Laying in my favorite armchair, feet on the desk next to my typewriter, I was watching the rain dropping on my window while drinking a too ambient Aberlour. I had been struggling for a few months now. After the first easy contacts with ancient glories that were published on Black Hole Sun's website, I was struggling to get in touch with new drivers to interview. So long fame, money and women my journalist talents made me dream of. Many of the drivers had children and no longer wanted to remind ancient RC races.
I was in despair when the phone rang.
?: I was told you were looking for information about former RC drivers?
Hum... yes... Who's speaking?
?: Meet me at Harry’s bar, 19h00. clic!
Quiet surprised, I stand up and have a glance at my Heuer Autavia: 18h15.
Time to collect my thoughts, to have a shower, to get my old trench coat and hat and here I jump into my Toyota pickup.
When entering Harry’s Bar, a man at the bar stares at me. He looks pretty tall, wears a cheap shirt under a used jacket and crêpe-soled shoes. His bald head and his extra weight make him look friendly.
58041 The Frog (1983)
?: Are you BaraToZ?
?: Sorry for this approach. Have a seat.
He orders two beers.
?: BaraToZ, I don't know if you can believe this but I used to be an official Tamiya driver in the 70's and 80's.
-Doubtful- Why wouldn't I believe it? Which models did you drive?
?: My name is Glenn Morris and...
You are Glenn Morris!? The Frog's legend?!
Glenn Morris: yes... See, it's hard to believe but that's me. By the end of the 70's, I was a technician at Tamiya: I was assembling the FAV and Wild One's prototypes.
I was passionnate and I didn't count my efforts. So when the ORV project was launched, they looked for motivated people who wanted to join the project. They proposed me the management of the project. Personnally, I wanted to create a race vehicle, something new and different fro the time, something like Perry did later with the Avante. But Tamiya wanted a more classical vehicle that would be suited for every day use and that could eventually be raced.
But your name is definitely in relation with the Frog, which can't be considered as an every day car!
Glenn Morris: Yes sure, but what very few people know is that I was also the Subaru Brat's designer and driver. I first started to work on this car and I drove it. Since it wasn't suitable for racing, Tamiya decided to keep my name secret but this never stopped me from racing it in memorable races like the "Jump Challenge in the Martin's alley" or the "Cedric's bunk bed's Climb of the Death".
A few months later, I finally got the green light to developp the Frog from the Brat chassis.
I guess Tamiya wanted to reward you: what about the specifications?
Glenn Morris: This series asset was the famous ORV chassis. With the Frog, I wanted to built a vehicle like the Brat, dedicated to pleasure, but somewhat better performer than the Brat in order to make it suitable for races. I used the spike tires from the Super Champ to get better grip with more powerful motors. The bodyshell with its pink bands and flags was meant to be funny since I never was a very serious guy. The chassis received high end equipment with many metal parts, just like the first generation models from Tamiya.
In the end, my expectations were more than fulfilled. The car was successful, I became famous as a driver and I lived a splendid period! I was racing all the time, fans were waving at me, the Frog was both a very pleasant car to drive and quite a good performer for the time. In parallel, my agenda was filled with parties, pretty girls, nights were neverending and alcohol was flooding. That time was crazy, and believe me when I say I prefer to keep some details secret!
Yes, that sounds incredible.
Glenn suddenly becomes quiet and I notice on his face that my words hurt him. Nevertheless I find it difficult to imagine this ageing peaceful daddy as a legendary driver.
Glenn Morris: You know, a man's life can have multiple periods... one can change. Fame is no synonym for happyness!
I prefer to keep silent and let Glenn speak.
Later on, Tamiya wanted to build a whole line-up from the Brat and the Frog chassis. They wanted to compete with other brands that were releasing big wheel vehicles: these were pretty poor racer but were a blast to drive. This was the new trend by the time, so they offered me to work on these projects, granting financial resources and career opportunities.
So great, you must have been happy.
Glenn Morris: Yeah...yes. But... Something happened.
Glenn smiles staring into space in silence for a moment.
This is when I met my wife. A blond haired beauty. She was one of my fans. I just fell in love. In a moment, Tamiya's management realized something had changed with me. They couldn't afford to have a less motived driver/designer so they got in touch with new highly motivated young guys.
Do you regret?
Glenn Morris: Tamiya recruited Ramblin Ron and Albert Attaboy to restart the project and make the Frog evolve into the Blackfoot and Monster Beetle. I couldn't stand the situation so I chose to retire.
Moreover, my wife was pregnant and was requiring attention. So I left all this for her, fame, races, mechanics and the projects I was working on. I stored them thinking I would work on them later on but in the end, I left them behind. She never really wanted that but I felt that was the best I could do.
Then I found a more conventional office job and I focused on my family. My abs vanished my hair got lost but I have no regrets.
So what that secret meant when you first called me?
Glenn Morris: Come on! I thought a journalist like you would have guessed! This is because of my wife of course! You know, they always know, they always guess! If she knew I would go for an interview about RC races, this would have lead to one of these scenes women are used to!
In fact, you may still ignore it but Tamiya contacted me recently. They re-released the Frog and no one knows how it works anymore! They had to recall me. I tried to decline but you know: passion and men can change but only on the surface. I couldn't resist the appeal of working again in secret on what still is a passion! I not the only one, other retired drivers came back too! Rumors even say that Tamiya is actively looking for Albert Attaboy, but I can't give more details on this.
(smile) Glenn, you said it, you can hide this to your wife.
Glenn Morris: Right. I will tell her, but for the moment, I kind of feel guilty. Just as if I had met an old girlfriend from the past...
I understand, and I'm sure readers do too. Thanks a lot Glenn, thanks for this great story. I'm sure we'll hear again about you, the Frog... and about your wife!
Glenn leaves getting his umbrella and his old jacket back. Right before closing the door, he stares at me one last moment with a smile on his face.
Deep breath and I start thinking about Glenn's life. I think one may have different passions, different periods in his life and each one becomes an asset. Nevertheless, what drives and motivates a man of passion always remain somewhere inside.
Now it's time for me too to leave. The night has fallen now... but it is no longer raining...