The pretty, very pretty and oh-so-ugly
The selection of 1/43 Arena IMSA and SCCA models is quite eclectic. You can find open and closed Corvettes, a selection of Chevrolet Monzas, NART Ferrari Daytonas and pretty Alfa Romeo GTAs. All of the kits are pretty basic, with no opening features or super-detailing. What you do get are some pretty unique models that would be hard or near-impossible to find anywhere else.
Fun fact: Arena is based in Italy. While they make plenty of rally cars from Italian car companies and others, they must have particular love for the cars that raced in America.
Corvettes and more Corvettes
You are in the right place if you are a fan of the wild Corvettes built and run by John Greenwood. The offer many great variations of the powerful V8 race cars that plied the tracks of America pleasing fans with their thunderous roar. Most of the Vettes that Arena offers are based on the C3 model.
The greatest proponent of the racing Corvette would have to be John Greenwood. Most racing fans will be familiar with the Spirit of Sebring and LeMans cars he raced in 1976. But the open Spirit of 76 car at left is more rare.
This car was built to be raced in the SCCA Road Atlanta Run Offs in 1978.
The next car ran in the SCCA sanctioned Watkins Glen 6-Hour race in 1977 as part of the Trans-Am series. I saw this car in that race. It was the wildest but most subtle car to date from Greenwood, who drove the car along with Dick Smothers. The focus of this race car was aerodynamic, with its extended front end for better air penetration and large rear wing for downforce. Radiators were moved to the sides and large NACA ducts appeared to cool the rads. It was built to counter the Porsche 934 and 935 race cars of the day. It worked pretty well but the Porsches were just beginning to dominate the American racing scene.
Wild but ugly Corvettes
This blue and silver Trans-Am example leads the ugly contingent. It would seem to quite similar to a Greenwood car but features a very different, exaggerated nose. The color is pleasing but the looks are heavy and miss the mark. It was raced by RJ Valentine.
Much uglier and seemingly built as a snowplow is this car run by Greg Pickett. Obviously downforce was the aim but it was not particularly successful. A similar car was not built for anyone else to my knowledge.
Pickett featured strongly in the SCCA Trans-Am series and Arena seems to favor his cars.
Greg Pickett was a fixture in American IMSA and SCCA racing for many years. He raced in a variety of classes but he particularly loved the Trans-Am because of the rumbling Chevy V8s. Two more cars are featured here that have Pickett’s ubiquitous multi-colored stripes.
At some point Chevrolet wanted to race their new Chevy Monza in 1977 competition. Pickett went with the flow and purchased a Dekon-built car and painted it to match the Corvette at right. The Monza was quick but he did not give up his Corvette readily.
The 1978 Corvette Trans-Am car was clearly another Greenwood creation. It ran in Class 2 and was raced out of the shops of engine builder George Foltz. It was quick in a straight line but could not match the Porsche race cars of the day in the turns.
More Monzas were raced by Tom Frank. His pretty green and white car is shown at the top of the page. It also raced in Trans-Am competition in 1977 as did the sky blue Monza of John Paul Jr.
The Monza was just one of many blue cars that Paul Jr. raced in the era. Another was the Greenwood Vette seen above next to the multi-headlight former John Paul Jr. car of Tico Almeida. Paul Jr. also raced Porsches and a Lola GTP car as well. Of course the John Paul family was involved in the illegal drug business which explained the frequent purchasing of race cars in order to shed money quickly. That would later end with a prison sentence for both Junior and his father. (Read more about Crime and Lap Times here.)
Pretty under two-liter Alfas
Arena makes a bunch of Trans-Am Alfa Romeo GTAs. None are prettier that the slew of AUSCA cars driven by Horst Kwech amongst others. They are similar in decoration with detail paint differences. Kwech was a driver for many of the Alfas that feature in Arena’s selection of models.
I vividly remember the orange Wetson’s sponsored car. Herb Wetson was actively involved with the car as Wetson was an avid car racer and collector. His claim to fame was that Wetson’s Hamburger stands were the forerunner of all of the McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger Kings that litter America and most of the world. He used racing to popularize his drive-through restaurants. Horst Kwech drove this car at Mid-Ohio in 1971 in the Trans-Am under 2-liter class.
Arena brings some unique versions of the Ferrari Daytona run in competition by the North American Race Team (NART) owned by Ferrari importer, dealer and former driver Luigi Chinetti.
I really like this very different version of the car that was modified at Chinetti’s race shop. It almost resembles a Datsun 240Z with its smoothed front end and sculptured rear spoiler. It ran in the Daytona 24 Hours in 1981 and was one of the last appearances for the Daytona at Daytona. The car did not finish due to a fire.
There’s plenty more Arena race car models to discover
You can see all the Arena IMSA and SCCA models as well as rally and transporter models at their website.
You can purchase Arena IMSA and SCCA models and more from the kings of 1/43 model car kits at Grand Prix Models.
Find more race car model choices right here.
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