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Joe Gibbs Racing President Unravels the Inner Workings of Lionel Racing’s Die-Cast Manufacturing Process

Published 11/21/2023, 5:06 AM EST

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Have you ever wondered how NASCAR cars are designed with such intricate detailing? Just like every other motorsport, NASCAR cars are also an instrument for sponsors to have their presence in the sport known. Not just sponsors but team logos, car numbers, and even, if possible, a personal message from the driver often finds a place on a diecast. Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota have been one of the most consistent and longest pairings in the Cup Series. Over the years, the team has produced iconic paint schemes and liveries.

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JGR team president Dave Alpern has recently revealed the team’s process to ensure its best-looking cars also reach out to the masses. Diecast cars have been the most used memorabilia for NASCAR fans. It is also a key aspect of measuring a driver’s popularity. More popular drivers are responsible for larger sales of diecasts. However, how does this process work? Mr Alpern takes us through it.

Dave Alpern details the die-casting process


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For a long time, Lionel Racing has been a source of joy for NASCAR fans and, more importantly, the collectors. Being the official Diecast of NASCAR, the burden of replicating these miniature and incredibly detailed versions of the race cars falls on Lionel Racing.

Dave Alpern noted, “Our exclusive diecast partner is Lionel, ” revealing the long process that needs more than half a year to come to fruition. “The way the process works is that we send the details that have all the approved work, the exact PMS colors, and the location of every sticker. We send that to Lionel; then they produce a shell sheet, which means they send it to all of their customers and ask them, how many of these do you want to buy.”


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“Based on the response from the shell sheet, they produce X number of diecast cars. They are made overseas, and the whole process takes 6-9 months from start to finish. The team, the driver, and sometimes the sponsor get a small percentage of the royalty that’s paid from the wholesale price of the product.” added Alpern.

Lionel Racing’s quality and consistency over the years has been excellent. Fans have recognized the efforts that go behind creating one diecast of a car. In some way, diecasts have brought out the inner kid inside the fans, joyous at the sight of a perfectly executed diecast. Collectors have taken the craze for diecasts to the next level and can often be found with a vast collection.

Particular on-track events can often boost the sales of a specific diecast. From 2023, Ryan Blaney‘s No.12 Star Wars paint scheme and many more of Tyler Reddick’s #45 Camry look like taking the crown this year.

Some of the most popular NASCAR diecasts of 2022

2022 was a phenomenal year for NASCAR in terms of surprises and positive developments. Among all the on-track events in the season, the penultimate race at Martinsville was the winner by a clear margin for the most popular race of the season. Ross Chastain delivered the entertainment with one of the most creative moves in NASCAR history, The Hail Melon.

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That also translated into the sales of that particular diecast as Chastain’s #1 Chevrolet Camaro became the highest-selling diecast in 2022. Even Lionel Racing CEO Howard Hitchcock was surprised by Chastain triumphing over every other driver in 2022. Chastain advanced to the championship 4 race with the move, and Hitchcock commended Chastain’s innovation amid intense pressure as he said,

“It’s the first time a checkers or wreckers car has ever topped the list because that’s a unique situation. That car, in particular, celebrates a key, pivotal moment that changed the race for the championship. That move is going to go down as one of the iconic moves in the history of the sport. To take a video game concept and apply it in real life – not even to win – to win a shot to race for the championship.”


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Another popular diecast was Kurt Busch’s 23XI Racing Camry diecast from Pocono. Kurt arguably ended his NASCAR career in that race as he suffered from recurring concussions following a crash in Pocono. Fans supported the 2004 Cup champion, and the diecast ended up in second place behind Chastain.


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Chase Elliott dominated the rankings by claiming four spots in the top-10 diecast sales. Elliott’s popularity was reflected in the diecast sales, and his cars are usually among the most sold versions. While 2023 has been tough for the 5-time Most Popular Driver of the Year, how that affects his place in the 2023 rankings is yet to be seen.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek


One take at a time

I instantly fell in love with the sport as I witnessed the cars' breakneck speeds and the robust nature of the sport and its drivers. As I had a deep-rooted interest in automobiles, the sport naturally piqued my interest in a jiffy. Kyle Busch and his cutthroat style of racing played an important role in getting me hooked to stock car racing as I hopped on streams to watch him win races.
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Edited by:

Joyita Das