Not to namedrop, but as a young newspaper reporter I was in Bobby Rahal’s garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just after driver Gordon Smiley was killed in a horrific qualification day crash in 1982. It was Rahal’s rookie season and the young driver was moved by the tragedy.
I never forgot that slice of humanity I witnessed and always was a bit of a Rahal fan after that. My son picked up on that and cheered for Rahal as a youngster, even making a Pinewood Derby car with Rahal’s name on it.
So, I’ve been eager to see Replicarz latest 1/18 scale release of an Indianapolis 500 winner, the March 86C that Rahal drove to his lone Indy win in 1986. This is one in an ever-expanding series of Indy 500 winning cars Replicarz has produced. It’s other latest is the 1990 winner that Arie Luyendyk drove. I reviewed that car a couple weeks ago.
Bobby Rahal was a sports car and road-course racer that had been supported in his amateur racing career by former racer and businessman Jim Trueman, who also founded the Red Roof Inns motel chain. In 1982 his Truesports Team entered a car for Rahal in the Indy 500, and Rahal quickly became a contender in the IndyCar series (then CART).
His success continued, finishing third in the IndyCar championship in 1984 and 1985, winning six more times in that period. Then came his exceptional 1986 season when he won six IndyCar races, including the Indy 500.
With two laps remaining Rahal passed leader Kevin Cogan on a restart and held on to win the 500 in his Cosworth DFX turbocharged V8-powered March. The win was an emotional one for Rahal and the team as Jim Trueman, 51, was dying of cancer, but was in the pits to celebrate the win. Trueman died less than a month after Rahal’s win.
Rahal retired after the 1998 season, his last IndyCar win being at Nazareth Speedway (now closed) in 1992 when he earned his third series championship with four wins. He also was the IndyCar champ in 1987 and finished second at Indy in 1990 and third in 1994 and ’95. He now owns and IndyCar team with his son Graham serving as driver.
Ground-effects and aerodynamics were playing a big role in IndyCars by the mid-1980s, but the cars were still relatively clean and the monster wings of the 1970s had been outlawed. Here the air rushes through sidepods and over radiators to escape the pods just behind the cockpit. There are tiny winglets in front of each rear tire to redirect the air over the tires creating more downforce. Each is held by twin adjusting wires. There’s also a modest air scoop at the engine cover’s tail to direct more air into the Cosworth’s turbo.
Wings had been regulated to remain no wider than the inside of the rear wheels and this one juts up on a red support with Bud logos on each side and Budweiser lettering spread across the wing’s top.
The March has thin winglets on the nose with Red Roof’s moto, “Sleep Cheap!” in white atop them. There’s also a small antenna on the car’s nose, black trim around the windscreen’s lower edge and two tiny red mirrors extending off each side of the car’s cockpit wall. The fuel filler outlet is just behind the cockpit to the driver’s left and a thin roll bar extends above the cockpit, tapering into the bodywork.
Suspension work is all solid and painted matte black with tiny screws holding the rear assembly together. Tires are black slicks with Goodyear Eagle labeling on both sides, as on the real racers. Wheels are silver racing wheels, not chrome, with gun metal center locking nuts. And while there are a bevy of sponsor logos on the nose, the key white logos, mostly trimmed in black are Red Roof Inns, Budweiser with Valvoline and Goodyear in a couple spots.
Inside, the cockpit walls are matte black as is the low-slung seat, but there are red cloth shoulder and seatbelts with photo-etched metal clasps. The dash includes a couple dials, the three-spoke racing wheel, pedals and a small silver gearshift lever to the driver’s right.
Once again Replicarz delivers an Indy champion caliber car deserving of a trophy. Snag one before they’re gone.
Vital Stats: 1986 March 86C, Indy 500 winner, Bobby Rahal
Stock No.: R18030