Archive | April, 2012

The Darkside to Collecting Diecast

29 Apr

In the weeks after Dan Wheldons fatal accident, when all of the wonderful tributes came rolling in, I pondered. I pondered several things, why do I love racing so much, what’s next for the Izod Indycar Series. The collector side of me wondered will this be like when Dale Sr. passed and the market was flooded with cars from his past. While it’s taken some time I’ve been able to pick some of those up because the price and interest waned considerably.

Now, there’s something new, something fresh for the diecast companies to latch on to and make a buck. But, this time it’s different. Dan didn’t own a collectables company like Dale did, Dan had a relationship with Hot Wheels. See while waiting for a ride to become available in the off season Dan did a voiceover for Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 animated series on Cartoon Network. Ok, while this may not be a role on the Simpsons or Family Guy, this did further the relationship between Indycar, Wheldon, and Hot Wheels.

Indycar diecast has always been a really odd road. Back in the 90’s we had companies like Onyx, Matchbox, and Racing Champions to select our favorite driver. The one I remember the most is the Scott Brayton #22 Amway car and flatbed semi. I have a couple of older diecast from those days Vasser, C. Fittipaldi, Papis, Sullivan, and Mario’s last ride.

Now we have Greenlight Collectables and Hot Wheels. Greenlight makes an excellent product, of course being based in Indy helps a lot. Hot wheels makes a decent very mass produced Indycar. I wouldn’t write home about it, but it does capture the paint schemes perfectly. I hunted down a Graham Rahal McDonald’s car because I was a huge Newman-Haas fan. Soon Hot Wheels will have some more cars added to it’s Indycar resume, including what will be undoubtedly rare by the end of the season…..a Lotus. These will be part of the Hot Wheels Racing Series.

Indy 500® Oval (National Guard)
Indy 500® Oval (Dad’s Root Beer)
Indy 500® Oval (Izod)
Indy 500® Oval (Lotus)
Indy 500® Oval (Sarah Fisher)
Indy 500® Oval (William Rast)

Table and info from 1stopdiecast.com

With all that it brings me to this. Greenlight released the Indy 500 winning William-Rast Dallara in 1:64 and 1:18. The “matchbox” car sized one can be picked up for as little as $8 on the internet. It’s the Hot Wheels tribute that has me up in arms. Let’s face it, as with all collectables the value is whatever it’s worth to whom ever buys it. This has been a bone of contention with me over the course of the 10+ years that I went from rolling  Hot Wheels on the floor to truly collecting. While working at Wal-Mart in the toy department I was introduced to a whole diffrent culture, and that’s when I made the move to collecting. I’m not one of those guys that show up at Walmart right as the pallets are brought out so I can get the overhyped, in my opinion, treasure hunt. I absolutely refuse to put more than one of single style of car in my cart, unless one of my family is getting one also. I hunt and collect 1:64th diecast. I DO NOT horde them or believe that by getting all of the one off paint schemes that I will put my children through college. That is a completely asinine assumption.

With that in mind when I saw that Hot Wheels was releasing a Dan Wheldon tribute I thought it was absolutely fitting. Crimson metalflake red, Lionheart flag on the side pods, Lionheart on the Real rider tires, signature an DW symbol on the front wing. It was a perfect tribute to such a great racer and two-time Indy winner. Proceeds from the car were to go to the Wheldon family, just a perfect situation. Knowing the collectors in my area, it’s going to be a 50/50 shot on me getting one. Reason being? Yes it is a special edition, I haven’t seen a driver specific tribute in the mainline series all my years of getting Hot Wheels. There are the driver or rider designed vehcles of Dale Jr., Danica, and Jorge Lorenzo but not a driver tribute. The other reason is I know what these guys around here collect alot of, Volkswagen and muscle cars, so my chances were decent.

