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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Camouflage Chevrolet

    Hello again NASCAR Racing Champions fans, and welcome back to the blog!~ I've been really busy here lately with work, and haven't had time to post in a while, but thanks to a case of the Bristol flu, I've slowed down enough to crank one out, and I chose Mike Skinner's #31 RealTree Camouflage Chevrolet~

   Skinner drove a total of 5 races for Richard Childress in this car during the 1996 Winston Cup season, becoming a teammate of Dale Earnhardt~ He would run full time in 1997, with sponsorship from Lowe's, but he got his start with Richard Childress in this RealTree car, and he had some decent success in it, to a degree.. so let's take a look back on his time in the ride~

                                                              Watch out for that wall!~
Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress

    Well, first of all.. I pretty much just lied to you above when I said that Skinner drove this car 5 times during 1996~ He actually drove it 4 times, and the first race he ran was sponsored by RCR, for a total of 5 races~ Now that I've confessed my sins to you, I'll tell you that Skinner's first race with RCR was in the "Goodwrench Service 400" @ Rockingham, where he rolled off from the 35th position~ The pole was won by Terry Labonte, driving the #5 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chevrolet~

    Terry's car was strong, and looked like the car to beat for a while, but he suffered engine problems, and was out of the race~ Then Jimmy Spencer looked strong for a while, but his car blew up, and he finished 27th~ Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Hamilton were battling back and forth for the lead after that, and it looked like Hamilton was gonna pull it off, and win one for Petty Enterprises~

    That's when Earnhardt pulled an Earnhardt, and popped poor ol' Bobby Hamilton right into the wall~ Earnhardt sped away, and won the race.. saying he didn't mean to do it, just like every other time he stole a win from someone~ Skinner held his own throughout the day, and came home in 12th place, which is pretty impressive for his first start with a new team~ My "Hero of the Race Award" goes out to Steve Grissom, who finished in 5th place, after starting from the 6th position in the #29 Cartoon Network Chevrolet~

                                             Mike Skinner LOVES beating Jeff Gordon~
Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress

    Skinner next ran with the team at Bristol, for the "Food City 500"~  To the shock of at least a few, he qualified 6th~ I can remember wondering who the "guy in the white car" was when I got to the track~ I had to look in the program to find out who it was~ Although he seemed to be holding a few guys up, he was holding his own during the beginning of the race~

    Mark Martin won the pole, and led the first 59 laps, before pitting~ The lead was then handed over to Skinner, who didn't pit during the caution~ He led for 10 laps, before being passed by Bill Elliott~ He eventually crashed into the wall, ending his day early, which resulted in a 36th place finish~ This race was red flagged a total of three time~ Twice for rain, and once for Darrell Waltrip's accident, when his fuel cell busted~ It was a long day, and the race was eventually ended early due to the weather~

    Rusty Wallace was strong throughout the day, leading a total of 76 laps, and finishing in 5th place~ Jeff Gordon won the rain shortened event, followed by Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Earnhardt, and Wallace~ My "Hero of the Race Award" goes out to Dick Trickle, who brought the #19 Healthsource Tri-Star Ford home in 8th place, for his only top 10 of the season~ 

                                                      Skinner leading the Food City 500~
Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress

    The next stop for Team RealTree came in the "Winston Select 500" @ Talladega, where Skinner again qualified in the 6th position~ Good ol' Ernie Irvan won the pole for the event, driving the #28 Texaco Havoline Ford~ This race had a TON of lead changes, with the bulk of the laps being led by Sterling Marlin, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace, and Jeff Gordon, who all led for at least 16 laps each~

     This race is probably best remembered for the huge wreck on lap 129, involving 13 cars~ The most noticeable of those cars was the #41 Kodiak Chevrolet, driven by Ricky Craven~ Craven's car jumped into the sky, and over 5 cars before crashing down~ This was the first of several accidents that eventually ended the career of Craven, who was having a great start to the 1996 season prior to this accident~ Bill Elliott also broke his leg during this crash, and as a result, he missed seven races during the season~

