Monday, March 30, 2020

The Fastest Diecast Cars in the World

Matchbox vs. Hot Wheels vs. Johnny Lightning...what are the fastest diecast cars? 


If you’re into racing diecast cars and want to know which cars are the fastest then you’ve come to the right place.  I’ve been hosting races for years now and have had people send in their fastest cars from all over the country.  Obviously within each particular casting you’re going to find some that are fast and some that are duds, but here we are going to look at castings that generally are pretty quick and that have potential to be really fast.

When it comes to finding fast diecast cars, a good set of wheels and axles is really the key.  And basically that comes down to luck.  It does seem that with older cars it is easier to find good wheels and axles.  A lot of the new stuff is pretty inconsistent, but you can still find some good stuff out there.  But even though the wheels and axles come down to luck, there are some other things that all the cars of a certain casting have that makes them generally fast.

Length on a car is generally helpful. Does a car have to be long to be fast? No, but all other things being equal (which they never are) a longer car has an advantage due to its length helping it run straighter and getting it’s center of gravity higher at the start.

A car with Faster Than Ever wheels is another thing that generally helps a car be faster. It’s actually not the wheel, but the axle.  Faster Than Ever axles are nickel plated so they are smoother and have less friction than normal axles.

A well balanced casting also has an advantage over other castings that are not as well balanced.  Cars with a lower center of gravity and with the center of gravity anywhere from the center of the car to slightly in front of the back wheel seem to do well.

Weight is also something that can help out a car.  However, it doesn’t seem to be the most important thing.  Most likely because all that weight needs to be well balanced, and often it is not. Also extra weight adds more friction on the axles, so unless it has FTE axles or you get lucky with really good wheels and axles, lots of extra weight can be counter productive.  Several of the cars reviewed here are not super heavy, and some don’t compete as well with some of the heavier cars reviewed, but if they are racing in a stock class with similar weighted cars they are usually a beast, and if you have a good one, give heavier cars a run for their money.  A lot of these lighter cars are also excellent platforms for modifying.

Well, I know you are chomping at the bit to find out which Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Johnny Lightning, and other diecast cars are the fastest, so without further adieu, let’s get to it.  This list is not comprehensive and will continue to be added to.

Hot Wheels FTE Way 2 Fast
Hot Wheels FTE Cadillac V16 Concept
Hot Wheels Probe Funny Car
Hot Wheels Ferrari F40
King Kenny Pro Circuit Probe Funny Car
Johnny Lightning Coca Cola Studebaker Pickup Truck
Hot Wheels Frontrunnin' Fairmont
Hot Wheels Han Solo in Carbonite
Hot Wheels FTE Hot Tub
Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection Custom Mustang
Hot Wheels FTE Chrysler 300C
Hot Wheels Mirada Stocker
Johnny Lightning 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T
Hot Wheels FTE ‘70 Plymouth Superbird
Hot Wheels Flat Out 442
Johnny Lightning Black With Flames '69 Camaro


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Diecast 64 March 2020 Race RESULTS

Some great Hot Wheels racing action to place this month here at Diecast 64. We had cars sent in from all over the country for some of the best diecast racing you'll find anywhere. We raced all five classes this month, including out feature race Haulers and Hot Rods.

You can check out full printed results for the races at https://drive.google.com/embeddedfolderview?id=1KIDNW7C3rFzrdWIQEg0Yw3sx5E0PtlSw#list

Open Stock







Open Modified







Modified Street







Hot Off The Shelf







Feature Race: Haulers and Hot Rods




Friday, March 27, 2020

Hot Wheels Mirada Stocker

The Mirada Stocker can be a very quick car due to its Hot Ones wheels and axles and its weight.  



In this review we are taking a closer look at the Hot Wheels Mirada Stocker.  The Mirada Stocker had a short production run in the early 80s.  The version that we tested is the yellow 1982 version with the Gold Hot Ones (GHO) wheels.  It has a black hood with the word “Dodge” and the number “10” printed on the hood and sides.  This is not the first car we’ve featured in “On The Track” with GHO wheels.  Another very fast and successful racer, the Frontrunnin’ Fairmont also sported the same wheels.  Actually, it’s not just the wheels, but like the Faster Than Ever series, it’s a combination of wheels and axles that help make this car successful on the track.  First of all let’s talk about the wheels themselves.  As seems to be the case with many pre-nineties wheels, the majority of GHO wheels that I’ve spun seem to be more true and far less likely to wobble than wheels you find on cars produced now.  That’s not to say that you won’t find bad GHO wheels, or good modern wheels, but generally the GHO wheels from the early eighties seem to be a far superior wheel when it comes to spinning straight and true.

In addition to a quality wheel, the Hot Ones axle is a bit different as well.  It is a bit thinner than the traditional Hot Wheels axle. While the smaller axle doesn’t mean less friction, the impact of that friction force is less than on a larger diameter axle.

The thinner axle also provides a bit of suspension for the car.  This can actually be a good thing or a bad thing.  If the track is fairly level, then the suspension can help smooth out the ride as the car goes over small inconsistencies in the track. However, if there are any rises in the track and the speed of the car is on the high end, I’ve seen these Hot Ones cars with the thinner axles get pretty squirrely as the thinner axles cause them to “bounce” a bit.  I even seen them launch themselves off the track on rises that were not even noticeable except upon close inspection.
Another thing that makes the Mirada Stocker a car to be reckoned with is its weight.  While not as heavy as some of Mattel’s funny cars, it comes in at 51 grams which definitely puts it on the heavier side. You’d be hard pressed to find a heavier car produced these days that doesn’t have rubber tires.  That extra weight helps it keep its speed as it cruises through the flat.

As with any casting, not every Mirada Stocker is going to have elite speed.  But your chances of finding elite speed with a Mirada Stocker is much more likely that finding it in most other Hot Wheels castings.  Good wheels, thinner axles, and good weight all help to make this casting a successful racer on the track.



Johnny Lightning Black With Flames '69 Camaro

A Johnny Lightning that is a legend among racers! 

