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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~


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car

    Welcome back to the NASCAR Racing Champions diecast blog~ As Labor day approaches each year, I know it's getting time for two things... my family reunion, and the Southern 500 at Darlington~ Eat a bunch of food, and watch an awesome race... it doesn't get much better than that for me~ I had other plans for this Darlington throwback weekend post, but I didn't get enough time to finish those plans.. so maybe next year~ :P

    Though I wasn't able to proceed with my original plans, I did have one more Southern 500 car that I hadn't did a post on as of yet~ Heinz sponsored the Southern 500 from 1988-1991, and Racing Champions made a 1/64 diecast for the event, for RCCA.. who packaged the car with a pair of ear plugs, and sold them at the event~ As far as I know, this was the first track/event car ever produced by Racing Champions, as I don't have any older than this one, and have never seen any examples of any older ones~ If anyone knows of an older one, let me know in the comment section below, and for now, let's just get into this special "throwback" edition of the 1991 Heinz Southern 500 post~

                                     1990 winner Earnhardt on the cover of the 1991 program~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

     Before I get started, I just want to point out how happy Dale looks up there on the cover of the program for this event~ That smile wouldn't get to be there very much at all the following season, as he would win only one race, and finished 12th in points~ Can't blame that all on Dale however... 1992 was just the year of the Fords, and everyone else was just out there racing for a top 5 or 10.. getting beat out by Bobby Hamilton in a Tri-Star car~ :P No disrespect to Bobby, but Tri-Star was a miserable heap of a team, and continues to be the same~

    Blah, blah, blah.. Tri-Star sucks... anyway, back to this '91 Southern 500~ Well.. in my opinion, probably the saddest thing about this particular Southern 500, was that H.B. Bailey failed to make the field~ The Southern 500 at Darlington was always his favorite event of the year, and he was already pretty low on funding, so not making the race was a huge hit to his small independent team~ Not only did he not make the race, but he was the only driver who failed to make the show~ Davey Allison put the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford on the pole for the event~

    A couple of slow heads did however manage to make the field, as the #48 of James Hylton, and the #82 of Mark Stahl were both black flagged for being severely off the pace of the field~ The first casualty of the event was Chad Little, driving the #19 Bull's Eye Barbecue Sauce Ford~ Chad brought out the first caution of the event when he spun out in turn 3, and later lost the engine completely, and finished 36th~

                                                        Chad's motor goes up in smoke~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Shortly after Little's engine expired, Alan Kulwicki's #7 Hooters Ford blew up, quickly followed by Lake Speed's #66 TropArtic Pontiac, as well as the #71 Big Apple Markets Chevrolet, driven by  Dave Marcis~ It was around this point where Dale "Boring" Jarrett did something entirely boring... spinning around and stalling his car in turn 4~ His father, Ned Boring was in the booth being extremely boring, talking about Dale Boring constantly the entire event, as usual~

    They talked about Dale Boring for a long time, and showed his car being worked on behind the wall, and Ned Boring said they were done for the day~ To Mr. Boring's surprise, his son Dale Boring's car returned to the track in less than 15 laps, and resumed racing to the joy and amazement of the elder Boring~ By this point, Rusty Wallace had also lost an engine in the #2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac~

    As Ned Boring continued to give minute by minute updates on his son Dale McSnoremaster Boring, Jimmy Spencer's car died out with valve issues, followed by more blown engines, this time from the #41 Kellogg's Chevrolet, driven by Larry Pearson, the #6 Folger's Ford of Mark Martin, and the #52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac of fan favorite, Jimmy Means~ Also during this time, Michael Waltrip pulled a Michael Waltrip and wrecked all over the place, causing two caution periods less than 70 laps apart~

                             The Boring's doing what they do best.. thinking about themselves~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    In the early parts of the race, and deep into the latter half, it looked like Davey Allison was easily on his way to victory lane from the pole position~ His #28 Texaco Ford was leaps and bounds better than any other car on the track~ I'm bouncing all over the place in this post, but I forgot to mention that Buddy Baker's son, Randy was also in this race~ He qualified 35th in the #87 Armour Classics Chevrolet, owned by his grandfather, Buck Baker~

   Baker's car spun out early in the race, and never was up to speed with the rest of the field~ He settled near the back of the pack, and finished in 26th place, mainly due to all the engine fatalities~ He was able to beat out Michael "The Human Pinball" Waltrip, who bounced his way to a 27th place finish~ Waltrip was the lowest finishing car still on the track, and I'm sure he was happy when the race was over~