    Following the caution for the Craven accident, Sterling Marlin basically ran away with the show, on his way to his second consecutive Talladega win~ Dale Jarrett was second, followed by Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, and Michael Waltrip, who picked up the only top 5 of his three year stint with the Wood Brothers~ My "Hero of the Race Award" goes to Steve Grissom again, who finished 6th in the #29 Cartoon Network Chevrolet~ Skinner ended up finishing in 17th place, after dealing with an ill handling car~

                                                 The Batman and Robin of NASCAR~

Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress

    Team RealTree didn't race again until 16 races later, in the "MBNA 500" @ Dover~ Skinner qualified in 16th place, while the pole award went to Bobby Labonte and the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet team~ Our ol' friend Rick Mast qualified on the outside pole, in the #1 Hooters Pontiac~

    The race was a wreck fest for the most part, with 14 cautions, and is probably best remembered as the time Jimmy Spencer tried to beat up Wally Dallenbach Jr.~ Ernie Irvan led for a while, but crashed out when he claimed he was pinched down by the lapped car of Derrike Cope~ Later in the race, Cope's car caught fire and retired from the event, and members of Irvan's team (mainly Larry McReynolds) tried to start a fight with Cope, before being broken up by NASCAR officials~

    Jeff Gordon basically dominated the danged race, leading for a total of 204 laps on his way to the checkered flag~ He was followed by Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, and Mark Martin finished out the top 5~ My "Hero of the Race Award" goes out to Rick Mast, who after qualifying on the outside pole, came home with a 6th place finish for the Richard Jackson owned Hooters team~

                                                    I told him to watch out for that wall!~
Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress

    Skinner's final race in the #31 RealTree car came in the "Dura Lube 500" @ Phoenix, where he managed to put the car on the outside of row number 1~ Bobby Labonte narrowly beat him out for the pole position in the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet~
    There wasn't really a dominant car all day long during the race, as several drivers kept swapping the lead back and forth from each other for the most part of the day~ Bobby Hamilton, Mark Martin, Terry Labonte, Geoff Bodine, Dale Jarrett, and Bobby Labonte each lead for at least 29 laps, with Martin leading the most with 83~

    In the end, it was our ol' pal Bobby Hamilton picking up his first career Winston Cup victory, and the first for Petty Enterprises since 1983, which made for a pretty emotional victory lane celebration~
Mark Martin finished second, followed by Terry Labonte, Ted Musgrave, and Jeff Gordon~ My "Hero of the Race Award" goes to Ted Musgrave, picking up a top 5 finish in the #16 Family Channel/Primestar Ford~ Mike Skinner finished 13th, and would go on to race the #31 Lowe's Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing for the next five seasons, all winless~

                                       Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Camouflage Chevrolet~
Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress
                                                               Click pics to enlarge~
Mike Skinner #31 RealTree Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1996 Richard Childress

     This has to be the ugliest Richard Childress paint scheme of all time~ It's sponsored by RealTree, and it's just mostly white.. the most un-camouflaged color of all time~ Don't get me wrong.. I'm a fan of simplistic paint schemes, but this car is just pretty ugly~ I mean.. it looks like someone took a dump all over the hood of the car for crying out loud~

    RealTree went on to have some pretty awesome paint schemes, most notably with Dave Marcis, but this one just bites~ I've been told that this car is one of the harder ones to find from the 1996 set, though I'm not sure why that would be, and I've never found out any information as to why it would be harder to find than any of the others~ It usually commands a little bit of a higher price tag, compared to a common car, but it's by no means an expensive rarity~

    I'm gonna give this car a D- on the Racing Champions quality scale~ The card is boring, the car is boring, the stand is boring, just everything about this car is totally boring~ I'm just not a fan of this car, and although I do like the history around the car, the car itself is a big ol' pile of Dale Jarrett style boring~ Now let's take a look at the bonus car for this post, before I start spitting all over the place~

                              **BONUS CAR** Marty Noll #46 Qik Joe/Milazzo Chevrolet~
Marty Noll #46 Qik Joe Milazzo Chevrolet Busch North Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog

    Marty Noll was a Busch North driver who drove a total of 4 races during the mid to late 90's~ He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 1st, 1962~ His best finish came in the 1997 "Thompson Sunoco 300" @ the Thompson Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut, where he finished 24th~

