Written By James Allan
Here's The History Of Nascar Diecasts
Nascar racing diecasts were not produced until 1989 on a massive scale. Before 1989 a few nascar diecasts were produced by Hot Wheels with only the car sponsor graphics and no driver names. Some promotional nascar diecasts were produced here and there but few and far between. Dale Earnhardt had a promo Nascar diecast produced but good luck finding it.
Fred Wagenhals formed "Action Products" in 1986 and sold Radio Controlled Models and Go Carts through Action Products. After Wagenhals success in selling Dale Earnhardt Nascar diecast replicas through the Racing Collectibles Club Of America and Racing Champions Wagenhals shut down "Action Products" and created "Action Racing Collectibles" in 1992. Action Racing Collectibles was formed after Action Products failed and Action Racing Collectibles got started off with a bang.
These Nascar Diecasts Were Produced & Distributed In 1983 by Hot Wheels As Stockers. Most were played with and are in pretty rough shape if they survived.
The Racing Collectibles Club Of America, a fan based pay to join club was the first company based in Georgia to sell Nascar collectibles but not diecast reproductions until a man named Fred Wagenhals purchased the rights to sell Dale Earnhardt's name on a diecast toy car for $300,000. These cars were marketed first through this Georgia based company not owned by Fred Wagenhals until later down the road when Fred Wagenhals approached "The Racing Collectibles Club Of America" with the Dale Earnhardt license. Fred Wagenhals then hooked up with different partners outside of the "Racing Collectibles Club Of America" in 1989 whom are Bob Dods, Boyd Meyer and Peter Chung and created the brand, "Racing Champions". Fred Wagenhals Racing Champions partners were associated with "ERTL". The Action Racing Collectables formed in 1992 as a spin off of "The Racing Collectibles Club Of America" and sold millions of past Nascar diecast replicas modeled after Nascar race cars from the 1960's era and present day. Racing Champions produced some top Nascar driver cars without the sponsorship logos starting in 1989. The driver names were added to the products but only the driver names and car numbers. The rights to reproduce some driver names were purchased for the top name drivers back then but not the rights to reproduce the sponsors. Early Nascar diecasts without the sponsor branding on the Nascar diecasts are the first Nascar racing diecasts to be released by Racing Champions. These cars were a hit so the next year the sponsor branding started to be added.
The 1989 and 1990's Racing Champions Packaging Is Identical
except for the name on top of the trading card and the bubble stand
Action Racing Collectibles after startup, started buying up rival Nascar Diecast companies until they owned just about the whole Nascar product market after 1995. Fred Wagonhals already had exclusive marketing rights to the Dale Earnhardt name and in 1995 he acquired the exclusive rights to Jeff Gordon's name and the game was over for other diecast companies. Fred Wagonhals even stopped letting Racing Champions, a company he was invested in produce Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon replicas. Other diecast racing companies without the Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon names were doomed to failure. Fred Wagonhals "Action Racing Collectibles" completely controlled the Nascar diecast replica market. Now Action Racing Collectibles along with all the companies Action brought up for pennies belong to Lionel Trains. Fred Wagonhals no longer has any management roll in Action Racing Collectibles.
"Winners Circle" formed in 1996 with the help of Action Racing Collectibles as an investor and was majority owned by Hasbro. Winners circle only sold products on cardboard through retailers like Walmart, Target, etc..... Winners Circle eventually sold out by Hasbro to Action Racing Collectibles completely. In 2001 the "Action Racing Collectibles logo started appearing on Winner Circle products. In 2010 the Winners Circle brand was discontinued. In 2012 the Winners Circle brand was renamed "Nascar Authentics" and started to be produced again.
Revell Nascar diecasts also started to appear in 1994 but the Nascar division of Revell was bought up by Action Racing Collectibles a couple of years after startup and Revell Nascar were as far as I know only produced in 1994 thru 1997. Some limited edition Revell started appearing in 1997 and beyond. Any Revell with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt after 1997 would be owned by Action Racing Collectibles. Hot wheels got into the game in 1996 when they signed Kyle Petty to host their Hot Wheels paint scheme in an advance promotion to kick off their Nascar diecast product line. It worked. Everyone was excited about the new Hot Wheels sponsored car even though Kyle Petty was not a hot driver and was only well known because of the Petty name. In 1997 the first Hot Wheels Nascar diecasts started to appear with Kyle Petty being the primary diecast racing car to be released. By this time Action Racing Collectibles had most of the top drivers locked down so Hot Wheels could only reproduce the leftover common drivers.
