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Russell Sheldon
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2,855 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Usually I scratch build cars, which then get to be raced by proxy. This time, I did it the other way around… my cars for the Presto Park Classic were scratch built by proxy, and I get to race them!

BACKGROUND

During the early to mid-1980s, when we all lived in South Africa, Dennis Samson, Alan Seymour and myself raced competitively in the country's national championship series. This was the type of car we used to raced, circa 1982 -1983:-







They were 1/32nd 'wing' cars; all side dams and spoilers! Betta Ferrari 312P 'silhouette' bodies were almost universal. Chassis were hand-cut spring steel centre sections, with stainless steel or brass side pans. Motors were 13UO Johnson or 1-O-1 Inphinity cans with polymer cobalt magnets, turned-down Mura endbells and Pro Slot, Koford or Mura armatures.

Alan and myself were both members of the Ecurie Elite Model Racing Car Club in Durban and raced as team mates in the nationals, while Dennis was a member of our staunch rivals, Pretoria Model Car Club (PMCC), which is also multiple South African Champion Gustav Heymann's club.

During the mid-1980s I went to work in Europe and eventually ended up here in the Middle East, while Dennis went to the USA. Alan later took retirement and moved to the UK, where his children and grandchildren reside.

While Dennis has remained an active slot racer, except for a period racing R/C gas cars, Alan stopped racing completely. With nowhere to race, thanks to the internet and forums such as this, I maintained interest in the hobby as a keyboard racer and occasionally built cars for proxy races.

Alan took up the hobby again a few years back, racing 1/32nd Falcon-powered cars and when he moved to Norwich around a year or so ago, he joined the Presto Park club, where they race plastic r-t-r cars such as Scalextric, Slot.it, SCX and the like.

RACING AGAIN!

Earlier this year, the Presto Park club decided to host a 1/32nd scale race to CSRA rules for scratch built hard-body 1970s/80s sports and GT cars, as well as a class for 1970s/80s Group 2 saloon (sedan) cars. I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity to see Alan and this weekend, almost 30 years later, Alan and I will be racing again as team mates.

Being pushed for time, I decided to enlist the help of others to get the cars built. Of course, I wanted nothing less than the very best, so I got Chris Clark to do the bodies, Dennis Samson the chassis (Dennis actually very kindly offered to build them) and do the final assembly and testing, Jim Difalco the controllers, and Dan De Bella the armatures. At least I assembled the motors!

THE CARS

These are the cars we will be racing:-

1970 to 1981 over 2-litre Saloon and Touring Cars - Inline Chassis

I wanted the biggest and the widest cars eligible, so decided on these:-


SCA Road Services Group 2 Camaro, driven by Frank Gardner in the 1972 RAC British Saloon Car Championship.
Third overall.



SCA Road Services Group 2 Camaro, driven by Frank Gardner in the 1973 RAC British Saloon Car Championship.
First overall.


I sent Chris a couple of Scalextric Camaro bodies and the only pictures of the cars I could source; the two pictures above and two others. Chris is the ultimate master modeller and the transformation he made to the Scalextric bodies is almost unbelievable, with his usual impeccable attention to detail. The SCA decals were made by Dave Wisdom.

These are the finished cars:-









1968 to 1981 Sports/GT Cars

For the Sports/GT class, I thought these would be most appropriate:-


David Piper / Lucky Strike Racing Porsche 917-010, driven by Richard Attwood and Dave Charlton in the 1971 Rand Daily Mail Kyalami 9-Hour Endurance Race.
Charlton / Attwood qualified 4th but did not finish the race.



David Piper / Lucky Strike Racing Porsche 917-021, driven by Tony Adamowicz and Mario Casoni in the 1971 Rand Daily Mail Kyalami 9-Hour Endurance Race.
Adamowicz / Casoni finished 4th, having qualified 6th.


Tony Adamowicz' account of the race:-

"We were leading early on, when Clay Regazzoni crashed me intentionally in the right rear at the uphill hairpin prior the straightaway. He was frustrated that Ferrari brought their new 3 litre open cockpit cars that were no match for the big Porsches. He just wanted me out of the race. I was stuck in the pits for 20 minutes with severe electrical problems and replacement of battery damaged in the attack. He had a simple nose change in the pits. I was furious and approached Regazzoni with vigour, Mario Andretti came in between us. Anyway it is all history: Casoni and I finished fourth overall."



Once again, Chris and Dennis fully applied their amazing skills. Chris did an absolutely incredible job with the NSR bodies, including making all the decals. Dennis took a tried and proven route with the chassis design and built them to his usual impeccable Samson Classics standard.

The finished cars:-









READY TO GO!







My specially made flybe-specification flight box is packed and I'm ready to go. Flying Emirates Airline A380 to Manchester early on Friday morning, then onto Norwich by flybe Bombardier.







Many thanks to Chris Clark, Dennis Samson, Jim Difalco and Dan De Bella. Also to Gustav Heymann for making some custom controller resistor networks. Not least of all, many thanks to Mike Harvey of Presto Park, for organising the event and making our little reunion possible.

Should be fun!

With kind regards,

Russell
 

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Russell Sheldon
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2,855 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi DJ,

I'm not familiar with the expression "flash git" but "lucky b&[email protected]" would definitely be appropriate!

Hi Chris,

Your cars look stunning! The "tobacco war" era of South African motor racing, particularly from 1968 - 1975, brings back fond memories. The Basil Green Capri Peranas were awesome and I absolutely loved the sound of the Chevy Firenza V8 Can Am, the brainchild of SA saloon car champions Basil van Rooyen and Geoff Mortimer. Yup, looking forward to my early morning shower on the Emirates A380.

Hi Anthony,

It will be great to see you again at the Presto Park International event in March. It looks like it will have a top class field, with an impressive list of entrants already. I will try my best to get Dennis to come over too and I'm sure that Alan will be there as well. Perhaps we could have a braai, weather permitting, of course!

The last time I built a 1/24th scale car was in 1970 and I'm looking forward to replicating what I built back then. We pretty much copied what the US Pros and the top UK builders were doing at the time. My heros were the USA's Bob Emott, Mike Steube, Tony P. and Howie Ursaner, and the UK's Barry Magee. Yes, I also got suckered into building sidewinders... Steube, Tony P. and Ursaner are all racing again in the Retro classes in the US, and Howie Ursaner obviously hasn't lost any of his driving skill, having won the IMCA Worlds in Barcelona this year.

There is no doubt that Chris Clark and Dennis Samson are the best there is in their respective areas of expertise. Wonderfully talented and very nice guys too.

With kind regards,

Russell
 
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