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Rodney's Oakland Speedway cars and memories - Part 7


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#1 dc-65x

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 08:07 PM

A sad chapter in Rodney's Oakland Speedway tales.......in his own words:
 
Ben Jones, the Godfather of Slot Car Racing
 
Good friend Ben Jones passed away last month.  Ben raced slot cars since the 1960's and was a frequent contributor to VSRN and Scale Auto Racing News Magazine and other magazines.  Ben was known as the Godfather of slot car racing.  He was a slot car racer and slot car historian.
 
Scale Auto Racing News February 1988 Cover Photo:
 
74 8.jpg
 
The caption in the article states:
 
      This is the workbench of Ben Jones from California.  Ben has submitted several articles in the past about slot tracks on the west coast.  Bob Montgomery says "Ben has class.  All those 'oldies' and red wine to boot."
 
Ben raced in the Bay Area, which included Oakland Speedway in the 1970's.  Check out the ribbons:
 
74 7.jpg
 
Mission Hobby and Speedway was located in Hayward, California.  Playland Modelcar Raceways was the famous raceway located on San Francisco's Ocean Beach.
 
Ben's Diamond Chassis Open Class Car
 
Featured today is one of Ben's open class slot cars from 1973-74:
 
74 1.jpg
 
Eric remembered this particular car.  It was one of the last cars Ben raced at Oakland Speedway. About 15 years ago, Eric installed a motor in the chassis so Ben could run it again.  
 
After Ben's passing, Eric wanted to find the car and have me restore it.  The chassis was not with Ben's main slot car stuff.  We almost gave up hope finding the chassis.  We finally found the chassis in Ben's basement work bench.
 
The chassis, though driveable, was in poor shape with some crash damage and corrosion.  All damaged bits including floppy pan hinges were replaced.  It took quite a bit of effort to re-align the three-bearing rear axle mount.  After I restored the chassis, I showed it to Eric.  Eric did not recognize the chassis, and asked me three times which chassis it was.  I was pleased with how the chassis came out:
 
74 4.jpg
 
74 3.jpg
 
The chassis has a diamond front end, three-bearing rear axle mount and four main rails.  The Mura C-can motor has a 25 single armature and Champion blue dot magnets.  Faas gears are used. 
 
74 2.jpg
 
The body is a M.A.C./Lancer Porsche roadster with a beautifully painted and hand-lettered body. Note the mylar side dam air control. The body had the cracks glued, and the lettering was touched up:
 
74 6.jpg
 
We will miss you Ben.

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#2 Bill from NH

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 10:12 PM

Nice old slot car, guys. The chassis appears  to be built similar to PDL's early diamonds. Outisight still pulls the Lancer open cockpit Porsche body. Sheet mylat was available to slot racers before sheet lexan was, thus it was used for early winging. I can recall building & racing  slot cars like this one.  :)​ 


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#3 don.siegel

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 06:29 AM

Very sad news about Ben's passing - when I started racing again and collecting in 1992, his was one of the names that always came up as an expert. He seems to have known quite a bit about Bay area racing! 

 

Good to see the cars with a second life. 

 

Don 



#4 Dennis David

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 09:45 AM

I would give an arm and a leg if there was a track in Hayward. Heck I would ride my bike to it just like the old days. Though it may be a little difficult with one arm and one leg. Sigh

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#5 Martin

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 11:41 AM

Thanks Rick for keeping us informed and for keeping Ben's slot car contribution alive. I am sorry I never meet Ben. Please let his family know we will be thinking of him.


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#6 dc-65x

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 06:13 PM

Rodney has been working to restore Ben's race cars and get them back on the track. Here's the first installment:

 

On Sunday, I got to Eddie's early to test the two Ben Jones open class cars on the Blue King.  The weather was mild and the track seemed to have no glue.  Both cars turned 5.1-second lap times with ease.  I was driving the cars about 8/10ths.  
 
