One day when the racing is done, someone could write a book strictly about how good Hamlin is at Darlington. In 17 starts at the track in the Cup series alone, he has completed 99.8% of all laps run. Further, in those 17 races, Hamlin has led laps in (ironically) 11 of those races, and 519 laps total. To put that in perspective the Southern 500 is 367 laps.
On the weekend of September 6th 2020, JGR crew members packed up their "1973 Fedex" car with high hopes for claiming a Nascar crown jewel. Denny has won the coveted title of Darlington winner twice in the Cup series, once in 2010, and a second time in 2017. While Denny made a good showing in the 2020 Southern 500 leading 19 laps, he would finish 13th. After staring 2nd. The winner would eventually be Kevin Harvick. To commemorate that race and livery, Lionel has made sure to include a copy of this car in 1/64 scale, Wave 8. This version is available to fans and collectors much earlier than the trackside (specially boxed and more detailed) version which is still on pre-order.
Paint and Printing: (0 Points/3)
In this scale, and in this 'Authentics' line, cars without a lot of detail typically don't turn out great. While that may seem a bit critical, I must set the tone, because to be completely honest, this is a miss for Lionel in the category of paint and printing. Plain schemes with big broad blank spaces really reveal the fact that this is not Lionel's premier line in this scale and that's the end of it. There are many simple schemes that work out well on the race track. Race cars typically get simplified at Darlington and in this case, while the on track version of this car looked outstanding, it just hasn't translated well to 1/64 scale. Lionel could have done themselves some favors though, and a lot of it has to do with paint and printing. To begin with, the first major mistake, is that in this race, Hamlin's spoiler was clearly purple, but Lionel have given us a plain white one.
The next issue is the rear decal work. Anyone who collects in this scale knows that Lionel tends to get the decals crooked once in a while. At such a low price point of roughly $5 a piece, it's really not a big deal. But when the bumper or the grill is crooked, it takes away from the car, and in this case it costs our subject a point. (-1)
To give credit where it is due, there are other things that are really cool. For example, for $4.99, I can get a Hamlin car with the correct amount of win flag stickers. It's just too bad that the copy I grabbed has the flaws that it does.
Another miss for me is the big white paint chip next to the Fedex logo on the drivers side door. Cars with a white base coat also suffer from ugly and chunky looking wheel wells. That, paired with the missing exhaust port takes another point from what should be a really cool car. (-1)
There are other flaws too. The headlights decals aren't long enough, there's chipped pain on the front splitter, and I don't get why we can't have the window decals in the line like we used too. (-1) Final score (0/3).
The car is most sophisticated in the front section and grill area. The same world-class engineering that went into the design of the Camry is quite nicely portrayed in this 1/64 scale clone. The bodywork is properly formed through the doors and side panels. The body skirts are well shaped and the windows, while appropriately sized, do lack sharpness. The windscreen on all Lionel 1/64 Camrys are also missing the reinforcement bars. Not accurate, but not worth deducting a point.
One of the areas that I always look at when judging the casting is the spoiler. Lionel adjusted the spoiler for the 2020 rules package appropriately. (Nascar went back to a shorter spoiler in 2020 for 9 of the 24 layouts).* Unfortunately, Darlington wasn't one of those tracks. So this car isn't really as close to accurate as Lionel could have made it, but who could fault them for not wanting to mass produce Camry's in 1/64 scale on multiple castings for cars that ran once? Of course it would be a nice touch to respect the track's rule package for this specific car, but its forgivable.
A few other notes on the model; The space in the skirt for the jack post is a bit rough. The window nets are gray, which is annoying, but understandable. One other positive is the unique Goodyear tires used on this car. Nascar typically uses these white label tires for the throw back events and Lionel has included them, dodgy as they are. Overall the bast part of this car is the mould. Final score (3/3).
Historical Significance and Cool Factor: (2 Points/3)
Nascar has created a whole new buzz with the annual 'wait-and-see' for the Southern 500 schemes to be announced. Many fans will either love or hate the selections. Fans of Denny Hamlin have always had a scheme to look forward too as the 11 car has always participated not like some other JGR teams. The 2020 offering got mixed reviews. In my opinion other throw backs, like the 2016, Darrell Waltrip "80's" livery or the 2017, Ray Hendrick 'Flying 11' were far stronger schemes. But those who are also a fan of the Fedex brand will strongly identify with the 1973 Fedex look.
While any Darlington scheme gets points for originality and historical significance, the longer the tradition of throwback liveries goes on, the less of an effect the one-off schemes have. As a result, on track performance and historical richness are of paramount importance.
Denny is a superstar when it comes to Darlington, but his 2020 effort really wasn't remarkable at all. He led early but would fade back out of the top ten for a thirteenth place finish after struggling without clean air. Therefore, while one-and-done schemes are significant, this one in my opinion tends to be forgettable. It also lacks a certain pizzaz and doesn't touch upon much in racing history.
Conclusion and Recommendation: (0 Point/1)
Written by Eric John & Edited by Kevin John 4/19/21.
Here, I will investigate 1/64 scale diecast race cars and the on track impact of each car.