Building the Brickyard Helio Castroneves Pennzoil Dallara in 1/43
The last Pennzoil 500 for Helio
I would like to think that I gave Helio Castroneves good luck during the 2021 Indy 500 because I was finishing the build of the Brickyard Helio Castroneves Pennzoil Dallara during the 500. It was done well before the last lap.
Of course, the rest is history and Helio won his 4th Indy 500 for Meyer/Shank/Honda Racing. He joins a very exclusive group of four, joining AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr.
The model is a true one-off
This 1/43 scale model does not exist in nature. The Pennzoil car you see here was the last ride for Helio in the Indy 500 for Roger Penske. After the Silent 500 of 2020, Helio finished the year racing an Acura DPi for Penske in IMSA and then left the team. The model is based on the Brickyard 2020 Takuma Sato Indy winner kit, reviewed here previously. It’s a wonderful kit created with extreme precision and accuracy.
Well before the 2021 500, I decided to create this version even though specific decals for this version do not exist. I utilized 3 different decal sheets from Indycals: the 2018 and 2019 Pennzoil 1/43 decals, as well as the 2019 Pennzoil 1/64 decal sheet. A few decals had to be created: Penske Truck Rentals on the rear fin, Snap-On in front of the PPG decal and the Castroneves decal directly over the front of the aeroscreen. These were created in Adobe Illustrator and then output to an inkjet printer onto a Testors clear decal sheet.
About the build
Let me say this in advance: the base kit is sold-out worldwide. This is the third Indy 500 kit from Brickyard. The first kit celebrated Sato’s first Indy win for RHR with the ugly Honda body kit and another version celebrated Fernando Alonso’s wonderful but star-crossed run in the McLaren orange Dallara. Those are long gone too.
The kit I used is a tour-de-force of kit creation. I have never experienced a 1/43rd kit that has such precise and really tight tolerances. All of the parts fit like they were designed to do so while I’m guessing it was created in CAD and then possibly output on 3D printers.
The body is resin and everything else is high-quality white metal or from the small stainless steel photoetched sheet. I had to scrape off some paint in various unseen areas to get the assemblies to work! That’s how precise the kit is. Note that the rear gearbox/suspension/wing/wheels/tires assembly is press-fit into the body. I couldn’t even remove it after the test-fit of the assembly and it ain’t coming out either…..
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The suspension is so strong that it cannot be bent. Really. The wheel hubs and disc brakes are integral and are dead-ringers for the real thing. Brake calipers are integral as well.
The wheels are a joy. Those and the suspension merely needed polishing with a Dremel and a wire wheel to create very shiny chrome. Etched pieces form the outer aero forms on the wheels and supplied chrome wire forms the rear driveshafts.
Rubber tires are all pre-printed correctly on both inside and outside faces. The correct white “F” resides on the left tires and the correct red “F” is right there on the right side tires.
Details are extraordinary!
The steering wheel has correct small and large nubs to simulate the various dials and buttons on modern Indy steering wheels. An incredibly small and detailed electronic dash decal is provided on the Sato decal sheet. That decal sheet is amazingly beautiful in print quality and no detail or writing is imperfect, no matter how tiny.
The rear wing supports have all kinds of detail that you have to look hard to see while the seat belts are stainless masterpieces and fit into notches at the top rear of the seat.
One downside of a sort: the aeroscreen took about 3 hours to carve and fit. As replacement parts are absolutely not happening, supreme care was needed while using many super-sharp X-Acto blades to trim tiny plastic hairs at a time off the super-clear molded screen and then test-fitted. Repeat that process many, many times over.
The suspension went together perfectly and needed no adjustment to the ride height. That in itself is a minor miracle.
The bottom floorpan is a separate unit attached by four of the smallest Phillips screws you will ever encounter and the white-metal pan fit perfectly flat with no visible gaps anywhere.
Decaling the beast
As the front decals had to be rearranged from the 1/43 2019 decal sheet, the sponsors and number were cut out of the front u-shaped stripes. The side stripes that ran across the lower cockpit had to be cut apart, spliced and rearranged to appear correctly. The stripes on the side tops were curved on the decal sheet; they were cut into 4 smaller bits and put back together to appear as straight as they could.
A combination of 1/43 and 1/64 decals were used throughout from the 2019 sheets. The 1/43 2018 sheet provided the #3s for the roll hoop and were just a hair big but there were no alternatives….
I’m pretty happy about how the 2020 Brickyard Helio Castroneves Pennzoil Dallara turned out. It’s truly a one-off model.
By the way: there will be many other 1/43 Brickyard aeroscreen Dallaras built as well because I have a bunch more kits.
Eat your heart out.
More model stuff right here.