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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac

    Hello again, and welcome back to the NASCAR Racing Champions blog, the fastest growing NASCAR diecast blog in the world!~ With last weeks post, we now have over 75,000 views and counting!~ Many thanks goes out to everyone who stops by the blog, and shares the posts on social media with their friends!~ We couldn't have grown so fast without the support of each and every one of you, and I'm extremely thankful for all of the support you've shown!~

    In today's post, we're going back to the start of the 1993 NASCAR Winston Cup season, where we'll take a look back on Rick Wilson's time in the famed STP Pontiac, formerly driven for so many years by the King of NASCAR himself, Mr. Richard Petty~ As most of us know, at this point in his career, Petty was running in the back of the pack during most races.. some of that may have been his age, but another large part of it was due to the outdated equipment Petty's team had~ Wilson's time in the car was dubbed a bust, but in my opinion, a large part of the lack of success in the car wasn't due to him, but mainly the car itself~ Anyway, let's get into this one, shall we?~

                             Wilson and Petty with the newly numbered car, at a... rhino farm?~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who

    After his retirement from the sport following the end of the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup season, many in the sports world wondered who was going to be replacing the King of NASCAR in the famous STP Pontiac~ I don't think there was a single one of them who thought he'd pick Rick Wilson, from Bartow, Florida... but to the shock of well, pretty much everyone.. that's exactly what he did~ And being the self praising guy he always will be, he also stated that the #43 would not be on the track anymore, and the car would be renumbered 44~

    Petty was wanting the number retired, but NASCAR said no way~ That's why following this season, he was forced to mark the return of the 43 to the track~ NASCAR stated that teams can hang on to a number for one season, but must use it the following season, or surrender it to NASCAR~ The whole Rick Wilson in the STP thing was weird enough, but the number thing was the icing on the weirdo cake~

    With the driver announcement out of the way, the team headed to Florida for the Daytona 500~ After starting from 14th, Wilson finished 8th in his Gatorade 125 Qualifier, netting him a 15th place starting spot for the 500~ He never was a factor during the race, although he did lead a lap while the leaders were making green flag pit stops~ He eventually was involved in a crash with Bobby Hamilton, who was driving the pink #68 Country Time car.. Racing Champions made a diecast of this car as well, which was in a PVC case~ I believe it was limited to 5,000 pieces~

    With his car totally trashed, Wilson ended up finishing the race in 34th place~ This race was famous for its "Dale & Dale Show" ending, with Dale Jarrett beating out Dale Earnhardt for the victory~ Ned Jarrett was there being annoying, and I didn't like it.. because I was an Earnhardt fan~ I didn't like this 500 at all, because after Wilson went out, I was pulling for Cope, who led 30 laps, but faded at the end, finishing 29th.. then I was pulling for Earnhardt, and boring ol' Dale Jarrett won~ Blah~ One cool thing that happened was that Hut Stricklin finished 4th, driving the #27 McDonald's Ford, for Junior Johnson~

                                                 Wilson on track in the #44 STP Pontiac~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who

    The series next rolled into Rockingham, North Carolina, for the "GM Goodwrench 500", where Wilson qualified 15th, and Mark Martin won the pole in the #6 Valvoline Ford~ Wilson struggled to make up ground in the race, and ended up finishing in 17th place, three laps off the pace of race winner Rusty Wallace, and the famed #2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac~ Dale Earnhardt was 3rd, followed by Ernie Irvan in the #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet, Alan Kulwicki, and Mark Martin finished out the top 5~

    Following the Rockingham race, Wilson went on a streak of five races (Richmond, Atlanta, Darlington, Bristol, and North Wilkesboro) without cracking the top 20~ His best qualifying effort during that span was an 18th at Richmond, for the "Pontiac Excitement 400"~ After seven races, the team found themselves 30th in the points standings~ The next race on the schedule was the Hanes 500, at Martinsville, Virginia, and Wilson qualified 20th, and finished 17th, tying his season high at the time~