    That moves us up to 25th place, and wouldn't Ned Boring just love to be the one to say it... Dale Boring limped his way to a 25th place finishing position~ I'm sure Ned mentioned how great Dale's car was before the problem, and how he would have won the race if not for mechanical issues~ I swear.. just the other day I heard Dale Boring comparing the Jarrett's to the Earnhardt's and the Petty's~ Now, I'm no big fan of Dale Jr., but to compare Dale and Ned Boring to Ralph and Dale Earnhardt, or Lee and Richard Petty... that's just pure donkey doo~ I wanted to crawl through the tv screen and punch him right in that big fat nose of his~ Ok, I promise I'm done talking about the Boring's for the rest of this post~ :P

                                           I swear this Coors Light car was cursed for Bill~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Early on in the race, something happened to Bill Elliott's #9 Coors Light Ford.. I'm not sure what it was, but he was able to continue, though several laps down~ He would go on to finish 18th in the event~ That Coors Light car was one of my favorite Elliott schemes, but he sure did have bad luck in that car.. especially during the 1991 season~ I'm hoping this is going to be Chase Elliott's throwback scheme for the 2018 Darlington throwback race, and hopefully he can even get the Coors Light sponsorship for that race~

    Darrell Waltrip started the event from the outside of row #6, but quickly tanked his way to a 24th place finish~ Darrell wasn't ever the same following his 1990 crash, and he spent the remainder of his career second guessing himself, instead of just going out there and racing~ Dick Trickle had a little spin during the race, but still brought the #24 Team III Racing Pontiac home in 23rd place, driving for conman Sam McMahon, who only lasted one season in the sport~

    Kyle Petty returned from injuries sustained 11 races earlier at Talladega, and was running fairly well until his engine gave out on lap 357, demoting him to a 22nd place finish~ Former Pepsi 400 winner Greg Sacks brought the #47 Kanawha Insurance Oldsmobile home in 21st place after qualifying in 33rd, and Ted Musgrave picked up a top 20 finish in the #55 Jasper Engines Pontiac, finishing 20th in the D.K. Ulrich owned machine~

                                               Davey and Gant battled throughout the event~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Morgan Shepherd had an up and down race before settling in to finish 19th in the #15 Motorcraft Ford~ It was announced during the event that Geoff Bodine would be in that car for the 1992 season, while Shepherd drove for the Wood Brothers~ Hut Stricklin finished 17th in the #12 Raybestos Brakes Buick, owned by Bobby Allison~ 

    In 16th place, in what was his next to last Southern 500, was the King, Richard Petty, driving the famed #43 STP Pontiac~ He would go on to finish 20th in his final Southern 500 the following year~ Darlington wasn't very kind to Richard during his career, as he won only three races at the historic track in his 35 year career~

    Ricky Rudd started the day in 18th, and crawled his way up to finish in 15th place in the #5 Tide Chevrolet, owned by Rick Hendrick~ Rudd would form his own team following the end of the 1993 season, and took the Tide sponsorship with him~ In my mind, that was the worst decision he ever made in his NASCAR career, as he wasn't very fast in his own cars~

                                      Gant's car gets adjustments midway through the race~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Following some adjustments made during pit stops, Gant's car started hooking up, and battling harder with Allison for the lead~ Allison had him covered for the most part, but didn't know if the wily veteran was holding back for a late race charge, so he was a bit addled~ This caused Allison to try that much harder to stay ahead of Gant in the later stages of the race~

    Brett Bodine brought the #26 Quaker Cheat Ford home in 14th place for car owner Kenny Bernstein~ I call it the Quaker Cheat Ford because I'll never forgive him for taking Darrell Waltrip's win away at North Wilkesboro~ That still makes me angry to this very day, and in my eyes, Waltrip has 86 career wins, not 84~

    Rick Wilson (one of my childhood heroes) brought the #8 Snickers Ford home in 13th place, in a nice run for the Stavola Brothers team~ Wilson at one point was knocked out of the way by the leaders, but maintained and picked up a decent finish~ I loved that Snickers car, but I still wish Wilson would have stayed with Morgan-McClure~ I just know he would have had at least a couple wins with the team had he stayed with them~

