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Tony P's 1975 ARCO-USRA Winner
By Rick Thigpen
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Tony P has been kind enough to send me a couple of his chassis to replicate and restore. The first one I going to tackle is one of his famous ISO's. For some background on the Eastern ISO we have an article written by Tony for the December 1972 issue of the Miniature Auto Racing newsletter.
Tony’s comments about the article and ISO’s of the period:
“#5 Was at that time our typical full glue race car and my
$25.00 production Iso Chassis. We found by keeping the rail under the
endbell as single unit and making the inner brace point to the rear the cars
would go punched up the donut. Turn the inner brace around and the car wouldn't.
It was a well kept secret for along time and one of the ways we could tune the
Iso chassis for bite.
These cars were built, hinged and then cut in half for the iso movement right before pans were attached. Not sure how others did it..
We ran lead on the front of the pans and if the glue got real think another square behind the front tubes as well as removing the front wheel spring.
If you look at the top motor brace it is a piece of 1/16th tubing with .032 wire through it as a hinge. This allowed me to be able to change motors quicker than anyone else and was an advantage racing on the east against the Camen hordes. LOL... Freddy and I practiced doing this and I was able to beat them on the hot power at C&C and break the 40 minute record in the progress. Fun running a 26/27 for 4 heats and changing when everyone else was using 25's to last 40 minutes.
For bodies on this car we used the Dynamic "Aerodynamic" bodies with no airdams, just a diaplane. We would cut the vents out under the molded wing and they worked killer in full glue. I think there were 2 styles, one worked and one didn't. The good one was the flatter of the 2 in the front. The one with the more pronounced front fenders was not very good.
On the east coast everyone used T pins to hold the bodies on. It was illegal because they made the car too wide but we allowed people to do it because they stayed in better and made taking the body off for motor changes easier.”
Here is the chassis untouched for 32 years:
Mike Steube was kind enough to share with me his method of restoring old chassis using a tumbler. I followed his advice and ordered this puppy and the polishing media:
Unfortunately the polishing media is backordered....ARG! When it arrives I'll detail the process and results on some of my old collectable chassis on Steve's web site. For now the show must go on so I tackled the project the old fashioned way...elbow grease. I used Comet non scratching cleanser, Tarnex, a wire wheel in a Dremel tool on the steel and a little paste metal polish. I have not sanded any of the pitted steel (which appears as a darker area on the wire) or corroded brass. I just cleaned off the surface crud:
If you look closely at the image below you may notice some engraving on the drop arm:
Here's a closer look:
The engraving says:
1975 ELMSFORD ARCO WINNER
9th USRA WINNER CLEMENTON
QUALIFYING ROUND: 5.20 OFFICIAL
NEW 40 MINUTE RECORD 419 LAPS
So we have a 1972 MAR article and a 1975 ISO race winning chassis. I thought ISO's went by-the-wayside after the advent of the 1973 PdL Diamond design! Tony also had a version of that design he called Da Spyder. Here's my friend Rodney's prized all original Da Spyder:
Very soon after this chassis Tony and the other Eastern builders went to the "L" arm front axles instead of the "Diamond" style. But why is an ISO winning races 3 years after it was supposedly rendered obsolete?
I asked Tony this very question and he was kind enough to reply:
“YUP! If it says so it’s true. LOL. I figured 30 years
from when we raced it someone would be restoring it and needed to know its true
I won the IM Nats at Elmsford. I think Ernie won the Arco. At Clementon on a 165 Engleman with the square donut turned into another finger Ernie & I were unbeatable for around 2 years straight. If we can find out who won the ARCO you will know who raced it. I'd bet on Ernie……..I asked Ernie. It is his car. He won the ARCO. Again I am not sure how Bob Emott wound up with it. All we can figure is when we moved our shop out of the back room @ BIR Raceway we left the slot car stuff hanging on the peg boards by the work benches figuring we did not need them and no one would ever care about them LOL.
The date on the chassis would be correct. I engraved them as
we used them. Elmsford is a 220 Engleman stock but epoxy surface when we ran
back then. For the track to fit between the poles in the building the track was
made skinny and longer. It was a custom built track. The turn inside the bank
was about 18 inches outside wall to outside wall. This turn was so tight
as was the turn under the bridge I could not fit to get my car. Only kids could
marshal those 2 spots.
It was the hardest track we ran on. Isos seemed to run better on that track than spyder style. We would switch back and forth between the 2 style tracks. We also used isos for a long time at Clementon which was a flat Engleman 165 epoxied.
So basically we still used isos on flat tracks and spyders on banked tracks. At Elmsford the spyders would tilt and needed to be so heavy the isos were the best choice.
It took awhile until we switched over completely. I even make some killer steel center isos that we used on these 2 tracks.”
Next up is the building of my first ISO . Thanks Tony!
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