    Rick qualified a season high of 4th for the "Winston 500" @ Talladega, while Dale Earnhardt claimed the pole position~ Wilson never was a factor in the race, and finished 16th, one lap off the pace of race winner, Ernie Irvan, who was driving the #4 Kodak Film Chevrolet, for Wilson's former team, Morgan-McClure Motorsports~ Jimmy Spencer had a heck of a run in the #12 Meineke Mufflers Ford, with a second place finish, followed by Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, and Joe Ruttman finished out the top 5, driving the #20 Fina Lube Ford for Dick Moroso~

                                             Wilson poses in front of the #44 STP Pontiac~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who

    Rick qualified 20th for the "Save Mart Supermarkets 300K" @ Sonoma, and ended up having his best race of the season, finishing in 8th place, in what would be his only top 10 finish for the team~ The race was won by Geoff Bodine, driving the #15 Motorcraft Ford, followed by Ernie Irvan, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, and Kyle Petty~ The next race on the schedule was the "Coca-Cola 600" @ Charlotte~   

    Wilson used his momentum from the Sonoma race to qualify the car in 9th place for the race, but he blew the engine seventy laps shy of the checkers, resulting in a 32nd place finish~ He qualified 5th for the "Budweiser 500" @ Dover, a track he had won at in the BGN series~ Although he finished the race 5 laps down, he still managed to post an 11th place finish~ Dale Earnhardt won the race, in the #3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet~

    The #44 STP team picked up a 12th place finish in the "Champions Spark Plug 500" @ Pocono, then finished 34th in the "Miller Genuine Draft 400" @ Michigan, due to an oil leak~ Wilson qualified 9th for the "Pepsi 400" @ Daytona, and finished in 11th place~ This race marked the final time that Wilson finished a race on the lead lap for the remainder of the season~

                                               Rick Wilson #44 STP Photograph - Signed~

    Rick qualified 10th for the "Die Hard 500" @ Talladega, but faded away to 23rd by the drop of the checkered flag~ In the final 14 races of the season, he would only crack into the top 20 one time, with a 20th place finish in the "Slick 50 500" @ Phoenix~ A lot of these struggles had to do with the pit crew, and the equipment.. but people were starting to wonder if perhaps Richard Petty made a mistake in his choice of predecessor~

    Wilson had a strong car for the "Bud 500" @ Bristol, qualifying in the 6th position, but was involved in a crash midway through the race, and had to settle for a 28th place finish, in what was easily a top 10, maybe even top 5 car~ Mark Martin went on to win the race, followed by Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, and Rick Mast, who picked up a rare, and well deserved top 5 finish~

    Moving on to the "SplitFire Spark Plug 500" @ Dover, Wilson qualified in the 6th position, and was looking strong early on, but was involved in a crash, when he lost control of the vehicle, and slammed into the wall on the driver's side~ Wilson was injured in the wreck, and would be replace by Jimmy Hensley for the Goody's 500" @ Martinsville~ Hensley finished dead last in the car, following a crash, and Wilson was back the following week to finish out the season~

                                                 Wilson in the cockpit of the #44 STP Pontiac~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who

    Wilson finished out the season with the lone top 10 finish @ Sonoma, and 1 lap led in the Daytona 500~ He finished the season 28th in the championship points standings, and had an average start of 20.3, and an average finish of 24.0~ He ran three races during the 1997, as well as posting a DNQ @ Texas, and attempted to make two races (Talladega, Daytona) in 1998 for Larry Hedrick, but was unsuccessful in both attempts~ 1998 was also the final time Wilson made an appearance in any of the top 3 NASCAR ranks~

    At the end of the season, Petty replaced Wilson with Wally Dallenbach, who was canned mid-season in favor of John Andretti~ It wouldn't be until Bobby Hamilton drove the car during the 1996 that Petty would get his first win since his retirement as a driver~ Wilson bought up some orange groves, and a farm, and lived in Florida to this day~

