A Need for Speed

Okay, I admit it.  I love car racing.  There I said it.  I have come clean.  I know what you’re going to say.  I have heard it all before.  I know all the jokes about going around in circles.  Say whatever you want, it won’t affect me.  I know what I like, and I am comfortable with that.  I told you people at the beginning that I loved cars, so really, this shouldn’t come as a shock to you.

one of my “to do list” models
Generally speaking I prefer either touring cars or open wheel racing.  So, yes that means I sometimes have to get up very early on a Sunday and watch the races from Europe.  It also means I must scour the internet looking for races that are rarely broadcast on TV channels I get.  A cable channel devoted entirely to fast cars sounds wonderful, but why did they have to put it in the top tier TV package.  How I long for the day when I can choose the 15 channels that I watch and pay about $1 for each of them.  Quake in fear cable companies, that day is coming

What spurred this blog topic was my local paper.  Every week they have a car section and the reporters get to drive a whole bunch of cars that I never will. This week one of the reporters went to a racing school that is located a reasonable distance from my house.  In between fits of jealousy and rage, the fire, the desire, the urge (perhaps it would be too cliché to say the drive) for this hobby was reignited (maybe if I had an editor he or she would want me to use puns like, it got my engine started…. perhaps it’s good for all of us that I do not have an editor)

I love the look of these cars
I guess there is a speed demon lurking in most of us.  I love car chases in movies, and I love the roar of the engines.  I have fantasized about racing Porsche 911 down an empty highway, foot to the floor.  These thoughts haven’t surfaced for a while (I guess that is what life on a commuter bus does for you) but this newspaper article did it.

So, I did what anyone who had an internet connection would do,  I googled it.  Then of course reality set in.  They have long and short courses.  They have a cool track, great facilities and Van Diemen Formula cars, and a cool program.  The pictures are fantastic and the lust for speed is boiling in my blood.  Everything is perfect, except that to go to this racing academy I would have to give up eating for the next two years.  I grant that it would be worth it, but somehow…… after two years without sustenance, my body would be too emaciated, and I probably wouldn’t have the ability to turn the wheels.
vintage and cool

Reality is cruel.  It gives passions, dangles them in front of you, and then watches as you vainly jump for them–it is like playing monkey in the middle with two taller older brothers.

I could write a letter to the editor, hoping to wipe that smug smile off the reporters face, but what good would that do.  It isn’t his or her fault exactly (I was too angry to check if it was a man or woman), but my frustration level makes me want to lash out.  I probably won’t feel better until I get my own dose of speed.

Just in case somebody wants to know.  Currently, my favourite kind of racing is The British Touring Cars, followed by Endurance Racing (most notably the 24 Hours of LeMan) and then the Australian V8 SuperCars.

The origin of the species

The model kit  that started it all out was a 1967 Mustang. I am pretty sure I will never get to own the real thing, so a model is the best thing I can ever hope for.  At the time, die cast kits weren’t as popular as they are now, so I had to build my own


I believe it was the Revell kit, but it could have been AMT.  You have to understand, the 1960’s mustangs are part of my top five cars ever (I lump them into one group  because if I didn’t most of my top five would only be one car.)   To this day, I have built the kit more than once.  I still haven’t built it to my satisfaction, and I expect to build a few more of them before I shed this mortal coil.  Back to that first kit.  The art on the kit box depicted it in white with blue stripes.  I bought a can of white spray paint, some black and blue Testor’s paint and I was off.

I’d love to tell you that I produced an award winning model right from the get go.  sadly, that was not the case.  I did a pretty good job on the muffler.  The engine came out fairly well, and the seats were acceptable.  The rest of it was pretty bad.  I think the wheels stuck out too far, and fell off more than once.  As for the paintjob….I wouldn’t recommend spray paint for anyone’s first time out.

The reason I decided to take up building plastic models can be traced to a friend I have had since junior high school.  If he weren’t still a friend, I would probably use the word blame rather than reason. 

I visited his house and upon entering his room discovered, on his desk, his work in progress.  He was probably 60 percent done painting and building a plastic model kit of the DeLorean from Back To The Future.  I was fascinated.  When it was finished, it was truly a work of art.

My friend is a fantastic model builder.  This is probably because he has incredible patience and an eye for detail.  These qualities no doubt help in his job as a creator of computer animation and effects as well as that of father.  He told me that he painted the tiny exposed cables of the DeLorean using a pinhead.  I tried to replicate his technique, but became too frustrated to continue beyond a few minutes.

I watched him build many other models and was always in awe of his skills.  His landspeeder from Return of the Jedi was fantastic.  And amazingly, although he has never used an airbrush, his finished are always streak free.  If only I had paid him to build my mustang, I probably wouldn’t have started this hobby.

My contribution to his development as a modeller is that I often forced him to rebuild his models.  I knocked his Star Wars Imperial Shuttle from it’s hanging space in the ceiling not once, but twice.  I can’t really go into details, but I can say it was the result of aggressive air guitar to Led Zepplin’s Whole Lotta Love, or air drumming to the same group’s When the Levee Breaks.  Teenage exuberance is a remarkable thing.

It would be several years until I started building models myself but I never forgot his work, and sought out his advice.  He gave me lots of useful advice, but he was most insistent on two points.  Never hang my models from the ceiling and never put a stereo in the hobby room.