ETRL owned half of the Racing Champions company started up in 1989 and most likely did a good part or all of the Racing Champions manufacturing. ERTL did produce its own Nascar stock car replicas but the production wasn't as massive as the Racing Champions line. ERTL as far a I can tell is the only company to produce the larger 1/18 scale diecasts. ETRL mostly produced common Nascar drivers after 1995 because Fred Wagonhals pulled the rights to manufacture the Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon name from Racing Champions and ETRL to consolidate Nascar diecast manufacturing to his "Action Racing Collectibles" company. After 1995 I see only some various common drivers here and there. After 1999 I see no ERTL Nascar diecasts.
* 1989 Racing Collectibles Club Of America (Action Racing Formed In 1992 as a spinoff of The Racing Collectibles Club Of America) * 1989 thru 2011 Racing Champions (Owned By Fred Wagonhals and ERTL. ERTL owned Johnny Lighting and Polar Lights. In 2011 Racing Champions was sold to the Japanese company Tomy) * 1992 Action Racing Collectibles ( A Spin off From Earlier Failed Action Products Startup Attempts and The Racing Collectibles Club Of America) * 1994 thru 1997 Revell Racing Collectibles (Sold To Action Racing Collectibles in 1997) .
Revell started appearing again in 1999 but as a "Action Racing Collectibles" division. * 1996 thru 2010 Winners Circle (Action Racing Collectibles Invested With Hasbro to get Nascar diecasts from "Action Racing Collectibles" in the Retail brick and mortar stores. Action Racing Collectibles were only sold through mail order only. Action took over the Winners Circle brand in 2001 from Hasbro. The Winners Circle brand was discontinued in 2010 by Action Racing Collectibles). * 1997 Hot Wheels (Signed Kyle Petty In 1996 and Sponsored Kyle's #44 Car. This was a good promotional deal to kick off Hot Wheels entering the Nascar diecast arena in 1997) * 1999 Team Caliber (Team Caliber Merged With Action Racing Collectibles in 1996 But No Diecasts Are Found Until 1999.) * 2012 Nascar Authentics (Nascar Authentics is the discontinued Winners Circle brand)
Statement From Author: If your collecting Nascar diecasts for value then collecting the Nascar diecasts between the years 1989 and 1997 would be your best target because after 1997 Action Racing Collectibles controlled the whole diecast marketplace and began condensing the marketplace for profit. Before 1998 other companies had a share of the pie.
Nascar diecasts are valued at drivers performance and popularity but some value will come from past companies diecasts becoming rarer and rarer over the years. Right now these past company produced diecasts can be found readily as they are being dumped for 2 to 3 dollars on Ebay but I have seen many sellers slowly increase the prices of these pre 1998 diecasts just as a matter of age. Not to many people at the time this article was written understand Action Racing Collectibles owns the Nascar diecast market completely now and companies like Racing Champions, Hasbro and Revell were being phased out since 1998 and are not producing Nascar diecasts anymore. These phased out brand companies will be owned by some foreign corporation and not have the driver or sponsorship licensing of the top Nascar drivers.
Racing Champions was sold to a Japanese company in 2011. I have not researched how many drivers Racing Champions was allowed to produce after 1995. I do remember when Racing Champions lost its licensing rights to produce Dale Earnhardt diecasts back in the 1995. After 1995 Racing Champions, ERTL, Revell and etc..... lost their rights to produce many star Nascar drivers. Watch the diecasts produced from 1989 thru 1997. This is the Nascar diecast heyday!
Most of the information in this article is very accurate but some statements may be inaccurate but close to accurate. Accurate information will be updated on the inaccurate statements as the accurate information is found. The Wikipedia page on Nascar diecasts is all over the place with very little information that can be relied on.