This month we are taking a look at a car that is a legend in racing among Johnny Lightning fans, the Black With Flames ‘69 Camaro.  This car has potential to be such a fast car, that the Lincoln Johnny Lightning Race Club have began racing it in its own class because the other Johnny’s just can’t keep up.  Now just like any other casting, there is some variation.  Some are fast and some are not, but when you find a fast one, they are very fast.  So what makes this car such a good racer? 

The first thing the Black With Flames (BWF) Camaro has going for it is weight.  It is all metal, having both a metall body and a metal base.  This is not particularly uncommon among Johnny Lightning cars which gives the Johnnys a wealth of potential when it comes to racing.  The BWF Camaro weighs in at 61 grams.  Not the heaviest car you’re going to find, but definitely in that sweet spot for stock cars.  Weight is good, but too much can often slow down a car due to extra friction force or poor balance.  In a modified race you can get away with much more weight as modifications are made to minimize the negative effects of the extra weight.  But often I have found that stock cars tend to perform better if they are in that 55 - 75 gram sweet spot.  Enough weight to keep the kinetic energy high and keep the cars speed in the flat, but not so much that the extra friction force outweighs the extra energy advantage.  However there are other 61 gram cars that don’t perform as well as the BWF Camaro and even have the same wheel setup, so there is something special about the BWF Camaro.

Part of a car’s good performance depends on how that weight is distributed.  Ideally you would like the center of gravity, low and towards the back.  Keeping the center of gravity low keeps the car more stable and running straighter with less wobble.  Keeping it toward the back gives the car more kinetic energy to keep its speed in the flat. However, if it is too far back (over or behind the back axle) then the car becomes more unstable and doesn’t perform as well.  The BWF Camaro has great weight balance and that helps it perform better than other cars of similar weight. 

The wheel setup on the BWF Camaro is similar to other Johnny Lightnings in that it has the cap on the wheel that covers the end of the axle.  This keeps the wheel from rubbing on the chassis of the car, but the trade off is that the axle head rubs on the inside of the hub.  That could be an advantage or not just depending on the smoothness of the hub vs. the smoothness of the chassis which could differ from car to car.  If you are running in a no graphite race, it shouldn’t be a disadvantage, but it can be a bit of a disadvantage in a race that allows graphite.  In a car without the hub, you can get the graphite to the three places where you have friction.  You have easy access to where the wheel rubs on the chassis.  You have easy access to where the axle head rubs on the wheel.  And it is pretty easy to work the graphite into the axle hole in the wheel where the wheel rubs on the axle.  In the hub cap Johnny lightning setup, you can get the graphite into the axle hole but the wheel doesn’t rub on the chassis so putting graphite there doesn’t help, and you don’t have easy access to where the axle head rubs on the hub or the wheel, so you just have to hope that some graphite works its way inside.  For this reason I feel like the Johnny Lightnings are at a disadvantage when racing in a race that allows graphite.  This is the reason that I think that the BWF Camaros are such a force that they need their own class at the Lincoln Johnny Lightning Race Club races but only sometimes crack the top 10 in the Diecast 64 stock races.  The LJLRC race without graphite and the D64 races allow graphite. 

But with or without graphite, the Black With Flames Camaro is a fantastic racer.  It’s reputation seems to have grown as of late and it is becoming a much more difficult car to get.  The few that I see on eBay these days are ridiculously priced.  So unless you seriously race in non-graphite leagues, you may have to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to come along before it gets added to your racing collection.



Hot Wheels Flat Out 442

Another GHO car that is a must have for your racing collection 

This review we are taking a closer look at the Hot Ones Flat Out 442.  This racing version of an Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 was introduced as the Flat Out 442 in 1979.  This first version came out in orange.  The yellow Hot Ones version with the Gold Hot Ones wheels that we are looking at came out in 1982.  This isn’t the first car we’ve reviewed with the GHO (Gold Hot Ones) wheels.  We’ve also looked at the Frontrunnin’ Fairmont and the Mirada Stocker.  Of the three, the 442 comes in the lightest at 47 grams but can still be a very quick car.  While it’s not a heavyweight compared to a lot of Hot Wheels cars, when put up against newer Hot Wheels that you find on the pegs these days, 47 grams puts it at the top end and it shouldn’t have any trouble beating these newer Hot Wheels.  Even against older heavier Hot Wheels it will still see quite a bit of success and that is due to its GHO wheels.  First of all, these are just great wheels.  While you’re always going to find some that are better and some that are worse, generally the GHO wheels show pretty good balance and spin pretty straight and true.  Then there are the axles.  They are a bit thinner than normal Hot Wheels axles.  There is a common misconception when it comes to friction that thinner or smaller or less surface touching means less friction.  That’s just not the case.  Friction is not impacted by the amount of surface that is in contact.  Surface area is not part of the equation.  It simply depends on the kind of surface and how hard those surfaces are being pushed together (which is usually the weight when it comes to racing). So contrary to popular belief, the thinner axles don’t mean less friction.  However, because of some rotational physics, the thinner axles do mean that the impact of that friction force is going to be less, which is an advantage.

 Another advantage that the 442 has is that it is fairly wide.  Its width helps it run straighter down the track with less pronounced bouncing back and forth between the sidewalls.  This can be a great advantage, especially with the thinner axles when compared to other GHO cars.  The thinner axles provide a slight suspension to the GHO cars, which can be good, but can also be detrimental.  The problem arises when a GHO car starts to wobble at high speeds.  The thinner axle suspension just magnifies the wobble and turns it into a literal death wobble as the cars can quite frequently come off the track and not finish the race.  Usually these GHO cars will get into the death wobble if the track is fast (high drop) but not particularly straight or smooth.  Sometimes it’s just the slightest variation that will cause the problem.  But the 442’s width helps in that regard, especially when compared to cars like the Fairmont and Mirada Stocker.

While the 442 will often get beat out by its GHO brother the Frontrunnin’ Fairmont, it will usually hold its own against most other cars and is a great car to have in your racing collection!


