Friday, March 27, 2020

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.

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