It's been a while. So, I'm getting this car slowly assembled for a proxy race in the fall. The good news is that it actually runs and that's 3 months before the deadline. I'll need all 13 weeks of that time given my proclivity for procrastination.
The bad news is that this BRM is powered by a $2.50 motor that usually goes in electric toothbrushes. And it's going to be up against some nuclear powered competition. I can only hope the opposition flies (literally) off the track, because my stubby/tubby BRM doesn't move nearly that fast.
So what have I learned, if anything?
1) Entering a proxy series with a car that only has ten practice laps isn't very smart.
2) Mixing plastic and metal bits for suspension detailing is fine in theory, but not in racing, and it doesn't look very good.
3) If the rules allow 9mm tires, don't put 7mm tires on the car. Or if you do, they had better have magic grip. Mine don't.
4) 48 grams is not necessarily better than 54 grams. I should have tried a car 6 grams heavier rather than 6 grams lighter.
Oh hell, it's all about the tires anyway (see #3).
I had the good fortune to be asked to judge the Concours event at this year's VRAA (Vintage Race Across America) Proxy series. Of course I gladly accepted and made the 3 1/2 hour drive from Chicago to Fort Wayne. I also had the opportunity to finally meet two very fine builders and racers, Ken and Matt.
Thanks to Matt for this photo, which I lifted from his Photobucket album:
The top 3 cars in the Concours were #1, #7 and #26. There's a lot more information about them on the other forum.
What a great way to spend a Sunday.. especially after how the football game in Evanston ended on Saturday.
This helmet was way too nice to stay hidden on a goofy looking guy in a closed car when I have an F1 BRM driver in need of a good tartan stripe. (it's okay...Graham Hill is now driving my GT-40!)
Note to Maurizio.. you really should sell this is an accessory item!
When I was in high school (40+ years ago), one course that college bound students did not take was Shop. Why in the world would we want to waste credits on learning how to work with metal and wood and do practical things? That would be almost as ridiculous as a guy taking Home Economics (which I believe had something to do with learning how to sew, cook and manage a household budget).
Looking back, Shop would have come in handy. For that matter, so would have Home Economics.
My model making skills have saved me from total disgrace as a scratch builder. But it would have been helpful to learn how to solder in my teens rather than as a middle aged guy. It would have been helpful to have spent a bit of time working with brass and steel and other metals. My wife told me that years ago, but I didn't see the need until I started building slot cars.
Now that I think about it, there were some other poor course decisions. For example: foreign languages.
Hereís how my peers chose which foreign language to study:
The drama students took Latin because each year they got to act in a classic play. What can you say about theatre kids? They are expected to study dead languages and do other weird things.
The Honors students took French.
The Lutheran Honors students took German. (Norwegian and Swedish weren't offered at my school).
The rest of the college bound students took Spanish.
Everybody else took Shop.
If I had taken Shop and Spanish, I wouldnít keep buying the wrong sizes of Stuff, and Iíd be able to converse with about 40% of my fellow Americans who have chosen not to learn English.
As a side note:
Jetzt, habí Ich mein Sprachgefuehl verloren. (I'll bet you thought I was going to write something in Latin!)
So, German hasnít been all that useful. It hasnít done much for my scratch building either, but thatís probably because Iíve forgotten more German than I remember.
Obviously, Lotus was the most successful constructor during the 1.5L period.
Letís think about that for a minute.
Yes, Lotus had 22 victories during the period, winning 47% of all the Championship races staged form 1961-1965.
In comparison BRM had 11 victories (23%) and Ferrari 9 (19%). All of the other constructors combined had just 5 wins (11%).
But letís look at some other indicators and then decide which constructor was the most successful. Weíll look at the top 5 constructors:
Lotus 255 starts 114 finishes 44.7% finish/starts 22 wins 8.6% wins/starts 30 podiums 11.8% podiums/starts 252 points
BRM 120 starts 82 finishes 68.3% finish/starts 11 wins 9.2% wins/starts 37 podiums 30.8% podium/starts 220 points
Ferrari 109 starts 69 finishes 63.3% finish/starts 9 wins 8.3% wins/starts 35 podiums 32.1% podium/starts 177 points
Brabham 129 starts 62 finishes 48.1% finish/starts 2 wins 1.6% wins/starts 16 podiums 12.4% podium/starts 109points
Cooper 161 starts 85 finishes 52.8% finish/start 1 win .6% wins/starts 15 podiums 9.3% podium/starts 111 points
Yes, Jim Clark was the greatest driver. But BRM was the better car. Ive read more than enough about the Chapman/Clark chemistry. But I think Clark would have won 4 championships had he been with BRM.
Rebuttals cheerfully entertained, as long as you don't quote Vince Lombardi.
Does this look like an F-86 Saber to you? I did ask my dad where he thought the pilot sat.
