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The "Wing Car"!


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#26 RomanK

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 02:41 PM

Oh... my GAWD! :o :blink:

Bet you guys are going to throw him out of the club now, ain't ya? :o

Roman Kormeluk





#27 RomanK

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 02:45 PM

Good answer and good point. I hadn't considered the kind of track you guys have.
True again.

We're often faced with a similar dilemma in the auto parts business: do we sell the customer the expensive, non-returnable part he wants to buy, thinking it will fix his car, or do we counsel him to buy the cheaper part we know will fix the car?

My perspective is that, in general, businesses are better served over the long term by placing their customers' interests ahead of their own as much as possible. But that's not to say you give away the store nor refuse to take someone's money if they don't want advice.

It's a fine line that presents challenges..."Do I sell them what they want for more money or what they need for less money?" She (owner of the raceway) must be doing it right, or at least close to right, as she's been there for 16 years and is still going strong.

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#28 jimht

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 02:56 PM

Between my 2 Nats, 1974 & 1975, I played with .005 side dam material.
I don't think I was the only one, but the 1975 race was the watershed moment.
Worked real well, everyone that came in 1975 agreed.
It became immediately obvious that weight in the front wasn't as necessary.
Also the glue would hold the rear better if there were less weight in the rear...leading to ultralight chassis, miniscule motors & way less glue.
Csaba followed my lead with really lightweight pillow-block chassis & Peanut motors with Polymer Cobalts appeared from Joel et al.
All this had nothing to do with the term Wing Car, which I don't recall hearing until we had serious Group racing with slower motors...Int 15, primarily, bringing high end technology to the slot car masses.
Wing car became a generic term referring to anything with a Wing body.
The term wasn't needed previously as the bodies weren't raced on anything but Opens originally & they were referred to as Opens or Gp7.

As for the other discussion, sell them whatever they can afford, just don't expect them to become Hobbyists just because they're sold a Hobby car...to them it's just another toy...& one that is real appealing to the short attention span crowd with money.
:lol:

Jim Honeycutt

"I don't think I'm ever more 'aware' than I am right after I hit my thumb with a hammer." - Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts]


#29 Cheater

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 03:31 PM

Bet you guys are going to throw him out of the club now, ain't ya? :o

Not yet. We have to wait until at least 60 days after the date I used his credit card to pay for our new site. After that, he's fair game, as then he won't be able to charge back the fees . . . :lol: :lol: :lol:

Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#30 Rick

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 05:26 PM

One that turns people off slot car racing when they walk in a raceway for the first time since they were kids.

This is totally false, based on zero fact and just the opinion of a right wing zealot! LMAO

Matter of fact when I had a track at a small mall, every kid that looked in the doorway wanted a wing car body mounted on their FlexiKar. I was selling pre-mounts like they were going out of style. This location netted me many days of $500 track time sold from Noon to 6 pm, at which time I shut off rental time for the nights racing festivities...

I do believe that scale and real-looking cars are something very needed in slot car track and probably what will lure a new person into the hobby. There is no one thing that has caused the demise. It was a fad, just like the hula hoop, it came and went. There is nothing anyone can do to replicate the '60s. Every hobby leaves a core group behind, enjoy what you have, when and where you have it and tomorrow we will all bench race...
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#31 TSR

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 06:34 PM

This is totally false, based on zero fact and just the opinion of a right wing zealot!

:lol:
Actually you need a left wing too or the car won't handle so good... :(

But Rick, jokes apart, always remember the FACTS:

1966: 5000 raceways in the USA. No wing cars, no Flexis. Most cars are scale representations of real cars. While the financial equation is wrong, the kids are there by the millions and are happy, that is until the raceways closed.
2006: 150 raceways if that. Virtually only wing cars and Flexis, hardly ANY scale cars. Catering to the most extreme: brain-dead Cosby kids of addicted speed freaks willing to do almost anything to make it to the podium.