Hot Wheels FTE ‘70 Plymouth Superbird

A Superbird that's super fast!  

This review we are going to take a closer look at the Faster Than Ever ‘70 Plymouth Superbird.  The superbird was first introduced to the Hot Wheels line-up back in 2006.  There were quite a few different versions released that year, but the Faster Than Ever version turned out to be quite a quick little car.  Of course it’s first and obvious advantage is the Faster Than Ever wheels and axles.  The nickel-plated axles help reduce friction as the wheels rotate around the axles.  Less friction translates into more speed on the track.  The open spoke Faster Than Ever wheels also help.  These wheels are lighter than solid wheels so they take less energy to rotate.  That means more of the car’s energy can be used to get it down the track and glossing over some “mathy” physics, that means a faster car.

One of the defining features of the Superbird is that long pointed nose.  While it does make the Superbird a bit more aerodynamic, it also gives it another advantage.  That extra length on the front of the car pushes its center of gravity farther back.  On a sloped track, farther back means higher, and higher means more potential energy.  Potential energy depends on 3 things.  Gravity, the mass of the object, and its height off the ground.  Gravity is pretty much a constant (unless you decide to go race on the moon) but we can change the mass of the car or it’s height off the ground and give it more potential energy.  However, only one of those things translates into a greater possible velocity, height.  Yes, a more massive car will usually be a faster car, but not because of the potential energy/velocity relationship.  Theoretically, for any given height, there is a maximum velocity that the car can reach and it is independent of the car’s mass.  A more massive car just doesn’t slow down as much as a lighter car, but for the same height they both have the same potential maximum velocity.  However the potential maximum velocity is dependent on height, so a car that starts out higher has a greater potential maximum velocity. In theory anyway.  There are lots of variables to consider, but all other things being equal, the fact that the Superbirds nose pushes it’s center of gravity a little higher on the track should be an advantage.

The Superbird also has the advantage of a pretty long wheel base.  That long wheel base helps the Superbird run straighter down the track.  And we all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Not only is a straight line run down the track a shorter distance, but less impacts on the sidewalls of the track is an obvious advantage.

One disadvantage that the Superbird has is that it isn’t very heavy.  Weighing in at 39 grams, it is actually relatively light compared to many of the cars we’ve looked at so far.  That fact keeps it from being an elite performer in open weight stock races, but in stock races that are classed close to its weight it’s going to be a tough car to beat.  Because of all the other things it has going for it, it is also a great casting to modify.  Add a little weight to it and you can have a very fast, top performing car.
Even though the Superbird is a bit light, it is still a car that should be part of your racing collection.  It’s Faster Than Ever wheels, long nose, and long wheel base make it a force to be reckoned with.



Johnny Lightning 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

The purple Dodge Challenger can be Lightning Fast!  


In this review we are taking a closer look at the Johnny Lightning 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T. This particular Johnny Lightning casting has a pretty good racing history.  It is not quite as famous as the Johnny Lightning Black With Flames Camaro, but this car has the potential to be very quick.  Let me start off by saying that it has been my observation that Johnny Lightning cars tend to do very well in races where no graphite is allowed. It has also been my personal experience that graphite does not always help the JLs as much as you might see with other cars.  I think there are two reasons for this.

First, (at least the cars we are talking about) already come pretty quick, so you don’t see as dramatic improvement.  Second, with Johnny Lightnings it’s often tricky getting the graphite where it’s needed.  Johnny Lightning wheels are a little different than traditional Hot Wheels wheels that you find today.  The Johnny Lightning wheels have a cap on the outside.  A good thing about this is that it keeps the wheel from rubbing on the chassis.  A lot of times that can be helpful, because the likelihood that the chassis isn’t super smooth can be pretty good.  The problem is, there still is some rubbing, it’s just in a different place.  While the wheel doesn’t rub on the chassis, the axle head does rub on the inside of the cap.  The real problem comes with getting the graphite inside the wheel where that rubbing is taking place.  There is no direct access, so you just have to squirt a whole bunch of graphite around the axle and hope that some of it works its way in.  You can pop the caps off, but it’s not easy and I’ve never been super successful at it without damaging the wheel or bending the axle, so I don’t really even try anymore.  However, I believe that if one became adept at getting those caps off without hurting the wheel or axle and getting a good coating of graphite in between the axle head and the cap, these Johnny’s could be even faster! All that being said, the Challenger is still a very quick casting.

One advantage that it has is the weight.  The Challenger comes in at 60 grams, so it is definitely a solid little car.  That weight gives it the momentum to keep its speed in the flat part of the race.  All that weight comes from a metal body as well as a metal base.  Metal bases are great on racers because it helps keep the center of gravity lower on the track compared to a plastic base car.   The lower center of gravity helps the car run straighter and more stable down the track.  That is especially important with the Challenger as it is a pretty narrow car and sometimes narrow cars can wobble and bounce back and forth between the sided rail a bit more than wide cars.  So the Challenger’s metal base and lower center of gravity help it overcome its narrow design.

The Challenger also has pretty good wheels.  The Johnny Lightnings from the era that the Challenger was produced tend to have good wheels that run straight and true.  This again is especially important to the Challenger as any inconsistencies in the wheels could cause wobbling that would be exasperated by its narrow body.

These Challengers can be great racers, especially if you are racing in a league that doesn’t allow graphite or you are able to get the caps off to get graphite inside the wheel.  But even if those aren’t the conditions you’re dealing with, don’t count this car out.  It can hold its own with the best.  Acquiring one of these little beauties would certainly enhance your racing collection.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Hot Wheels FTE Chrysler 300C


The Chrysler 300 FTE is a favorite among racers.  It is quite often very quick out of the package and it is also a favorite for modifiers to build for races.

