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Hot Wheels Collectors Resourses

If you’re just getting into Hot Wheels collecting like me, you may get overwhelmed with all the variety out there, available at different price points… or frustration of not being able to find any of the cool stuff you see people brag about online. I’d like to share some resourses I’ve come across in my recent re-introduction to this hobby with the hope that this info actually helps someone. And I’m sure I’ll vent my frustration as well… although the simple solution to that problem is just to throw more money at it. If you really want a car someone will sell it to you for a crazy price $$$ on eBay. I have bought quite a few dozen such cars there already to help my collection start growing.

So, observation #1: it’s 2018 and while grocery shopping at my local supermarket I come across a Hot Wheels box dump where I pull out 3 GT3 spec race cars after a short time rummaging thru. Wow! I think to myself, that’s going to be quite a collection if there are tiny versions of all the different race cars out there from American IMSA racing series or Le Mans, Blancpain GT, Pirelli World Challenge, etc. But nope…. you should not worry about being overwhelmed because Hot Wheels produced at most 2 or 3 varieties of cars per year, and certainly not of every single model racing in the real world today. Lately I’ve noticed realistic GT3 spec machinery is increasing in popularity, good news for me, because that’s the type of HW I want to collect, but finding them is often difficult and requires a lot of trips to the store… which suddenly makes buying stuff off eBay more appealing and often a cheaper option than burning gas running around with no success.

Observation #2: Hot Wheels are released in cases of 72 car in Mainline or 10 packs for Car Culture premium models. Each case has some new additions and a ton of oldies from previous cases of the same production year or even previous years. Which is both cool (If you’re looking for something you missed in the past) and weird (If you don’t come across a new item because there was only one or two per case and another collector or kid buying a new toy beat you to the peg). Hunting for new releases is extremely frustrating especially when you compete against people that snatch all the good stuff when they come across it and then go and sell that stuff to people like me on eBay for profit. So key is to be quick and lucky.

Observation #3: and probably the most important one, is to use a web site like HW collectors newsletter to see what stuff is available each year, when it comes out and even who sells it when there are exclusives like Zamac or Red Line, Treasure Hunt and Super Treasure Hunts. Btw…. zamac are those unpainted Zink Alluminum looking cars that now come with a Zamac build # on the blue card. TH or treasure hunt models have a little Hot Wheels flame circle behind the car on the blue card also writing how exclusive that car is.

HW Collectors Newsletter is my favorite resourse for this hobby

Since I don’t crack open any of the HotWheels cars that I buy I’m going to illustrate this post with anazing photos from HWCollectorsNews.com

The 2016 Mazda MX5 Miata was the unicorn in my collection even two years before I actually started collecting. Couldn’t find it anywhere I looked. I spent days scouring local supermarkets on a trip to California in 2016 and 2017… no luck. Same in Texas and in Florida. I even hit up a bunch of states from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas while driving to Daytona. No luck… so I ended up shelling over $5 for one on eBay. And it was well worth it.

Since then I’ve spent over $200 on Miatas alone, often clearing out the racks at my local supermarket whenever I come across a fresh display. I’ve got more than 50 of the white Mad Mike Miata from 2018 and at least a dozen of each of the others… and most of them I will probably give away to friends at future Miata events.

The other Mazda that I absolutely adore in my collection is the 2018 Car Culture premium model 787B Le Mans race car…

I’ve burned a ton of fuel going from store to store, week after week, trying to find one. Tempted to buy on eBay but not willing to shell out $10+ shipping for one. And finally came across a new case at a distant Target near NY/NJ border where they must have just gotten out out for Christmas. I bought all 4 on that display. And I’m sure it’s the best car in my collection, though I’m sure there will be more awesome HW stuff in the future.

The goal for my collection besides the Mazda’s is current and realistic / accurate GT3 race cars. And much like the amazing real variety at endurance events at Daytona, Sebribg, Bathurst, Spa-Francorchams, Le Mans or Nürburgring so too is the selection from HW:

Aston Martin Vantage GT3

Audi R8 LMS

BMW Z4 GT3

Cadillac ATS-V.R

Corvette C7.R

Ford GT

Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (Huracán Super Trofeo)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Renault Sport RS 01 (Renault Sport Trophy)

SRT Dodge Viper GT3-R

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup body-in-white

The cars above represent what my collection is about. There are currently 45 total options available as I’ve learned from the amazingly detailed description of each model from HWCollectorsNews.com however I probably won’t collect every single model because it turns out only some are sold individually as part of carded models. The rest are multipack exclusives. And yet others are exclusively made for events and aren’t even available for sale. While yet others, like the Forza Motorsport Ford GT are way too ugly and too expensive for the price they are being sold for.

