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Random Lugnuts: Model Drivers and Model Cars

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Jeff Gordon
What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: Model Drivers and Model Cars

Bill Crittenden
September 15, 2007

Opening Lap

Last column I asked people what they thought "paying dues" meant in NASCAR terms, and here's what some folks had to say:

"Brother all I can say is anybody that says Gordon has not payed his dues, has not been watching NASCAR very long."
John C.

"Paying your dues is a combination of things.  Some times it just depends on fate.  I think if your car is not set up right and you think it could be better then you just have to settle for a hopefully top 10.  Being patient and letting the pack by safely is a big deal because those faster guys tend to be racing each other just a little bit harder.  Just staying out of there way and not getting in an incident is paying dues...If your blessed with the good mechanics of a fast car and the funds and the right stuff off the bat, what dues is there to pay other then the entry fee?"
Terry J.

Based on the responses, I think it's safe to say that a lot of people have different opinions of what "paying your dues" means for NASCAR drivers.  When I asked it, though, I made a kind of reference to Dale Earnhardt, and Joe Dudas was the only one who picked up on that and wrote me back about Dale.  It's a long response, and a great one, so it's now its own article, "Paying their Dues".

His answer got me thinking.  It seems that about the time people had to stop paying their dues like Earnhardt did was about the time the Busch Grand National Series turned into Cup Lite with top Winston Cup teams "developing" their own talent rather than hiring someone from a backmarker Cup team.  That's not to say it's not done in the modern NASCAR era, just look at what Michael Waltrip went through to finally get in a winning car (and in his first race in that car!).  Maybe that's why Dale hired him in the first place ahead of dozens of younger drivers.  And maybe this is part of the reason why Dale endures as a legend in the sport long after other drivers would have been forgotten...

The Merchandise Trailers

Just as the NASCAR season gets to its peak at the beginning of the Chase, we're reminded that there are many more races behind us than there are ahead for 2007.  However, one very different NASCAR season is just beginning.

Swap meets for collectibles and model car shows are primarily a winter event.  Really, everyone around here's too busy taking advantage of our limited good weather with their real cars and going to real races to play with toys.  But when the snow falls and the real cars are safely tucked away in storage for the cold months, the little cars come out.

Collectibles and model shows around here (northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin) run from September through April, with most shows concentrated around December-February.

Two weeks ago the season kicked off with the DuPage toy show, and this Sunday the NASCAR fans will be out in force at Serb Hall in Milwaukee (e-mail me for details).

So, to begin the show season, just a friendly suggestion to NASCAR fans that they should try building a model car.

I know what a lot of people are thinking.  Why spend the time and effort building a model car when the Action or Team Caliber die cast can be had for reasonable money ready for the shelf in better detail than many modelers can achieve?  Well, comparing the same car, model to die-cast, apples to apples, I'd go with the die-cast myself.  I've picked up cars for $7.50 and $15, and that's what I can spend just on paint for a good model.  And I can't build that well.

But let's throw some oranges in with the apples, shall we?  Two cars coming up on my build list that I hope to have completed before spring is a CarsAndRacingStuff.com Monte Carlo and a #8 Snickers car.  No, I've never sponsored a NASCAR race car.  But thanks to a blank sheet of decals and a little imagination, I can make it look like I did.  The other is a Buick that predates good quality die cast, so unless the folks at Motorsports Authentics are considering a Rick Wilson Historical Series (doubtful), a model is the only way to go to get that car.

Custom jobs and unusual paint schemes.  Two reasons why you should take a look at the models next time you're browsing the NASCAR merchandise.

Postrace Inspection

If you think NASCAR penalties are getting a bit high, both in points and money, consider this: McLaren, the constructor for the Mercedes-Benz powered cars of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, was just stripped of all 2007 constructor's points (the F1 equivalent of owner's points) and fined $100 million.

What enormous transgression could have possibly resulted in such a penalty?  Using leaked information from the Ferrari team.

With fines like these I bet Chad Knaus would have racked up enough fines to equal the GDP of some small countries.  And just think of what the FIA might have done had they found jet fuel in an intake before their biggest race.

The Record Book

This week in NASCAR history:

  • On September 17, 1975 Jimmie Johnson was born.
  • On September 21, 2002 Mike Bliss wins the John Boy & Billy's Hardee's 250 presented by Textilease, perhaps the silliest, if not the longest, race names in NASCAR history.



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