This month we are taking a closer look at the Faster Than Ever Chrsler 300.  You will see this car show up frequently in stock races as well as in modified races.  One of the reasons that modifiers like to use it for their builds is that although it’s usually pretty quick, it is also pretty light, coming in at 37 grams.  It’s lighter weight usually keeps it from being a top contender when it competes in stock races with much heavier funny cars and other all metal cars.  However, with a little added weight, some of these 300s can be very fast.  So what is it that gives the 300 its speed? Well, there are a couple of things that come together to make the perfect storm.

First are the Faster Than Ever wheels and axles.  The 300 debuted in 2006 in a couple of variations, but it is the Faster Than Ever version that is the one you want.  As we’ve talked about before with other FTE cars we have reviewed, the Faster Than Ever wheels and axles give a car a definite advantage over other cars.  Although the wheels are helpful in adding speed with their lightweight, low rotational inertia spoke design, it’s really the axles that set the FTE cars apart.  The axles are nickel plated.  The nickel plating gives the axle a smoother finish and reduces friction compared to your regular run of the mill car.  Less friction means less resistance on spinning wheels and that means a faster car. All other things being equal, a Faster Than Ever car will generally be faster than its non-FTE counterpart.

Another reason that the 300 is so successful on the track is its nice wide stance.  The 300 is pretty wide compared to a lot of other Hot Wheels cars.  That wide stance helps the 300 run straight down the track and not ending up in the dreaded death wiggle as it races towards the finish line.  We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  If a car bounces back and forth between the sidewalls of the track, not only will the impacts slow them down, but they will also be traveling a greater distance as they “zig-zag” down the track.  With a wider car, even if it does bounce back and forth between the track walls, it travels far less horizontally than a skinner car.

Overall, the 300 is a great car for speed.  If it were a little heavier, it would definitely be one of the top racers that Mattel makes, but as is, it is still pretty quick.  And if you are into modifying cars, it is a great car to build for a modified race.  Basically you can add a little weight to the FTE 300 and you are ready to race.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection Custom Mustang

The 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels has not only brought us some cool cars, but some fast ones too!

In this review we are taking a look at the new Hot Wheels Custom ‘67 Mustang from the 2018 50th Anniversary originals collection. This set has not been out very long, but the Mustang has already begun to establish itself as a very quick car. There are five cars in the collection, but the mustang has risen from the five as the one to race. Each car in the set is an all metal casting. These days it's pretty hard to find an all metal casting that doesn't have the Real Rider rubber tires. But all five have hard plastic wheels that are the best for racing.

Because the cars in this set are all metal, they all have some potential for speed. But it does turn out that the Mustang is the heaviest, coming in at 57 grams. Which is actually significantly more than any of the other cars in the set.  The next closest are the Cougar and the Barracuda at 47  grams.  The Camaro comes in at 46 grams, and the Bug at 42 grams. That extra weight means more energy and momentum as it comes down the track, which in the end means a faster car.  Not only is the Mustang heavier than the other cars in the set, but it is pretty heavy relative to all Hot Wheels cars.  It’s definitely not in the range of the heaviest cars Mattel makes, but it is on the heavier side.  And it is significantly heavier than most anything you will find on the pegs these days without real rubber tires.

Another reason that the Mustang has set itself apart from a few of the other cars in the set is that it's hood doesn't open. A hood that opens and closes is super cool, but when it comes to racing, it's not optimal. As the car races down the track unless the hood is really stiff it will bounce up and down a bit wasting precious energy. The proof is in the sound. If you listen to the Mustang and the Cougar race down the track the Cougar will be noisier. It takes energy to make noise and that’s energy that is not getting the car down the track. Both the Cougar and the Camaro have hoods that open.
The Mustang has a bit of an advantage over the Volkswagen Beetle in that it’s wheel base is slightly longer than the Beetle’s. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, generally the longer the car, the straighter it runs down the track. That means it wastes less energy than a shorter car getting down the track.

 The Mustang has an advantage over the Barracuda because the Barracuda has a problem with scraping on the sidewalls of the track. The fenders hang over the wheels a bit and so the side of the car has a tendency to scrape on track slowing the car down.
This set of cars also tends to have very good wheels.  For the most part, they all spin true and have very little wobble.  So if you can find one with pretty good axles (which is the challenge with any casting) then you have potential for a really fast car.

All the things that make the Mustang the best racer in the set also make it a good racer overall.  All of these cars (with the exception of the Barracuda) having good weight because of all metal castings, and good wheels that spin true, show potential as good racers.  However, the Mustang is the one that gets it all right.  If you’re a racer, you definitely want to get yourself one...or a few.


Hot Wheels FTE Hot Tub

While it’s not the coolest car that you will have in your collection the Faster Than Ever Hot Tub will definitely be one of the faster cars you have.

 While the thought of cruising down the boulevard sitting in a hot tub does have some appeal, the idea doesn’t conjure up feelings of speed.  The FTE Hot Tub is fast though.  The Hot Tub casting debuted in 2006 with two different wheel variations, five spoke and faster than ever.  It is the Faster Than Ever version that we are featuring in this article.  As we’ve discussed before, it’s not necessarily the Faster Than Ever Wheel that produces the speed but the nickel plated axle that helps reduce friction and produces a faster car. The Faster Than Ever version is typically much quicker than it’s 2006 counterpart with the 5 spoke wheels.

The Hot Tub is one of the heavier Faster Than Ever cars you’ll find coming in at 48g.  It is mostly composed of metal with the only plastic being the hot tub in the middle of the car.  There are a few Faster Than Ever cars that have a metal base, Hot Tub being one of them, but most had a plastic base.  The extra weight of Hot Tub helps it keep its speed once it hits the flat run out and gravity has stopped working on it. 
Hot Tub is a fairly wide car, relatively speaking, and this width helps it keep from bouncing around as much as say a skinnier car.  Wider cars tend to run a bit straighter down the track, an If it does bounce from side to side its wide stance will help the bounces be much less vigorous so it will lose a lot less energy.

Hot Tub also has a decently long wheel base which also aids in helping it run straighter down the track.  Remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  The straighter a car runs, the shorter distance it covers, which in turn means faster.

