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Pro Racing In The Sixties

10178 Views 58 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Maltese
In the collection of cars legated by Bruce Paschal to the Marconi Foundation for Kids Museum in Tustin, California, is this beautifully 1967 car built by Terry Schmid, then a member of Team Checkpoint in the USA. The car has been partially restored (actually just cleaned up) and a Champion mill has been temporarily installed, as the original motor is being restored.

Exquisite workmanship and clear thinking abounds, like these axle washers to lower the friction of the front wheels while cornering.

Lubrication holes on the rear axle bearings for quick pit stops.

Looking at this car and comparing to the immense piles of amateur hand-built garbage from the same period often seen on E-pay, one understands why these guys DID get the magazines attention then: like Pete Hagenbuch, Dick Dobson and Gene Wallingford in the midwest, they were the best.

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Philippe, could you give us an update on Terry Schmid? I understand that he has resurfaced recently.

Bob S.
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'Never live up to the standards of the past? People whose standards we'll never match?' Forgive the misquote, Mr P., but have you met my kids?
They beat me at everything already. I can retire peacefully knowing that the world will be a better place in their hands. If I can just suppress my frustration a little longer... Perhaps I should take up a hobby in which they have no interest whatsoever...

I hope no-one under the age of thirty is reading all this....
I am with you tx,

my Children are better at just about everything than I am. The future in good hands.

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I won't comment on your sibblings performance because I have no clue.
Many of the teenagers I see today are media and school-brainwashed zombies who enjoy violence at every stage of society, movies, music, litterature (I am talking about comic books here because many can't even read), their own media-dictated image (from rings to tattoes to clothing to use of drugs and alcohol and the latest substance du jour) to their hobbies (which often implies stealing).

I just hope that your kids escaped part of the intellectual terrorism that started in the late 1960's and was designed by very motivated "intellectuals" of which only purpose is negativism in society so that THEY, the Superior Thinking Heads, can effectively take over. I hope that they will fail in the same way that their exact opposite, the Islamic intellectual terrorists, will also fail.

As far as Terry Schmid, yes indeed he re-surfaced, litterally as a rocket scientist working on the missiles sent from the Vandenberg military base in California. He had no clue that slot car racing had survived in any form. He married Mike and Billy Steube's sister 30 years ago and have 3 children.
It shows that some will escape!


Mr. Pea
Still Ring-Free
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"I just hope that your kids escaped part of the intellectual terrorism that started in the late 1960's and was designed by very motivated "intellectuals" of which only purpose is negativism in society so that THEY, the Superior Thinking Heads, can effectively take over. I hope that they will fail in the same way that their exact opposite, the Islamic intellectual terrorists, will also fail."

Here we go again….

P., I respect your knowledge and accomplishments, and I enjoy hearing about your exploits and the early history of slots, but I get so tired of reading your rants on what you perceive to be the ills of society. You KNOW your very narrow views are insulting and alienating to many people, yet you insist on imposing them whenever and wherever possible. It is divisive in the extreme, esp. for a hobby board. Remember the Slots DL? A similar rant from you nearly killed it. I sincerely hope the moderators here will exclude this type of crap from the board, and that you will someday exercise a bit more judgment in your posts.

With all best wishes,

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Mr Pea,
you seem to be well informed.

Interesting info on Terry Schmid.
Any info on whereabouts of other
old "Slot Heroes" from the past?
E.G. Mike Morrissey, Mike Steube,
Sandy Gross, Howie Ursaner, Doug
Henline, Bob Emott, PvA et al.
Not to mention John Cukras...

I read somewhere that Cukras went into
HO racing, being the designer of the
Tyco X-440 as well as the AFX G-Plus.
Is that really so?

Just curious.
Please spill the beans, if any.
Or Peas... ;-)
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I remember this thead on Slot DL so I will just say: Philippe I think you are wrong.