So price and availability are always a factor of what will go into my collection.

This brings me to Observation #4: Hot Wheels are typically only made in their Malaysian or Thai factories. I’ve bought some older First Editions models from 20 years ago that were made in China. I’ve seen stuff from Macau as well. But modern Mainline cars come from Malyasia while premium cars are made in Thailand.

Mainline Hot Wheels are Made in Malaysia & Car Culture premium models are Made in Thailand

So this is a pretty exotic hobby knowing each car came from Southeast Asia. And ironically the cars are typically sold cheaper in the US compared to what they actually go for in their home markets (regular price that is, not sale). That being said prices are all over the board nowadays for both Mainline and Car Culture. Wal-Mart is consistently cheapest with their 94 cent price tag for most main line. $1.27 for special carded mainline and $4.97 for the Car Culture models. While the same Car Culture premium sell for $7.99 at Target…. because they can. Even my local supermarkets sell mainline for different price weekly. Sometimes it’s $0.99, then $1.09, then $1.29, $1.49 and when they’re really greedy $1.99 especially Matchbox mainline seem to command the double price for some reason. I tend to buy stuff when I find what I like regardless what the price is, because chances are that when they go on sale the selection would be very limited. That said I think car culture cars are worth the premium especially the well detailed Race Car models like:

the Porsche 962 models with Real Riderz wheels. Though that Momo livery car that came as part of a Transporter series with a large HW truck costing $12.99 is ridiculously overpriced I think.

There was a cheaper $3.99 version of the Porsche 962 before I started my collection, but for the life of me I cannot find one for a reasonable price. Speaking of cheaper vintage Porsches we are lucky to get the Gulf Racing Porsche 917 LH in mainline, readily available and I made sure to stock up on them.

In 2019 Hot Wheels will have several new sets of their Premium Car Culture line: Gulf livery, Open Track, etc. Many more GT and GT3 offerings among them like another Audi R8 LMS and a brand new pair of Acura NSX GT3’s among them. Even main line will have more new Cadillac and Mercedes-AMG race cars. I’m looking forward to finding them and adding to my collection.

I’ll keep HWCollectorsNews.com as a reference guide to know before I go to the store to understand what I’m looking for. This was already helpful the other night when I found my very first Treasure Hunt of 2019 at ACME in beautiful spectra gold finish and Real Riderz wheels in Mainline cars.

$12.99 Most expensive toy store Hot Wheels I’ve bought to date…

Happy hunting ya’ll!

Grid Walk Post Card from Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR

There was one car that caught my eye this race weekend at VIR: the burgundy red Acura NSX GT3 of Michael Shank Racing. I’m not a huge Honda fan or an NSX fan in general, I liked their patriotic Fourth of July liveries too, but this red wrap really stood out… and I found myself always checking up on that car… checking it out. I was lucky that since I got to work as pit fire marshal one of my responsibilities was the Acura pit box, and their hauler was parked directly across from their pit box in the paddock… so there were many glimpses of that car. But of course other cars shined bright, and while the Mazda Miata’s are showing their age, I was very happy to see them race and do fairly well over the weekend.

Lots of pix of course:

I love when they send out the ice cream lady up and down pit lane, all the crews from each pit box run to her to get cooled down lol

For a little while there exotica had taken over the GS class of IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… now with both Mustang and Camaro in GT4 form however, they are back to dominating… beating Porsche’s, McLaren’s, et al.

My other favorite car of the weekend…. sadly it didn’t do so well either, just like the NSX

and a few uniform pix working with VIR Fire Rescue:

more to come soon…

Northeast Grand Prix IMSA at Lime Rock the debrief

It’s been a while since I’ve done the Northeast GP at Lime Rock… last year I was marshaling in Europe with my triple event schedule in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. A year before that I did something else, and the year before that the Northeast GP was quite good! There were prototypes racing. There was lots of action. There were lots of incidents and lots of opportunity to blue flag. This time around though the pace of the event slowed way down. Dare I say it was quite boring on the first day which was disappointing.