Hot Tub has the four basics covered when it comes to speed.  If you can find a car with good axles (FTE always helps in that department), good weight, fairly wide and fairly long, you’ll usually have a pretty good car.  There are a few more things that you can hope for, one being weight distribution.  Hot Tub is pretty good in this area too.  What you hope for is a center of gravity (where all the weight acts like it is) that is low and farther towards the back than the front. Because of Hot Tub’s metal base and extra metal detail in the back its weight distribution is pretty good too.

While Hot Tub has pretty good weight, it’s not as heavy as some of the cars with more elite speed, but it is definitely no slouch.  It will hold its own and quite often come out on top against most of the other cars that Mattel has to offer.  Don’t let the silly looks scare you off, if you don’t have one you really should see if you can find one to add to your race collection.


Hot Wheels Han Solo in Carbonite

An exciting new Hot Wheels car from Mattel that can really fly.  It can probably even make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs!


In this review we are featuring a pretty new car that has performed fairly well on the track. It is the Han Solo in carbonite  car. It seems like most of the new stuff Mattel has been putting out has just not been that fast, but this car has been an exception. It has just the right combination of weight, width, length, and aerodynamics to do some pretty good things on the track.

First of all, the look of the car is quite unique. It just looks like a slab of metal, which is what it feels like too when you pick it up. This car is heavy. One of the heaviest cars in recent memory. It comes in at 64 grams. Anything Mattel is putting out right now that is even close to that has real rider tires so is slow as cold tar. Remember, all that extra weight gives the car extra momentum so it can keep its speed as it races down the track.

Another thing that helps this car in the speed department is its length and width. It is pretty wide as Hot Wheels go and it measures about 3.25 inches in length, which is also pretty long as far as Hot Wheels are concerned. That length and width help keep the car headed straight down the track and not bouncing from sidewall to sidewall losing speed.  Also with the car being so flat, it has a pretty low center of gravity which helps keep all that weight stable and headed in the right direction.

Aerodynamics play only a modest role in the speed of a car, but it is a role and every little bit helps. In some of our monthly races it's only a few ten-thousandths of a second that determines the winners, so even just the slightest advantage can pay off. With its low profile, the Han Solo car is pretty aerodynamic and gives you every chance to win.

Finally, the car just seems to have pretty good wheels. On all the castings I’ve seen they have spun pretty true. And that's a big deal, especially with all that weight. Well balanced, good wheels help all that weight get straight down the track without a lot of bouncing around.

All in all, this is a pretty decent racer. It's exciting to see Mattel put out something recent that can compete on the track with FTEs, Funny Cars, and Hot Ones to name a few from yesteryear.  If you don't have a Han Solo in Carbonite yet you really need to get one to add to your racing collection.



Hot Wheels Frontrunnin' Fairmont



In this review we are featuring a car with a great racing history and a classic in the Hot Ones series.  The Frontrunnin' Fairmont!

The Hot Wheels Frontrunnin’ Fairmont has developed quite a reputation for being a fast casting. Fairmonts have done very well here at Diecast 64. They have also gained a reputation elsewhere to the point that at the Hot Wheels Convention races there is a special category for Fairmonts and Funny Cars.

The Hot Wheels Frontrunnin’ Fairmont debuted in 1982. It was red with the number 27 on the sides and hood. It had flames shooting up the hood and onto the roof with “Fireball Jr.” printed on the roof. In 1983 it looked the same although a variation came out that year too with red metal flake paint. This is the version I have had the best luck with. Of the 20 or so Fairmonts I have, my fastest ones are all the 1983 metal flake variation. Like with any casting, there are faster ones and duds, but if you find a good one, the Fairmont can be VERY fast.

So what makes the Fairmont so fast? Well, first it has good weight. Not super heavy funny car weight, but it is no slouch. Not uncommon among older Hot Wheels cars, it has both a metal base and body. This has it weighing in at 51 grams. That's good weight and heavier than pretty much all mainline cars you will find today but definitely not the heaviest car you’ll find.
So how can it out run all those heavy Funny cars? It's wheels and axles.

In 1981 Mattel introduced a new wheel and axle to the Hot Wheels lineup, “The Hot Ones”.  Mattel was trying to keep their claim to the “Fastest Non-Powered Metal Cars.” They did an enormous amount of testing and came up with the Hot Ones wheel which also featured a thinner axle. There is a common misconception that the thinner axles mean less friction, but science says otherwise. It turns out that the friction force is not dependent on surface area. The thinner axles are advantageous in a couple ways though. First, without getting into too much science, the friction force is closer to  the center of rotation, so while the force isn’t any less, it’s impact on the rotation of the wheel is less than on a thicker axle. The second advantage is that the axle is thin enough that it is a bit flexible so it acts like a suspension system. That suspension helps dampen energy loss when the wheel rolls over inconsistencies in the track.

The Fairmonts also have very good wheels. They seem to have good balance and tend to be more true to round. Usually wheels that are a new design tend to be better and more true since the molds are new, versus wheels that have been in production for years as the molds begin to wear and develop inconsistencies.

Not every Fairmont is going to be blazing fast, but this casting does have the potential to produce a winner for you if you can get a good one. Good luck and happy hunting.


Hot Wheels Ferrari F40



This review we are featuring the Ferrari F40.  This car is a classic when it comes to downhill racing.  Specifically in this review we will be looking at the 1994 version with the gold Ultra Hot Wheels.  Other versions that have seen success on the track are other early ‘90’s Ultra Hot versions, the 1998 gold Dash 4 Cash version, and the Yellow 2000 version with the 5 spoke wheel.  There are several things that make the Ferrari F40 a force to be reckoned with on the track.