                                                       Davey blows a tire, and the race~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Rick Mast actually led 8 laps in the #1 Skoal Classic Oldsmobile before fading later in the race, and finishing in 11th place~ Mast was another one of my favorites from back then, and easily one of the top drivers to have never won a Cup race~ The main problem Mast had was he was too nice of a driver, and wouldn't block or crash someone for a win like Earnhardt would do, which isn't really a bad thing, but when you're a NASCAR driver, sometimes you've gotta get a little dirty if you wanna be in victory lane~

    Bobby Hamilton also led for 5 laps in Mark Smith's #68 Country Time Oldsmobile~ If you're not familiar with Smith, he was the owner of the horrible Tri-Star team, until his untimely death earlier this year~ Hamilton was able to pick up the second of four top 10's on the season, and later went on to win Rookie of the Year honors, after a season long battle with Ted Musgrave~

    Joe Ruttman had a fine 9th place finish, driving the #75 Dinner Bell Foods Chevrolet for RahMoc Enterprises~ I always had a disdain for RahMoc following the 1989 season, because Rick Wilson jumped ship from the Kodak car to drive for them~ They canned him following an unsuccessful 1990 campaign, in favor of Ruttman~ I always liked the Dinner Bell car though.. I wish they would have made a Racing Champions version of it, but that just never happened~

                                                         Gant takes control of the race~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    As Davey was leading the race, a pop rivet came loose and cut his tire down, allowing Gant to take full control of the race, and knocking Allison out of contention for the win~ Davey would go on to finish in 12th place following the incident, after leading a total of 151 laps, in yet another race he "should have won, but didn't" for the hard luck Allison~

    Dale Earnhardt was the crowd favorite at the start of the race, and led a total of 22 laps early on, but wasn't able to stay with the leaders for the majority of the event~ He managed to salvage an 8th place finish out of it anyway, and later went on to win the 1991 Winston Cup Championship, his fifth at the time, and second back to back championship~ He would also win his 6th, and 7th championships back to back in 1993 and '94~ 

    Geoff Bodine's helmet had to be cut off of him after the race, due to his head being so swollen by the fact that he beat Dale Earnhardt with his 7th place finish~ Ok... so I lied about that part... but it sounded cool, and was probably close to the truth, knowing Bodine's hatred for Earnhardt throughout his career~ Bodine qualified 4th for the event in the #11 Budweiser Ford, owned by Junior Johnson~ Bill Elliott would take over the reigns of that ride the following season, winning five races, and finishing second in the Winston Cup points championship~

                                      Gant cruises to victory in the #33 Skoal Bandit Olds~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Sterling Marlin finished 6th in the #22 Maxwell House Coffee Ford, also owned by Junior Johnson~ Junior had to be at least a little bit happy about having both of his cars in the top 10.. but I'm sure he was probably just bitter and mad looking, just like he always was/is~ Junior wasn't very happy unless he was winning, but that's how all of the older guys were, for the most part~ Well, not really.. but some of them were like that.. not just Junior~ Gosh.. this sure is a scatterbrained post~ :P

   In a season of never ending doom, despair, and agony.. Terry Labonte finally got a top 5 in the #94 Sunoco Oldsmobile, owned by Billy Hagan~ It was to be his only top 5 of the 1991 campaign, but he would go on to regain his championship stature five years later, when he won the 1996 Winston Cup championship~

  Good ol' Derrike Cope finished 4th (freakin' 4th!!) driving Bob Whitcomb's #10 Purolator Chevrolet~ Cope won his only two Winston Cup races in the previous season, and some people just talk a bunch of junk about him, but I'm gonna tell ya' somethin'... if you can get a top 5 finish at Darlington.. in the 500... you're a danged wheel man~ No doubt about that at all~ Cope's win at Dover was probably more awesome than his win at Daytona, because that's a wheel man's track as well~ So heck yeah for you, Derrike Cope!~ He also has the coolest throwback car for the upcoming 2017 Bojangles Southern 500~ :)

                                    Gant wins $100,000 from the Winston Million program~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Ken Schrader had a quiet, but prosperous race, finishing 3rd in the #25 Kodiak Chevrolet~ Schrader is another driver that I felt should have had a few more wins that he ended up with~  The guy's an outstanding racer, so to only get four wins in some pretty decent equipment is just all on him~ I feel like he held back when he shouldn't have at time, like Rick Mast~ Mark Martin was that way a lot too~ He would have won a lot more if he would have drove more like Earnhardt and early Waltrip did~

