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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~

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