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Friday, August 12, 2016

Rusty Wallace #27 Kodiak Pontiac

    Welcome back NASCAR fans!~ Today's post is a somewhat special one, as the car I'm gonna be discussing is one that isn't mentioned that often~ I'm talking about the Rusty Wallace #27 "1989 NASCAR Champion" Pontiac, produced by Racing Champions following his only Cup championship~ Although not technically considered "rare" (30,000 were produced), this car can sometimes hardly be found for sale on Ebay, and if it comes up.. it's usually expensive~ I have seen them go for less than a few bucks, when someone who isn't rude sells them~ The only one currently for sale on Ebay is 99 bucks.. which is highly laughable~

    I found a ton of these at a shop in Pigeon Forge one time, and picked up two of them.. one for me, and the other one for my little brother, who was a huge Rusty fan back when we were kids~ A couple months later, I started doing these blogs, and I wanted to go back down and get a double of the car so I could do a post on it~ They literally had more than 100 of them when I was there previously, and they were only $1.25 each.. still in the pack!~ Sadly, when I got there, they were sold out~ I later found them at a booth in the flea market, for 15 bucks a pop~ Obviously, I passed on that "deal"~

    Luckily, a good friend of mine told me how to take the cars out of their packaging without damaging the card backing~ I tried it out today, and it worked like a charm~ Instead of using "Goop Off", which he suggested (I had none), I substituted for lighter fluid~ I let it set there for a few minutes to loosen up the glue, and it came right off~ Then I just glued it back with clear wood glue~ Since this was Rusty's Kodiak car, I'm gonna do the history of that car.. mainly focusing on his 1989 Championship season~ And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

                                               Rusty is ready for the new season to begin~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak

    After finishing his first season with car owner Raymond Beadle in 1986 with 2 wins (the first of his career), Rusty Wallace would start the 1987 season with newly acquired sponsor "Kodiak Smokeless Tobacco" adorning the car~ This truly was one of the most beautiful paint schemes in the history of the sport, in my opinion, and although Kodiak would continue to sponsor cars until they were forced out of the sport, the Rusty Wallace, and early Ken Schrader versions were always my favorite~

    Although he had a decent season, with wins in the Budweiser at the Glen @ Watkins Glen, and the Winston Western 500 @ Riverside, as well as winning the pole for the Miller American 400 @ Michigan, Rusty's 1987 was mostly a rehash of his 86 season~ He moved from 6th to 5th in the points, and had 5 more top 5's, but the same amount of wins, and top 10's~ His average finish in 1986 was 12.7, and 12.8 in 1987~ He was about to turn that around though, starting the next season~

                                                 Winning at any cost - The heel change~

    Rusty starting the 1988 season off pretty mildly, but by the Coca-Cola 600 @ Charlotte, he was back on track, with a runner up finish to Darrell Waltrip~ He won his first race of the season in the Budweiser 400 @ Riverside, leading 43 of the 95 laps~ He won again 2 weeks later, in the Miller High Life 400 @ Michigan, where he led 106 of the races 200 laps, walloping the field~ Only 7 cars were on the lead lap at the conclusion of the race~

    After winning the pole for the Goody's 500 @ Martinsville, and finishing 3rd, Rusty went on a NASCAR rampage, winning the next three races in a row, (Oakwood Homes 500 @ Charlotte, Holly Farms 400 @ North Wilkesboro, and the AC Delco 500 @ Rockingham) and moving up to second place in the Championship points battle~

   Wallace finished 5th in the Checker 500 @ Phoenix, and went on to win in the Atlanta Journal 500 @ Atlanta, in the final race of the season~ But it wasn't enough to stop NASCAR legend Bill Elliott (who also won 6 races during the season) from winning his only Winston Cup Championship~ Wallace finished the season with  2 poles, 6 wins, 19 top 5's, and 23 top 10's~ With an average finish of 7.1, some could argue that this was Rusty's best Cup season~

                                                      The 1989 Championship season~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak

    Picking up where he left off in 1988, Rusty won the Goodwrench 500 @ Rockingham, in the second race of the 1989 Winston Cup season~ He would be in victory lane again two races later, in the Pontiac Excitement 400 @ Richmond~ Following a trend, he again won two races later,
 this time in the Valleydale Meats 500 @ Bristol, a race that I attended~

    Rusty wouldn't win again until the 18th race of the season, in the Budweiser at the Glen~ He then won the following week, in the Champion Spark Plug 400 @ Michigan~ His win @ Michigan moved him from 4th place in the points standings, to the runner up spot with only 10 races remaining in the season~

