May/Jun 2023 edition
Issue #28 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
The original “Auto Dice Racing” game was conceived and played by my father, Philip Carlin, and his older brother Leon during the 1920s. It was played with on the floor and consisted of handmade paper, cardboard and wood replicas of sprint cars of the period. Using dice and numbered cars, the brothers evolved a realistic competition game. Running two teams, they used six cars and six dice per team.
During my childhood, my father and I would work together; he, with his small lathe, would turn my tiny wheels while I carved wooden original cars and cast them in a rubber mold with “dental stone” (very hard plaster). It took about a half an hour to paint and get a single car rolling. So, each day one would be cast. It would dry for 24 hours and would be finished the next day. It was an absorbing evening hobby. Some of the original models, and a later set that was built during the 1950s, inspired my own 1980s revival and modification of the game.
A lap chart is needed to run more than one lap. The rules, found on the bottom of the wooden tray that carries the cars, allow for realistic qualifying, a points system, pit stops, spinouts, yellow flag restarts, blocking, and lap charts. Recommended is a double points bonus for a chosen car creating a “special” opportunity for a team. This has led to custom-painted, personal models.
My neighbor, a fellow race fan, and his young son were given the prototype set to test out. The 12-year-old learned quickly and soon was teaching a young pal how to play. Meanwhile, my girlfriend and I began to compete with it as well. The rules were refined and finally put in print. Getting up to speed, learning the ways to develop a strategy, running a “series,” and having a championship all came together. In many ways, the game resembles chess or backgammon, while being much like real auto racing.
I’ve developed two groups of 1:60-scale vintage models: The 1983 NASCAR series, and a similar vintage Trans Am series, running on two different tracks. The basic oval short track and a road course layout are on painted canvas, and both roll up to fit in their respective white oak boxes. Both courses have specific lanes and markings that work into the managing of a team’s strategy. I’ve always encouraged folks to develop their own model car teams with similar rules and tracks
I’ve made many cars to allow variations of years, makes and models. In the NASCAR group are Ford, Chevy, Buick, and Pontiac, and in the Can Am series are Mustang, Mercury, Camaro, Pontiac, Corvette, Oldsmobile and Audi. All are in livery similar to the original racers.
The original NASCAR set was displayed at the 1984 World 600 event in Charlotte, NC, in the press section. Years later, the concept of the game was pirated, which I discovered was the result of displaying the game at Charlotte. An ad appeared in a motor publication showing a near replica of the game and its means of play. A lawyer was consulted and it was resolved that it was virtually impossible to protect the “game” from being copied by the big game companies. So our Auto Dice Racing game went into retirement, and the two existing sets are enjoyed regularly by friends and family.
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