    Ernie Irvan finished runner up in the #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet, and I feel like this finish right here shows that this team was a well ran, quality, front running threat at any track~ They won on road courses, speedways, superspeedways, short tracks.. they could win at any given track, just like the top dog teams of the sport~ That was impressive to me, because I lived maybe two minutes away from their race shop, which was located in Abingdon, Virginia~ I really wish Wilson would have stayed with them.. I know I've already said that, but gosh.. I keep thinking about it~ It just haunts my NASCAR memories forever.. that and Bill Elliott stealing Wilson's Pepsi 400 win away~ :(

    Ernie used to drive for the Food Country team too, and their shop was right beside of the Morgan-McClure shop~ They had been there longer than Morgan-McClure had, and I used to go over there a lot with my Dad and watch them work on the cars~ Ernie was there a lot, and he was a funny guy~ He was always playing pranks on people, or mooning the crew guys~ Food Country had never had a driver act like that before, and I thought it was funny, but I missed Brad Teague~

                                                          Gant celebrates in victory lane~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Harry Gant led a race high 152 laps on his way to the checkered flag in the #33 Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile, owned by Leo Jackson~ His winnings on the day, including the $100,000 in Winston Million bonus money were $179,450~

    This win would be the start of a month Harry Gant, and NASCAR fans everywhere will never forget, as he went on to win every race in the month of September, thus garnering the nickname "Mr. September"~ The coolest part about all of this is that Gant was doing it all at the age of 51, and he wasn't even done yet~

    Harry went on to win two more Winston Cup races at the age of 52, as well as winning in the Busch Grand Nations series until the age of 54~ He returned to run a limited schedule in the Craftsman Truck series at age 56, where he picked up 4 top 10's in 11 starts~ I still feel like Gant could run well in the Busch series, and he's 77 now~ He's a tough guy, and a hard worker... something NASCAR doesn't have much of anymore~ I do like Ryan Blaney, though~

                                                     Front of the Racing Champions card~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018
                                                                    Rear of the card~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018
                                                1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car~  
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~
1991 Heinz Southern 500 Pontiac event car Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog track Darlington throwback 2017 2018

    Well, here it finally is.. the first (known to me) Racing Champions track car ever produced~ And now I'm going to give you my theory on it's arrival~ The second track car Racing Champions ever produced was the 1991 Mello Yello 500 Charlotte car, and it was produced for RCCA, and packaged with a set of ear plugs with the RCCA logo on the box~

    So my theory is that when Racing Champions got the call from RCCA for a track/event car, they decided that was a good idea, and wanted to put one out before the RCCA Charlotte car came out~ The Southern 500 is a NASCAR legend, so what better race to make an track/event car for than Darlington~ After that, I'd imagine that Racing Champions told RCCA that they were going to make their own Racing Champions line of track/event cars, so that was the end of that little friendship~

    This car is a little rough, being an earlier model Pontiac, that's to be expected.. but for the most part, it's a nice car, and a pretty decent design~ The front of the car is lacking the Racing Champions logo, though not all track/event cars had the logo on them~ The image on the card is very grainy, and just not a very good photo, but other than that, I like the design of the card front~ The back of the card gives a brief rundown of the track and some of its history.. Geoff Bodine is even mentioned, and they spelled his name right.. haha~

    All in all, I give this car a C+ on the Racing Champions quality scale~ It's a cool car to have, but the quality is shoddy, and the photo is grainy, and not the best~ As a collector of NASCAR Racing Champions stuff, it's a must have for the track/event car sets~ There's only 1 first, and this one is the first, as far as I know~ Anyway.. here's a special two part bonus post, as my tribute to the 2017 Bojangles Southern 500 Darlington weekend~

                                               Kyle Busch #18 M&M's fantasy throwback~
Kyle Busch #18 M&M's Darlington Throwback Toyota 2017 2018 Racing Champions diecast blog Greg Sacks Slim Fast

    I was working at BMS when Kyle Busch swept the weekend, and while I was there.. I came up with an idea to make a fantasy throwback Kyle Busch M&M's Racing Champions car~ The day after the race, I Photoshopped this one up, using the #18 Slim Fast Chevrolet of Greg Sacks as my "donor" car~

