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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!

Roar Before the 24 Pit Lane Preview

This year’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was much bigger than last years… why? My guess would be because of Fernando Alonso… and maybe a gaggle of other Formula 1 drivers, along with a whole fleet of new Prototype and GT cars on display.

I’m thrilled to have had an opportunity to visit the pit area for WeatherTech Sports Car Championship practice, and I can’t wait for the proper enduro at the end of the month. It will be fantastic.

Here’s a few pix:

The elusive Team Joest Mazda

Alonso!

Hold on…

Jackie Chan Racing

Keep holding…

Hopefully… with a little bit of luck… this will be my view for the Rolex 24 in pit out.

Also hoping the weather is like this, warm and sunny.

With no Miatas racing in IMSA any more, it’s nice to see an RF at the Team Joest garages.

Post Card from the Conti Paddock at the Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Sunday Fun Day… Finally things turned around for me. I finally got my preferred station assignment to work Turn 4, which meant I could visit the paddock and take in all the new stuff on display this season.

Apparently IMSA will be following SRO specifications for GT4 machinery. And there’s lots of it here: Mercedes-AMG GT4 and Audi R8 GT4 joining an established field of Aston Martin GT4, Porsche Cayman GT4, and Mustang GT4.

A whole new series previously previewed in a competing series last year with Pirelli World Challenge: the TCR cars. We had a number of Audi RS3 LMS and a single VW Golf GTi TCR.

Here’s the pix:

Oh yes, another new addition to the GS field BMW M4

Lots of German silver cars in this growing field previously dominated by Mustangs and Camaros.

Caffeine & Carburetors in New Canaan, Connecticut Sept 2017: the Germans

I think Porsche’s were best represented at this weekend’s Caffeine & Carburetors in New Canaan, CT though there were plenty of Audi, BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz cars of all vintage… Lot’s of classic VeeDubs with Porsche bits on them too.

More from this series:

Here’s some pix:

 

Check out the other posts from Caffeine & Carburetors here:

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…

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:

Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen 2017 the debrief

As is usually the case, I started writing several looooong paragraphs took a deep breath and deleted them because many things I said there would get me in trouble. So instead I’ll just tone it down to this: I had a generally great experience this Independence Day/Fourth of July Weekend at Watkins Glen.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen proved to be everything I expected it to be and then some. The weather could have put a damper (? not sure if that’s the right word here) on things but it didn’t. Tent stayed relatively dry. Racing was relatively good. And people I was hanging out with were super friendly. I would say I got the VIP treatment from RSI but that would imply that they somehow treated me better than they treat others, which isn’t accurate. I’m genuinely satisfied with the way everyone behaves at RSI that I come in contact with and for me that’s a huge plus, I appreciate the positive vibes and positive attitudes.

We did have a few massive smash ups that I personally got a chance to respond to. A driver left in a Medevac unit which nobody ever wants to see, several others ended up in the hospital also, and the race was red flagged. It was an incredible experience and one I will definitely learn from.

There were moments I really liked. Like all the star and stripe and patriotic liveries many cars were wearing. Some things I didn’t like… the weather – mainly. But also the performance of the Mazda prototype team which keeps playing this underdog role that they really don’t deserve anymore. It was nice to see one of the cars end up on the podium, but that happened only because so many cars didn’t finish, including the other Mazda prototype. So that’s that.

Favorite little car that was an actual underdog was this yellow NC:

It still uses NC1 tail lights… just like my car.

Interestingly enough the #25 car had a smashup this weekend running it’s traditional Freedom Autosport livery, and suddenly it re-emerged wearing #25 under Murillo Racing orange livery. Wish I had snapped a photo of it. But my station was too far to the grid so I had to boogey down in order to make the start of the race.

Here’s the previously mentioned 4th of July liveries I did manage to get a snap of:

And here’s a few cool NC Miata’s I ran across in town at Watkins Glen and at the track:

There was a convoy of about five of various vintage Miata’s parading around Watkins Glen on Wednesday that I waved to while driving in the opposite direction, but I’m not sure what club they were from or what group it was that organized that cruise… it would have been nice to join them but I saw nothing about this event posted online.

Back to the track..

I got to flag from Station 3 on Thursday which is at the top of the Esses. Station 4 on Friday which is the next station after the bridge leading up to the Bus Stop… and Station 9A at the exit of the Boot on Saturday and Sunday.

The major smash up I experienced was Porsche GT3 Cup behaving very NASCAR-like… in fact I had worked an event for NASCAR when we had an identical full-track-blockage incident on the same station. This one however was far scarier. One of the Porsche’s completely lost it’s front end… wheels, suspension, frunk… everything!

On GTD qualifying I had a weird experience with the two Lexuses. They had back to back, identical incidents within seconds of each other, where one vehicle recovered the spin with damage and the other planted it into the guard rail causing a small engine fire.

So all in all it was a pretty active weekend. Lots to see. Lots to do.

I loved it!

Thank you Watkins Glen, and I hope to see you next year.

 

Memorial Day Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park (PWC) the debrief

To say I had a blast at this weekend’s (Memorial Day weekend) PWC event at LRP would be an understatement… I really, truly, genuinely had an amazing time. And the people I got a chance to work with totally contributed to that experience.

It absolutely makes a difference who you work with and this time I was super lucky. You know someone else is comfortable with you when she refers to you as “dipshit” to her colleague. That happened. Both of my series starters from PWC were amazing, and it was my honor to be working with them as a backup starter at the Start/Finish stand.

I thought the weekend went especially well. The racing was better than usual. We didn’t have too many bullshit crashes that tend to ruin other PWC events. The recoveries were smooth and quick, and there were awesome battles for positions throughout the field in all the classes. That was awesome.