    He won the 2010 "Scotts EZ Seed Shootout" @ Bristol, driving the #75 Food Country Chevrolet~
This was the race that Larry Pearson and Charlie Glotzbach got injured in when Person's car collided with Glotzbach's, causing severe injury to both drivers, and ending this type of race for good~ Wilson then drove in a X-1R Pro Cup race, driving the #18 Food Country Chevrolet for Charlie Henderson in the "American Freedom Spectacular 200" @ Bristol, where he started 20th, and finished 19th~ This proved to be the final race of his career, to this point~

    I would have liked to see what would have happened to Rick's career if he had stayed with the Kodak team a few more seasons~ That team was smokin' hot with Ernie Irvan, and Sterling Marlin, and I think they would have been just as hot with Rick in the car, if he wouldn't have left them~ I really liked him when he drove for Food Country, so I always pulled for him throughout his career, and I'm proud to call myself a Rick Wilson fan~

                                             Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac - Standard Issue~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who
                                     Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac - PVC Issue~ 1 of 5,000~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who
                                                                Click pics to enlarge~
Rick Wilson #44 STP Pontiac 1993 NASCAR Racing Champions diecast 1/64 blog Petty Who

    Since I have both versions, I went ahead and posted both the standard, and PVC versions of this car~ I also have the 1/24 in both standard, and bank versions, but didn't include them in the post~ As you may have noticed, there are a few differences between the two versions~ The PVC version is lacking the darker red inside the circle around the numbers on the roof, as is also a darker blue than the standard version, as well as having a lighter color of orange~

    The PVC version also has different contingencies when compared to the standard issue~ My version of the standard issue has a misprint on the driver's side front tire, as it was stamped twice, so that's a little added bonus~ The card features Wilson, along with Petty, and the #44 STP Pontiac, at what appears to be a rhino farm~ I'm actually a pretty big fan of this card, because it seems like such an odd place to do a photo shoot~

    I'm giving the Standard version of this car an A- on the Racing Champions quality scale, while the PVC version gets a B+~ I like the darker blue of the PVC version, and the extra contingencies, but the standard issue just looks more like what the car did in real life, so it gets extra bonus points over its PVC counterpart~ I love both versions, and Rick Wilson is awesome in my book!~ Now, let's get on to the bonus car~

                               Butch Miller #75 Roddenbery's Peanut Butter Oldsmobile~
Butch Miller #75 Roddenbery's Peanut Butter Pickles Oldsmobile 1992 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Charlie Henderson Don

    This is a fantasy car that could have been a reality for the 1992 BGN season, had it not been for a major flub by Food Country USA/Henderson Motorsports owner, Charlie Henderson~ Henderson had a meeting with Roddenbery's about a sponsorship deal with the team, and little did Henderson know, but Mr. Roddenbery himself was the man who showed up for the meeting~

    Charlie rattled off "Roddenbery's?~ What kind of name is that for a food company?~ It sounds like Rottenbery's~ It should be called Rottenbery's"~ It was at that time that Mr. Roddenbery introduced himself, and walked out of the meeting, eventually giving his sponsorship dollars to Steve Grissom's team, and Henderson was forced to continue sponsoring the car out of his own pocket~

    Thank you all for stopping in for this 104th edition of the NASCAR Racing Champions blog!~ Please click the "Follow" button up at the top of the page, on the right hand side, and share this blog post on any social media sites you're a part of~ Each share is greatly appreciated!~ Below are some Rick Wilson clips, enjoy them, and I'll see ya' next time, here on the NASCAR Racing Champions Blog!~ :)

                                    Rick Wilson wins the 2010 Saturday Night Showdown - Bristol~

                                              Wilson/Hamilton crash - 1993 Daytona 500~

                                            Wilson crash - 1993 SplitFire Spark Plug 500~

                                         1989 Pepsi 400 - Multi car crash~ Wilson involved~


  1. The first used racing tire I got was off of the #44 car and The King signed it for me :-)

    1. Little bit of NASCAR history right there~ They sure don't make tires like they used to anymore~

  2. the pink Hamilton car is 1 of 1000 I think, I found one on ebay a couple of years ago. They are rare.