Where is the real money gone? Home. Millions play with beautifully-detailed, exacting representations of real cars, spending $350M a year in the process, while the moribund commercial raceways barely pay the rent and only a couple of thousands of enthusiasts nationwide actually go there to either play or race. Until the place shuts down because the income is just not there. Enough business for the cottage industries (barely), but becoming more marginal every day.

What to do about it? Not much at this stage.
So until the doors close on the last raceway, let's go racing whatever you fancy! :)

#32 Rick

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 12:08 PM

1966: 5000 raceways in the USA. No wing cars, no Flexis. Most cars are scale representations of real cars. While the financial equation is wrong, the kids are there by the millions and are happy, that is until the raceways closed.
2006: 150 raceways if that. Virtually only wing cars and Flexis, hardly ANY scale cars. Catering to the most extreme: brain-dead Cosby kids of addicted speed freaks willing to do almost anything to make it to the podium.

Apples and oranges. It was a fad that came and went (just like the Hula Hoop® which they started manufacturing of the plastic Marlex in 1958. Twenty million Wham-O Hula Hoops sold for $1.98 in the first six months. They are still produced today but sell in much smaller numbers).

I have talked to "wing" car racers that were also track owners and they told me they NEVER even allowed their patrons to view a wing car on their track, much less sell them one. THEY ARE CLOSED! Same story from scale racers.

The hobby is a cannibal, it eats its own offspring. We all get wrapped up in it and then at some point, stand back and look at investment vs return and say WHOA! When they get good, the fun begins to fade and the seriousnous takes over, the beginning of the end. They good guys humph and grunt at newbies and make them feel bad, ergo they leave. Although they forget when they were the hammer out there and the alumni tolerated them.

There is one and only one key to make any successful hobby and that is FUN. Once the industry figures that out, it will have some what of a resurgence. Honeycutt figured that out years ago.

One thing that never made sense to me is why a parent will baulk at a car and controller for their kid for $60 but go right out and buy a video game for $60, that loses its appeal as soon as junior makes it to the last level or, if it's too hard, just drops it from frustration. And then purchases another disc for another $60...
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#33 Jairus

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 12:28 PM

You know, I never understood why slot tracks are located in such faraway locations. It would seem that a track located in a mall where there is a lot of traffic would attract new customers. Sure the rent on such a location is expensive. Maybe three times the cost of a renting a run-down 40-year-old auto parts store. But chances are the newly-attracted customers and ease of ingress and egress will increase business enough to pay the bills.

However, the one thing that is really needed is the shop owner needs a good starter kit to sell for the newbie.

The second half of this suggestion is that the location needs a secondary clientele. Either a video game parlor in back or T-shirt racks or even pizza or hamburgers. The plan is that it is necessary to have an optional source of income when the track is set aside for a race or when business slows down.

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#34 Mark Wampler

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 12:31 PM

My take on wing cars had to start with the Cox La Cucaracha, a product of marketing at Cox and considered the most iconic car of the '60s. As a popular fictional vehicle, it gave rise to other copy cats, thus thingies. Then thingies grew wings, and there you have it. <_<
You can quote me.

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#35 Ron Hershman

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 01:26 PM

But Rick, jokes apart, always remember the FACTS:

1966: 5000 raceways in the USA. No wing cars, no Flexis. Most cars are scale representations of real cars. While the financial equation is wrong, the kids are there by the millions and are happy, that is until the raceways closed.

OK... if all was so good in the '60s... scale cars, lots of raceways, millions of kids, no wing cars, no Flexi-Kars (except the Gar Vic, Cox, Russkit, etc., cars were the "Flexis" of the '60s, i.e. cheap stamped steel or brass RTR cars )... then why did it fail then??? You had the masses, you had the scale cars, you had the tracks in every city... why did it fail?

All jokes aside.

#36 MG Brown

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 01:47 PM

You know, I never understood why slot tracks are located in such faraway locations.

Comparing the cost per square foot in a mall location versus "faraway locations" basically is the reason.

"I'm just here for the entertainment." George Carlin


#37 Cheater

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 01:52 PM

Jairus, I think your "three times the cost" is low. More like five to eight times as much, plus most major malls require a percentage of sales in addition to the set lease payment.

Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#38 Rick

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 02:27 PM

You had the masses, you had the scale cars, you had the tracks in every city... why did it fail?

It was a fad. Just like CB's in the mid 70's. People just move on, nothing more, to the next fad.

About malls vs faraway places. Faraway places, you may get one for a grand a month. Malls usually start around $40 a square foot and go up to over $100 per square foot. Do the math, just ain't in the numbers. Hell, they want $1,500 a month for a small kiosk on the midway which wouldn't hold even a moderate HO track.

Let's use this example. We all know slot racing is the most fun thing you can do with your clothes on, right? We are on the internet with probably 2 BILLION people that own computers world wide (total guess at that number) and we can only muster up a few hundred members. Compare the number of hits we get vs the number of hits a video game cheat sheet gets.

I think we all think in the box of how we were when we were kids. Times have changed drastically and I think you will all agree on to how many kids sit down and build anything today vs our generation. The boomers were a self-entertaining group, most came from modest means and had to generate fun in any way they could afford. Today there are two incomes in most households, and no time left to do much else, so they all say... How many daycares were there in 1965? How many moms worked in 1965? How many kids were permitted to walk anywhere they wanted in town in 1965 as compared to 2000+. What was the divorce rate in 1965?? And on and on...

PS: Then there is the conspriacy theory about bowling alleys and slots.
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#39 don.siegel

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 02:42 PM

You mean when they dropped old bowling bowls on all the slot car raceways?

Very good points here... Wing cars are kind of an extreme, but as was mentioned earlier, remember that commercial raceways were NEVER scale oriented! They were more or less scale, depending on the owner and maybe the racers, but the whole idea was mass entertainment, and even at the time not that many people were skilled enough and/or interested enough in doing a real detailing job, or working with scale car dimensions... We built relatively more than now, but mostly chassis, not the whole thing like the old-line hobbiests.

Again, to support a point above, slot racing is an eternally cyclical activity: just about any raceway that first opens does well for awhile, because it's fun, and relatively easy, but the hard part is keeping it going - for all the reasons listed above! And rents in good locations have definitely skyrocketed. Apartments, too... remember the old rule of thumb that your rent is 1/4 of your income - anybody still pay that?

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#40 Mark Wampler

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 02:46 PM

OK... if all was so good in the '60s... scale cars, lots of raceways, millions of kids, no wing cars, no Flexi-Kars (except the Gar Vic, Cox, Russkit, etc., cars were the "Flexis" of the '60s, i.e. cheap stamped steel or brass RTR cars )... then why did it fail then??? You had the masses, you had the scale cars, you had the tracks in every city... why did it fail?

I think overhead being up front. Government in general was evolving from the '60s. Restrictions came at Americans in new waves. The muscle cars of the '60s are history. Smog controls were introduced. Track owners earn only so much on track time and the more tracks, the more track time earnings, but physical space at so much per square foot to the landlord can't be paid by track time alone. Only a very aggressive racing program could just break even with higher liability insurance and landlords who kept raising the rent. Even the mark up on selling parts couldn't keep up with increasing overhead. Track owners who were in it for the bucks were slowly squeezed out financially. Those who love racing just paid out of pocket to keep things going. Steve at Foster's Raceway is one of those rare kind of guys. He just loves racing and has his own racing machines in the real world.
You can quote me.

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#41 Jairus

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 02:57 PM

Whatever the cost... the point is if the customer doesn’t know you exist they cannot patronize your shop.

I have been battling this with my illustration business. I try to keep my name out in the public's eye by plying the manufacturers to hire me, by submitting my art to magazines, and by updating my web site. I could be the best artist in the States, but if nobody knows about me, then I’ll end up starving! Plain and simple!

Sure the malls are expensive to operate in but if Hallmark can operate a store selling $1.50 cards, then surely some smart guy can figure out what business can be mated with a simple slot track in order to be located in a high traffic area!