The steel chassis car had more horsepower, and the diamond chassis car handled better.  The diamond chassis car drove like a modern flexi car.  You could carry lots of speed through the finger and donut sections of the track.  The steel chassis hooked up the high-powered 25 single motor well.  I was surprised the tires did not light up with all of the horsepower available.  The cars had great horsepower with the 25 single open motors.  The cars have neutral handling, which was a little surprising.  I thought the cars would over-steer when pushed.  The air control works.  The cars do drive a little like wing cars.  I brought along my Lee Gilbert 4-rail chassis car that has N.C.C. air control for comparison.  The Lee Gilbert chassis car does over-steer when pushed.
 
bc10.jpg
 
Ben2.jpg
 
bc8.png
 
Ben5.jpg
 
ben6.jpg

 

Next up is Ben's Open 20 Class car.

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#7 TSR

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 12:23 PM

Ben, R.I.P., brother... :(

I am truly flattered that you built a car that was a copy of my rather successful "Diamond" design, the  slot car that ended the use of a solid front axle and a drop arm in serious racing. Those were fun days when technical progress was taking place weekly...

There is a nice place in heaven for people like Ben.


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#8 Pablo

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 12:45 PM

I love everything about 'em, but I have to say those enlarged can holes are sexy :heart:


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#9 dc-65x

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 07:04 PM

Here is another of Ben's cool cars.

 

Attached are pictures of the restored  "Stork" chassis.  This chassis was found in a bag of six chassis in Ben's garage:
 
stork1.jpg
 
stork2.jpg
 
According to Slot Blog, Bob Crane was the builder of "Stork" chassis..

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#10 Bill from NH

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 07:13 PM

Bob Crane still builds chassis & races retros in CA. :)  This chassis may have been built for "no-glue" racing that was popular out West for a period of time.  Much of the chassis appears to be built with .055 dia. wire. This wire size coupled with the front end & motor box designs allowed plenty of main rail flex.


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#11 dc-65x

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 07:40 PM

Today at Eddie's -- Track Testing Ben's Open 20 Class Slot Cars
 
Attached is a picture of Ben's slot car box and restored slot cars.  Eric and I got a chance to run Ben's Open 20 Class slot cars (white Ferrari 512 and red Ferrari 612) on Eddie's Blue King.  
 
Ben's slot car box.jpg
 
bens controller.jpg
 
The red Ferrari 612 has a restored "Stork" chassis which features a center pivot front axle arrangement.  This chassis was found in a bag of six chassis in Ben's garage.  Bob Crane was the builder of "Stork" chassis.  Check out the engraving in the previous post.  A white can Group 20 motor was installed in the "Stork" chassis.  The motor was found in Ben's slot car box.
 
stork4.jpg
 
The power was up on the Blue King today.  Both cars turned 4.9-second laps.
 
The white Ferrari with the diamond chassis was very easy to drive.  We just punched and clutched the car around the track.  It handled like a modern flexi car.  The Group 20 motor in this car was described by Eric as a torquer and not a revv-er.  We drove this car quite a few laps.  Eric commented that the car would go even faster with a little lead added to the ends of the chassis pans.
 
open 20.jpg
 
The red Ferrari with the "Stork" chassis was also very easy to drive.  The motor in this car was stronger than the motor in the other car.  The motor in the "Stork" really buzzed up.  So, the diamond car was faster in the turns, and the "Stork" was faster down the straights.
 
stork3.jpg
 
I also ran the three-bearing diamond chassis Lola today for comparison purposes.  My observations are the three-bearing diamond chassis was designed to work with heavy glue and have less rear bite than a conventional two-bearing rear axle tube car.  With Eddie's Blue King, there is almost no glue on the track, so the two-bearing cars hooked up better.  I was running new JK tires on all of the cars today.  Today's tests were somewhat like running an old Can Am car with modern radial race tires instead of bias ply Avon vintage race tires:  apples and oranges.  
 
It was great fun to run Ben's old cars and reminisce about Ben.  I also brought Ben's old ribbons that he had won at local races.  Ben made notes about each race on the back of each ribbon.  We also used Ben's old Parma micro-switch controller.  I replaced the micro switches and the internal wiring in the controller.  The controller matched the cars perfectly.
 