    In the Miller High Life 400 @ Richmond, Rusty picked up his last win of the year~ Although he didn't win any more races that season, his rivals would stumble far worse than he did for the remainder of the year~ In the All Pro Auto Parts 500 @ Charlotte, points leader Dale Earnhardt finished dead last following a broken camshaft, while Rusty finished in 8th, and took over the points lead~ He never looked back after that, and eventually became the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion~

                                                    The Racing Champions tribute car~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak
                                                                 Click to enlarge~

    As you can see in the picture above, this is a really unique packaging design~ It just doesn't even seem like it's legit, but it is~ The little kid behind Rusty is little Stephen Wallace, which just always make me laugh~ I always imagine that after the photo was taken, Stephen slid out of control, for no reason.. crashing into the trophy, and totally ruining it~ :P

    I forgot to mention earlier that when Rusty crashed Darrell Waltrip in the picture above, he was immediately cast as a villain by a majority of the NASCAR community, and Waltrip, who was the current "villain", became an overnight hero to legions of fans who once jeered him~ Rusty later stated that if he'd known what the event was going to do to his fan base, he would have gladly let Darrell win the money~ Even though a lot of the fans eventually forgave Wallace for the event, there were an entire swarm of fans who couldn't stand him~

                                                Rusty vs. Dale~  Whose side were you on?~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak

    Those fans were known as the Earnhardt Legion.. the black army, if you will~ I happened to have been an Earnhardt fan back then, while my father and brother were both Rusty fans~ We would argue back and forth after races until we were blue in the face.. and we loved it~ I had a friend in school named Richard, and he was a Rusty fan... the same thing would happen to us~ We'd be there arguing, spitting, cussing.. and loving every minute of it~

   When Dale died, and Rusty retired... a whole lot changed~ Many fans decided they would quit watching, and the stands are mostly empty... but I'm still here.. remembering the past, and watching in the present, for the nostalgia of it all~ Remembering all the good times I've had thanks to NASCAR~

    I think that even the fans that didn't like Rusty or Dale either one still had one they wanted to win versus the other one~ It was fun to root for or against them, and sadly there will probably never be another rivalry like these two guys had ever again~ Present day "FRANCECAR" simply won't allow drivers to race each other hard, or have "rivalries" anymore~ Back then, it was a "part of racing", but back then is just that... back then~

                                        Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Pontiac~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak
                                                                Click pics to enlarge~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak
                                  **BONUS** Rusty Wallace #27 Kodiak Pontiac Custom~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak
                                                                  Click pics to enlarge~
Rusty Wallace #27 1989 NASCAR Champion Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Kodiak

     I took the liberty of Photoshopping up the Kodiak version, just as an added bonus to the blog, but I'm only gonna review the original car, and I'll grade both cars at the end~ I must say that I'm impressed with the whole deal on this one~ The packaging is unlike any other I've ever seen by Racing Champions, and the car, as well as the card, are well done, with Rusty clinching a mighty fist of victory, and smiling like there's no tomorrow~

     I'm happy that this car was made, but like I said earlier, it can be pricey if Ebay is your only option~ I'd suggest just waiting it out, and trying to find one for cheaper at a thrift store, or flea market/swap meet~ A lot of the time you can buy them locally on Craigslist, or even on local Facebook auction pages, or yard sale groups~

    It makes me mad that tobacco products can't be sponsors in NASCAR anymore, but yet we can have the Busch beer car, and the Miller Lite car... and the dumb vaping truck that Jennifer Jo Cobb drives... it just makes me angry at the clear bias~ I'm just waiting for Erik Jones to announce his new sponsor for next seasons Cup run is gonna be come Weed dispensary, since heck.. it's "legal" in Colorado, where the team is based~ Why Not?~ But we mustn't have a Smokin' Joe Camel car, or a Winston cigarettes car, or even a Kodiak car.. that's the devil~

   But before I get so mad that I could just spit, I'd just like to say that even though I was a Rusty hater for most of my life, I got sad towards the end, when I knew he was gonna retire soon~ I started pulling for him to win races, and I did the same with Jeff Gordon, whom I also despised his entire career, minus the twilight/Jimmie Johnson years~ I'll miss Rusty Wallace, but I'll always have the memories... We'll always have the memories~ Below are some clips from Rusty's career, and as always.. thanks for stopping by the blog!~ :)

                                                        Highlights from the 1989 season~
                                        Zerex commercial featuring Rusty and Alan Kulwicki~
                                               The 1989 All Star race spinning of Waltrip~
                                             Rusty's final career win~ 2004 Martinsville~


  1. thats some cool customs of rusty's car

    1. Thanks, Chayne~ I appreciate your comment~ I loved that car~ It's a shame we'll never get to see it on the track again in NASCAR~