Monogram 1/24 Kurtis Kraft Racer
|PRICE:||£20 second hand or about $40|
|NOTES:||This came in a “Racing Classics Combo Kit” of two cars. The second car is a Super Modified Dirt Track Racer, driver Don Edmunds.|
Rather than a history of the car, let me provide a brief hymn to the wonders of the Offenhauser engine, which was a miracle of design which dominated American open wheel racing for at least 50 years, and is still going strong in the vintage crowd with sprint and midget cars.
t originated when Fred Offenhasuer and Henry Miller (not the author) were working on a 1913 Peugeot. Unusual at the time was its double overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder. In 1930, a four-cylinder 151 cu in (2.47 litre) Miller engine set a new world speed record of of 144.8mph. It went on to dominate the Indy 500 and the midget racing scene. The key to its success was in not having a separate cylinder head, which stopped any possible head gasket blow-outs, or cylinder stud problems, and made a very high compression ratio of above 12 to 1 possible. When the huge V-8 engines of the later muscle car era were straining to get 1hp per cu inch from their engines, the Offy had been regularly achieving a figure of 3hp per cu inch.
Between 1934 and the early 70s, it won the Indy 500 27 times. And between 1950 and 1960, it won all three podium positions in that race. It was only with the arrival of Ford in the early 60s that it began to lose its edge, although its last victory wasn't until 1978 at Trenton in a Wildcat driven by Gordon Johncock. As if that all weren't enough, one look at the thing tells you it is a work of art.
Scott Van Aken has already built this kit in an earlier version, which is in a fetching pink, and can be found here. It is a perfect summation of the strengths and weakness of this old mould, and so I will keep this short. I post it here mainly to show an earlier decal sheet released in the 1988 reissue, which you might find if you buy an older second hand kit. It has the strange colour combination of red and purple, which against the odds does come out looking nice, even if it does look like the car is about to burst a blood vessel. The markings belong to a 1956 Indy entry, which finished 8th in the hands of Roger Ward. Who, incidentally, flew P-38 Lightnings during WWII, and was so adept that the USAAF retained him as an instructor.
I recall building this model about 50 years ago, when it came in a cream finish, and I think the number 9, though the rest is lost in the mists of memory.
The red is Revell Ferrari red, the interior and its surround black. The decals were showing signs of age. I taped them to a sunlit window (a rarity here in England) for a few days to restore the signs of yellowing, which did the trick. But they were still thick and reluctant to settle down on the compound curves even with gallons of microset. This in turn had the unfortunate effect of dissolving some of the white edging on the flashes. And also of scarring some of the smooth paint finish, which required an extra polish and coat of gloss. Take your time over this, and all should be well.
The kit engine is not at all detailed, and I only used it as a mounting point for the exhaust. But the super detailing enthusiast could go to town on it, and pose the car with the bonnet (hood to you) open.
It is a nice little kit of a handsome car, from the days when racing men were steely eyed aces who had a pack of Camels for breakfast. Nowadays, Grand Prix celebrities all have stylists for when they face the cameras.
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