I went on ebay a couple days ago to see if they had hit there yet. I was apalled to what I was seeing. An .88 cent car (walmart current price) with Dan Wheldon was going for $49! Now I can see the validaity in it, if it was an auction to raise money for the Wheldon’s but sadly it is not. This is the type of thing that embarrases me as a collector. If I’ve calculated this right a 5000% profit on a car because of his death seems a bit shitty at most. It makes me sick to think of myself as a collector of what truly is just a kids toy. Will I stop buying Hot Wheels? No. But I will abolutely refuse to buy, anything from the sellers on ebay that are trying to make a profit.

This is the new place I will start uploading blogs. Be sure to check me out on Twitter @Fujis123, friend me on Facebook (Ross Fujibayashi) so we can talk racing or whatever.

Finally,

Dan Wheldon was so much for so many people, I for one didn’t get to have the experiences others had with him. Although, after seeing the tributes, I now have a better understanding of what he meant to the fans. A great man, a great father, a great racer and teammate. This little bitty 1:64th scale tribute may not seem like much to people, well obviously the ones trying to make a buck. But, to those that knew him, the car is just like he was……perfect.

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At The Car Show

26 Apr

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Where the show is at now

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Where it should be

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’56 Chevy, the car that has inspired me to make a hot rod out of my Mercedes

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Growing up in the Chicagoland area, with a automotive obbsessed father and family. I was treated to some of the best car shows Chicago had to offer. It wasn’t a thing to spend a whole day walking the Lake County Fairgrounds oogling over the 60-70’s muscle, rat rods, or anything else someone thought would be cool to bring to a show. So, coming to a show in Arkansas I had a little bit more of an expectation to as what would be there. The very little use of salt means there should be some really nice all original cars. Turns out I was right.

Going to the Greenwood Annual Car Show is always fun because it’s right in the middle of town. I mean right in the middle, of the town square or downtown area if you must. The past times I had gone to this show it had always rained that morning which hurt car count. But, yesterday it was a bright sunny day, so that means good turn out. I just didn’t expect that good of a turnout though. Cars that should’ve been in the show where left on the outside looking in. Like a 67 Bullitt Mustang replica, a 69 and 70 Chevelle SS 396’s, and a excellent looking Dodge Power Wagon flatbed.  It seems to me that the Greenwood show has grown larger than the area it’s using. Which is really, bad because it’s always a great atmosphere. Something has to be done to change the over crowding. It’s literally elbow to elbow to manuver around the cars that show up.

My suggestion which I’m sure won’t be popular with the downtown area inhabitants, is to more the show to a much larger area. Like the Sebastian County Fairgrounds, they are maybe a mile north of where the show is held currently. I firmly believe more cars will show up, and it will make a better car show for all those involved.

While on the subject of my fun Saturday, I got to enjoy it by taking my kids to the show and meeting my dad and a his friend there. It was a good time had by all. My daughters got to see thier friends from school. Charlie learned the importance of “Look but don’t touch” and “Don’t run around someones brand new Corvette Grand Sport”. 

Later on in the evening I met back up with my dad and raced him on go karts. This whole week we’ve been trash talking each other on who would win.  going into the first race I started last out of 5 people, which was fine. There was some confusion at the start as one course worker let two people go then kept me, my dad, and his friend on pit lane. As the two others came around to finish a lap we were released from pit lane. Obviously dad took off as I waited patiently for his friend to exit. Once on the track I got around her then worked at chasing my dad down. A couple laps later one of the first people to go out was stopped at the outside of turn 5. As I exited turn 4 he got going, I battled with him for several laps, before we came up on my dads friend again. Going down into one I’m all over this guys rear bumper, I see my dads friend is going to the inside of one putting us on the outside. I short braked the corner to give me distance on the two that are now side by side in front of me. Midway through the corner the guy on the outside swings a bit wide to give dads friend room, or his kart plowed to the outside. Either way there was a gap, so I dove into it making us go three wide on a narrow track. After passing them on a very lucky move, I was in full attack mode to chase down my dad.

Several laps later I found myself hounding my dad for first. On the inside part of the track we would swap the lead three times, on three turns! Once again going into one we came up on his friend. Now going into this turn I’m thinking, there’s no way I could pull that same move is there. Well……I did! Same exact move to a tee. He went wide, opened a gap and I drove right to it. Going into two he was left on the outside, and we raced clean in the middle section again. Coming into four he made a wide entry opening the door on the inside. I stuck my kart in the hole and drove away, giving me the victory. That was probably the hardest I’ve ever driven a kart for a win, and let me tell ya it was worth it. Then we had a second race.

