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May 21, 2014

Die-cast: Spark 1:43 1966 Indy 500 Winner

by Mark Savage

Graham Hill’s Indy winning Lola a small gemindy

I was sitting in the packed main grandstand just shy of the pit exit for the flying start of the 1966 Indianapolis 500 when tires and suspension pieces and racer nosecones started exploding in the air. It was eerily similar to two years earlier, but without the fire and smoke, when I’d witnessed the most horrifying crash in Indy history. Thankfully, this time, no one was seriously injured.

But in the melee about a third of the starting field was eliminated, including favorites like A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney and Don Branson. Yet a British rookie and Formula 1 champion, Graham Hill, picked his way through the carnage in his rear-engined Lola to run near the front all day. Favorite and 1965 Indy champ Jim Clark was setting a strong pace in his brilliant red STP Lotus, but he spun twice during the race, leading to folks saying that STP stands for Spinning Takes Practice. Hill snuck past Clark on one spin though, ultimately gaining the win after another F1 great, and Hill’s teammate, Jackie Stewart’s car failed with less than 10 laps remaining.

indy2Racers were simpler and more delicate looking, yet beautiful, in the 1960s. Now Spark Model delivers a stellar version of the red and white American Red Ball Special that Hill drove to the 1966 Indy win, in 1:43 scale.

The model:
Spark has been cranking out attractive 1:43 race cars for years and this is a precisely crafted rendition of the 1966 Indy winner, complete with a driver figure of Hill, complete with his trademark black helmet with white bars.

As with many of today’s models, this one is a mix of hand-cast resin and diecast zamak, a zink aluminum alloy. The result is a perfectly proportioned Lola T90 racer with well-shaped nose and tail, silver fuel filler couplers in front of the cockpit and yellow mirrors on the windscreen. The wheels are accurately offset with the left side tires being closer to the body, this design helping cars better run counter-clockwise around Indy’s giant 2 ½-mile oval.

The gold snakelike twin tailpipes and Ford V8’s stacks stick out of the engine bay behind the driver and there are well detailed suspension pieces, roll bar and oil cooler. Tires are treaded, as they were on the 1960s racers, and these are labeled Firestones, the dominant tire at Indy from 1920 until 1966. However, the next year Foyt broke Firestone’s long winning streak by using Goodyear tires.indy1

Spark’s tampo printing and decals look great too with a gold racing stripe the length of the car, even under the tailpipes, along with the well-executed American Red Ball decal just in front of the black No. 24 in a red circle on the car’s sides. Hill’s name is next to the cockpit, along with a bevy of sponsor logos, something that really took off about this time in all forms of racing.

This driver figure is well executed too with blue painted-on seatbelts and goggles that look to have clear lenses. Inside, the cockpit includes a black 3-spoke steering wheel with silver hub and three dials on the dash, remarkable detail for this scale.

Spark promises more Indy models in this scale and already makes some F1 and LeMans racers from the 1960s era, and more recent racers too. At this price, $73.99, they are a nice addition to any historic racing car collection, and in this size you can pack a lot of models into your display.

Hill’s Lola comes in an acrylic case with a sturdy plastic base covered with a cardboard insert that looks like a pit lane with words indicating this is the 1966 Indy winner. The background is a vintage black and white photo of an Indy starting field along with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s wings and wheels logo.

Spark models are available through Replicarz, which also has its own exclusive line of larger 1:18 diecast Indy Cars. Check Replicarz.com for a full selection.

FAST Stats: Product: 1966 Indy 500 Winner, Lola T90, Graham Hill
Maker: Spark
Scale: 1/43
Stock No.: SP2976
MSRP: $73.99

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