Hi Jeff,
Yes, I could well be, because it's only MY opinion, which I base strictly on MY observations from traveling all over the world. But how do you know that YOU are right and I am wrong?

QUOTE Interesting info on Terry Schmid.
Any info on whereabouts of other
old "Slot Heroes" from the past?
E.G. Mike Morrissey, Mike Steube,
Sandy Gross, Howie Ursaner, Doug
Henline, Bob Emott, PvA et al.
Not to mention John Cukras...

Mike Morrissey is still around and lives in Long Beach. He has been working for McDonnell-Douglas (now Boeing) for many years. Mike was of course the publisher of Model Car racing and Model Car Journal, and built his own Taurus R/C car that failed in the market place.

Mike and Billy Steube are salesmen in a Volvo dealership in Long Beach. Mike has been seen in slot car raceways here and there but is only mildly interested.

Sandy Gross, half of the Cobra "Gold Dust Twins", is and has been for many years the president of a speaker company and makes tons of money.

Gentle Bob Emott is completely out of slot car racing and is now a limousine driver. Bob never really profited from his slot car racing knowledge because he is too nice of a guy.

Pete Von Ahrens and Dave Bloom both unfortunately died of cancer in the past few years, probably poisoned by the paint chemicals they used without much concern for so long. Dave was one of the finest painters of the 1960's, rivalling the talent of Von Dutch.

My buddy John Cukras (SpeedyWeenie and Jeff would hate him, we think exactly alike!
) is very involved in HO cars. He designed a lot of them for Racemasters and runs the SoCal HO club. Together we have been planning the World's Revolution for years. So far no luck.

Howie Ursaner visited us a couple of years ago at the Marconi Foundation for Kids Proxy races where he was Grand Marshal. he had not touched a controller in over 30 years and it took him only 10 minutes to be the best driver there. He is still...Howie, meaning a free-spirit with little attachment to material things and a great enthusiasm for life in spite of very adverse conditions at time. My kind of guy. Howie's best friend is John Cukras.

Doug Henline is into go-karting and has (had?) a kart school. I have not spoken to him in a long time.

Two original members of Team Russkit, Len Vucci and Ken Larimer, are right around the corner from our shop and are professionals in PR and lab testing. Len had a difficult time in Viet Nam, then a difficult marriage that left him broke and living in an old VW. He is having better days now. Ken is the nicest guy and works for an automotive PR firm.

Bryan Warmack and John Anderson work right out of our shop and we often have very spirited discussions debating world issues. Bryan is a fabricator of the caliber of a Phil Remington, John is the only pro racer on the planet to have won a major open-class pro race in FIVE decades! John is a machinist and drives a Subaru WRC.

And of course Bruce Paschal, who was the president of the giant Standard Fruit Corporation (often associated with ITT, the Coca Cola Corp and the CIA for plotting to conspire against South American governments for monetary gains, and Bruce has a good laugh every time there are such assertions in the media) was the sponsor of so many of the aforementioned pro racers in the 1960's and 1970's. He is now retired and lives in Palm Springs. He visits me time to time and we have long and very interesting conversations about his fantastic experiences over the whole planet. He is still a true lover of slot cars and a genuine kind and nice man. We owe him a lot, because some of the most important events in our little world could never have happened without his sponsorship.
When the NY Times ran an ad on two pages to promote the Concorde in the USA, Bruce was the man chosen as a spokeperson because of his world stature and his honesty. He also gave lectures to many organisations and has been a sponsor of many organisations fighting poverty in under-developed countries.


Mr. Pea
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It is only my opinion that you are wrong, but it is based on my experiences running a National Championship through the Boy's club in which large numbers of young people competed as well as numerous hospital and school slot car events, as well as obviously the experience of bringing up my own three children.

Best wishes

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A gentle reminder of the terms of engagement here, boys.

QUOTE The purpose of these forums is to discuss & share items of common interest with other Slot Car hobbyists and enthusiasts. All posts that contribute to this goal are welcome & encouraged.

