Action Packed has turned its attention to auto racing with all the attention to detail that characterizes its NFL and All-Star baseball sets.
The bulk of the 84-card set is devoted to subsets, all logical choices in a NASCAR set. There are subsets devoted to race winners, pole winners, Winston Cup points top finishers, top rookies and Richard Petty. The remainder feature profiles of drivers and teams.
The thought that went into these cards sets them apart.
In the race winners subset, there are winning cliches (kissing the wife, holding the trophy) artistically rendered and then there's the Darrell Waltrip card (No. 3). It shows his car heading the lineup in pit row, covered against the rain. The back tells why: The Mountain Dew Southern 500 was washed out after lap 298.
The Petty subset consists of 10 cards, five with regular backs and the same five card fronts with backs in Braille. The most interesting one discusses his trademark custom cowboy hats. The Braille cards are a first in racing cards, and Action Packed gave many to schools for the blind in racing hotbeds in the South. Petty helped deliver a shipment to the Morehead School for the Blind in North Carolina and had his racing car there for the occasion.
In the pole winners subset, Mark Martin is shown sitting on top of a pole and although the concept sounds silly, it works.
The cards are doing well with collectors, too.
"Probably it's one of the best cards we've had since last September," says Joe Knecht of Pit Stop Racing Souvenirs in Catonsville. "It's selling well considering the price [$3 for a pack of seven]."
Knecht says packs, single and hand-collated sets are all popular.
In other auto racing news, Alan Kulwicki's death April 1 caused a run on memorabilia.
"When people found out he died, the next day, people were waiting outside when we opened," says Knecht. He says the store sold out of Matchbox transporters and Racing Champions Premier cars that day.
"We raised our prices to keep it fair for everybody . . . and to keep people from profiting from it," he says.
Cards went quickly, too, and early last week, he had only a handful of Kulwicki singles left.
Thanks to the Grant-A-Wish Foundation, sports fans will have an opportunity to see memorabilia rarely seen. Twenty collectors have loaned some 500 items for a benefit exhibit. Among the items on display at the downtown Hyatt Regency Friday (noon to 7 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.) are a Honus Wagner card, a Joe DiMaggio rookie card, uniforms of Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb, a Bob Feller jersey and a Bobby Jones golf bag. There is a $5 donation. There will be a preview showing with celebrity guests Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Martin's West. Tickets to the preview are $75. For ticket information, call (410) 242-1549.
Timothy Cook, 14, of Columbia, and Joseph Leadore, 9, of Havre de Grace, were among 25 winners of complete sets of SkyBox NBA cards for their essays on why they liked and collected SkyBox cards. According to SkyBox's Marc Samson, more than 500 essays were received.
Up to date expansion
Topps Series II features 48 cards of Colorado Rockies and 41 of Florida Marlins, all in their new uniforms.
Upper Deck brings its locker format to its NHL cards. A 60-card All-Star Locker Series is out. Sets come in a plastic replica of Wayne Gretzky's All-Star locker. Ten cards feature stars of past All-Star Games, including Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull. Howe has autographed "a limited number" of cards.
^ Through Oct. 31, exhibit on Rex Barney's 50-year sports career, with memorabilia from his Brooklyn Dodgers days, Babe Ruth Museum, (410) 727-1539.
Today, card show, Towson Sheraton (I-695, Exit 27A) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.
Tomorrow-Oct. 31, exhibit "The Babe, The Birds and Baltimore: An All-Star Tradition," Babe Ruth Museum, (410) 727-1539.
Friday-Sunday, baseball memorabilia exhibit to benefit the Grant-A-Wish Foundation, Hyatt Regency (300 Light St.), Friday noon to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., (410) 242-1549.
Saturday, card show, American Legion, Cambridge (Route 50), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 437-9927.
Sunday, card show (expected signer is Curt Blefary), Earleigh Heights Fire Hall (161 Ritchie Highway), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 484-9483.
April 30-July 11, "The Artist and the Baseball Card," Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5p.m. Sunday, (302) 571-9590.