A History Of Drag Racing In Miniature

A visit to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona is an absolute must for fans of both drag racing and automotive history in general. Packed into the museum is a fantastic collection of historic drag cars that represent every era of the sport, but it’s not just the full size cars that need to be seen.

The museum also includes an amazing display drag racing history through a collection of lovingly built scale models.

What’s even more special is the fact that each and every one of these 75 1:25 scale replicas were built by one man – a fellow named Barry Price out of London, England. When he retired from model building Barry graciously decided to donate his entire collection of models to the NHRA Museum, loading them into special Styrofoam cradles for the trip from London to California.

After being obsessed with building dragster models as a youngster, Barry rediscovered his love for model building in the 1990s when many of the classic kits were re-released onto the market.

Each and every one of the models in the collection is a replica of an actual race car. Of course many of these cars were not available as kits, so Barry would build them scratch.

Barry studied photos of the real cars and got to work reconstructing them in scale form. Engines, wheels, and other parts were grabbed from existing kits to make the models as close to reality as possible.

Nearly every type of competition car ever to lay tire on a drag strip can be seen in Barry’s collection.

Barry built many models of early race cars like the Bean Bandits fuel dragster from 1953. With all of the models built to the same scale, you get a great sense of how small these early dragsters were in comparison to their modern counterparts.

These early cars were some of Barry’s favorites to build, particularly the twin-engined cars like Bob Brissette’s double flathead-powered dragster from 1955.

There are a few Don Garlits cars in the collection, including this replica of Garlits’ first dragster as it was in 1955- a flathead-powered slingshot on Model T frame rails.

Another one of Barry’s much-loved twin engined dragsters – Eddie Hill’s “Double Dragon” from 1961. Note the double rear wheels and also the detail on the parachute.

Also from 1961 is this replica of the “Two Bad” competition coupe driven by Don Hampton. Check the pair of angled blown Chevy motors.

Nice to see that Barry also gave some love to the Mooneyes dragster. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this thing in real life on a few different occasions.

The insane “Green Monster” as it looked in 1958 complete with its Allison V12 aircraft engine. Can’t imagine this one being easy to build.

If two engines just isn’t enough, why not double that number to four as “TV” Tommy Ivo did with his “Showboat” dragster.

There’s more than rail dragsters in the collection of course. This is the Mooneyham and Sharp “554” Fuel Alterted Coupe as it looked in 1963.

Here’s Barry’s highly detailed take on Hugh Tucker’s ’28 Chevy-based AA/Street Roadster circa 1964. The real life version of this car was restored in the early 2000s and is still making the rounds today.

No collection of historic drag cars would be complete without an Anglia. This is the Kohler Brothers “King Kong” Gasser from 1966.

The Gasser glory days of the mid 1960s are represented by this model of the Mallicoat Brothers Willys. You can see that Barry perfectly modeled the car’s experimental twin turbo setup.

One of the great things about Barry’s collection of models is the way it captures the experimentation and overall craziness that defined drag racing in the 1960s. This is Dick Harrell’s 427-powered Chevy II from 1966.

Another example of that experimentation is Gene Mori’s Volkswagen-based Altered with Chevy V8 power from 1966.

How about the Lakey’s Speed Shop dragster draped with the body of a Nash Metropolitan? I’m sure Barry spent countless hours just doing research and gathering photos of these cars before he even got started on the actual construction.

This is Don Garlits and Emery Cook’s Dart 2, essentially a Hemi-powered race chassis covered with a stretched Dodge Dart body.

Funny Car history is represented by the “Brutus” ’65 GTO altered wheelbase car from 1967. Strangely, this Pontiac was powered by a Chrysler Hemi.

Another Funny Car pioneer was Bruce Larson and his “USA-1″ Chevys. This is Barry’s replica of Larson’s altered wheelbase ’66 Chevelle.

Dave Strickler’s awesome stretched ’65 Corvette Funny Car. Personally I prefer these early Funny Cars they looked like more like heavily modified street cars rather than loose fiberglass caricatures of them.