Posts, which in the judgement of the moderators, do not meet the objectives of this forum will be deleted. Repeated offences will result in loss of your login to these forums.

Some examples of unacceptable items are:
- Use of profane, offensive language or lewd content.
- Posts which denigrate individuals or groups of individuals.
- Messages solely intended to inflame or create controversy.
Wankel is correct to remind us of the above, we don`t need to get into politics and the state of the planet and I`m as guilty of straying as Mr. P. here . Before I give myself a right telling off for adding to this I`m gonna nail my colours to Mr. P`s mast because he`s right. Enough said,end of politics except to close let me keep on the subject of slots and kids. I doubt anyone here is more involved with the youth of today and Slot racing than me. I am running seven days a week and have been for two and a half years now. The kids that race at the club are great, most after some training lets say. Basics like good manners and the respect of other peoples property and that others matter and also that shouting doesn`t always get you the attention that you seek. So yes, great kids keen on racing and a pleasure to be involved with, mostly.

I`ve just got in from running an event for some local Scouts.I`m 41 and have an image of the Scouts that clearly needs amending. For a start they are now a mixed sex organisation. Remember this is still relevant to slot racing. I have just spent the last three hours sorting out them,the adults supposedly `in charge` of them, and repairing my bloody hard work. Fixing barriers, light bulbs,trees and scenary, stickers,cleaning up coke from the track,pulling all sorts out of the rails and repairing and cleaning the trashed toilets. The noise level was out of this world, but obviously normal for the cretins in charge who said nothing.

Now, for those who don`t know me let me fill you in just in case you think I`m a wall flower. I`m an ex Sergeant-major in the British Army, the proper Army,old school and I`m bloody scarey. Whilst I`m affable enough you would not want to get the wrong side of me,trust me. With 18 years service I`ve seen the lot, been to war,done N. Ireland tours , Bosnia and the rest. Even so I struggled tonight to control these animals. What gets me the most is the contrast between my ideas on social behaviour and the morons that were responsible for this lot. To them it was ok, just kids being kids. That`s what worries me the most and to stay on subject I`m glad that Slot racing clubs do exist because there doesn`t seem to be much else out there to keep kids steered in the right direction. To finish, let me just say again I am 100% behind Mr. P but yep, makes sense to leave this kind of discussion out of this Forum. For one I come here to unwind and read the good stuff my fellow hobbyists posts.
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Just 5 years later after the Terry Schmid inline beauty, and this is what things looked like in early 1972:

This is a Champion Ferrari 612, mold by Charlie Waters and Dave Bloom. Aero was following Lee Gilbert's ideas then.

The tape was placed on the pans to avoid shorting in extreme cases (like flat-out on the banking in the lower lanes...)

This car was built by yours truly for Bob Green and restored in late 1998. The Green motor has been replaced by a Steube-Checkpoint because I no longer had the original mill, but otherwise it's pretty much the way it was before Bob crashed it in trying to make the main that day. Bob was a super motor builder but he could not drive his way out of a paper bag...

Great guy, though.

Mr. Pea
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Fabulous work Mr P., and thanks for putting all these up... and putting up with all us wet liberals.

I'm slowly getting attuned to the subtle differences in these chassis- I dropped out just about 71-72 I guess. Your 'diamond' chassis- that's because of the diamond shaped front axle, I guess? And there was a substantial toe-in on those wheels, right? I couldn't quite make out the third rear axle bearing in the photo, but I'm intrigued about your comment on 'axle tramp'.
Neat drop arm hinge on that 612 chassis- any particular thinking on that?
Please go on with these, Monsieur; I'm hooked on these lovely pieces of engineering, and the more detailed the commentary, the happier I'll be.
Most grateful.
D'oh! You see I came here to moderate but then I see that, that... what did you say it was supposed to be? Ah, yes, Ferrari.

I'll say no more than, I ain't seen that many Ferraris with orange tyres and clear plastic fencing on the rear deck.