Luckily there were Miata’s racing… so I kept myself entertained!

The station assignment for Friday was at post 6A or more traditionally called Bridge… where absolutely nothing happened.

I did enjoy the company of my fellow flag marshal there, so we made it through the day… the only excitement came from us getting sprayed by big clouds of dust as a few cars ran wide out of the previous corner…

The next day though things picked up tremendously. I was posted in Turn 2 for the first time (I don’t remember if it was my first time ever, or certainly in a very long time, which was very exciting!). There was lots of potential at this turn because at most other events when I’m somewhere else, you can always hear Turn 2 calling in incidents. Of course I became the anti-magnet today, and absolutely nothing interesting happened. We had a few bumps. There were some spins before us and a few after us, but nothing noteworthy.

It was very close to the track and a great place to be a spectator.

Poor Miata… knocked out of 3rd place with a broken mouth:

But being so close to the paddock meant we could wander into pit lane for grid walk… and that’s exactly what I did!

The event was rather crowded, which was super awesome to see… but I don’t know if the GT-alone racing series lived up to the expectations… they certainly left me wanting for more. The IMSA races used to be some of the fastest cars that came to LRP, I’m not sure if the same could be said in it’s current form.

Maybe that’s why the Turner car had a BS-looking sponsor:

What’s the deal with Tacos anyway?

But anyway… looking back at the weekend I have to say that the initial feeling of boredom become overcome with a “it’s not so bad” attitude and ultimately, “this is a pretty good event.”

I certainly enjoyed the Miata’s racing and winning. This was the major difference comparing it to PWC event earlier in the year where the MX-5’s qualified well but faltered during the races.

So congrats to Freedom Autosport! And to the other Miata teams that didn’t do so well but put on a great show nonetheless…

Interesting that the headsets we used were Made in Australia!

And best of all every night the LRP Cafe took care of the workers with a tasty meal. So thank you Skip Barber for that!

Post Card from the Northeast Grand Prix IMSA GT’s at Lime Rock

Greetings from Lime Rock!

Here’s some pix taken over the two day Northeast Grand Prix event:

NER SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock on Father’s Day Weekend

Thanks to Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.

For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.

Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.

As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.

Love the Brasil colors on this E46 M3

Fathers Day Weekend SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock

To be honest I’ve given up on Club Racing this season… But since I still hold a valid SCCA license and my friend Jamie offered to let me work on the Starter stand with him, I jumped on the opportunity!

Boy am I glad I did.

I came for the Miata’s, but stayed for all the variety that was there.

The various Spec Miata fields were huge… I liked the battles going on from my vantage point. And since there were four of us on the Start stand I got to rotate into every position available for a few sessions at a time… so I got to Start and Chequer races. I got to work as a backup. I got to do lap charts. And finally, got to do comms. It was neat to say the least and much needed practice I wanted to have as I did make mistakes a few weeks ago at Lime Rock working the PWC race as a backup starter.

But anyway. For the NA and NB Miata fans there was a lot to love. I only spotted one NC there. Briefly thinking a few Honda S2000’s were Miata’s as they were under car covers… Ooops! They sure do have similar dimensions and it’s especially hard to tell when you can only see wheels, and both Mazda and Honda tend to use the same Enkei wheels.

Anyway, here’s some pix of my favorite cars this weekend:

This fella raced one of the SAC NC Miata Cup Cars during PWC.

Love the paint job on this Formula Vee…

Surprised how flashy some cars looked wearing sponsors on their liveries…

Woo Hoo… NC Miata!

Not a Miata!

But it’s wearing a +5HP sticker…

This thing kicked ass in the rain, winning one race.

Stock vs. Non-Stock S2000’s… probably my favorite looking race car at the track… wonder why they created a class that eliminates the windshield of a car…?

This thing too had a very dramatic last lap, front straight, chequered flag finish… dash to the win!

Several young female racers, which is awesome to see on such grassroots level of Motorsport.

I’ll be back for more tomorrow… Saturday = Race Day!

Sunday Fun Day Part 2! SCCA Solo II AutoX at the Meadowlands

My day got better as I kept on hearing tires screeching on the neighboring parking lot in the Meadowlands… I was already enjoying the view of the older MX-5’s racing… I discovered one white NA had huge plumes of flames shooting out under braking at the end of their autoX course… so my goal was to catch it on film trying to take a picture. I of unfortunately failed. But having heard the noise of engines roaring nearby decided to check out what it was.