If Pro Stock is your thing, you’ll find that Barry has also built some of those. Here’s Bill Jenkins’ famous “Grumpy’s Toy” Camaro.

Show car meets dragster in Carl Casper’s wild looking “Cosmic Charger” from 1967.

Moving towards the modern era, we have a rear-engined dragster as driven by pioneering female drag racer Shirley Muldowney.

One more Don Garlits car. On these newer models in particular the amount of detail the Barry put into them is incredible.

If you look closely, you’ll even see that there’s lettering on the belt.

As I looked through Barry’s creations, there were times where I completely forgot I was looking at models. The reactions in my mind were the same as if I was seeing these cars in real life, and I suppose that says a lot about his talents as a model builder.

If you have the chance to visit the NHRA Museum make sure you don’t overlook this display. It’s quite something!

-Mike Garrett

More Museum Stories on Speedhunters

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1
Harry J Allstars

Incredible... what a guy!

2

Fantastic!

3

Now I know that my collection is much more uncomplete than I thought ...
Thank you for making me jealous one more time...

4

That is a great collection of drag racers.  Only thing better would be to see them in person!
 
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5

What a great collection of drag racers! The only thing better would be to see them in person.
 
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6

Awesome collection of minis.  I was especially thrilled to see the Kohler Bros. King Kong as Jim Vasser, of the later partnering of Kohler and Vasser King Kong, lived next door to us in Glendora in the 60s, and son Jimmy Vasser (of NASCAR fame) was a childhood running buddy who often got us pit passes for Irwindale and Pomona, a great time to be a kid growing up in Southern California.  Thanks for the memories.

7

Awesome collection, do you make trades? I'm in <a href="http://www.techtails.com.au/2016/07/dog-collars-australia.html”>Australia</a&gt;, we have cool different models over here (English/German)

8
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9

The Matchbox name started in 1953 as a trademark name of the British die-casting business, Lesney Products, whose credibility would be molded by [2] John W. "Jack" Odell (1920-2007), [3] Leslie Charles Smith (1918-2005), [4] as well as Rodney Smith (therefore the name Lesney); their very first major sales success, was the million-selling design of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation coach. Quickly afterwards, Lesney co-owner Jack O'dell (b. 1920-- d. 2007) developed a plaything that properly provided the final, missing out on link to the company's future. It was created for his daughter: her school just allowed kids to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox, so Odell crafted a scaled-down variation of the Lesney green and also red road roller. This toy eventually ended up being the very first of the 1-75 miniature array, a dump vehicle, as well as a concrete mixer, finished the initial three-model launch that marked the beginning factor of the mass-market success tale of the Matchbox collection. As stated above, because the one defining factor for the toys was that each model needed to fit in a matchbox, the idea was birthed to offer the versions in reproduction matchboxes-- thus generating the name of the series. It likewise led to the description of the models' ranges being "1: box" (as opposed to even more "severe" ranges such as 1:87, 1:64, or 1:43).


Extra designs-- mainly British at first-- continuouslied be contributed to the variety throughout the decade, including automobiles such as an MG Midget TD, a Vauxhall Cresta, a Ford Zodiac, and lots of others. As the line grew, it additionally progressively came to be much more global, consisting of designs of Volkswagens, a Citroën, as well as American makes. Making such miniatures, the developers took detailed photos of the actual models, even getting some initial plans. This enabled them to make versions with surprisingly high degrees of detail, in spite of the small range. The dimension of the versions (and also their smart product packaging) permitted Matchbox to inhabit a market specific niche barely touched by the competition (and also certainly not by Dinky); the connected rate advantage made Matchbox versions cost effective for each child, as well as helped develop Matchbox as a common speech for little design plaything vehicles-- whatever the brand name. Although used generically, "MATCHBOX" (in capital letters and quote marks) was registered as a worldwide trademark to secure the Matchbox brand name from competition.


