dew Southern 500" @ Darlington, and Hut qualified 36th for the treacherous event~ Geoff Bodine won the pole for the event in the #7 Exide Ford, but as usual in 1994, he blew the engine, and finished 27th~ Mark Martin and Kenny Schrader both had fast cars, and led a lot of laps, but both had problems before the end of the event, and Bill Elliott held on to take the victory in the #11 Budweiser Ford, in what was Junior Johnson's final win as a car owner, and Bill's last win until 2001~

   With a season this weird, you'd just have to know that going back to Richmond, where he failed to qualify in the Spring race, he goes and qualifies on the outside pole, breaking the previous track record, along with first time pole sitter, Ted Musgrave, who was driving the #16 Family Channel Ford~ Stricklin took the lead early, and led for 5 laps, but a flat tire late in the race knocked him out of contention, and he finished in 30th place~ 

                                              Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's promo card~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    In the "SplitFire Spark Plug 500" @ Dover, Hut qualified and finished in 32nd place~ He then finished 23rd in the "Goody's 500" @ Martinsville after leading 21 laps early in the event, and 22nd in the "Tyson Holly Farms 400" @ North Wilkesboro~ A really funny thing about that Wilkesboro race... Dale "Boring head" Jarrett failed to qualify in the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet~ Also, Geoff Bodine lapped the entire field on his way to an extremely dominating performance, leading 334 of 400 laps on his way to the checkered flag~

    Stricklin then finished 21st in the "Mello Yello 500" @ Charlotte, and followed that up with a 27th place finish in the "AC-Delco 500" @ Rockingham~ I remember this race very vividly, because I was pulling my hair out, rooting for Rick Mast to get his first career Cup win, but dang ol' Dale Earnhardt ruined it all~ Mast had to settle for second after leading 58 laps, followed by Morgan Shepherd, Ricky Rudd, and Terry Labonte~

    The Smokin' Joe's team next headed to Phoenix for the "Slick 50 500", where Hut brought the Camel machine home in 24th place~ In the final event of the season, Stricklin fittingly qualified 39th, but managed to bring the ol' Ford home for the final time with a respectable 16th place finish~ The long, hard, agonizing season with Travis Carter was officially over and done with... and I don't think anyone could have been happier than Hut Stricklin that the season of suck was finally over for good~

                       "Camel Powered"?~ It was more like "Dick Trickle's Ashtray Powered"!~ :P
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    This post kind of made me sad to write, because it doesn't do Hut Stricklin justice~ It makes him look like a crumby driver, and he really wasn't~ In my opinion, he's one of the best to never win in any of the top 3 divisions of NASCAR~ Heck, he never even ran a single truck race.. I think he would have been a beast in that series~ His problem was he just never got a decent shot in the Cup series~ He made those junky cars he drove perform better than they should have, but it was never enough, and was never going to be enough~

    No one ever won a race driving for Travis Carter, and I think Carter is the main reason Jimmy Spencer didn't win more Cup races.. he just stayed with Carter for so long, driving those junky cars that didn't stand a chance... and he did get some decent finishes out of them, but in better equiptment, the guy would have won muliple races per year for nearly a decade.. again, these are just my opinions... who really knows?~

    Stricklin ended the 1994 season having started 29 of 31 races, with 1 top 10 (Dover), and 26 laps led~ He finished 26th in the final points standings, with an average start of 28.4, and an average finish of 23.3, and was a lead lap finisher in one event (Sears Point)~ Stricklin was out of a ride after being replace by Jimmy Spencer in the #23 car at the end of the 1994 season, but following the disaster of the "Steve Kinser experiment", he was picked to drive the #26 Quaker State Ford for Kenny Bernstein~ The team folded at the end of the season, but Hut had a decent year, winning the pole at Rockingham, and netting 2 top 5's, and 5 top 10's for the fading team~

                                                 Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Ford
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~
Hut Stricklin #23 Smokin' Joe's Camel Ford Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 Winston Cup Travis Carter

    Well, here she is.. in all of her wretched glory~ Now, this car originally comes in a plastic case, with a purple base that says "Camel Powered"~... so I guess it wasn't ever meant to be taken out and handled, but.. a guy like me just can't resist the urge.. I've just gotta crack the thing open, and dig in~ So.. at first touch, you'll notice that this car feels unlike any other Racing Champions car.. well, it feels like the Prototype cars... like fine sandpaper, or a sand shark~

    The paint on the car is in a boring matte finish, which I'm not a fan of, and I just don't like anything about the paint on this car~ I do love the car, and it looks nice.. but it feels like junk, and the wheels barely roll, and they squeak a lot when they do roll~ It's probably one of the junkiest jobs Racing Champions did this late in the game.. by 1994, they'd pretty much worked the bugs out of the molds, and could produce nice cars.. so I don't know why they did this to this poor car~

    This could also be the reason why Action produced the Camel cars after this one, and theirs are much better than this version.. by far~ I hate to say that, but it's just true this time~ This is still a very awesome car to add to your Racing Champions collection, and it looks real nice, minus the matte paint~ I made the card in Photoshop, as this one just comes in that purple base case that I mentionted earlier~ I'm giving this car a C- on the Racing Champions quality scale, as I feel like they could have done a better job, and probably lost the Camel account due to the shoddy job they did on this car~ This car had one of my favorite paint schemes at the time, and I still think it looks pretty danged awesome to this very day~ Let's move on to the bonus car for this post~

                                                 Troy Beebe #9 Taco Bell Chevrolet~
Troy Beebe #9 Taco Bell Chevrolet BGN 1991 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Busch Beefer

    Troy Beebe was born in Modesto, California on January 5th, 1962~ He ran his first ever BGN race in this car during the 1991 season, where he competed in 23 events, notching his only career top 10 finish  in the "Kroger 200" @ IRP, with a 10th place run~ Beebe finished a career high 22nd in the final point standings that year, with an average start of 24.4, and an average finish of 21.4~

    He ran the #24 Banana Boat Ford/Chevrolet/Buick for the 1992 BGN season, competing in 14 events, with a best finish of 15th in the season opening "Goody's 300" @ Daytona, and finished 33rd in the final points standings, with an average start of 28.6, and an average finsh of 25.4~

    He ran 8 races in 1993, with a best finish of 17th in the "Polaroid 300" @ Rougemont~ These races were also sponsored by Banana Boat, with the exception of the Milwaukee race, where he picked up sponsorship from FDP Brakes~ He ran his final top 3 tier NASCAR race in 1997 Truck series, finishing 39th in the "Carquest Auto Parts 420K" @ Las Vegas, driving the #06 Farris Concrete Chevrolet~

   Well, that's about it~ I hope you've all enjoyed this edition of the NASCAR Racing Champions blog, and I look forward to seeing you around for the next one~ Below I've added some videos from Hut's career.. there's not enough Camel footage, so I had to just go with what was out there~ Enjoy them, and thanks again for stopping by the blog!~ Please share this post on social media, and click the "follow" button at the top right hand side of this page~ :)

                                             Hut kills the Raybestos car at Bristol - 1991~

                                      Stricklin kills the Smokin' Joe's car - 1994 Watkins Glen~ 
                           Hut races Richard Petty to the line~ 1991 Gatorade 125's Race 1~
                                          BGN Volusia County 1992~ Troy Beebe #24 spin~