Boy am I glad I did…. because it both excited me and pissed me off.

I’ll explain why, but first let me share some pix:

Notice anything different to Parking Lot L?

Parking Lot E definitely looks different… Most cars didn’t drive here on their own, they were towed. Most car numbers are real stickers not painter’s tape. The cars are newer. The asphalt looks better in the parking lot. Hey, these folks got deep pockets!

This is what excites me… the cool cars. The variety. The performance. And this is what pisses me off… Look at all this fucking money! I’m so sick and tired of SCCA raising fees because they need more money and look at all this stuff in SOLO, they are not hurting for money. They got all the money in the world. It upsets me that they can’t afford to offer training in this area of the country, the New York/New Jersey Regions, but the money clearly is flowing in. Anyway… back to the cars, racing around cones set up on a big parking lot. I enjoyed watching. It was great! Many cars traveled long distance to be here. I saw lots of NER – New England Region stickers. A lot of cars with Connecticut plates. A lot of serious machinery, racing for 40-50 seconds at a time. And that’s cool!

But even with the cool machinery I was bored after five minutes.

So I departed on my final stop of my Sunday Fun Day automotive adventures… BBQ with car people in Edison.

Sunday Fun Day Part 1! AutoX Motorsport NE at the Meadownlands

Today was a good day!

The threat of rain didn’t dampen my automotive adventures… I slept in pretty late, woke up 9’ish which was a good change from last year when I volunteered Detroit Grand Prix and had to be up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Belle Isle. So that was a plus. I did get to see some racing today, if you could call Autocross racing… all 50+ seconds of it at a time where various Miata’s, Porsche’s, Vette’s, Rotary RX-7’s and RX-8’s and a shitton of other cars took to the track… err parking lot at the Meadownalds.

I was surprised to see two concurrent AutoX events happening at the Met Life Stadium (the former Giants Stadium) one at Lot L and another at Lot E. I’ll share my observations below, knowing full well that many will not agree with my opinions… and since I took a hell of a lot of pictures I’ll break them up into three parts, the Sunday Fun Day series if you will.

So first stop was at Lot L where Motorsports North East were running their Autocross… I learned about it at Miata.net where several owners posted a plan to “race” and hang out, spectate and proceed to lunch at a famous hot dog joint nearby.

I came. I saw. I took some pix. And I got bored rather quickly. Now I understand why I prefer circuit racing to solo. Especially if I could be a part of it as a volunteer.

So here’s some pix:

As you can see people run what they brung… I had a hard time choosing a cover photo for this post because it was definitely a hard choice between the beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia which I was delighted to go flat out for the first time, or that cobbled together Mazda MX-5 Miata NA with a turbo and a big wang in the back.

But this event was definitely the “budget” version of the next stop on my automotive adventures today… the Sunday Fun Day series continues…

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner Woodcliff Lake New Jersey May 2017

No better way to spend Memorial Day weekend than at my local Cars & Coffee. This meetup at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ is always a treat, check out the pix:

I arrived a bit late, after 10am which meant may cool cars were either leaving or had already left… like the Enzo Ferrari and McLaren P1… but the Miata’s were still there, and after parking lot clearing a bit we decided to get them together for a photo op:

At this point it was around noon and everyone was hungry so we headed down to Hackensack to my favorite BBQ joint… Cubby’s!

This place is so awesome… there’s nothing “bad” on the menu, everything is “great!”

Looking forward to the next one!

Post Card from the Sebring 12 Hour Grid for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series

One of my favorite things to do at a race event is to browse through the pre-race grid and take some photos (legally since we as marshals are not allowed to otherwise most of the time). It’s a great opportunity to see the cars assembled fully ready to race. It’s also a chance to mingle with the crowds of spectators doing the same thing you are and trying not to get their shadows into your shots (which is almost impossible in a sunny place like Sebring).

But here they are, and it was an exhilarating experience to be a part of. I’m so glad the crowds were huge, and that the weather cooperated fully. It was much warmer on race day, very sunny and very good for some close racing (in GTLM and GTD fields anyway).

The beauty of working in Pit Lane was the close proximity I had to walk to start my shift during the race. Super convenient and truly enjoyable experience once the race started. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and hope there will be more to come in the future.