Eric and I had great fun driving these two cars.  Thanks, Ben.

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#12 boxerdog

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 10:08 PM

I think this must have been one of the best times to be a slot racer in California. I missed it...must have been playing with motorcycles or something.


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#13 Bill from NH

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 06:01 AM

Sounds like you had a fun day with these cars! It's nice to hear that "Stork"  droparm chassis drove so well.


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#14 dc-65x

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 10:58 AM

This next story should have come before the track test above......sorry. It is about Ben's favorite class of racing and his winning car.

 

Rodney tells us the story:

 

 
Ben's favorite class of slot car racing in the 70's was the Open 20 Class.  Today we are featuring a Ben's Open 20 Class slot car.  This car was extensively raced at Oakland Speedway in 1974.
 
bn2.jpg
 
Open 20 Class
 
There was a very popular class of racing called the Open 20 class.  This class of racing was for open class slot car chassis and NCC Group 20 motors.  The NCC Group 20 motors allowed had to have production armatures (no Steube Group 20 armatures).  This class of slot car racing was created to keep costs down and to still have the fun of running open class slot cars..  Open armatures of this era had short life spans.  NCC Group 20 motors and armatures were a relative bargain, and the NCC Group 20 armatures seemed to last a lot longer than Open Class armatures.  This class was perfect for weekly racing at the local slot car raceway, and was Ben's favorite class of racing.  
 
Ben's Open 20 Class Car
 
This car was found in Ben's slot car box with a modern wing car body mounted on it.  Eric remembered this car, so we knew what the original body was. The original body, a M.A.C. Ferrari 512 body, was found in Ben's bag of used slot car bodies   The body fit perfectly on this chassis, so we knew we had found all of the parts to Ben's Open 20 Class car.  
 
Ben's car has a conventional diamond chassis.  The motor is a blue printed Mura C-can NCC Group 20 motor with Champion white dot magnets and shunted brushes.  Faas gears are used.  The M.A.C. Ferrari 512 body has lexan side dams.
 
bn6.jpg
 
bn5.jpg
 
bn3.jpg
 
Restoring the Car
 
I do not usually show pictures of the cars as found.  This time I have thrown in a couple of "before" pictures.  The body was cleaned up and glued back together.  The car had lexan side dams which were in rough shape.  A sheet of lexan was found in Ben's parts box, and new lexan side dams were made.  The "old lexan" is slightly thicker and more flexible than modern .010".lexan.  The chassis had no crash damage, so a minor clean-up was done.  Some of the solder joints were re-done due to rust, and only one floppy pan hinge tube was replaced.  The motor was freshened up.  Eric told me the elephant ear heat sinks were not original to the car, so they were removed.
 
bn1.jpg
 
bn4.jpg
 
Great detective work and restoration Rodney, not to mention a wonderful story....Thanks!

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#15 Bill from NH

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 02:14 PM

I ran in an Open 20 class from 1979-81 at the Lowell Family "Y" in Lowell, MA. They had a shortened AMR Orange & an AMR Black that we alternated running on weekly.. We were allowed to run the hand-wound Steube & Camen arms. The Lucas Matra was my favorite body at the time.


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#16 dc-65x

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 03:33 PM

Cool :sun_bespectacled:


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#17 dc-65x

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 04:44 PM

Here are more of Ben's cars restored and track tested by Rodney. In his own words:
 

Ben's Group 20 Cars

 

I restored Ben's Group 20 McLaren Mk 8A.  Ben ran this Group 20 car in Group 20 races at Oakland Speedway, and in open class races at Playland Modelcar Raceway in San Francisco. 

 

gp 20 2.jpg

 

gp 20 7.jpg

 

Attached are pictures of the car and some of the ribbons Ben won with this car.  See the notes Ben made on the back of the ribbons.