    I think it would be cool if Kyle honored the memory of the #18 Slim Fast car next year in the Southern 500~ It was a nice looking car, and it already goes well with the M&M's theme, being yellow and all~ It wouldn't have to use these specific logos.. that's just what I could find at the time, and I was in a hurry~ So it would look better than this, but still using the Slim Fast car theme~

   A lot of current fans aren't fans of Kyle Busch, but he's the closest thing on the track to the driving style Dale Earnhardt had, or the early days Darrell Waltrip~ He's got a junky temper/attitude sometimes, but he's pretty funny the way he trolls the anti-Kyle Busch people~ He may not have a good personality, but he's got plenty of personality, and that's a good thing no matter how you look at it in these times~ I like Kyle Busch, and I hope he has many more successful years in the sport~

                                       Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Beer Ford fantasy throwback~
Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Darlington throwback 2017 2018 Racing Champions diecast blog fantasy Joe Ruttman Fina Lube

    Well, I'm real glad I made that Kyle Busch car, because after I got done, I was like.. "I can make a better one than that"... and so this car happened~ I have to pat myself on the back a little bit on this one, because I think this is my favorite fantasy custom I've ever made~ Everything about it is pretty great, and it's even on a Ford body, unlike the Busch car which was on a Chevy body instead of Toyota~

    The "donor" for this one was Joe Ruttman's #20 Fina Lube Ford, which came originally in a promo packaging, with no stand~ The red band around the bottom of the car really makes this car sizzle~ That's exactly how the Ruttman car looked, minus the Fina Lube logos, and I added those contingencies on there, the Ruttman car only had the Goodyear paint above the tire~ Now I want Harvick to drive this car next year in the Southern 500 too~ hahaha~

    I give this car an A+ all the way around~ I may not have been perfect, but it's darn close, and pretty good for a novice~ I love to look at this car.. I had it on my other computer monitor for days just staring at it~ I'm not a big Harvick fan, but this car is awesome looking~ Well, I'm finally out of words for this post~ I hope you've all enjoyed it, and I hope we're all around to enjoy the upcoming Bojangles Southern 500 this weekend!~ I have added some old Darlington videos below for your enjoyment, and please click the follow button above to subscribe to the blog~ :)

                                                         1991 Heinz Southern 500 Finish~

                                            1980 Southern 500 finish - recorded on a taco~
                                         1978 Southern 500 finish - recorded on broken taco~

                                            1990 Heinz Southern 500 Winston Cup Replay~



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace / AC-Delco Pontiac

    Hello, and welcome once more to the NASCAR Racing Champions blog!~ In today's post, I'm going to be taking us back to the 1992 BGN season, where we'll relive Joe Bessey's time in the #9 Auto Palace/AC-Delco Pontiac~ This was a beautiful car, and one of my personal favorites of the time period~

    Bessey competed in nine events during the 1992 BGN campaign, as well as having one DNQ for the "All Pro 300" @ Charlotte~ He entered six races driving his own car, two for Dennis Shoemaker in the #64 Pontiac, and one for (I'm assuming) Ed Whitaker in the #7 Pontiac~ I say assuming because that's the number Ed ran back then, and I could never find who the owner of that car was when Bessey drove it~ Now before I tell the whole story in the intro, let's get this show on the road~

                                                     Bessey heading towards pit road~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    Joe's first start in the Auto Palace/AC-Delco Pontiac came in the 1992 BGN season opening "Goody's 300" @ Daytona~ The Busch North regular qualified 14th for the event, which is pretty danged impressive, considering 10 drivers failed to make the 44 car field, including Harry Gant, Tommy Ellis, and Terry Labonte~

    Michael Waltrip put Chuck Rider's #30 Pennzoil Pontiac on the pole, with "Front Row" Joe Nemechek on the outside of row number one, driving the #87 Texas Pete/Lozito's Chevrolet~ From the start of the race, down to the checkered flag, this race was cram packed full of action, as well as bad crashes~ Canadian driver Randy MacDonald's #01 GM Auto Parts Pro Shop Pontiac was involved in a crash early on, and his car caught on fire~ Later in the race, the same would happen to Joe Nemechek, who nearly lost his life due to the severity of his fiery crash~

