Model: 1971 Dodge Challenger Indianapolis 500 Pace Car
Line: 1999 Johnny Lightning Official Pace Cars
Why it’s in my collection: My family and I are life-long Indy fans, so how could I turn down such an awesome looking 1/64th scale pace car — especially when I found it hanging on the pegs in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Store way back in the early 2000s.
The 1/1 scale ’71 Challenger has always been a favorite pace car of mine (along with about a dozen more, ha) and Johnny Lightning did a decent job of replicating it. Johnny Lightning wasn’t exactly known for accurate dimensions in the 90’s, but the Challenger didn’t fare badly. It has a low stance, which again wasn’t true of many of their other muscle car castings, and is very nose-heavy. Modern day Challengers get hate for being heavy cars, but the JL ’71 is literally so heavy that it puts stress on the front axles, bowing them while in the “wheels down” position. It does have one hell of a hot rod stance though.
The car has good all-around detail and the door and rear quarter text is impressive – especially for being 20 years old. The front fender Challenger emblem is a bit large, but given the cursive font, a smaller tampo probably just would have looked like a smudge.
The front and rear both have grille and light detailing, which I appreciate but expect on an upscale model like this. The front detailing is good but not anything special — the rearend is where the car really shines. The tail-lights are excellent and the Challenger tampo in between them is a nice touch.
While the real ’71 Indy Pace Car had a wild time at the race ( the driver lost control of the car on the first lap and ran it into the photographer’s stand, injuring 29 people), the Johnny Lightning version has earned its spot in the Winner’s Circle at the 64wheels household. 🏁