Fireball Roberts' 1956 Ford Convertible

Wind in your hair!!

For about seven years, from 1955 to about 1961, NASCAR had a convertible division. This series ran in parallel with the regular series, and had its own Champion through most of those years. One of the more famous names that tried his hand in this division, as well as in the regular series, was Glenn "Fireball" Roberts. Roberts came out of Florida onto the NASCAR scene in 1950, winning the third race he ever entered.

Although he never won the championship, his flamboyant style, and promotional acumen helped set NASCAR down the path to the high profile sport it is today. In 1956, the year ths model represents, he started 33 races, winning five, and finishing seventh in the Points race.

Fireball's Ride!!! Fireball continued racing into the early Sixties, and saw his career rejuvenated in the potent Pontiacs of 1961-1962. Fireball was unfortunately severely burned in a wreck involving Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson, in the 1964 World 600. After 40 days, he finally succumbed to complications from the burns. 1964 was not a good year for NASCAR, as Billy Wade and Joe Weatherly also died that year.

The model pictured here was constructed from AMT's excellent Ford Victoria hardtop kit. As was the practice in the real world back in the '50's, the model is basically stock. I removed the roof, and the back of the front passenger seat, took out the rear seat, and added a rollcage. The cage bars were made from 3mm soldering wire, which is easy to work with, and very realistic, painted or left bare.

Decals came from Fred Cady, and the paint is white automotive aerosol touch-up lacquer. The tonneau cover was made by taking a piece of nylon pantyhose, cut to the proper dimensions, and coating it liberally with white glue. After it was dried in place, to conform to the body dimensions,it was removed, sprayed with Testor's@ flat black enamel, and permanently installed.

A neat finishing touch was the construction of the bungee cords used to help hold down the trunk and hood in the heat of battle. They were made from stretchable craft string, and fine wire. The wire was wrapped around the ends, with enough excess to bend into hooks. Scale eyebolts, from a model shipbuilder supplier, were glued into holes drilled into the bumpers. The cord was painted flat black.

By 1961, the convertible class was struggling - many of the cars were dual purpose "zippertop" cars, whose roofs could be removed or reinstalled, depending on the event. This, plus the fact that speeds were getting too high for the convertibles to be safe, or driveable at speed, spelled the end of the division. Charlotte ran a couple "outlaw" events in 1962, and that was it. Interestingly, Charlotte's Humpy Wheeler, showman extraordinaire toyed with a convertible for a new series in 1997, having one built by BACE motorsports. Nothing has come of it...

To Home Page To Models Index Page To Top of Page