    As the race was nearing its conclusion, Butch Miller's #75 Food Country USA Oldsmobile lost an engine, sending Miller spinning into the grass, and bringing out the final caution of the day~ As the race got back underway, it was a six car battle for the victory, with Dale Earnhardt coming out victorious, followed by Ernie Irvan, Ward Burton (his first Daytona start!~), Jimmy Spencer, Robert Pressley, and Rick Mast, who finished 6th in the #0 Skoal Classic Oldsmobile~ Bessey was involved in a crash on lap 66, which also involved Shawna Robinson, and the damage was too much to repair, knocking him out of the race, with a 35th place finish~   

                                      Bessey seemed to be around Shawna a lot back in '92~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    Bessey was back for the next race on the schedule, the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, and this is the race where he ran the #7 Pontiac~ Clifford Allison was in the #9 car, and since he qualified higher than Bessey, who was a Busch North driver, he was awarded the #9 for the race, but I don't understand why Bessey then went with the #7~

    In other races where this was the case, he ran the #91 car, and #91 wasn't entered in this race.. so I'm confused as heck about his number choice for this event~ When I started writing this post, I thought maybe for some reason he was in an Ed Whitaker car for this one, but now I'm thinking that wasn't the case.. for the simple reason that Whitaker didn't run Pontiacs.. he mainly ran Buicks around this time~ So I've come to the conclusion that this #7 car was owned by Quint Boisvert, who owned a #7 car during the 1992 season, with Curtis Markham making at least two starts in the #7 Skoal Bandit Pontiac~

    The pole was won by Jeff Gordon, driving the #1 Baby Ruth Ford (his second career BGN pole), and there were no DNQ's for this event~ Bessey qualified 28th, but ran well, led for 25 laps, and avoided accidents throughout the night, narrowly missing his first career top 10, with an 11th place finish~ Ward Burton fought off Mark Martin to win the event in the #27 Gwaltney's Big 8's Buick~ A 1/64 diecast was produced by "Trackside Collection" of Ward's winning car, with a production run of 20,000 pieces~ Davey Allison finished third, followed by Dale Earnhardt, and Kenny Wallace~

                                                      Bessey getting serviced in the pits~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    It must have bothered the heck out of Bessey that he didn't get that top 10 finish at Rockingham, because he was back the following week for the "Hardee's 200" @ Richmond, where he qualified 26th~ Jeff Gordon won the pole again, and Chuck Bown started alongside him on the front row~ As the race got underway, Bown passed Gordon before he could lead a lap~ He would lead the first 47 laps, before Bobby Labonte took over in the #44 Slim Jim Chevrolet~

    Labonte led the next 61 laps, before being passed by Harry Gant in the #7 Mac Tools Buick~ Gant led the remaining 92 laps of the event on his way to victory~ Kenny Wallace was second in the Rusty Wallace owned #36 Dirt Devil Pontiac, followed by Bobby Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, and Joe Nemechek, who never missed a race following his fiery crash at Daytona~ Nemechek would go on to win the 1992 BGN championship by season's end~

    Bessey (who was driving the #91 car due to qualifying lower than Clifford Allison) ran a strong race all day long, and it paid off in the long run, as he would score his first BGN career top 10 with a 10th place finish~ This would also be his season best finish during the 1992 BGN season~ Following the race, Bessey found himself 11th in the BGN point standings~

                                                       Bessey battles at New Hampshire~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    Bessey and team then followed the series to Atlanta, for the "Atlanta 300", where he was back in the #9 car thanks to beating Clifford Allison out in his qualifying session, where he qualified 33rd, while Allison rolled off from the 36th position, driving the #91 Holiday Inn Atlanta Oldsmobile~ Jeff Gordon won his third pole in a row, and Tracy Leslie turned some heads as well, putting the #72 Detroit Gasket Oldsmobile on the outside of row number one~

    The race had only gotten underway when a large twelve car pileup happened, putting several big name drivers out of the event, including Ernie Irvan, Tom Peck, Ward Burton, Darrell Waltrip, Chuck Bown, Clifford Allison, and Shawna Robinson~ Bessey was also involved in the accident, but was able to continue on, though he was several laps down due to repairs~ He ended up finishing 23rd, thanks in part to so many cars being crashed out of the event~ This was also the only time during the season that Bessey drove an Oldsmobile~ I would imagine this is because he crashed his car during practice, and leased a car from someone else before the start of the race~

