John Cukras Most Famous Car

July 10th, 2008 · 2 Comments

American slot car racing legend John Cukras (pronounce “Soo-Krees”) did much to glorify pro-racing when this car won the first Car Model magazine series race in 1967. A story in Rod Custom, illustrated by the famous Tom Daniel who designed many of the Monogram plastic kits, opened the eyes of thousands of young Americans on slot car racing. A subsequent story by celebrated writer, the late Leon Mandel, made John Cukras’s name a household commodity at the time.

Race report with a young John Cukras flanked by his Riggen team mate, Bryan Warmack:

custom slot car by John Cukras

This is the actual car:

custom slot car by John Cukras

And the really nice drawing by Tom Daniel:
user posted image

Amazingly for a car that had serious racing use, it survived! Found in the stockpile of the late Ron Granlee, the actual car that won the 5th Car Model Series race in late 1966. The mysterious coupe body has long disappeared so we are now fitting the closest thing we could find, the Testor Ferrari P4 Spyder replica, but set as a coupe. Interestingly, we restored a similar car for John Cukras just a few years back, but it was not the actual race car. This one was found to be in the ownership of the late Ron Granlee, owner of the famous “Speed & Sport” raceway in Lynwood, California. It is now in the Marconi Museum for Kids in Tustin, CA.

Here are the pics I took of the real thing. Unfortunately, the mysterious coupe body carved by Jack Garcia has long disappeared so we are now fitting the closest thing we could find, the Testor Ferrari P4 Spyder replica, but set as a coupe.

Former Riggen team captain Bryan Warmack inspecting the old team car in his shop. Notice renewed fire in eyes.

Note; Tom Daniel’s drawing fails to show details that are present on the real car: 1/ 4 jam nuts behind wheels. 2/ 1/16″ rear axle spacers, 3/16″ front axle spacers.

Also I tried to fit 5/8″ rears with no spacers or nuts, and it comes too wide at 3-1/16′, so I can absolutely say that this car had the 1/2″ rears at all times.

Note that the Mura motor modified by Frank Taber is now fitted with a CW arm, so the Weldun crown gear changed side. Otherwise the car is exactly as it left the stage after John won the Car Model thing.

The body will be painted to match the original but we have plans for actually making a new pattern for the vanished coupe, which John told me was carved by Jack Garcia. Apparently it was never marketed because I have never seen one even in bad shape in the past 35 years…

Completing the Cukras 1967 Car Model Race Winner

This car is the one used by famous racer John Cukras to win the big Car Model magazine race in Los Angeles in 1967. I had begun the restoration of this car a long time ago, but never completed it in hope that I would find the correct body for it. Unfortunately, it looks more and more that this will never happen as not a single example of the special model carved by Jack Garcia and used by several pro racer in 1966 appears to have survived. So I used the closest thing to that, a Pactra Ferrari P4 Spyder molding made into a coupe. The basic body was trimmed and mounted, then sent to Jairus Watson for a delicate coat of dark red and a couple of details. I scanned and created the decals on Photoshop and applied them to the relevant spaces, found and painted a correct interior, fashioned the front spoiler and finsihed the car. It took forever to get all the decals made but I think the car looks pretty good considering. What do you think?

The original chassis, complete with motor, was donated a long time ago by the late Ron Granlee. I also previously restored a similar car for John Cukras himself.

The paper sticker on the front spoiler had to be recreated from scratch.

So was the small oval stickers over the engine cover.

The chassis had already been restored and needed no attention. One more in the Museum’s vault. Next!

Tags: Vintage Slot Cars

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dave Howard // May 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Good job Brian—-

    Dave Howard

    Team CheckPoint 66-69

  • 2 paul frazier // Dec 1, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Even though I wasn’t know I remember theses races I followed these events and restoring my own models of time long gone. It excites me every time I read of this time in great slot car history keep restoring the history.

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