First, for a stock Hot Wheels car it is pretty heavy.  Coming in at 51 grams, it’s heavier than most any mainline car you’ll find on the shelves today.  It’s not as heavy as most of the funny cars, but still, it has good weight.  As we’ve talked about before, that weight equals potential energy, which is converted to kinetic energy as it rolls down the track.  And kinetic energy is the energy of speed!  Now it’s true, in a perfect world, with no friction, no irregularities in the track, perfect wheel alignment and no bumping into the sidewalls, weight doesn’t matter, every car would reach the same speed for a given height.  (that’s a physics lesson for another article) But we don’t live in a perfect world, so that weight gives the Ferrari an advantage.  More weight means more momentum.  Momentum is the object’s ability to overcome the forces that are trying to slow it down, like friction, and irregularities in the track.  That extra weight helps the Ferrari keep its speed while lighter cars are more easily overcome by those things that are trying to slow it down.  While most of us are trying to lose weight, in the world of downhill racing, a little extra weight is all the rage!

Another plus for the Ferrari is it’s wide stance.  Wider cars run straighter down the track with less bouncing back and forth between the sidewall of the track.  The more the car goes from side to side as it goes down the track, the farther the car travels.  Even if a wider car bounces from side to side the same number of times as a skinny car, it travels less horizontal distance than the skinnier car making its total distance covered less. But that’s the beauty of a wider car, not only is the wasted side to side distance covered going to be less, it’s just not going to bounce around side to side as much as a skinnier car.

Another thing that makes this particular version of the F40 fast is the Ultra Hots wheels and axles.  Here’s what it says on the back of the Ultra Hots cards:
Fastest non-powered die-cast metal cars ever to carry the HOT WHEELS name! Thin, high-speed racing axles & special , high-speed wheels make the difference! Six exciting models! Look for the standout, specially-designed hubcaps! Hot Wheels ULTRA HOTS vehicles, each sold separately.

"Thin, high-speed racing axles and special, high speed wheels make the difference!"  Enough said.

All in all, the F40 is a great car for racing.  As with any casting, you have to find a good one.  But if you do, watch out.  That thing can really burn up the track!




Saturday, March 21, 2020

Johnny Lightning Coca Cola Studebaker Pickup Truck

When it comes to speed, pick-up truck probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.  But this truck can really get down the track!


In this review we are taking a look at the Johnny Lightning Coca Cola Studebaker Pickup truck. This particular Studebaker is from the Polar Bear series from 2004. The graphics on the side of the truck depict one of the most popular symbols of the Coca Cola brand besides the logo itself, the Coca Cola Polar Bears.

This particular casting has been very successful on the track. There are a few reasons that this is the case. Probably first and foremost is its weight. The Studebaker weighs in at 64 grams, which is pretty heavy for a stock car. It's not the heaviest 1/64 scale diecast car you’re going to find. But it's definitely heavier than most. All that weight gives it an advantage over lighter cars in a downhill race.

The Studebaker measures about 3 inches in length, which again, is not the longest car you’re going to find, but definitely on the longer side. That length gets that extra weight a bit higher on the track at the start and that translates into extra speed on the flat in a downhill race.

Being a Johnny Lightning it has a bit different wheel set-up than a traditional Hot Wheels car. Johnny Lightnings have a cover on the wheel. This usually stops the wheel from rubbing on the chassis, although the alternative is the axle  rubbing on the wheel cover. Generally this seems to be a better situation, but not always. Performance aside, wheel covers sure do make the wheels on Johnny Lightnings look better!

One drawback with the Johnny Lightning wheel covers is that if your race allows graphite it is much harder to get the graphite in all the places where your wheel and axle experience friction. Particularly inside that wheel cover where the axle rubs on it. You can pop the wheel covers off and then add graphite, but sometimes (most times from my experience) the covers can be difficult to get off without damaging the wheel or bending the axle. I have not done that with any of the Studebakers I have and have only seen marginal improvement with graphite.

However, even with only a small improvement with graphite, this can still be a very fast casting and really excels in a completely stock no lubricant situation.  They are generally not terribly hard to find on Ebay and would make an excellent addition to any racing lineup. Plus, it has polar bears on it.  I mean what's not to love about this truck!



King Kenny Pro Circuit Probe Funny Car


In this review we are taking a close look at the Pro Circuit Probe Funny Car, also known as the King Kenny Funny Car.  If you're looking for a fast car this is definitely one that you want to add to your collection. The Pro Circuit series came out in 1992 and included some Indy, Nascar and Drag Racing style cars. There were two Funny cars in the series.  The Castrol GTX Funny Car and the King Kenny Funny Car.  Both can be very quick, but we will be focusing on the King Kenny car in this review.
As you might expect, being a Funny Car it is a bit heavier than your normal run of the mill Hot Wheels car, but not as heavy as some of the other Hot Wheels funny cars.  The King Kenny Funny car weighs in at 67 grams, as compared with the mega graphics funny car we reviewed in March that weighed 72 grams.  While the weight helps, it's not what gives the king Kenny it's elite speed.

The Pro Circuit cars, including the King Kenny have a bit different wheel set up.  That is advantageous in a couple of ways.  First, because it is a unique wheel that has seen limited production, the molds have not have not been used as much and haven't experienced as much wear.  Because of that, the wheels come out nicer and usually have a better chance at being true and fast.  The thing that is unique about the wheel is that it has a cap on the outside.  This cap keeps the wheel from sliding in and touching the chassis.  Although not always, generally this seems to be advantageous when compared to a normal hot wheels setup.

As with other Funny Cars, the King Kenny's length works to its advantage, helping it stay straight as it races down the track.  It's shape as well as it's length, helps get more of the weight to the back increasing it's potential energy.

While the King Kenny is a Funny Car that opens, all of the ones that I have seen have had a fairly tight fitting body, so unless you pull on the body a bit, it doesn't just come up.  With many of the other funny cars, the body is so loose that you can just tip it upside down and it will come open.  That’s problematic because as it races down the track it "bounces" ever so slightly as the car goes over imperfections in the track.  Just listen to a funny car race down the track and you'll know what I mean.  That vertical movement of the body, however small it is, takes energy.  Energy that should be used on getting the car down that track but is wasted on body movement.  So that tightness that the King Kenny cars have is an advantage versus some of the other funny cars that are much looser.