    Jeff Gordon had the dominant car pretty much all day long, and easily went on to win his first career BGN race~ Rick Hendrick was there watching in the suites that day, and Gordon's win caught the eye of the famed owner, who went on to sign Gordon at the dismay of the Ford Motor Company~ Harry Gant came home in second place, followed by Hut Stricklin, Davey Allison, and Morgan Shepherd~ Dave Mader III also had a great run, finishing 6th in what would be his final career top 10, as well as the final race of his NASCAR career~ (He attempted to qualify for the Charlotte race in 1995, but DNQ'd)~

                                                        Promo shot of Bessy's #9 Pontiac~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    I don't know this for sure, but after Bessey crashed the Oldsmobile that I figured was leased to him because he totaled perhaps the only car he had, he started driving the #64 Pontiac for Dennis Shoemaker, and I think it was just because he didn't have a car, but still had his sponsorship, which was transferred over to the Shoemaker cars~

   Bessey ran two races for Shoemaker in the #64 Auto Palace/AC-Delco Pontiac ("Pontiac 200" - Nazareth, "Goodwrench 200" - Dover~), with a best finish of 24th in the Nazareth race~ He blew an engine in both events, but was able to save up enough money to purchase another car for his own team, and returned to driving his own cars for the remainder of the season~

    Following the Atlanta race, Bessey found himself 12th in the BGN point standings, but following his seven race absence, he dropped all the way down to 30th~ By the time he had finished his two race stint with Shoemaker, he fell two more spots to 32nd~ He would run three more events during the 1992 BGN season, two of those three were at Loudon, N.H., in what was considered his "home track", even though he was from Maine~
                                                    Bessey gets spun out by Jeff Gordon~

    Back in his own #9 Pontiac, Bessey qualified 10th for the "Budweiser 300" @ Loudon, with Kenny Wallace winning the pole in the #36 Dirt Devil Pontiac~ Bobby Labonte was alongside Wallace on the outside of row number one, and 46 drivers started the race, with no known DNQ's~

    Jimmy Spencer had a heck of a car, driving the #20 Daily's 1st Ade Oldsmobile, but he was involved in a crash with Clifford Allison which ended his day less that 100 laps into the event~ Hut Stricklin also had a fast machine, leading 71 laps in the #92 Stanley Tools Oldsmobile before ignition problems ended his day prematurely~

    Todd Bodine looked like the car to beat nearing the checkered flag, but he ran out of gas with five laps remaining, and wound up finishing in 6th place~ The lead was then passed to Jeff Burton, who led the remaining five laps to win the event~ Robert Pressley was second, followed by Bobby Labonte, Tom Peck, and Curtis Markham, who earned his best career finish with his 5th place run~ Bessey's car was damaged throughout the race, resulting in a 21st place finish~

                                                          Bessey's #9 at New Hampshire~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    Five races later, the BGN series was back at Loudon for round two, and Bessey made his first start since the last Loudon race~ He qualified 16th for the event, while Ernie Irvan claimed the pole position in the #4 Kodak Oldsmobile, with Chuck Bown on the outside of row number one in the #63 Nescafe/Nestea Pontiac~

   Ernie was in a league of his own until his engine gave out, then it was a battle between Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Burton~ Burton finally faded away, but Joe Nemechek came up and started battling with Earnhardt, finally taking the lead with 43 laps remaining~ Nemechek and Earnhardt put on one heck of a show, in what was easily one of the top 3 greatest finishes ever at Loudon, but in the end, it was Nemechek who came out victorious, after battling side by side with Earnhardt on the final lap to take the win~

   Bessey was involved in a spin that also involved Mike Stefanik, who had the same sponsor as Bessey, though I doubt they were teammates~ The spin dropped Bessey to a 17th place finish, while Stefanik finished 15th~ Todd Bodine finished third, and was followed by Jeff Gordon, and Ken Schrader~ Dick McCabe had a nice 12th place finish in the #0 Fisher Snow Plows Buick~

                                                       More battlin' at New Hampshire~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    Bessey ran his final face of the 1992 BGN season in the "AC-Delco 200" @ Rockingham, where he rolled off from the 15th position~ Jeff Gordon won the pole, and Ward Burton was on the outside of the front row~ For some reason, Bessey drove the #93 for this event~ Mike Wallace drove the #9 car, but he qualified below Bessey, so Bessey should have had the #9.. and why he didn't use the #91 is beyond me~