Ah, the past. It's a foreign country. They do things differently there.

As you were.
First you must understand that the USA was not alone, and the UK, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa and other countries pros followed every move from the top players in the USA.
By 1966-1/2, the Yanks had already lost the exact-scale aspect of slot cars in highly competitive pro-racing. By the time I came in as a serious player, I had also been brainwashed in thinking that orange tires and wild paint on chopped and channeled bodies were the normality, in the same manner that many of you "liberals" (the term is opposite in France where liberals are actually the more conservative-thinking part of the population), like to think that YOUR form of reasoning IS the ONLY standard out there, and any voice of opposition must be silenced and is utterly WRONG. The same has happened to pro-racing and the British BSCRA is a perfect example of that: extremists are running the show but the actual racing attendance has strongly declined. Anyone in opposition to the semi-wing car aspect is shown the door. For over 30 years in the USA, pro-racing has gone into the search of ultimate performance as THE form of NORMAL racing, at the cost of the desaffection of most other hobbyists who just wanted to race models of real cars, and today, the open-class racers can be counted on the fingers of a half-dozen glue freaks, but because of the virtual opposition to ANY other form of racing, there are indeed fewer players and fewer raceways as many closed without even having a clue of what they did to themselves. That is serious brainwashing in my book. For more examples of this, watch the BBC.

So at the time and as a relatively young man with long hair and not much concern for important world events, I plunged myself into a life oriented nearly fully on performance-only slot cars for a period of 2-1/2 years before I regained consciousness and escaped this bizarre and extremist aquarium. Not that it was not interesting, to the contrary. But I realise today that it was harmful to the whole hobby and nearly sunk it, in the same way as some scientific experiments going awry and causing irreparable harm.
And all it would have taken is just a bit of discipline, but when I tried to push this idea in a USRA meeting in mid-1973, I encountered so much opposition that I resigned as president of the USRA and broke my ties to the hobby for 21 years.

What I have been doing since 2002 is to try re-introducing some reason back into competitive racing, by designing, financing and producing the TSRF cars and a racing formula allowing the vast majority of disgruntled hobbyists who had become "home racers" to return to low-cost, exact-scale competitive racing with reasonable performance. I feel that the toy plastic cars from Scalextric to FLY to most others are unable to do the job in stock form with all kinds of technical problems out of the box, while the Parma-style Flexis that compose 90% of the commercial raceway business also turn off 90% of the possible players because they look like some kind of cartoonish view of racing cars. And I would like to point that there is a great difference between the semi-scale pro-racing cars of the mid-1960's to early 1970's and the grossities called "scale" of today, produced by Parma, JK, Champion or other companies sucking onto the same dried bone. The TSRF bodies are, with very few others (namely TrueScale and the ones made by Milan Tomasek, the only correct vac-formed exact-scale bodies available on the market, The criteria: ALL others will not fit exact-scale wheels and tires, they are too low. And this is the secret of the future of pro slot racing: bring back exact-scale wheels and a "silhouette" body formula (based on templates) and the bodies WILL have to follow, and discipline will return along with the home racers. The recent TSRF races organized in USA, England and Belgium have proven the competitive and close racing aspect of the TSRF formula, where the hobbyists smile while racing instead of looking like they are working on heart attacks. Extremism never produces anything but conflict.

Now for the technical aspect of the old things:
The Diamond chassis was named as such because indeed, the shape of the front A-arms. The funny thing is that most copies (and the pros used them from 1973 to the late 1980's until the advent of the perimeter frame) used "L" arms because most builders just could not bend the wire and solder the arms! Problem with the "L" arms is that the slightest shunt would bend them back to uselessness. And indeed, they HAD a function, and the wheels had camber and toe-in for good reasons: there is serious drag from the guide flag inside the slot. This drag means slower lap times. By using negative camber and toe-in, the front wheels convert part of the drag into rolling friction, and that means as much as 1/10th of a second of the nearly 1/2 second advantage of the design at the time it was introduced.