 

gp 20 3.jpg

 

The old McLaren body needed help big time.  One side of the body was missing and the other side broke off.  I used a donor body to replace the missing pieces of the body.  I mixed up some orange and yellow paint to paint the new body pieces.  The mixed paint does not match the original TCL paint color.  I think it is nearly impossible to match the old TCL paint colors.  The original front air dam and rear spoiler were re-attached to the body.

 

gp20 1.jpg

 

The Mura NCC Group 20 motor was rebuilt.  The motor can was repainted green.

 

gp 20 5.jpg

 

The chassis in this car was pretty straight.  Group 20 chassis would bend easily when crashed.  Eric is repairing Ben's other two Group 20 frames.

 

gp 20 6.jpg

 

After the first track test the motor in the McLaren did not seem to have much pep and eventually the motor shook the mounting screws loose!   The McLaren motor was rebuilt with a new can.  Also, Champion Blue Dot magnets replaced the Mura magnets. The motor rebuild with the Blue Dot magnets was a half second faster than the same motor with Mura magnets.

 

gp 20.jpg

 

Red Lola T70

 

I also built up Ben's red Lola T70 coupe Group 20 car.  Both cars were set up the same.

 

Red Lola 70.jpg

 

Both cars turned 5.50 second lap times on the Blue King.  Eric really liked driving the McLaren and as he said he really pounded it around the track.  The cars were very easy to drive and were fairly neutral in handling.

 

Mirage

 

This Testers Mirage body is very wide but not very low.  Dubro engine and exhaust bits, aluminum roll bar and a Cox driver were added.  The decals are Dynamic. A Mura "hand picked" 26D motor was chosen to power the car.  The short 26D motor cleared the cockpit area of the Mirage body.

 

mirage3.jpg

 

mirage4.jpg

 

A junkie Champion chassis that someone tried to convert with floppy pans was restored back to stock.  

 

mirage2.jpg

 

The wheels are beautiful Russkit Lola wheels.  Modern Pro Track rear tires and urethane front tires are used.  

 

mirage1.jpg

 

It was easy to drive the Mirage.  You could get good rhythm in the turns driving the car on Eddie's road course. 

 

mirage.jpg

 

Hornet

 

The Hornet was tested with two sets of period Riggen rear tires.  I remember seeing the black anodized Riggen wheels with tires  in 60's slot car magazines.  They looked so cool.  One set of wheels had "German" sponge tires and the other set had silicon tires.  Both types of tires could not handle punching the 26D motor the straights.  The silicon tires were fun to drift in the turns.  The Germans were less forgiving in the turns.

I will try the car with sponge tires next time.

 

Hornet.jpg

 

TrueScale Stinger for Eric

 

I completed the Stinger for Eric using one of your TrueScale Stinger bodies. Attached are pictures of the TrueScale Stinger (no car no.) and an original factory Stinger (car no. 8).

 

stinger3.jpg

 

The body and wing work fine.  Great quality.  The body was spray painted with Testers enamel after the body was scuffed up with steel wool.  I printed the stripes on my HP printer.

 

stinger4.jpg

 

The body was slightly bent in on the sides and at the top of the side window areas.  Bending the sides of the body allow for the factory clips to hold on to the body. Bending the body at the tops of the windows raises the roof to allow for the wing mechanism clearance.

 

When building a Stinger, the chassis must be "straightened".  I think the aluminum chassis bends from just sitting around.  People that may complain about body fitment do not realize the chassis needs to be massaged to fit the body (including a factory body).

 

stinger.jpg

 

Eric drove the Victor bodied Stinger quite a while on the Blue King.  The air brake worked perfectly   One test when running a Stinger is will the body stay on the chassis while running the car?  The Victor bodied Stinger passed the test with the body not shaking loose when pounded on the Blue King.  Eric really liked driving the Stinger.

 

stinger2.jpg

 

Eric wanted to point out that the basic chassis was found in Ben Jones' parts.  I finished off chassis with a spare motor carrier and wing hinge I had.  Eric and I had the other Classic parts to finish the car.  Also, thanks again to Victor for the body.

 

Thanks Rodney! :)

 


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#18 tonyp

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 05:49 PM

That orange mclaren looks like a Lucas painted body.


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