As a newspaper reporter I was roaming Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and watching bits of the race from inside Turn 1 when Emerson Fittipaldi won the 1989 Indianapolis 500. It was an exciting finish, but one I had to watch and re-watch on closed circuit monitors in the Indy press room. Now, of course, it’s on YouTube.
Former Formula One Champion Fittipaldi won the first of his two Indianapolis 500s with a bump and run move going into Turn 3 with just two laps remaining. Al Unser Jr. had been leading for a few laps with Fittipaldi right on his tail. Lapping slower cars they both dove for the Turn 3 apex running side-by-side.
The rest, as racers say, was “just a racing incident.” Wheels touched and Al Jr.’s car spun violently into the Turn 3 wall. Luckily he was fine and finished second. But Emmo held on to finish and win under the yellow flag.
Replicarz, which knows its Indy history well and continues to issue new 1/43 and 1/18 die-cast Indy cars, has beautifully reproduced Emmo’s winning PC18 racer. Replicarz makes the 1989 winner in both scales, but we reviewed the 1/43 model as Replicarz’ first run of 1/18 scale PC18s sold out. Good news though an additional 50 models have arrived, so if you want the larger model, get it now.
That’s the short version of the fabulous and somewhat controversial finish to the 1989 race, there’s a little more history to consider. First, Emmo had departed F1 after winning two world championships, one each for Lotus (1972), and McLaren (1974).
Fittipaldi, a Brazilian, raced in F1 until he retired in 1980. Then after a three-year hiatus, moved to the IndyCar series, running one race in 1983 before going full-time in 1984 with Patrick Racing. He ran the IndyCar series through 1996, with six years for Patrick, six for Team Penske and one for Hogan Racing. He won the Indy 500 in 1989 for Patrick and 1993 for Penske, ironically he became Al Unser Jr.’s teammate in 1994 and almost won again. Emmo, leading Al Jr. by a small margin this time, lost control and crashed coming out of Turn 4, allowing Al to race on to the win.
Fittipaldi recorded the first of his 22 IndyCar victories at Michigan International Speedway in 1985 and his final at Nazareth, Pa., in 1995. So, he was a big deal in both F1 and IndyCar.
While detail is always more impressive on a 1/18 scale model, this 1/43 is sharp and certainly up to Replicarz’ earlier models’ standards. The car’s shape and markings, plus the fluorescent Marlboro orange/red is dead on and help the PC18 stand out in any display.
Details are strong front to rear with fine photo-etched metal suspension struts front and back and the rear wing’s thin metal-look supports are well detailed. Naturally, the car is a sealed body, so all you see is the silver drivetrain exiting the car’s rear, just in front of the wing, with its strut bolted to the back.
Tires are racing slicks with Goodyear branding and Eagle logos.
The windscreen is typical low-profile with two white side mirrors and the fuel filler hookup is just below the rollbar on the driver’s left. Sidepod panels feature black indents representing fasteners.
The cockpit is black with red shoulder harness and seatbelts including a photo-etched metal clasp. Behind the black steering wheel you can see a bit of the dash gauges, but really, on a 1/43 scale car it’s the exterior that makes it a winner or DNF.
Emmo’s winner comes without the Marlboro decals attached, due to sales regulations of tobacco-related products. But the decals are included on a separate sheet. It took me about 10 minutes to attach them all with warm water. All the other markings look great and are true to race-day setup.
I also like the square-edged acrylic display case that Replicarz encloses its models in. This looks great and is easy to stack with other cases. There’s also a mirrored metal plate engraved with “1989 PC18 Winner Indianapolis 500” on the base just ahead of the car’s nose, to help your friends identify what they’re gawking at. Nice touch!
Whether you collect 1/18 or 1/43 Indy cars this is one you’ll want to add to your collection! And collectors will want to keep an eye out for its next two 1/43 models, the 1986 March 86C that Bobby Rahal drove to his only Indy win, and the 1990 Lola that Arie Luyendyk drove to his first win.
Vital Stats: 1989 PC18 Indy 500 winner (Emerson Fittipaldi)
Stock No.: R43029