The hinged drop arm on the earlier car was moved further back because I was already working on the idea that the drop arm was a mistake and the further I put the hinged on the back of the frame, the better the car got. This was not my idea but Lee Gilbert's. An experiment on this may be seen on this Lee Gilbert's late 1971 chassis I restroed recently:

Best regards,

Mr. Pea
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Aw, I'm only yanking your chain, Mr T.

QUOTE the same manner that many of you "liberals" (the term is opposite in France where liberals are actually the more conservative-thinking part of the population), like to think that YOUR form of reasoning IS the ONLY standard out there, and any voice of opposition must be silenced and is utterly WRONG.

I'm not sure I'm catching your drift here but trust me, my sniping at weird looking vacs, orange tyres and missing wheel inserts is just sniping. I ain't saying Scaley toys are better - they just look a tad more like the real thing. Just a tad.

This thread is about the Sixties and like you say, cars/shells like the one above, were passed as scale models. From what little I know, what you are about with your TSRF do-das is the amalgamation of the high performance chassis with a pukka modern scale body (your references to "exact scale" might open you up to the rivet counters, though) which is a natural progression.

I can see the quality of work in those chassis. I wouldn't want to play that way, I couldn't begin to construct that way. That others do is fine and dandy. Just keep the blobs and the orange tyres hidden or I'll die laughing before my time.
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So Wankel, I guess the blue, yellow, pink, and green tires are also out?
Ooops, forgot about the "marbled" silicones....
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QUOTE your references to "exact scale" might open you up to the rivet counters, though

I just spent an evening with the Tire Master, Michael Ortmann of Germany. It was indeed very interesting and educational. As the American scene has gone berserk into "normalising" an extreme form of racing with the Flexi crowd, the German went crazily in the opposite direction, hand-building and racing incredibly detailed models with the exact rivet count if not real miniature rivets! Problem is, on both sides the racer count is dwindling. On the US side, costs and the look of cars is decimating the racers base, while in Germany, the research for perfection is just making many hang their tongues in exhaustion from trying to catch up with the best.

The TSRF represents a happy middle: a simple, easy to assemble chassis that can be set in minutes (the German Scholler, Motor Modern or Japanese Plafit ot Sakatsu take hours if not days...) with a choice of either plastic model kit, injected slot cars or vacuum formed bodies. The net result is a simple vehicle that lasts, does not go too fast in which it will avoid destruction, and very affordable maintenance and parts costs. One may build a very decent car, painted in a single color with applied decals and go racing the same day, then place the car back in the box and come back for next week's race without doing anything to the car.
And this is rather unique.
Let me tell you one thing: those things are just as fun to drive as the fastest open-class car I ever had my hands on.

P.S. We don't count rivets.

Best regards,

Mr. Pea
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QUOTE On the US side, ... while in Germany,

And therein lies the rub. To slip into Moped style assumptions, there is, and probably always will be a bit of a difference between the hobby on the different shores of the pond.

I may be wrong (hell, someone will correct me, just don't shoot me) but I don't perceive the guys in pursuit of speed or of engineering excellence such as illustrated above are as numerous, or maybe rather, have such a high profile, as those of like mind in the States. Perhaps it is in the nature of the fact that the bulk of the RTR toys that appear to dominate the hobby here are from European brands. Then again, the lack of commercial raceways here and the spirit and competition they engender may also be a factor in the toy dominating the "slot hobby".

And that's probably why I spout off the way I do at the kind of cars that did for the hobby way back when - because I have no knowledge of blobbies and engineered chassis and it all looks like overkill to little me, happy with his toys.

Now, I know someone is going to shoot me if I say... ain't those front wheels a tad inboard on that Shell car? I mean, for an "exact scale" car?

[runs away, weaving]

Oh, a "P.s." sorry to whoever started this thread if it's gone a little awol.
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