Steve Okeefe Marvelous Replica

July 10th, 2008 · 3 Comments

An incredible re-creation of the most important slot car in pro-racing history.

Steve Okeefe was so enthralled by the recent publication of pictures of Gene Husting’s historically-first pro-racing angle-winder chassis that amazingly, survived for 37 years, that he decided to build a perfect replica for use as a display piece in our museum. When I received the package and opened it, I was so amazed that I immediately called Gene Husting, asking him to come over and bring with him the original “Old Number One”. If I was amazed, he was flabbergasted.

Have a look at these pictures and you tell me if this is not one of the nicest jobs of replicating a chassis without even having seen the real thing you have ever seen:



Is this an amazing piece of work or not?

Steve, I think that you deserve an entry into the slot car racing Hall of Fame, just for this accomplishment.

Now I have to do all the hard work: install the guide, fabricate the glue shield from a piece of sheet brass and finish the motor. Then mount the old Bruce Paschal Lola GT body since I prepped a correct Lancer McLaren MK6 that was originally on Old Number One. So the new car will have a little of the old, and the old car a little of the new.

Steve’s magnificent replica car is now on display at the LASCM, with a sign describing what it is, who made it and under which circumstances.

Steve, you left me the very easy work!

A letter from Gene Husting:

Hello Steve: Your new angle-winder is simply beautiful! You’re over qualified to be compared to the great chassis makers before you, the Steube, Cukras, Henline, etc., etc. of the world. As I told you before, my thoughts were always more about how to make the car go faster, than trying to win Concours.

Since we talked, I’ve been thinking back to that time period. When I first ran the car, everyone said that the reason I won, was because I had such a fast motor. But I kept telling them, that it was the car, not the motor. I was running the same winds as Bill Steube used on his motors. Nothing new here. So, I reasoned it was always the car.

But, in thinking back, it must have been a combination of car and motor. When I was racing the slot car dragsters, I would never have dreamt of mounting the motor in the chassis, with the end bell end. Why would I want to introduce all those bad harmonics into the brush-commutator system, from the gears?

So, when I built the first angle-winder, I automatically put the gear drive on the can end. It just made sense to me to do it that way.

In thinking it through, after talking to you, I’ve come to realize that it had to be the combination of the angle-winder chassis AND can mounted motor.

The first night I ran the car, I beat the best of the best, at Gallagher’s, J&J’s track in Long Beach, CA. This would be the Steube brothers, Cukras, Anderson, Henline etc., etc.

We all new it wasn’t because I was suddenly a better driver. It was because of this new car. They said it could not be the car, it had to be that I built a fast motor. And the more that I told them it was the car, the more they knew it was the motor.

I had built a second car for a friend of mine, Bruce Paschal, which I brought to the track the next week. John Cukras saw it in my box, and asked if he could race it that night. I told John it was geared for a longer track, but he said that was OK. So, I broke Terry Schmid’s track record of 6.84, with a 6.73!!! Totally an impossible thing for me to do. But, I did it. Cukras then tied my track record, with his over-geared car. I won the race by 3 1/2 laps!!! Unbelievable!!! It was like you’re living an unbelievable dream.

After the race John Anderson, asked me if he could drive the car next week. I told John this car was going to Bruce, but that I would build another one for him to race. In just 4 days was the biggest Model Car Science (magazine)/USRA race. I didn’t race in these because I was the originator of these races, and I wrote up the articles for these races.
Nevertheless, all the fastest drivers had built their own versions of an angle-winder car for this race. Mike Steube won, with Terry Schmid 2nd, and John Cukras 3rd, all with angle-winders. After this race everybody was racing angle-winders.

NOW COMES THE INTERESTING PART !!!

The week after this race, we’re back at J&J’s. Against the best of the best again, John Anderson won the next 12 weeks in a row !!!!! I managed to finish in 2nd place, 11 of those weeks!!

Got banged off the track once.

When you think about it for awhile, it must have been a combination of the motor and chassis. In that 12 week period, all these different drivers used every motor combination known to mankind, but Anderson’s and my motors appeared to be much faster.

You can only come to one conclusion. I was right in the beginning, thinking that mounting the motor to the chassis with the end bell, hurt the performance of the motor.
The oddball part of all this, is that no one else even tried it.

They simply made it too easy for John and I.

I quit racing slot cars at this time, and went into RC car racing.

I hope you found this interesting.

Gene Husting

To add to the story, here are the 3 sizes of Riggen front wheels:

The “Mini” on the left is the one used on the Husting angle-winder and is 3/4″ in diameter. It is either threaded 5-40 or smooth bore 1/8″.

The next is the typical ‘”late-sixties” front, with a fat ribbed O-ring. Diameter is 1″. This is the type used on the Cukras inline chassis discussed here.

Last is the earliest type, 1-1/16″ in diameter, used on the Cannon “Vendetta”.

Tags: Vintage Slot Cars

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Duncan Campbell // Jul 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Hi!
    Great website!
    Hoping you can help me here… I am wondering if a model was ever made of the Felday 4 car, i see red body shells available and eventually i bought a blue body shell and parts to build a car… but the bottom 1/2 seems to be missing… is it possible to get a bottom half thats universal and would hold the parts in place.. like a donor bit? Or do i need to search for the correct blue plastic bottom 1/2.. I can send photos of the bits that i have.. they seem to be all here bar Headlamp lenses x 2 and side screws. Air Pipe, No Headlamps x 4.
    Many thanks if you can help me:)
    Regards,
    Duncan

  • 2 Brenda // Jul 15, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I just don’t understand why small things like these cars are so expensive. Some owners even consider these things as investments.

  • 3 Museum33 // Jun 26, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Brenda, seen the prices of old Ferraris lately?

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