As with any car, you're going to find fliers and duds, but the probability of finding a really fast car are really good when it comes to the Pro Circuit King Kenny Funny car. You need to make sure you add this car to your racing collection!


Hot Wheels Probe Funny Car

A heavy car with good wheels and a pop up body so you can even see what's under the hood.  You need one of these racers in your collection!  

There have been quite a few different Hot Wheels funny cars put out by Mattel, and most of them are pretty good racers.  At least those before 2000.  By about the mid 2000’s it’s kind of hit or miss.  In this issue we are going to review the Probe Funny Car. In particular the 1999 Mega Graphics Probe Funny Car.  While the 1999 version is structurally no different than other years, many experienced racers maintain that the 1999 car is the one to get.  Perhaps that year there was just a good batch of wheels or something.  My son has a 1998 Hershey version that is also very fast.

The Probe Funny Car debuted in 1990 and has been very successful on the track.  Its success can be mostly attributed to its weight.  The 1999 Mega Graphics version that we are reviewing in this issue comes in at 72 grams.  Definitely one of the heavier cars that Mattel makes.  All that weight at the top of the track means lots of potential energy.  As the funny car makes its way to the bottom of the drop, all that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and kinetic energy is the energy of speed.  The more kinetic energy you have, the faster you go. All that weight also increases its momentum which helps the car overcome any factors that may try to slow it down like irregularities in the track to mention one.

Another thing that aids in the Probe Funny Car’s success on the track is it’s length.  It measures 3.5 inches.  We’ve mentioned before in other reviews how a long wheel base on a car helps it run straighter, and straighter means faster.  But in the case of the Probe Funny Car, that extra length gives it another advantage.  Because of its shape and length.  It’s center of gravity is further back than a lot of cars.  Further back means further up when sitting at the starting line at the top of a ramp.  Potential energy is based on two things.  Weight and Height. So the center of gravity being higher on the ramp means more potential energy and remember, potential energy turns into speed.

While these Probe Funny cars don’t have FTE axles, the wheels do run pretty smooth.  Generally, wheels from the 90’s and earlier tend to be a little better quality than wheels you find on cars today. They are better balanced, closer to perfectly round, and usually spin with much less wobble.  A good 5 spoke wheel from the 90’s can be pretty fast.

The Probe Funny Car isn’t perfect.  In fact, when you race them you will notice they are pretty noisy.  That’s due to the fact that the front of the car body is not attached to the chassis so it can raise up in true funny car fashion.  While this is pretty cool from a playing with and display perspective, it’s not the best for racing.  It takes energy to make noise, so that’s wasted energy that’s being used for something other than getting the car down the track. But overall, these funny cars can be very fast and have enjoyed many a trip to the top of the podium!


Friday, March 20, 2020

Hot Wheels FTE Cadillac V16 Concept

Sleek and long with pearl white paint, the Faster Than Ever Cadillac V16 Concept car is bound to be one of the faster cars in your collection.  


The Cadillac V16 debuted in 2004 in black metal flake paint and bling wheels.  It was a very fast mainline car for that year.  However, in 2005, things got even better for the Cadillac V16.  It was equipped with nickel plated axles and Faster Than Ever wheels, as were all the cars in the Faster Than Ever series.  The nickel plated axles created much less friction than standard axles and the Faster Than Ever wheels with their open and light design had less rotational inertia.  Long story short, it was a great combination to turn the Cadillac V16 into a downhill racing monster!

Aside from the Faster Than Ever wheel and axle combination, the Cadillac V16 has several other features that make it a great racer.  It’s long smooth flowing lines make it quite aerodynamic.  This helps reduce the amount of wind resistance the car encounters as it speeds down the track.  While this may not be the most important factor,  it is still a factor.  Some may think that these cars don’t reach speeds great enough to cause much wind resistance, but you have to “scale” your thinking.  While they may not seem fast to you or me, in a typical downhill race these cars are reaching SCALE speeds of over 400 mph!  Definitely fast enough to cause wind resistance on a small scale, which is what we are dealing with...1/64 scale to be exact.

Another advantage that the Cadillac V16 enjoys is it’s wide body.  Coming in at just under 1 and ¼ inches wide, it’s nearly as wide as the Hot Wheels orange track that it typically races on.  Hot Wheels orange track is about 1 and ½ inches wide.  Wider cars tend to run faster as they bounce around less on the track.  This means they keep more of their speed as they travel the length of the track.

The Cadillac is also very long, measuring 3 and ¼ inches.  Longer cars also tend to run faster.  They run faster because they run straighter.  And remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

The one thing that the Cadillac doesn’t have going for it is it’s weight.  Weighing in at only 41 grams, it’s definitely not the heaviest car Mattel has made.  But that’s the norm in the mainline cars these days.  Gone are the days of both metal bodies and bases.  It’s usually now only one or the other.  If the Cadillac had a bit more weight it would be unstoppable.  As it stands now, it is still one of the top stock performers, and if you find a good one, it will put up a fight against anything Mattel has made, heavy or light.

Hot Wheels FTE Way 2 Fast


There is nothing like the thrill of 6 cars flying down the track and seeing your car out in front of them all.


We’re going to tell you about a car that will give you a good chance of having that feeling.  This review is about  the Hot Wheels Faster Than Ever Way 2 Fast.

Way 2 Fast debuted in 1997 in a hot looking orange color with a checkered flag on the roof.  Way 2 Fast has a classic hot rod look, but the frame has been extended to accommodate not one, but two engines! The first edition 1997 version has 5 spoke wheels and can be pretty fast.  However, in my opinion, this casting was perfected in 2005 when Mattel came out with the Faster Than Ever version.

In 2005, Mattel released a new series of cars called Faster Than Ever, also sometimes referred to as FTE.  The Faster Than Ever cars all have an open 5 spoke wheel with copper colored spokes.  The open spoke wheel can be a very fast wheel.  It has less mass than a solid wheel, which means it has less rotational inertia.  Without getting too technical, less rotational inertia means that it takes less energy to get the wheel turning and keep it turning. This means more of your car’s potential energy is converted into speed so your car is faster.