All the below list can be located in half the space they normally take up and thus be sold alongside a basic track and a counter for parts.

Music or movies
T-shirts
Hobby or toy store
Frame shop
Magazine rack and bookstore
Coffee and espresso
Video Games
Auto electronics and accessories
Cell phones
Gift cards
A cash machine fer heavens sake brings in customers and income if it is placed correctly.

Oh and one other thing!
Track time costs should be cut in half or less! If someone doesn’t drive their cars long enough then tires and brushes don’t wear out and need replacing. Duh! Drivers are more willing to spend money on tangibles like parts then they are on something intangible like time! Plus, this does double duty in that it keeps the track(s) looking busy which should be full during free time at ALL TIMES! People are drawn to a crowd more than anything anyway.
THAT more than anything else will keep the parts desk busy and bring in more customers to watch, which ultimately brings in more business.

Sure maintenance on the track will be greater but the costs to repair a lane pale in comparison to the parts sold to keep the customers cars running… and going faster.

Which brings up another thing. PARTS should be kept under glass, not hanging willy-nilly on a peg board behind the track manager. Under glass they look jewel-like and more valuable. Parts should also be arranged in order of expense with the cheaper wheels located on the right and moving up the scale to the left. Same thing with the motors, chassis, bodies, etc., so the customer knows how much they can afford without having to ask stupid questions! If you make the customer smarter on their own then you will have a repeat customer!

Professional presentation. This I cannot stress enough. The people of this United States are used to clean, and well-laid-out places of business. You really notice it when there is a loose French fry under the table at McDonalds, right? Likewise an unswept/vacuumed floor under the track or oil stains on the counters, soldering iron burn marks, loose pop cans, and hand-written signs saying “No Food or Drink” are not tolerated by the public any longer. If the public is going to spend large amounts of money in any establishment they want to feel good about it. Period dot!
A clean and professional-looking track is extremely important in this day and age. So all signs should be professionally painted or lettered. Lighting bright and cheerful! Customer service reps should be smiling, with a uniform dress code, and willing to answer all questions.

No, it is not easy, but the days of smoke-filled, dirty bar-like tracks are gone! If you want to attract new customers then this really IS the only way! Otherwise slots will continue to live on as 1/32 toys to be purchased from a faceless conglomerate. Totally devoid of any handling abilities and collected for their pretty painted shell.
Of course, this post will be glanced at and dismissed or not commented on, because you guys usually do that because it’s not pity or witty enough and doesn’t contain BBQ, beer, or boobs. But since everyone decided to avoid my initial question that started this thread I decided to speak my opinion.
So there!

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#42 Cheater

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 04:20 PM

Jairus, the lack of response is probably because many of us have beat this topic to death on other forums.

You're points are all well-taken, but my thoughts are that the commercial raceway industry has sunk to such a level that much more than you have suggested is going to be necessary to refloat the sinking ship.

Unfortunately, as Pogo said, "we have met the enemy and he is us."

Look at the "fad" era of slot racing. American Model Raceways promoted slot car raceways to entrepreneurs of the '60s as an affordable franchise opportunity and provided a very detailed operating cookbook to their customers (still looking for one of these manuals BTW). And, as I understand it, much of what you champion in the post above was in that manual. If the truth be known, such advice represents simple good business practices, though as we all know, few raceway owners are really good businessmen.

But there were potential raceway owners at the time (usually racers themselves) who believed that they could save money by building a wooden track and opening a successful raceway without paying the franchise fee (and then receiving the operational and marketing advice that AMR provided in their cookbook). A few were correct; most were not.

The novelty of the hobby was certainly a part of the equation of its success during this period. However, novelty doesn't last very long.

Moving to the present day, the raceway industry faces a number of challenges.

First, the commercial part of the hobby is virtually invisible to the general public. Most people, even if they are aware of commercial slot racing, believe the hobby has completely faded away. This is not a situation that an individual raceway owner is going to be able to change. It is going to take an industry-wide effort to bring greater visibility to 1/24 commercial slot racing. Please don't read this as saying that massive amounts of money are going to be necessary to promote the hobby via advertising, as that's not at all the case.