    Not much is known about Noll other than that.. he just kind of disappeared from the sport~ I found an old postcard featuring his car, and decided I'd make a Photoshopped Racing Champions version of it for a bonus car post~ It's a pretty nice looking car, in my opinion~ I used Shawna Robinson's #46 Polaroid Chevrolet as the "donor" car for this one~

    Thank you all for stopping by the blog once more~ I'd like to be posting on a more regular basis, but I've gotta stay busy during the warm months so I don't freeze to death in the winter time~ I'll get these posts up as quickly as I can, though they might be a little more spaced apart until the end of summer~ Below are some random videos from Mike Skinner's career, since there isn't much on his RealTree car~ Please share this post on social media, and anywhere else, and click the follow button at the top of this page, on the right hand side~ Until next time, stay alive.. don't drink and drive!~ :)

                                                  Skinner Cup wins~ Non points races~

                                           Skinner relieves Earnhardt 1996 Brickyard 400~

                                                         Skinner being a whiny baby~

                                                        Top 10 Mike Skinner crashes~

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Chevrolet

    Hey there NASCAR diecast fans!~ It's time for another installment of the NASCAR Racing Champions diecast blog!~ In this post, I'm going to be looking back on the career of Clifford Allison, the youngest son of NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, and the brother of Davey Allison~ Clifford's time in the sport was short lived, so he isn't as well known as his father or older brother, but to those who knew him, Clifford Allison was a wild, funny, unpredictable character, and another link in the NASCAR chain that was the Alabama Gang~

    Clifford's death on August 13th, 1992 was the first racing fatality in the Busch Grand National series since its inception in 1982, and it was later determined that a bolt holding the seat down malfunctioned, making the crash worse than it would have been, resulting in a basal skull fracture, and instant death for the 27 year old driver from Hueytown, Alabama~

                                      Clifford celebrates his 9th birthday with Bobby~ 1973~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Ten years after the above photo was taken, Clifford Allison started his racing career~ He began in the Street Stock division, and went on to drive in the All-Pro Series, the IMSA Sports Car Series, and the ARCA series, before running his first BGN race in 1990~

    Allison was originally scheduled to compete for Rookie of the Year honors during the 1990 BGN season, driving Frank Cicci's #34 Gwaltney Meats Buick, but was released after only seven races due to poor performance~ In his first BGN start, Clifford finished 13th in the "Goody's 300" @ Daytona, following a 42nd place qualifying effort~

    He then failed to qualify for the "Pontiac 200" @ Richmond, and crashed out of the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, finishing in 29th place~ He finished 25th in the "Miller Classic" @ Martinsville, then failed to qualify for the "Mountain Dew 400" @ Hickory~ Allison finished 17th in the "Pontiac 200" @ Darlington, and 25th in the "Budweiser 250" @ Bristol~ Following the Bristol race, he was replaced for the remainder of the season by Jack Sprague~

                                               Clifford chatting with Butch Miller~ 1992~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    After failing to qualify for the 1991 "Goody's 300" @ Daytona, Allison ran a total of three races for Clint Folsom's #23 Seal-Tech Buick team~ He qualified 35th for the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, and finished in 28th place~ After starting from 26th for the "Pontiac 200" @ Darlington, he was able to work his way up to finish 14th~

    Clifford rolled off 29th for the "Budweiser 250" @ Bristol, and held his own throughout the entirety of the race, with a respectable 6th place finish, which was a career best for him in the BGN series~ Bobby Labonte won the race in the #44 Penrose Pickled Sausage Oldsmobile, followed by David Green, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmy Spencer, and Ed Berrier~

   Allison also ran two All-Pro races during 1991, finishing 25th in the "Birmingham 250" @ Birmingham, Alabama, and 34th in the "Snowball Derby" @ Pensacola, Florida~ He also made time during the 1991 season to run 1 ARCA race, finishing 7th in the "Motorcraft Fast Lube ARCA 500K" @ Atlanta, driving the #12 Raybestos Brakes Buick for his father's team~