These events are linked, but as I'm trying to keep this brief, I won't necessarily take the time to explain how and why.
1959: I am 5 years old and I tell my folks that what I want for my birthday is a plastic model kit of an F-86 Saber jet. We live in a very small town with a population of just over 1,000. The only plastic models are sold at the local drug store. My dad buys me a Revell Snark missile.
I build it anyway.
I realize that itís not going to be easy trying to explain the difference between a jet fighter plane and a guided missile to my father, a Lutheran pastor.
1961: Iíve saved my allowance and dried enough dishes for my mom (@$.15 per episode) to have purchased a half dozen or so models. Of course they are all fighter planes. I go to the Rexall Drug store and buy the models myself. My dad and I have agree that works better for both of us.
1961: Firestone runs its annual Indy Champions advertisement in Life Magazine and I decide that those cars are pretty cool. Now I want to build race cars.
Rexall Drug has a few kits of sedans and hot rods. This is going to be tougher than I thought.
Christmas 1961: My best friend Terry gets an Aurora HO racing set. We spend the next 5 days at his dining room table wearing out the cars.
1962 - 1965:
I continue to purchase models, but they are still mostly fighter planes. The pharmacist explains that he doesnít get to select the 6 or 7 model kits that come in every few months.
I still donít own an HO racing set. Our family canít afford to give presents like that. Mom tells me that when Iím 12 I can get a paper route and earn enough to buy my own racing set. I have to content myself with racing at Terryís house and looking at the pictures of slot car sets in the Searís Christmas catalogue.
May 1965: Jim Clark wins the Indianapolis 500 in a super cool green car. Now Iím really hooked on race cars.
July 1965: TIME magazine profiles Jim Clark in a cover story. I learn about Grand Prix racing for the first time. I want to be Jim Clark.
August 1965: My father has accepted a call to Kalispell, Montana. I am very excited; weíre moving to a town in the Rocky Mountains with a population of 12,000 and it is sure to have more places than just a single drug store selling models and slot cars.
August 25, 1965: We arrive in Kalispell. The next day I visit Wheaton Cycle & Toy. There are two aisles filled with plastic models and one aisle devoted to HO racing sets ,Aurora and Tyco cars. There arenít any 1/24 or 1/32 cars though.
November 25, 1965: My 12th birthday. Mom says I can get a paper route. I do.
November 25, 1966: I buy a BIG Aurora racing set with my earnings as my birthday gift to myself. The two cars that come in the set are a Ford GT-40 in British Racing Green and a Corvette Stingray in tan. I assemble the set and set it up in the basement on several plywood sheets.
1967: Iíve constructed some scenery after frequent visits to the Ben Franklin Crafts store. I have a dozen or so cars. Iíve replaced the stock tires with the super slicks. Iíve added racing numbers to my Ford GT-40, still the best car in my little collection. I start high school that fall. Around October, a local businessman announces that he is building a commercial slot track which will be in a storefront just 10 minutes from my home (and 2 minutes from Wheaton Cycle & Toy). Wheaton Cycle & toy starts stocking 1/24 cars.
1968: I buy a Cox Dino Ferrari and a Cox BRM F1. I think they are pretty hot. One day at the track some guy a few years older shows up with a car in a clear vacuum formed body with a brass rod chassis and spongy tires. His car laps my Dino Ferrari every 3 times around the track. The commercial slot track closes. It might have been open 9 months. I put my Dino Ferrari and BRM in the closet.
1970: Girls and a Girlfriend I keep my 4.0 average in high school but the slot cars and models start gathering a lot of dust.
1971-5: I'm off to University. There are some girls (now women) in this period too, but it's a bit of a blur. One day, shortly before I graduate from college, my mom informs me that she sold my slot car set and the cars in the closet at a garage sale. She sends me the $20. Iím actually quite upset about losing the Ford GT-40 and the Cox BRM.
1975-7: Graduate school. See above. I forgive mom.
1977: I have my Masters degree in International Economics, a job waiting in New York with Chase Manhattan Bank and a wife.
1977-1997: New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong, New York. My son, David is born in 1984, my daughter, Annie is born in 1986. When David turns six, I buy him a huge HO racing set. I put it up in the basement. David isnít all that interested. David is into computers and role-playing games. I take up painting miniature figures with him. It isnít model cars, but itís fun. Annie is into computers and every sport under the sun. I become a ďsoccer dadĒ.
2002: David is off to college, Annie is in high school, Iím single and looking for a new job. Iíve decided that after living my life in rather large cities, Iím going back to the mountains and my home state.
2003-present: I have the good fortune to get a great job in Helena, Montana. I meet Sarah and we get married in 2004. I discover that I love dogs. (Thatís another story for some other forum). And then one day about 18 months ago I ask myself.. I wonder whatís happened to slot cars over the last 15 years? I Ďgoggleí slot cars. The addiction begins. Iím searching for a 12-step program now.
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