Saturday, February 11, 2017

1989 Smokey Bear Team Smokey GT Racing Set

Click here to find Smokey Card Sets on eBay

Why do we collectors search endlessly and tirelessly for elusive cards... Cards that are like finding a needle in a haystack? 

Because a needle sometimes pricks the finger that's clicking our mouse. And boy, it hurts so good. 

I have never claimed to be an oddball card expert. Like any other collector, the knowledge I've gained over the past 35-plus years has been self taught, and there are huge holes in my knowledge when it comes to certain oddball card releases. One such "hole" pertains to this gem of a racing set that was released back in 1989. 

Sponsored by the Forest Service-USDA, National Association of State Foresters and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), this 28-card set features race car drivers, wives and lots of Smokey Bear. I'm not exactly sure how these cards were released, but I do know that there ain't many of these floating around. In my attempt to research the set, I've come up empty on all of my internet queries; I can't find a single photo or any mention whatsoever of this set anywhere. 

The cards are typical of a Smokey set released in the late 1980s. Measuring the standard card size of 3-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches, color photos adorn the front with a small Smokey head and IMSA logo found at the bottom corners. The subjects pictured on the cards are named along the front bottom, in a tiny font size that will have you looking for your reading glasses. Card backs are also typical Smokey, with a large fire safety cartoon occupying the majority of the space. Backs also list the team names, car models and hometowns of the card subjects. The cards are not numbered.

The set is loaded with names a racing fan will recognize, and at least three names for movie fans - Lorenzo Lamas, Bobby (Robert) Carradine and Paul Newman. I've posted large front and back scans of the Newman card, as they may be of interest. An excellent documentary detailing Paul's racing career was released in 2015 by Adam Carolla.

Smokey cards have always been among my favorites, and this little gem of a set is a welcome addition to my archives. I have no idea how many of these sets were printed a good 28 years ago... But what I do know is these phantom cards need to get grabbed fast if you're lucky enough to find them. 

Random Fact: Australian driver Geoff Brabham's father, two brothers, son and nephew have all been professional racers.

Click here to find Smokey Card Sets on eBay

Checklist (in no particular order)

(1) Paul Newman
(2) Lorenzo Lamas
(3) Bobby Carradine
(4) Jim Downing
(5) Dave White and Art Pilla
(6) John Morton and Geoff Brabham
(7) Steve Durst
(8) Buz McCall
(9) A.J. Foyt
(10) Martin Brundle and John Nielson
(11) Dorsey Schroeder and Bruce MacInnes
(12) Waino Kangas and Cliff Kangas
(13) David Loring
(14) Jan Lammers and Davy Jones
(15)Hans Stuck and Klaus Ludwig
(16) Scott Schubot and Linda Ludemann
(17) Steve Fitzpatrick and Bernie Pisczek
(18) Bob Wollek
(19) Chip Robinson
(20) Justus Reid and Bill Jacobson
(21) Neil Hannemann
(22) Roger Mandeville, Kelly Marsh, Don Marsh
(23) Chris Cord
(24) Amos Johnson and Dennis Shaw
(25) Linda and Randy Pobst
(26) Alistair Oag and David Rosenblum
(27) Juan Fangio, Dennis Aase and Willy T. Ribbs
(28) Smokey Bear


  1. Could that possibly be a Paul Newman rookie card? Very cool.

    1. Hiya, Fuji! I think it may very well be his racing rookie card! :)

  2. Someone just have me a set of these to give out to my middle school students! I don't think they would appreciate them as much as a collector would!

    1. That's a nice find! Let me know if you're ever interested in selling them.

  3. I've got the craziest story ever on this set of cards..... A client of mine came into my barbershop today(I don't even cut his hair, one of my barbers does which makes it even more incredible!), and gave me this complete set today. And here's the kicker: he was one of the two Smoky Bears pictured on the cards! He's the lovely smoky where the other one just stand upright with no personality. Anyway, In the middle of conversation with the guys in the shop, out of nowhere he asks me if I like racing, and I tell him "not really, I've never had a need for speed." He goes on to tell me all about the cards and how his two sons want them but he won't split the set and doesn't want them fighting over them when he's gone. He says he'd rather give them away so that they don't tear each other up over them, since they know they are like his prized possession. So I ask him why me?? He tells me that I'm a good Christian guy, that I'm honest, and that he knows I'll take care of them. He told me only 4,000 sets were made and that they are very rare. When he brought them in later in the afternoon, I sat down with them and wrote down the details of the cards so that I could tell the story if and when I displayed them. I asked him again, why not give them to your kids man?! And that's when the story tugged on the heart strings: his older son is his wife's son but he raised him, and the second son is his blood. He told me if I give the set to the older son, my blood son will say "I'm your blood!" If I give it to the older son he's going to say "I was not good enough" and he said HE KNEW how that felt and didn't want to put him through that. At this point this this big burly man is barely able to speak and is breaking into tears in front of myself and his barber. He was literally disconnecting himself from the cards emotionally and I believe in his mind avoiding a mess in the future. It was a very humbling experience...

  4. I just found an entire set of these in my grandmother's basement... they are in perfect shape... This is the ONLY website that has any information on them... Any idea the value of these?

    1. You'd need to find someone interested in this obscure set, but I'd guess between $50 to $100 is a fair price.