                                               Headshot of Clifford Allison~ 1989 ARCA~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Cliff had some pretty good success during the 1992 ARCA Series, where he ran a total of 7 races~ He qualified 16th for the "Daytona ARCA 200", and came home in 5th place,  picking up his first top 5 of the season in the first race of the year~ He then nearly grabbed the pole for the "Slick 50 ARCA 500K" @ College Station, but had to settle for the outside pole position~ He led for 32 laps, but was beat out in the end by Eddie Bierschwale and the #23 SplitFire Spark Plugs Oldsmobile team~

    Allison finished 10th in the "Poulan Pro 500K" @ Talladega, and 9th in the "Champion Batteries 150" @ Pocono, before he started picking up momentum~ After starting 11th for the "GM Goodwrench 200" @ Michigan, he went on to finish runner up to Michigan's own, Bob Keselowski~ Loy Allen Jr. was 3rd, followed by Jim Sauter, and Bill Venturini finished out the top 5~

    Moving on to the "ServiStar 150" @ Pocono, Allison started from the 4th position, and while he didn't lead any laps, held on to finish runner up to Bob Keselowski yet again~ His final start in the ARCA series came in the 1992 "Mello Yello 350K" @ Topeka, Kansas~ After starting from the 12th spot, Allison fell back during the race to finish in 27th place~ A funny side note on this race... Frog Hall finished in 6th place~ Go Frog!~ :)

                                               Clifford and Bobby talkin' car stuff~ 1992~

Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Clifford started the 1992 BGN season with the intention of running the majority of the schedule for Barry Owen~ This was a tactic Bobby Allison was using so that Clifford wouldn't tear up all of his own cars while gaining his BGN experience~ Bobby fully intended to have Clifford driving for him as early as the 1993 season, but unfortunately that day never came for the elder Allison~ For those of you who aren't familiar with Barry Owen, this team eventually became the #9 FDP Brakes car that Mike Wallace won three races in during the 1994 BGN season~

    In his first race with the team, Allison started 35th in the 1992 "Goody's 300" @ Daytona~ He lasted only 87 laps due to an engine failure, and finished in 29th place~ The team would alternate between the numbers 9 and 91 throughout the season, and had various sponsorships, which consisted of: Mac Tools (1 race), Owen Racing (4 races), Holiday Inn Atlanta (1 race), High Point Bedding (6 races), Sports Image (1 race), and QVC (1 race, but was the sponsor for his Michigan car as well)~

    Allison finished 17th in the "Goodwrench 200" @ Rockingham, and 16th in the "Hardee's 200" @ Richmond, and was involved in a lap 3 crash in the "Atlanta 300", which involved 12 cars~ His day was done, and he came home in 36th place~ Jeff Gordon went on to win the race, in what was the first BGN victory of his career~ Clifford finished 17th in the "Miller 500" @ Martinsville, and 24th in the "Mark III Vans 200" @ Darlington~

                                       Allison in front of the #12 @ Daytona~ ARCA 1992~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    In his only BGN start with sponsor "Sports Image", Allison started 21st for the "Budweiser 250" @ Bristol, and finished in 15th place, which was at this point his season best~ He then finished 24th in the "Nestle 300" @ Lanier, and followed that up with a 13th place finish in the "Pontiac 200" @ Nazareth~

    He back stepped in the "Champion 300" @ Charlotte after qualifying 21st, blowing an engine on lap 139, ending his day prematurely, in the 26th position, though he did lead 4 laps during the race~ Allison had the best run of the season in the "Goodwrench 200" @ Dover, where he rolled off 23rd, and held on to a 9th place finish, in what would turn out to be the final top 10 of his career~

    Cliff went on to finish 20th in the "Fay's 150" @ Watkins Glen, and followed that up with a 37th place showing in the "Budweiser 300" @ Loudon, following a lap 94 crash involving Jimmy Spencer~ He qualified 30th for the "Fram Filter 500K" @ Talladega, and came home on the lead lap, in 17th place~ This would be the final time Clifford Allison would finish a NASCAR BGN race~

                                Bobby at the garage with Clifford, Davey, and the family dog~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Next up on the schedule was the "Detroit Gasket 200" @ Michigan.. a track that Allison had finished runner up at in the ARCA series, and he was confident going into the race week that he would have a strong run~ He rolled out for the first practice session and put down a strong lap, and pulled into the garage to have some minor adjustments made to the car before he went out and tried it again~

