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Scratchbuilding by proxy!

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#1 Russell Sheldon

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 02:03 PM

Usually I scratchbuild 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 scratchbuilt by proxy, and I get to race them!


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 race, circa 1982–1983:

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They were 1/32 ‘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 1/32 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 RTR cars such as Scalextric, Slot.it, SCX, and the like.


Earlier this year, the Presto Park club decided to host a 1/32 scale race to CSRA rules for scratchbuilt hardbody 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 DeBella the armatures. At least I assembled the motors!


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:-

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

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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:

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1968 to 1981 Sports/GT Cars

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

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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.

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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.”

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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:






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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.

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Many thanks to Chris Clark, Dennis Samson, Jim Difalco, and Dan DeBella. 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,


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Russell Sheldon
Cape Town, South Africa


#2 Jairus


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Posted 27 September 2011 - 02:42 PM

Beautiful work, Russell! Good luck at the races. :)

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#3 Steve Deiters

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 02:53 PM

I don't know what was more awesome to look at - the cars or that carrying case!!

#4 endbelldrive


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Posted 27 September 2011 - 03:01 PM

Good stuff, Russell. Hope you're able to find time to post a few pics of the festivities. :D
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#5 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:38 PM

Beautiful cars ALL Russell! You have some very artful and great friends! I saw 1 of the Chris cars at Dennis's and it too was so beautiful! Bravo to all!

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#6 bosmeck


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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:20 AM

Thanks Russell for the cool words... It was a pleasure working with you and Dennis. The chassis look great and based off the video i saw, the cars look like they will be a handful for your competition. Lovely work again Dennis.

Here's some extra photos of the cars.

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Good luck in the race brothers
Chris Clark

#7 Noose


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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:24 AM

Those are absolutely gorgeous.

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