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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network / Happy Birthday NASCAR Ford

    Hello once again, Racing Champions diecasts fans~ It's getting closer to Christmas, so I hope you've got most of your shopping done~ If not, may I suggest a nice Racing Champions 1/64 diecast custom, available on Ebay~ Today's post is not gonna be one of my best.. I just couldn't find many pictures of this car, which is hard to believe since it's pretty iconic, in my opinion~

    I'm talking about the Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network/Happy Birthday NASCAR Ford, which Lake drove in 6 races during the 1998 season~ Harry Melling owned the car, and this would be his last full time season as a car owner, as he would die partially through the 1999 season, leaving the race team to his son, Mark (who was just 26 years old at the time), who continued the family business until the 2002 season~ Now, let's look back to the mid-point of the 1998 Winston Cup season, and take a peek at Lake's stats in the #9 Cartoon Network/Happy Birthday NASCAR Ford~

                                                                 Side shot of the car~
Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog age Birthday 1998

      For the first 10 races of the season, Speed drove a red #9 Cartoon Network car that will be shown later in the post~ His first race in the Happy Birthday NASCAR paint scheme came in the Coca-Cola 600 @ Charlotte~ This was the perfect race to debut the paint scheme at, since most of the race is run under the lights, and this car could twinkle about better than any of them~

     Speed qualified the car in the 19th position, and finished the race three laps down, in the 27th spot~ Jeff Gordon won the race after a late caution came out, and he got four tires, while Rusty Wallace and the rest of the leaders only took two~ Jeff pounced on the leaders after the restart, and never looked back~

    The next race on the schedule was the MBNA Platinum 400 @ Dover, and Speed had his best start of the season with the Happy Birthday NASCAR paint scheme, with an 11th place starting spot~ However, he wasn't a factor in the race, and finished in 36th, 10 laps behind race winner Dale Jarrett~ Jarrett won on fuel mileage, after Jeff Gordon, who dominated the race, had to pit for fuel~ Buckshot Jones picked up his only Cup career top 10, with an 8th place finish, in only his second Cup start~

                                       Speed with the original red #9 Cartoon Network car~
Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog age Birthday 1998

    The cars were in Richmond the following week, for the Pontiac Excitement 400, and once again, Speed had a solid qualifying session, with a 12th place starting spot~ For some reason, he just never was able to go the distance when the race got started all season long, and this race was no different~ He finished in 26th place, three laps down to race winner, Terry Labonte~

    This race was the final short track win of Labonte's career~ He won after NASCAR red flagged the race, and he was able to sneak by Dale Jarrett after the restart~ Jarrett, who had an amazing car that day, would bring the same car back the following year, and win the race~ Buckshot Jones, who had a career best day the week before, with an 8th place finish, failed to make the field for this one~

   Which brings us to the Miller Lite 400 @ Michigan~ Speed again flexes his horsepower in qualifying with a 13th place starting spot, but again can't come up with a decent showing in the race, finishing in 25th place, two laps down to race winner Mark Martin~ This was Lake's 400th start in the Cup series, at the age of 50~

                                                 Lake's car taking a nap, behind the scenes~
Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog age Birthday 1998

    Lake had his worst start in the #9 Cartoon Network/Happy Birthday NASCAR Ford in the Pocono 500, where he qualified in 40th place~ He would finish the race in 25th, tying his best finish in the car~ The race was won by Jeremy Mayfield, and was his first ever Cup victory~ Darrell Waltrip also picked up the final top 10 of his storied career, with a 6th place effort, subbing for an injured Steve Park in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet~

    Following his poor showing @ Pocono, Speed was turning heads during the first practice session @ Sears Point (Sonoma), with the second fastest time, behind Jeff Gordon~ During the second practice session however, Speed ran over debris, cut a tire, and spammed into the tire barriers, breaking his sternum~ He was replaced for the race by Butch Gilliland, but would return for the next race @ Loudon~

   Speed's final race in the car came in the Jiffy Lube 300 @ Loudon~ He qualified 26th, and finished 41st, following a crash on lap 34, which also took out Hut Stricklin, and Steve Grissom~ Jimmy Spencer,  Geoff Bodine, and Joe Nemechek were also involved in the crash, but were able to continue~ Speed had aggravated his injury during the wreck, and told the team it was best if they found another driver to finish out the season (which turned out to be Jerry Nadeau), and effectively retired from NASCAR racing~

                             Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network/Happy Birthday NASCAR Ford~
Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog age Birthday 1998
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~                              
Lake Speed #9 Cartoon Network Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog age Birthday 1998

    As I said earlier, I really like this car~ I'm sure it gave older fans fits with their poor eyesight, and hatred for colorful objects, but I thought it was nice seeing a car with so much junk on it~ Most cars at this time were kind of basic, as far as paint schemes go, and this one was chocked full of eye candy~ Cartoon Network had several paint schemes, and this one was the second one ever, with the red version being the first~

    The card on this one is pretty cool as well~ I'm not totally sure on this, but this may be the only card where the artworks overlaps into the white border of the card~ If it isn't, there aren't many that do~ I'm going to give this car an A- on the Racing Champions quality scale, with a few points being taken off because I'm not a fan of this era of Racing Champions body style~ Basically anything past 1995, I'm not a huge fan of, though I still enjoy the artwork, and the history of the car/driver~

    I'm sad that Lake's career ended the way it did, but on the other hand, he probably didn't have many years left in the sport anyway~ I'm just sad he had to get injured, because he's a really nice guy~ Lake Speed is going to be 69 years old this January.. and that makes me feel old~ I can remember the guy in his prime, and now he's almost 70~ I hate to end this post on a sad note, so below are some clips on Lake Speed, along with some random NASCAR videos, AND a bonus car~ Thanks for stopping by the blog again, and please share this post on any social media sites you may be a part of~ As of the last post, we now have over 50,000 views, so I appreciate everyone who's helping the blog grow~ :)

  **Bonus car** Casey Atwood #27 Castrol GTX Pontiac~ Very ugly, and he never drove a Pontiac~
Casey Atwood #27 Castrol GTX Chevrolet Pontiac Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast custom

    This custom sucks pretty bad~ I did it back when I was doing the Rusty Wallace post, just for something to do, and it's full of flaws~ But it's just been sitting around in my "unused cars" folder for months, so I figured I'd throw it up here, so I can remove it from that folder.. I'm tired of seeing it~ lol~ I give this bonus car an F-, because it's horrible, and sloppy~ :P

                     Lake Speed and John Andretti giving Earnhardt his only Daytona 500 win~
                                                   1987 Lake Speed Wynn's commercial~

                                    1989 Pepsi 400 Lake Speed crash - Called by MRN radio~

                                               Top 5 Oldsmobile moments in NASCAR~

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