Replicarz goes bigger, produces winner with Joe Leonard’s championship car …
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.
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→
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.
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.
STP’s 1967 Indy 500 Turbine is a sure winner this time!
Say turbine car and Indianapolis 500 and most car lovers and race fans will picture the 1967 STP-sponsored day-glo red racer that Parnelli Jones darned near drove to victory that year.
It was nicknamed Silent Sam and the Whooshmobile for its turbine power that sounded like a jet whooshing by at 160+ mph while all the other Indy racers grumbled and roared with their internal combustion engines. The car set the racing world on edge, threatened the establishment and yet was a fan favorite.
While a plastic model was made of the car almost immediately at the time, Replicarz now is the first diecast car maker to deliver a high-quality detailed 1/18 scale version of the car Jones drove to within 4 laps of an Indy win. It took a while, but the wait was worth it. And the Indy icon appears just as the Indianapolis 500 is set to run its 100th race this May. Timing could hardly be better.
The STP-Paxton turbine was the brainchild of designer Ken Wallis and Andy Granatelli, a former racer and then head of STP, a division of Studebaker Corp. Granatelli had championed the powerful Novi racer for years and always was looking for an advantage to help him win the Indy 500. That led him to buy Ferguson Formula 4-wheel-drive to first team with the Novi engine and for 1967, Wallis’ turbine power, a Pratt & Whitney Canada ST6B-62 turbine. It ran in a space frame chassis with the turbine mounted on the left side of the chassis while the driver’s cockpit was alongside on the right. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1967 Paxton (STP) Turbine→
Back before hearing the word “Miller” made us think of beer, the name meant winning at the Indianapolis 500, and elsewhere on the nation’s numerous board tracks. That’s right, they used to make race track surfaces out of wood!
Millers were simple yet sleek racers that the best drivers, or their sponsors, bought to race at the highest levels throughout North America. Indy was, and is, the crown jewel, and Miller racers were the cars to beat in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Now, Replicarz has produced two Indy 500 winners in 1:43 scale and in the limited quantities of just 250 each. Due to be released shortly are the 1926 Miller Special driven by Frank Lockhart, and the 1929 Simplex Miller driven to victory by Ray Keech. Replicarz’s earlier gold Miller driven by three-time winner Louis Meyer, sold out. So snagging one of these early probably would be wise, as only 250 of each are to be made.
Harry Miller was a noted engine maker and race car designer. Cars he designed won the Indy 500 nine times and three more times cars that were using his engines won the race. I’d say “think Roger Penske” as far as success, but Penske never designed cars or engines himself.
Millers, which were front-wheel-drive, were so dominant that they made up 83% of the Indianapolis fields from 1923 through 1928. Miller’s won 73 of 92 major U.S. auto races from 1922-29 and in 1929, 27 of the 33 racers in the Indy 500 were Millers.
In post-war U.S. open wheel racing the Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials were as dominant as the New York Yankees were in baseball for years. The Blue Crowns’ reign was shorter, but everyone knew their name, like Ruth, Guhrig or Dimaggio.
Replicarz recognizes that and ups its assault on historic Indianapolis 500 race winning cars with 1/18 scale models of the Blue Crowns, a nice complement to the beautiful 1/43 scale models it released last year.
As a refresher on the Blue Crowns’ history, consider that Lou Moore had been a successful Indy Car driver in the late 1920s and ‘30s, finishing second in the Memorial Day classic in 1928. His cars won Indy twice prior to World War II and during the war he hooked up with Leo Goosen to create front-drive cars with 270-horse Offenhauser engines that he was convinced would rule Indy. He was right.
They dominated the 1947, ’48 and ’49 races with Mauri Rose winning the first two years with teammate Bill Holland second, and in 1949 Holland turned the tables on Rose, a 3-time winner. Oh, and a third team car with George Connor driving finished third in 1949. Even today’s Roger Penske would be proud. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s Blue Crown Specials→
Growing up in Indiana I learned that Duesenbergs were fast and beautiful, and there wasn’t much more to learn.
That was, until I found out there were many varieties due to various coachbuilders creating the bodywork on the 1920s and 30s models. Now Automodello goes and creates one of the all-time most beautiful Duesys ever, the J with Murphy-bodied Torpedo styling. This one is in 1:43 scale, which makes it all that more remarkable for its exterior detail.
The first Model J was unveiled at the 1928 New York Auto Show, just a year before the Great Depression. That alone tells you what the likelihood of success was for the model. Duesenberg, run by two brothers in Indianapolis, had gained worldwide acclaim for mechanical excellence by winning the Indianapolis 500 several times and the 1921 French Grand Prix. Duesenberg was the first American car to win a GP, the second being Dan Gurney’s Eagle in 1967. They are still the only two.
But E.L. Cord bought Duesenberg in 1926 and demanded large luxury cars that he could sell to the nation’s elite, folks like Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and James Cagney. Fred Duesenberg responded with exquisite cars with ladder frames and six cross members to restrict vibration, plus an automatically lubricating chassis. Its heart was a 32-valve, double overhead cam, 6.9-liter straight-eight engine creating 265 horsepower and a world-beating 120 mph top speed. Continue reading Die-cast: Automodello 1930 Duesenberg J Murphy Torpedo→