   On his way out of the garage, he looked at Bobby Allison and said "We're gonna get 'em, Dad~" Those were the final words Clifford ever said to his father~ As he was making his way around the track, his car spun out in turn four, hitting the wall with the left rear of the car first, followed by the car being pancaked on the driver's side~ Allison was killed instantly, although there were attempts to save his life~

   To this day, Bobby Allison still has flashbacks of the wreck, and sees his son there in the car, lifeless~ Eleven months to the day that Clifford died, Bobby only surviving son Davey was killed in a helicopter crash on his way to Talladega to watch Neil Bonnett's son David during a practice session~ Seven months after Davey's death, Neil Bonnett passed away following a practice crash at Daytona~ In the blink of an eye, the Alabama Gang was virtually gone~ I can't imagine what that was like for Bobby, who was going through his own battles following his career ending, nearly fatal 1988 crash at Pocono~

                                              Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Chevrolet~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby
                                                                 Click pics to enlarge~
Clifford Allison #12 Sports Image Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1992 1994 BGN ARCA Bobby

    Well, I'll start this off by saying that in the post here, I'm calling this car a Buick, based off of his stats in the 1992 ARCA series, where he ran this sponsor during 4 races, and notched 2 runner up finishes, whereas he only drove it once in the 1992 BGN series, at Bristol, where he finished 15th~ His BGN car was an Oldsmobile for that race, so that's why I'm calling it a Buick~

    Now, supposedly this is the car that Clifford was driving at Michigan, but to my knowledge, the only thing that's right about that is that it's a Chevrolet, which is what he was driving that day~ What I'm second guessing is the sponsor.. because I was always under the assumption that he was driving a QVC sponsored car that day~ I could be wrong, and the car would make more sense.. but I've never seen any evidence to prove otherwise~

    This car is 1 of 10,000, so it isn't extremely rare, but can be difficult to find at times~ I would price this car in the 12 dollar range, so if you can get it below that, you're getting a pretty decent deal~ This car was also made in a Premier version, as well as 1/24 scale~ I've never seen a 1/43 version, but I've been shocked before, so you never know~

    I'm going to give this car a B- on the Racing Champions quality scale~ It's a nice looking car, I'm a fan of minimalist paint schemes.. but the card leaves me wanting more~ Clifford photos are hard to come by, and I would have preferred a full photo card, showing Clifford standing beside of the car, or just a shot of the car, and a little pic of Clifford in a small square on the card... anything but this~ I'm just not a fan of this card~ Let's move on to the bonus car for this post~

                                          Diggity Dave #11 McCormick Spices Oldsmobile~
Diggity Dave #11 McCormick Spices Oldsmobile Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog custom

    I used Rick Mast's #1 Majik Markets Oldsmobile for this one, and it didn't turn out too bad, though I could have did a little better~ I like McCormick spices, and use them all the time, so why not a McCormick race car?~ I think it looks pretty awesome~ If it was on a real car, it would look way better~ I'd be intimidated by this thing on the track!~ :P

    I hope you enjoyed this installment of the NASCAR Racing Champions Blog, and learned about or rekindled memories about Clifford and his family~ I didn't think I'd have time to get a post out this quickly, but it rained last night and some today, and I was able to make time to get this one done thankfully~ It may be a while till the next one though, but if you click the "follow" button on the top right hand side of this page, you will get notified whenever I make a new post.. that way you don't have to keep coming back to check if I've done anything~

   Please share this post on your Facebook, Twitter, etc.~ It really helps get the message out to people who are interested in the hobby/sport~ Below are some random videos, since there's pretty much nothing on Clifford out there~ Included is a review of the Premier version of the Allison car, recorded by  my new friend on YouTube "WimmerTV"~ Check out his videos, and subscribe to his channel for more diecast reviews~ You'll dig it~ Thanks again, and I'll see y'all next time that I do~ :)

                                                 Bobby talking about Davey and Clifford~

                                             WimmerTV reviews Clifford Allison diecast~

                                         Davey, Clifford, Red Farmer, and others at the river~

                                              A moment at the shop with Davey Allison~