   Mark Martin crushed the field all day long, leading 140 of 197 laps on his way to the checkered flag~ He beat out pole winner Jeff Gordon, who was followed by Todd Bodine, Darrell Waltrip (this was Darrell's final BGN top 5), and Harry Gant~ Bessey finished where he rolled off, in 15th place, three laps off the pace of the race winner~

   Bessey ended his 1992 BGN season with 9 starts, with 1 top 10, 50 laps led, with an average start of 19.0, and an average finish of 20.2~ He earned a total of $32,618 on the season, and finished 42nd in the final point standings~ Bessey would go on to earn one career win in the BGN series when he won the 1997 "MBNA 200" @ Dover~ He ran basically the entire 1993 BGN series schedule driving the #97 Auto Palace/ AC Delco Pontiac/Chevrolet/Oldsmobile, and a few races with "Delco Battery" in 1994, before losing the Delco sponsorship~

                                           Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace/AC-Delco Pontiac~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National
                                               What's with all of this extra information?~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National
                                                                Click pics to enlarge~
Joe Bessey #9 Auto Palace AC Delco Pontiac Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 BGN Busch Grand National

    I don't usually add a photo of the back of the cards, because they're usually all the same.. the driver's name, date of birth, and residence, as well as their signature, and that's about it~ But just look at Bessey's card!~ I'm surprised it doesn't list his favorite color, and favorite food~ They listed so many details that there was no more room to put his signature at the bottom of the card~ I don't know of another Racing Champions card that has this much information on the back, especially from the 1992 set or before~

   The car itself is a real beauty, and one of my favorites~ I've also got his #97 Delco car in 1/43 scale, and I think I like it better than this one~ The blue rims are just an added bonus, though his car did have them in real life~ It's nice to see them on a Racing Champions car~ With the exception of a few minor details, this car is the spitting image of his 1992 BGN car, and I'd give it a B- on the Racing Champions quality scale, mostly due to the dumb picture they used for the card~ What an awful card this thing is!~ I'm sure even Bessey himself would agree with me on that~

   Though the card sucks, I really enjoy having this car in my collection~ It's a very noticeable car when displayed along with the rest of the 1991-92 set, and it's easily one of the top 10 best looking cars from those sets~ Once I can get a little bit of extra money saved up, I'm gonna get someone to make me some custom Racing Champions cards for the drivers who had dumb cards~ It's just not fair to have an awesome car, and some boring looking card~ Let's move on now and take a look at the bonus car for this post~

                                                     Rick Mast #2 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac~
Rick Mast #2 Alka Seltzer Ponitac 1990 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog custom D.K. Ulrich Charlotte Coca-Cola 600 Jimmy Means

    Here we have the Rick Mast #2 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac, driven by Mast in the 1990 "Coca-Cola 600" @ Charlotte~ Mast only drove this Alka-Seltzer sponsored Pontiac once, due to the fact that it wasn't his sponsorship to begin with~ Jimmy Means' #52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac failed to make the field for the event, so he passed his sponsorship over to the Ulrich team, which was sponsorless at the time~

    Mast qualified 36th for the event, and blew up a little past the halfway point, resulting in a 31st place finish~ Rusty Wallace totally destroyed the field all night, leading 306 of the 400 lap endurance race, on his way to victory lane~ Bill Elliott finished second, followed by Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip, and Ernie Irvan, who drove the #2 Ulrich Ponitac during the 1989 season, with sponsorship from Kroger~ 

    This is a pretty awesome car, and to tell you the truth, I was unaware of it until the other day~ Whenever someone finds my blog through Google search, etc., the blogger site shows me what the keywords were in their searches~ The other day I noticed someone found my blog by typing "Rick Mast #2 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac".. and it intrigued me~ So I found a picture of the car, and got to work on making a Racing Champions car featuring Rick in the Alka-Seltzer car~ So it's all thanks to some unknown race fan that this one was made~ It would be cool if that person eventually sees this picture, and realizes it was made because of their search~

    Thank you all for visiting the blog once more~ Please share this post on social media, and click the "Follow" button at the top right hand side of this page~ Below are some videos featuring Bessey throughout his career, and some other stuff since there isn't much on the guy.. enjoy them, and until my next post, please... stay alive, don't drink and drive!~

                                               Top 5 Joe Bessey crashes~ *FriskyNixon*

                                                      Bessey's only BGN career victory~

                                               Rick Mast hard crash~ 1994 Watkins Glen~

                                                 The Revs - Go or Blow~ Old racing song~