Tag Archives: Al Unser

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1971 PJ Colt, Joe Leonard

Replicarz goes bigger, produces winner with Joe Leonard’s championship car … 1971 PJ Colt, Joe Leonard driver

Joe Leonard was a heck of a racer, on two wheels and four.

He not only won three motorcycle championships, the hard-nosed driver also moved up to Indy cars and won the 1971 USAC championship running virtually the same car as his teammate, Al Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 in a sister car that year.

Replicarz honors Leonard, who died earlier this year, with its release of a 1/18-scale PJ Colt, a replica of the car Leonard drove to the USAC title decked out in its yellow and blue Samsonite-sponsored livery.  Replicarz had created a limited edition 1/43-scale model of the car previously, along with Unser’s 1970 and 1971 Indy winning Johnny Lightning racers.1971 PJ Colt, Joe Leonard driver

The History

Leonard won three A.M.A. Grand National Championships between 1954 and 1957 and set a record with 27 wins. By 1961 though, he turned his attention to auto racing and debuted in USAC, then the top-level open-wheel racing series.  In 1964 he reached its top level, racing Champ cars, those that ran in the Indianapolis 500. He won his first race, the Milwaukee 150, in 1965 aboard a Gurney Eagle.

Leonard raced for several teams and had several good results at Indy, finishing third in 1967 and sixth in 1969 when he was wheeling Smokey Yunick’s doctored Gurney Eagle. In between he put Andy Granatelli’s famous wedge turbine on the pole at Indy and was leading with 9 laps to go when a part failed. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1971 PJ Colt, Joe Leonard

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Replicarz goes big with its 1/18 scale PJ Colt … 1970 Indy 500 winner

One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.

It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!

Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.

The History

Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.1970 Indy 500 winner

Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Die-cast: Replicarz 1970 and ’71 Indy 500 winners

1970 Indy winner
1970 Indy winning PJ Colt in Johnny Lightning trim.

Replicarz adds stunning 1:43 Unser Indy 500 winning Colts

By 1971 Al Unser was no longer just Bobby Unser’s younger brother, he was a 2-time Indianapolis 500 winner, while Bobby had won just once.

The decidedly quieter, more humble Al had wisely hooked up with Parnelli Jones’ team and had the dominant PJ Colt chassis and a Ford V8 engine behind him. That helped Al lead 190 of the 200 laps after winning the pole position as fastest qualifier in 1970. He would not only win Indy that and the following year, but the Indy Car National Championship in 1970.

unser1970bUnser and the team also were lucky to have the colorful sponsorship of Johnny Lightning, a then new die-cast toy car maker that was challenging the likes of Hot Wheels and Matchbox. The result was a colorful bright blue racer with yellow lightning bolts in 1970 and a darker blue version with those same electric bolts for 1971. Every kid in America knew this car and its color scheme.

Now Replicarz reprises the car brilliantly in 1:43 scale with excellent attention to detail. This is part of Replicarz new 1:43 scale Indy Car series that already includes the 1947-49 Indy-winning Blue Crown Spark Plug specials that won Indy three years straight. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz 1970 and ’71 Indy 500 winners

NEWS: Replicarz plans 1:43 Indy winners

70 Colt front
The Johnny Lightning Special that won the 1970 Indy 500 with Al Unser at the wheel.
This view of the Replicarz 1970 Indy 500 winner shows great turbo detail.
This view of the Replicarz 1970 Indy 500 winner shows great turbo detail.

1970-71 Al Unser cars coming soon, plus Blue Crown Specials

I recently got a chance to see some pre-production photos of Replicarz’s latest Indy 500 die-cast models, these in 1:43 scale. So thought I’d share them with my die-hard die-cast fans.

Replicarz, the Vermont-based die-cast model distributor has been cranking out beautiful 1:18 scale IndyCar models for several years now and more are on the way. But next out, by late fall to early winter, are the firm’s first 1:43 Indy racers.

Brian Fothergill of Replicarz says the company will offer the 1970 and 1971 Indianapolis 500 winners, both driven by Al Unser, available in 1:43 scale at $89.99. The cars are both PJ Colt designs, the PJ in this case standing for Parnelli Jones, one of the team owners for Unser’s first two Indy wins. Continue reading NEWS: Replicarz plans 1:43 Indy winners

Die-cast: Replicarz 1984 Indy 500 March racers

Sneva record setting pole car, Johncock STP March offer super detail

Tom Sneva's 1984 Indy 500 record setting March.
Tom Sneva’s 1984 Indy 500 record setting March.

The March chassis was dominant at the Indianapolis 500 in the early 1980s with track records falling regularly due to one guy in particular, Tom Sneva, the Gas Man.

A March won the Indianapolis 500 from 1983 through 1987, Sneva giving March its first Indy title and Al Unser Sr., its final at the Brickyard. In 1984 Sneva crushed the lap time and speed record in a bright white racer with blue and red stripes, the Texaco Star, sponsored by, well, you get it.

Now Replicarz has sent us its final production models of that pole car, which set the record at 210.029 mph, plus the Gordon Johncock-driven STP No. 20 March that qualified 5th and finished 25th after crashing halfway through the race.
We had seen pre-production versions of these racers earlier this year and these final versions are spectacular. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz 1984 Indy 500 March racers

Die-cast: Replicarz plans more Indy racers

Replicarz announces Tom Sneva Indy 500 pole car from 1984

I know I’m prejudiced, but I love Indy cars. Born in Indy, have been going to races since 1962 … yikes I’m old!

I mean real race cars don’t have roofs, right?

Tom Sneva's 1984 Indy 500 Pole winner, the Texaco Star will be available soon.
Tom Sneva’s 1984 Indy 500 Pole winner, the Texaco Star will be available soon.

Well, the folks at Replicarz in Vermont understand that and just keep the cool new Indy die-cast racers coming. I know I’ve gone on and on about the Marmon Wasp, but it’s almost here. Replicarz assures me it’ll be out in MAY, appropriately. AND, look for another batch of modern-era rear-engine racers then too.First, the Wasp itself looks to be spectacular. The highly detailed replica of the 1911 Indy 500 winner, says Brian Fothergill of Replicarz, has been tweaked even further to ensure authenticity and create a show stopper. He notes that the engine will be wired and that the end of the Wasp’s stinger tail will be painted flat black to add depth.But next up in May is the 1984 Indy pole winner’s car, the Texaco Star driven by the Gas Man, Tom Sneva.

Sneva set a new track record at the time of 210.029 mph in the March chassis and continued his personal attack on the record books. Sneva was the first to hit 200 mph too, in 1978. Replicarz plans to build 600 of this model. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz plans more Indy racers