Thorsport Racing and Johnny Sauter teamed up with Tenda Equine and Pet Care Products for just two races in 2020. This was a significant fall off for Tenda as they supported Sauter the entire 2019 season. Tends however would shift its support to Thorsport teammate Ben Rhodes for the remainder of the season as Vivitar, an affordable commodities and electronics store would pick up the other 21 races for Johnny Sauter. Because of this shift in sponsorship, and Thorsport's 25th year in racing, the Tenda scheme presented would actually only ever race a single time, at Daytona for the NextEra Energy 250. Sauter would go to qualify the truck in the 5th position, and would wind up 7th.
Paint and Printing (1 Point/3)
The first phase of grading the paintwork of the model really begins before the race car is removed from the blister pack. The first impression of the truck is outstanding for several reasons. It's not often in Nascar that we see the color pallet teal. This Tenda F-150 offers it in two different shades and this paired with the celebratory silver combines into a very fetching model.
The primary coat of paint on the model is the silver metal flake top coat. Lionel did a great job getting this right and by taking a look at the underside of the model, you can see that the whole body of the car was covered. As a result of this base coat, all other details are printed/stickered on to the truck. This means that the tailgate cover, the teal along the side panels, the numbers, the grill, lights and gas cap are all applied over the base coat. The race truck as a rule, has many flat surfaces as opposed to the cup cars that have more contours and curves. This allows for what should be an easier appliqué, so I'm less forgiving when there are errors. Fortunately, there are few to be found here that are cringeworthy, but there are some.
It doesn't take a level to immediately see that the grill is crooked. This is probably the most common error in the 1/64 scale that creates the greatest frustration for collectors. When the grill is cooked it upsets the entire look of the vehicle. You can also see in the photo on the right, that with a light color for a base coat, anywhere where you don't get the decals or secondary print work right, that color will show up loudly as is the case with the left rear fender over the left rear wheel. For this, -1 point.
It shouldn't be too hard to make sure that if you're going to mould an exhaust port into the model, that your effort is wasted by bad printing. The lack of black paint on the exhaust port is not pleasant and another miss for me. Other areas though, aren't bad at all. The deck lid of the truck showing a tender product looks great and the striding stallion on the side panels are a true nod the designer however and these are examples of the precision that can be accomplished in 1/64 scale.
There is one very frustrating detail that is worst of all, even though most folks probably see it as minor or a non-issue. There is a really unique "Curb Records" label on both door posts and on the model it is black. If the person sending the model off to production looked closely, that is supposed to be white. It's just a matter of the graphic designer paying attention, and they clearly weren't.
The frustrating thing is that if you're going to take the time to do certain things like sculpt a component into your mould, and pay a graphic designer, make sure you're getting your money out of it. These are overall small issues and probably lost on most collectors, and certainly the many children that play with these replicas but for these reasons, the truck loses 2 points in this category. Do I need to mention the lack of windshield banners? Final score 1/3.
Mould and Assembly: (2 Points/3)
I really wish that Lionel would take a look at the way the portal the rear cab support bars. I understand that there are clear pannels that are located in this areas on the 1/1 version, but including some plastic bars or simply applying paint or stickers in this section would really help properly replicate the actual look of the vehicle.
The second issue I have is to me the most cringeworthy. The trucks, as a result of their frame a have a larger window frame than the cup cars. As a result, the window net needs to be bigger. Now, does that mean we have to go and have a monstrosity like this in order to take up the space? This is a bad effort by Lionel, no two ways about it and this is the single worst part of the whole model. It begs for improvement. Gladly with some acrylic paint, you can calm down the effect with one coat, -1 point.
Gladly, the truck has arrived in good working order, so it won't be shedding any more points in this section. There are some clear opportunities for improvement however and while I don't expect Lionel to change or improve this, it would be great if they did! Final score, 2/3.
Historical Significance and Cool Factor: (3 Points/3)
I am typically not one for commemorative schemes. Largely, if I can't figure out what they are for by looking at them, then what's the point. In this case however, I am a huge fan. The effect is multiplied when this truck is placed next to stable mate truck #88. The silver paint effortlessly grabs your attention but in a subtle way. It takes nothing away from the companies that sponsor the teams, but it also celebrates what is an incredible accomplishment. The Thomson's have been a quintessential aspect of the NCWTS over the past 25 years. I couldn't even begin to cover their accomplishments in this short review but I bet you to take a look at a team often lost in the shadow of the Cup series.
To review a previous point, this is a one-off scheme. It was designed for a single occasion in kicking off the 25th season for ThorSport Racing and as a result fits into the 'greatly historical' category. Johnny Sauter was able to bring this truck home to a 7th place finish under the direction of crew chief Joe Shear Jr. The truck didn't lead any laps that night but it ran all of them which is saying something at Daytona. One other detail of note, following the 2020 season ThorSport Racing would switch manufacturer support from Ford to Toyota. Final score, 3/3.
Conclusion and Recommendation: (1 Point/1)
Here, I will investigate 1/64 scale diecast race cars and the on track impact of each car.