I got to make a lot of calls on the radio. Which was good. I’m happy I didn’t make too many mistakes with that aspect. I was even able to do a debris run picking up a large chunk of debris from the race winning Turner BMW in the TC race. But I also made some rookie mistakes and they were to be blamed on me squarely. There were three instances where I was meant to point out a car to the series starters and I pointed out the wrong car. We did track it correctly, but for whatever reason I pointed at a different car that was similar in appearance. In the TCA/TCB race I pointed to the SAC racing 080 car instead of the race winning 70 car. Both were black with Green accents, but one was Teal and another bright Green… One was ND and another NC. And yet somehow I mucked it up. With the other starter I had real trouble with the Porsche Cayman GT4’s… we were supposed to track 018 car and I (for some weird reason) confused it with it’s sister car 017… luckily the series starter was better than me at identifying cars but it tripped her up too, unnecessarily. Maybe the dipshit comment was right on the money.

I must have not been too terrible, because unlike the series starter last year she greeted me with a hug in the morning, which was an AWWWW moment. She must not hate me. And on race day she gave me a little gift, a pin of a Guardian Angel that one of her colleagues designed. AWWWW again! She doesn’t want me to die. That’s nice. I really enjoyed the weekend and I really hope I get another opportunity to work with these folks again… somewhere!

Pirelli World Challenge was a standalone feature of this Memorial Day weekend. So we only had the GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS and TC/TCA/TCB cars at the track. What was different was the fact that the field of TC cars grew so large in size that they got to run a race on their own without the usual TCA/TCB addition. This meant that the TCA/TCB ran a race of their own too… and it was clear as day to see how well the Global MX-5 Cup cars performed on their own in this series. I knew they won at VIR and Mosport (both races I volunteered) but since there was a different overall winner in TC class, it wasn’t so obvious who won TCA. The older Miata’s in TC class though qualified super well, they were in row 2 and 3 on the grid, but as soon as the race started they faltered. Many DNF’d. Which sucks! But the cars are getting old, and the newest addition to the field this year, the BMW 235M blew up in size, it seems like they are completely dominating this series. In the GT race there were quite a few incidences, but overall it was super enjoyable to watch and especially neat to be a part of in such an amazing position on the start stand. I’m incredibly grateful!

Best of all I didn’t have to choose between having lunch or taking pictures during our downtime. I was smack in the middle of all the action. I could just walk over to the dummy grid and take a few snaps before heading back on duty and the series starters were happy to help me out with a few selfie style shots to capture the moment of this experience. It was tremendous!

I would love to do it again!

Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway the debrief

This was my first Roar before the 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

For a motorsport event this was an interesting one because officially there wasn’t actually any racing taking place, it was all practice sessions over a three day period. The reason for my participation is my desire to check out several of the brand new race cars making their debut this IMSA racing season. Among them of course is the Mazda DPi car. As well as the Cadillac DPi’s, and the Nissan Ligiers, and the Oreca’s and Riley’s. As well as Acura NSX GT3’s, the Lexus IS-F RC-F GT3’s (I previously referred to the Lexus as IS-F it’s actually RC-F), the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR GTE’s, Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3’s finally debuting in America. McLaren 570S GT4’s debuting in the support series alongside Porsche Cayman GT4’s.

This post will be all the good, the bad and the ugly opinions.

The good.

Lots of cars in attendance. I’m very pleased with the Acura’s, the Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche’s, Mazda and Cadillac DPi’s and the LMP2’s from Oreca, Ligier and Riley. All those cars… it was great to see them on track shaking things down.

I’m really glad I got a few opportunities to take some pictures. It was important to me to have some good memories I can share with friends, and I call it mission accomplished. It was very good to work with my friend John all weekend, who took some awesome pix for me also. He let me crash at his house and even let me catch a ride to the track with him every day. Definitely appreciate that! CFR SCCA was excellent. We received $25 Gas Cards for every day of participation and $50 hotel credit (IOU’s) for future CFR events. (Which I think I may actually cash in during Sebring or St. Pete)

Also really happy to run into other flag marshals that drive Miatas

The bad.

Weather was cold. Like stupid cold. I was prepared to a degree… since I drove my Miata down I loaded it up with multiple pairs of clothes. I had 4 white t-shirts, 3 white hoodies, 2 pairs of white pants, 1 white jacket, 1 non-white jacket, and a whole bunch of undershirts…. not to mention a few bandanas which came very useful to block the arctic wind from hitting my face. But it was still stupid cold! I was thinking I could handle 59F in the evening and 65F during the day. We dropped down to 35F on Sunday, and had most of the day raining on Saturday with the temperatures dropping. The wind was especially killer!

This was how bundled up I was, and still cold:

That said, Friday… the first day of the event was T-shirt weather. I think it was in the high 70’s and I got a nice sunburn on my face!

There was a lot of opportunities to take some awesome shots of race cars while Media vans were shooting their official photos on track (while we were off-duty) unfortunately our station was way too far from the track to get a decent shot.

The ugly.

I like most BMW Art Cars… except this year’s. I think this year’s model with the polka-dots on the front, and roof is stupid! The word “FAST” on driver’s side and an actual picture of that race car stickered on the passenger door is just dumb…. I don’t understand the attraction other than the stupidity of it and for that reason I find it very ugly!

The other ugly news during the event was another shooting in FLL – Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida… one of my favorite airports to fly into when going to Miami and South Florida. That was not good news… in fact that was ugly news, and it ran right under the news about the Roar before the 24 in the paper:

For an event that I thought I would never do again, I would totally do this again. Both the Roar before the 24 and the Daytona 24h race.

It was a blast!

Good people though made this experience possible for me.