By Philippe de Lespinay
Rummaging through the pages of a 1969 issue of Model Car Science, I ran across what is known as the only major angle-winder race ever run for open-wheel cars in the “classic” era. This, organized by the USRA, ended in yet another win for open-wheel car “king” Doug Henline. The cars used extra-wide bodies made by Dynamic, Lancer and Russkit especially for that race. Shortly after, the USRA banned angle-winder open-wheel cars as they were deemed “franfly too ugly to race”. That was then, how tastes have changed since, not always for the good of the hobby.
But indeed, there WAS another F1 angle-winder race, that one took place in 1972.
I remember this memorable USRA sanctioned angle-winder F1 race run at “Circle T” Raceway in the summer of that year.
The new Dynamic Speed Secrets “Tyrell” Formula One bodies were present and on several cars built for that race, as Dynamic’s headquarters were but a few blocks away. Thise Dynamic bodies had given any pretention to actual scale and were strictly built for performance, which they achieved nicely.
Being in the “opposition”, I built a special car for this race with a M.A.C. MATRA-SIMCA MS120 V12 F1 body, specially built for this very race by master modeler Lloyd Asbury. I made the basic drawings of what I thought would work, and he made a beautiful mold. I built the car with the body split in 2 pieces, the front of the body mounted to each side of the chassis bumper, a big mistake I would regret in the race.
I put a lot of detailing in this, hand painting the graphics to make it look like the 1/1 Chris Amon car, and engraving the chassis with lots of funny stuff including a little guy in a Chinese hat. Can’t remember why exactly now. There was even a Cosworth engine and Hewland gearbox specially vacuum-formed for me by Lloyd Asbury, so as to make the car really looking good. A Cossie on a MATRA? Well, few would be able to tell…
It won Concours and set fastest time in qualifying, in a class by itself, and I was running away with the race when I “collected” Bill Steube’s errant car 6 lanes away… This bent the bumper, deranged the body and I was pretty much done right there.
I have no idea of what happened to the car but it survived in the pages of Miniature Auto Racing:
Who knows who has this car today, or if it is turning into rust somewhere in a landfill…
Something survived from that race, and that is, the MATRA body. Indeed, 10-thou Lexan new production over the actual original mold have been commissioned by Electric Dreams and are available from the website shopping cart, please have a look in the “vintage 1/24 scale bodies” section.
Now you can build your own MATRA-SIMCA F1, one of the most charismatic open-wheel cars ever built.