As the sport of NASCAR began to expand from a regional powerhouse to national phenomenon in the 1980s, so too did its merchandising. Ertl was among the first companies to produce diecast models of Winston Cup cars, starting with “The King” Richard Petty, adding iconic entries from Junior Johnson and DiGard Racing, and later incorporating rides from teams like Morgan-McClure Motorsports and the Wood Brothers. (Not all of these issues, by the way, were on the right cars—the first Petty vehicle was produced as a Chevrolet Caprice, which he never raced!)
But Ertl itself wasn’t the only company selling NASCAR diecast with Ertl models. Around this time, a small company from Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania named Stock Car Miniatures was issuing blank versions of Ertl’s NASCAR Chevrolets and Pontiacs (as well as Matchbox’s Ford Thunderbirds) with a set of decals to produce a much larger selection of cars than the ones found in stores.
By doing deals directly with the race teams, SCM was able to produce cars that would never have made it to retail. For example, when Racing Champions would produce cars for store shelves a number of years later, few if any would ever feature any tobacco or alcohol logos; Harry Gant’s Skoal Bandit Chevrolet and Mark Martin’s Stroh Light Ford, however, were no problem to acquire with accurate markings via SCM. (That said, Bill Elliott’s cars were produced without Coors markings per request of Bill’s agent, Steve Jones.)
It wasn’t uncommon to find some of the top cars in the series on the Ertl castings, before SCM moved almost exclusively to its own models. From 1987 Daytona 500 winner Darrell Waltrip, to both Wrangler and GM Goodwrench versions of Dale Earnhardt’s Cup car, to Rusty Wallace’s Kodiak Pontiac, they all made it to market. SCM has produced the only model I’ve ever seen of Benny Parsons’ Folgers ride for Hendrick Motorsports, as he filled in for Tim Richmond in 1987. Even Michael Waltrip’s All Pro Auto Parts car and Rick Mast’s Banquet Foods ride for Hal Needham made it onto the pre-produced blanks.
While I don’t have a complete list of everything that was ever made, there remain two “holy grail” SCMs that I haven’t managed to track down yet. The first is Earnhardt’s Busch Series ride, the #8 Goodwrench car that he drove for his own team throughout the 1980s. The second is Richard Petty’s 1986 one-off ride with D.K. Ulrich for the World 600, which he raced after a practice crash in his own car. Petty himself asked the company to make that car, which proved to be the last time he raced anything other than a #43 Pontiac in Cup competition.
I tend to prefer SCM’s own blanks to the Ertl and Matchbox models, especially when they’re assembled well—in fact, I’ve just acquired a number of them that were beautifully clear-coated after the decals were applied. And I admit fully that this may be partially because my SCM castings tend to be in much better condition than most of the Ertl ones I’ve acquired. But the other brands’ blanks are one of the most important parts of SCM’s history, and make for a fun comparison with its later output.