Moko; growth & development of the 1-75 as well as other core collection [modify] In the earliest years of the normal, or 1-75 collection-- well prior to the collection really phoned number 75 models-- Lesney was marketed/distributed by Moko (itself called after its founder, Moses Kohnstam). Boxes because era stated this, with the text "A Moko Lesney" showing up on each. Lesney gained its self-reliance from Moko in the '50s by buying the business, leading into a period of growth, both in sales as well as in dimension. Early models did not function windows or interiors, were made entirely of metal, and also were usually concerning 2" (5 centimeters) in size. By 1968, Matchbox was the biggest-selling brand name of small diecast model cars and trucks worldwide. By now, the typical design featured plastic windows, interiors, tires (typically with different disc wheels), and also periodic devices; spring suspensions; opening components; and also had to do with 3" (7 cm) long. Some also featured steering, including the pressure-based AutoSteer system debuting in 1969. The line was very diverse, consisting of trucks, buses, tractors, motorbikes, as well as trailers as well as typical automobile.


The three dominant brand names in the world at the time, all British-made (Dinky, Matchbox and also Corgi), can seemingly do no wrong. Each had its very own market particular niche and its very own strong credibility, while innovations and also advances by one were adopted by the others within an issue of a few years. Each also increased to some extent into each various other's territory, though this never ever appeared to seriously affect the sales of any kind of brand name's core series.


As part of Lesney's development tasks, four more die-cast version ranges were introduced throughout the 1950s as well as 60s. The Versions of Days gone by, presented in 1956, were performances of timeless lorries from the vapor as well as very early automotive ages. These were often regarding 3 1/2 -4" in size. Accessories Packs were likewise introduced in 1956 as well as included petrol pumps, garages, and so on. Significant Packs, which were larger-scale versions, commonly of building and construction automobiles, were added in 1957. The King Size collection of larger range vehicles and also tractors was added in 1960 as well as was branched out from 1967 to include automobile models in a scale much like that utilized by Corgi and Dinky. Major Packs had been taken in right into the King Size range by 1968.


Competition and crisis [edit] However, the major focus at Matchbox continuouslied be their smaller vehicles. Various other brands, consisting of Husky/Corgi Junior, Budgie, as well as Cigar Box, attempted to compete with Matchbox, however none were particularly effective up until American toy giant Mattel introduced the advanced low-friction "auto racing" wheels on its Hot Wheels line of cars. These designs, although much less true to scale and also frequently featuring fantasy vehicles, were repainted in intense metallic colours, fitted with racing-style "mag" wheels and also glossy tires, were distinctly American in their design choice, as well as were marketed strongly and with countless device items, such as race course sets and the like. In 1969, a 2nd rival based in the United States, Johnny Lightning, entered the marketplace, as well as the lower properly fell out of Lesney's United States sales (the other significant market, the UK, was additionally under attack). [2]
Lesney's response to this was reasonably fast-- yet not fast enough to avoid significant monetary fears-- creating the "Superfast" line. [2] This was efficiently an improvement of the 1969 line to include low-friction wheels (in the beginning slim, since the business needed time to retool the series to suit wide tires), typically accompanied with brand-new colours. The result was, in the beginning, an odd however fascinating line of fast-wheeling automobiles, trucks, as well as trailers, generally full in 1970. Racing track sets and so on were additionally released to allow kids to race their vehicles. Starting in 1970 and particularly in 1971, new models showed up with bigger tires, as well as older versions (consisting of trucks still in the line) were retooled to fit slicks. The Economy size range was in a similar way updated, consisting of a department right into Super Kings (mainly trucks, but also with mag wheels) as well as Speed Kings (autos). A short-term collection of rechargeable electric autos, called Scorpions, was launched also, to compete with similar items from Hot Wheels (Sizzlers) as well as Corgi (ElectroRockets).

10
AnthonyRockyOzella

Clarification  of caption on Brutus ;  The early Brutus did run a Pontiac engine with Mickey Thomson Hemi Pontiac heads that were very rare and expensive , There were I think only 400 made, and only a few left .    The later Brutus which was lowered and the front axle moved forward ( you can ID the late body   because the front wheel well is stretched to the front bumper) and the car was lowered to help traction with the Chrysler hemi

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