While the FTE wheel is a great wheel, it’s the axles that are the real key.  The FTE axles are nickel plated.  The nickel plating produces less friction between the axle and the wheel than a normal axle and wheel combination.  Less friction means more speed for your car.

The FTE wheels and axles help make this version of the Way 2 Fast quite quick, but there are other FTE castings and the Way 2 Fast can beat most of them.  So what else makes the Way 2 Fast so quick.  Well, of course it’s the second engine! Yeah, yeah, I know, the engines don’t actually make the cars go, but here’s the deal.  By putting the second engine on this car, the chassis was made longer.  The Way 2 Fast measures about 3.25 inches long.  This is one of the longest Hot Wheels castings.


Because of the extended chassis, the Way 2 Fast has a pretty long wheels base.  Generally speaking, the longer the wheelbase, the straighter the car will run, the fewer times it will bump into the side of the track, and the faster it will be.


While the Way 2 Fast is not a super heavy car coming in at 42 grams, most of its weight is concentrated toward the back.  That, in addition to its length, gives the Way 2 Fast more potential energy than a lot of other castings.  That potential energy is turned into speed as the car races down the track.  More potential energy means more speed.

The FTE Way 2 Fast is like the perfect storm.  Good wheels, nickel plated axles, long wheel base, long chassis, and weight concentrated toward the back all come together to make a very quick car.  If you don’t have one, get one. It will definitely win some races for you!


Modifying Hot Wheels Cars for Kids and Beginners

If you are looking for a great hobby to enjoy with your family racing Hot Wheels is it.  One thing I loved when I started this hobby was that I could have fun racing cars with my kids, but still modified cars and get serious with the hobby on my own.  But when things really started getting fun was when I started helping my kids modify cars to send to races.  I mean, check out this video of us watching a recent race.



If you are into more serious modifying of Hot Wheels cars for speed, you should check out Modifying Hot Wheels Cars For Speed, but if you’re a beginner or would like to get your kids into modifying cars then read on.



For the most part, I try to let my kids do most everything on their cars. There have been times where I have built cars for them to enter in races, but usually only when we’ve committed to being in races and then run out of time and I couldn’t help all the kids get their cars done so I’ve finished cars for them.

Paint

Painting the cars is their favorite part!
 My kids are still pretty young, so when it comes to modding cars it doesn’t get too complicated.
I usually drill apart the cars for them. My kids have drilled a few cars apart.  They have been cars with metal bases and plastic bodies so the rivets are plastic and easy to drill out.

Drilling out the plastic rivets of a Gov'ner.  For safety the car is being held in a clamp.
My kids love to paint cars.  This is their favorite part. Sometimes they use spray paint, but for the most part, the kids use cheap craft paint from Walmart and paint brushes.

Once in a while, under close supervision, I let the kids use spray paint.
They love going to the store and picking out colors.  I have some old T-shirts that I through on them to paint in.  Once they get them painted I spray them with a clear coat and they end up looking pretty good.

Dressing the kids in some old adult T-Shirts and getting to work!

Weight
When it comes to weight, we do a couple of things to keep it kid friendly.  One thing we like to do is modify trucks.  Trucks make it easy for the kids to add weight.  The bed is a nice easy place to add the weight.

After packing the bed full of weight, my boy used a custom sticker with his racing team name on it to cover the weight.
But whether the weight ends up in the bed of a truck or inside the car, getting the weight to stay can be challenging.  Usually I use JB Kwik Weld to keep weight in place.  But I don’t want the kids messing with JB Kwik so we use different methods.  One of the things that we use to keep the weight in place is clay.

Keeping some weight in place with some clay
Another thing that we use is blue tack.  It is pretty sticky and holds things in place pretty good.  When it comes to weight we frequently use tire weights. They have their own adhesive on the back so that’s nice. But with tire weights we are kind of limited in weight variation.


Sometimes we use fishing weights.  I like to avoid them if we can so that the kids aren’t around lead too much, but if we do use them I make sure I watch them closely and have them wash their hands after. To get the fishing weights to stay put the kids usually use clay or the blue sticky tack. I’ll put the car on the scales and then a chunk of clay and then fishing weights to get it up to the weight limit and then let the kids go to work.

Loading the car up with small fishing weights and then holding everything in place with clay.

Cars loaded up with weight and clay.  We had to make some adjustments to the little one's car before it raced haha!

Wheels and axles
When modifying with the kids, we don’t really do wheel and axle swaps.  Once in a while if they have a car that they really love and want to race, but it’s a dud speed wise, I’ll swap the axles  for them, but for the most part, I want their cars to be their's, meaning they did pretty much everything on them.  Sooooooo, the key is to try to start out with a fast car.  They modify a lot of Fast Than Ever cars or other fast stuff that we find through testing and racing together.

Generally they don’t “fix” the axles.  Again, my kids aren’t really old enough that I want them messing around with JB Kwik Weld yet.  If we do want to fix the axles, then I mix up some JB Kwik Weld and then I carefully help them put it on.  But, again, generally we just run them with “loose” axles.

Graphite
When the cars are all done, I use a little bit of JB Kwik Weld to put them back together.  Then I send the kids off with the car to the “graphite bay”.  It is a box with a little carpet in it.  They put graphite on them and all the extra graphite falls down in the carpet. It seems to hold the graphite will and keeps the mess down to a minimum.

Adding Graphite

After that it’s time to get them on the track!  Let’s Race!

In summary, here are a few main points to remember.

  • Try to start out with cars that are already pretty quick. Faster than Ever cars are great for an easy mod.
  • If you’re going to have kids drill out rivets, start with cars having plastic bodies with plastic rivets.
  • Kids love to paint the cars.  Let them use craft paint and paint brushes and really have some fun!
  • Use clay to keep weight in the car.
  • Trucks are great for easily adding weight - just put it in the bed.


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