The second race was a bit better. I started last once again in a field of seven drivers, but I had to start in a kart with cold tires. While racing at this track I have learned it’s better to start at the back with a group of unknown drivers because they tend to pile up in turn one on the out lap. Why, I don’t know, but this race was no diffrent. Going into one I took the wide line, because two karts spun on the inside. Got down into 4 and one guy spun in front of dad. Now I’m up to third in one lap! Chasing down the 2nd place guy, spun a lapped kart and stopped in turn 1 two laps later. Now I’m up too 2nd, and in full attack mode to get too 1st. Passed dad twice because he had spun in turn 3, he too had cold tires that weren’t heating up fast enough. I finally catch the 1st place guy and duel with him for a couple laps, each time giving him the line into corners, because I did not want him to spin and ruin his and my race. Finally, finally got a gap after Villenueve dive bombing him into 5. He rammed me into the wall after I was half a kart to his inside. But by luck I made it stick and drove to victory.

I had a great time with dad getting to race with him, and trying to get him to regret not buying me my own kart oh so many years ago.

Thirst For Speed

26 Apr

We all dream about it. We all lust for it. When it happens, we want more of it. Some might say what’s the point or that’s just stupid. But deep down, the adrenaline rush, the satisfaction of being on the edge is what keeps us coming back. Like vampires to blood, once we get a taste we want more. More of that physical drug called speed. It maybe a driving a fast car, a bike, or even running, but once you get it you want it more and more. It’s what makes us miss the glory days of Indy, when we would hear “And he’s on it” and “that’s a new track record”.

That’s were I’m at with Nurburgring Nordschliefe. Ever since I drove it on Gran Turismo 4 I couldn’t get enough of the tricky 12.93 mile course. Up until last week I had never really thought about attacking some of the records there. Granted, yes I know although the courses on video games do look similar to the actual there are some discrepancies to make it easier to drive in a race. So with that in mind I still don’t give two poops. I just want to go fast and beat some one else’s time.

After posting on Twitter that I was going to go after the ever so fast German Stefan Bellofs time at the “green hell” of 6:11. A couple people replied to tell me thier time. One was a 6:47 in a Indycar, and that’s where I set my first goal, to beat 6:47. The weapon of choice would be the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. I knew that car was fast, and I would have a better shot at it in that car.

After running with the base setup they had to get some baseline numbers, which where 7:12. I went in and tuned to get a faster cornering speed and messed with the gear ratios for a faster acceleration, but not lose top speed. After that and some on the edge of my seat driving, I posted a lap of 7:00. Thinking holy crap that was quick, I checked some of the other lap times from the past, and yes it was a flyer of a lap!

Remembering that during a Sebring race in 2010 the Acura/HPD ARX-02a, was quicker than the Peugeots, I opted to try it. I didn’t get any baseline numbers I just went in and changed the setup to what I thought would work. Second lap out I put up a 6:50! So I tuned a bit more, I made downforce, air pressure, and gear ratio adjustments. Second lap out I got a 6:48, so I’m.getting closer to my goal. I know where I’m losing my time, and that’s just a driving line adjustment.

I did try the Audi R15, I am an Audi fanboy and it did leave me a bit upset I could not get that car dialed in to do what I need to. I’m going to keep trying though. I think that car has a ton of potential.

Speaking of addiction to speed, I went and visited with the one who got me hooked, my dad. Ya know the loss of teeth, and feeding tube don’t bother me much, as he starts his treatments. No its the amount of weight he has lost. Dad aslong as I could.remember was a big guy. Now its like looking at a skeleton with some skin draped over it. Seeing that hurts so so much, because the little kid in me who still sees dad in the same, just wants that dad back. Now I know how my sister felt when he shaved his beard back in ’88. I think she said something like “your not my daddy!” Haha. I do thank everyone for thier well wishes and prayers. They are working.