Here at SRT, we take our racing just seriously enough. While we do our best to be competitive and do things “the right way,” it’s really just a game with nothing on the line. That’s certainly fun, but Inspectigater and I decided we’d like to take things up just a bit and put a reward out there for winning one of our series. Since we were just kicking off the SRTRGTWRC rally series, it seemed the perfect time. Other race leagues have offered prizes before: a gift car or ticket for in-game, a crappy keychain. Sometimes the stakes are much higher: A wheel, or a racing seat. We had neither the desire to offer crappy prizes nobody wanted, nor the means to offer anything expensive. Plus, we wanted more—something personal and specific to SRT. Finally, we hit upon the perfect prize: a model car, done up in a completely custom SRT livery.
We started off looking for a basic inexpensive RC car. RCs are typically lower cost than many model cars, and easier to take apart and reassemble. Plus, it’s remote controlled, which is a great bonus. We focused on rally models (it’s a rally series after all) and found a refurbished car at a good price online. When Inspectigater picked up the box, we were pretty pleased. It was much larger than we’d expected! We put some batteries in and it checked out, so it was time to get to work. I took first shift and, of course, began by taking it apart. Remote control is nice and all, but we could do better! I gathered some electronics parts, broke out the soldering iron, and hacked a bunch of LED headlights and taillights inline with the car’s circuitry. There are four white high-brightness LEDs and two basic reds. My wife took on the task of getting the stickers off the main body. The adhesive left a particularly nasty residue. A bit of internet searching later and we found ourselves covering various parts of the car in peanut butter. That was probably the oddest part of the build, and the car smelled like peanut butter for a week, but it worked exceptionally well. At that point it was time to lay down some paint. I tried some basic spray but it was too cold outside and I don’t have any place ventilated indoors to work with. I passed the car to Inspectigater to paint while I pushed the design along. Afterward I attacked the body with a Dremel to get the LEDs in place, held by large piles of hot glue and some electrical tape to prevent shorting (and light leaks). We did a couple paper prototypes and then output the final design onto clear labels. Overtop everything went a nice clearcoat.
For the design, we knew the base color would be SRT white. From there we passed ideas back and forth, keeping in mind rally styling but going in our own direction. We obviously wanted SRT to be the predominant sponsor. GT5 and Tacos were a must. APM Racing needed a tag—long standing SRT members will recognize this true-life racing team which has at least one car sporting the SRT logo—so reciprocity was only common courtesy! From there, the sponsors mostly represent the drivers in the series. Every driver who made at least two races in the series is represented on the car in some way. (Can you recognize them all?)
Lastly, it just wouldn’t do to take a couple crappy photos with a phone. Hazard did the shoot.
You didn’t win this.
Sorry, it’s mine! I had definitely expected to ship this out to CA, NH, or IN to whomever won the rally series, and place that driver’s name on the side of the car next to the coveted #1. Instead, I brought the top of the podium home and at least for now, that’s where this SRT trophy will stay.
… but this doesn’t have to be the only one. If anyone wants a car produced, let ‘gater and I know! We’ll probably want you to source and ship us the base car, but we can do the production work. We learned a bunch from this build and the next one will go smoother. We’d love to have the opportunity to build and see more of these custom SRT models in the hands of our members.