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BRM Ford Escort Mk1 - Erik Berger Racing, Dalsland Ring 1969.
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BRM-128 1:24 scale Ford Escort Mk1 Erik Berger Racing #10 - Dalsland Ring 1969. RRP £109.99. Expected very soon.

BRM have taken their 1:24 scale Escort Mk1 back in-house - and there are two new releases expected very soon. Before I look at any differences from the previous TTS Escorts, I want to celebrate a brilliant choice of livery - the lilac-coloured car of Swede Erik Berger, which raced at the Dalsland Ring in 1969...

       

Unless you're a connoisseur of Swedish motorsport, you probably won't have heard of either Berger or the Dalsland Ring - but that would be missing a treat...

       

The Dalsland Ring burst into life in July 1966, with a race attended by 16,000 people - the largest public event in the region's history. Built on farmland in a rural part of southern Sweden, the circuit successfully caught the wave of enthusiasm for motorsport in the mid 1960s. Erik Berger was one of the local racers whose name became synonymous with the Dalsland Ring.

Born in nearby Bengtsfors, his father died during the 1939-45 war and Erik was left to run the family blacksmith business aged just sixteen. A keen skier and athlete, Berger entered his first motor race in 1947 - and won. He continued to explore rallying, ice and circuit racing - depending on the time of year - but his career really took off in 1960 when he drove a works Volvo to a class win at the Midnattssolsrallyt (Rally to the Midnight Sun) and overall victory at The Skarpnäck 12-hour race with Jo Bonnier. Two years with Saab saw more victories - and then Ford Sweden gave him the new Cortina (pictured below at the 1963 Midnattssolsrallyt) and then the Escort...

       

Berger's time with the Escort did not begin well. A broken clutch in practice saw him start the annual Kanonloppet at Karlskoga from last place on the grid. What followed was the stuff of legend - Berger drove the Escort through a field of top Swedish and international saloon car racers to win. Erik considered this the greatest victory of his career. Wherever he raced - but particularly at the Dalsland Ring - Berger's lilac Escort was always there or thereabouts in the Swedish Standardbilar class. The colour is rather eye-catching and is a nod to the lilac wrapper of Milka chocolate bars made by Suchard, whose name is on the side of Berger's BRM Escort model. Whether this was a big-time sponsorship deal or simply a family favourite, who knows.

The end of Berger's racing career and the end of the Dalsland Ring came at almost the same time. Berger hung up his helmet after the 1974 season - he'd won four Swedish Championship gold medals on the track, plus six silver and five bronze. By then, his beloved Dalsland circuit was no more. The track had been rebuilt in 1970 due to safety concerns, but the spectators did not return in sufficient numbers. The 1973 oil crisis was the final nail in the coffin and the circuit went bankrupt. Not long after, the landowner ripped up the asphalt, ploughed the land and planted potatoes. Only 100 metres of tarmac remain - although the original Dalsland Ring is immortalised as an add-on for the Grand Prix Legends sim-racing software.

Journalist and film maker Bengt-Åce Gustavsson has made an award-winning 3-hour documentary about the circuit, including appearances by Erik Berger and the lilac Escort. This is a short 3-minute preview...



There's archive footage included of the original Escort, but the  modern-day car is a replacement. Erik Berger was given this car to make a comeback in historic racing. That was 1996 - and Erik was 71 years old. Racing against his son Anders, Erik won the Racerhistoriska Cupen four times - also grabbing six silver and six bronze medals. By 2015, aged 90, Erik decided to retire once again - the Guinness Book of Records recognising him as the oldest racing driver in the world. Sadly, Erik died three years later, after a short illness. Swedish motorsport lost one of its local heroes...

       

It's always delightful to uncover such a magnificent story behind a slot car - and this one owed an awful lot to Google Translate! But let's turn our attention now to the BRM model...

       

It certainly looks the part with the bubble arches, flat front and no bumpers - all identical to the TTS mould and looks just like the black & white photo above. I haven't been able to compare the livery with images from Dalsland in 1969, but there was a diecast model that BRM has undoubtedly used for reference. In terms of mechanicals...

       

The BRM model has the usual black anodised aluminium chassis - similar to original TTS cars, although the more recent TTS Escorts feature brushed aluminium. The most obvious difference is the BRM printing on the chassis - as opposed to a TTS sticker. That's the same with the motor wrapper. The chassis is fitted with the same BRM components, including racing guide, adjustable front camber, 19k S-Can motor and nylon gears with a 12:33 ratio. The brass nuts are more fancy than the steel ones on the TTS chassis, plus the axle and motor holders are anodised a bright blue.

At 1:24 scale, the Escort is one of the 'Group 2' saloon car range which is just small enough to run on 1:32 track systems. Two cars sit very close together on Scalextric Sport, Classic and old SCX track. They look more at home on Ninco, modern SCX and Policar - although the guide will still need to be trimmed for the shallow slot. Everything is pretty good with Carrera - a slight shave of the guide is sensible - and is absolutely top notch on routed club tracks, of course. The size of the BRM cars will jar against any scenery on a 1:32 scale layout, but there are plenty of 1:24 (and 1:25) scale figures - a must-buy is the Tamiya Rally Mechanics set. You'll also find 1:24 detailing parts to add to scratch-built buildings and scenery - should you want to build a diorama for your BRM models.

One of my lockdown indulgences was to buy the TTS Escort model of Yvette Fontaine's BP sponsored car. I've found it a lot of fun to drive on Carrera track and easy to work on too. The grub screws are 1.5mm, similar to NSR size. The BRM philosphy is "Simplicity & Satisfaction" and I think they get that spot on. These cars are definitely a bit different, hardly over-detailed or over-engineered - but they are very easy to get hooked on. I wish there was somewhere local I could race them.

A big thank you to Sean at Pendles for the images and release information. The lilac Erik Berger Racing Escort is available to pre-order at Pendle Slot Racing: https://www.pendleslotracing.co.uk/brm-1...no-10.html

       
[+] 3 members Like woodcote's post
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The wait for this car is over - it's available now at Pendle Slot Racing and other BRM retailers and distributors worldwide.

Given the Suchard chocolate theme, it's perfect timing  Thumbup
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