Second, the commercial slot racing hobby/sport as now configured has a number of significant barriers to participation for new participants. It's confusing and disorganized, not at all friendly or "attractive" to newbies, and there is almost zero material available to new participants to educate and inform them on how better to enjoy the hobby and/or how to become better racers. One of the biggest barriers is that there is no defined entry-level path for new participants.

Third, commercial slot racing offers no real inducements to encourage continued participation. A racer who overcomes the barriers to become a local hot dog has nowhere to go. Sure, he can go to the USRA Nats, but so can anyone who has a slot car and the entry fees. And if by chance, he is successful at a Nats, what sort of national recognition, respect, and/or ego-stroking does he receive? Virtually none...

Fourth, the suppliers and vendors to the commercial hobby seem to have little or no interest in doing anything to help their raceway customers succeed nor in promoting the hobby to the general public (sorry, race prizes and banners don't qualify). I can't think of many other leisure-time activities where the vendor community is seemingly so disinterested in the long-term success of the activity that provides them income.

Fifth, the raceway owners themselves seem to have little or no interest in banding together as a group to accomplish things they cannot do alone. For example, consider a commercial raceway owner approaching a national charity with a proposal to benefit the charity versus a raceway association official representing three or four hundred tracks making the same presentation. Every raceway owner seems to feel he alone knows the best way to be successful, when in fact, many heads, and collected and collated experiences, are better in almost every situation. Jairus, I suspect that you are unaware of the now-defunct TOA and the signal lack of support it received from the industry.

Sixth, the almost-universal belief is that hard-core slot racers are the main revenue stream for raceways, when that is not true in the vast majority of cases. The majority of income in almost every profitable raceway comes from the casual players and entertainment-related activities like birthday parties. That's not to say that the racers don't provide an income stream, but the overwhelming emphasis on racing and racers seen at most raceways makes little sense when that segment typically represents 25% or less of the raceway's revenues.

As I have posted elsewhere, when I see that the Professional Disc Golf Association (www.pdga.com) has over 10,000 members, and has sanctioned 344 events so far this year with a combined purse of $707,811, I have to believe that 1/24 slot car racing can do a better job of growing participation in the 1/24 slot racing hobby/sport.

It's pretty clear to me that the commercial hobby will not grow unless the industry as a whole takes a significantly different approach in the years ahead. And since that's not very likely, I don't expect the situation ever to change. Which probably means that slot racing in the US will likely transition into the club environment, as has been the case in almost all of the non-US world.

Hey, Philippe, didya notice that I said nothing at all about "scaleness"? LOL!!

Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#43 Ron Hershman

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 10:12 PM

Sure the malls are expensive to operate in but if Hallmark can operate a store selling $1.50 cards, then surely some smart guy can figure out what business can be mated with a simple slot track in order to be located in a high traffic area! (big snip)

Every time I go the Hallmark store or past it, it's full of people spending money... no wonder they survive selling 1.50 cars that they probably have a nickel in. ;)

Track time... I agree with you 100% on this. I think it should be free if they have their own cars/equipment for all the reasons you stated. If I owned a raceway, everyone who walked through the door would get five minutes free with a car and controller just to get them intrigued. I can't count the times I have been in a raceway, see a person(s) walk in off the street, and the person behind the counter not give them the time of day, let alone say hello.

The rest of what you say, sounds just like the American Raceways manuals.

Hey, Greg, I got all of those manuals. ;)

#44 Cheater

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 11:28 PM

... if Hallmark can operate a store selling $1.50 cards...

Forgot to mention that it's pretty clear you guys haven't purchased any cards in a mall Hallmark store lately. Please do so and report back how much you pay for a card. I'm betting it's more than $1.50...

Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#45 Rick

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:09 AM

Fourth, the suppliers and vendors to the commercial hobby seem to have little or no interest in doing anything to help their raceway customers succeed nor in promoting the hobby to the general public (sorry, race prizes and banners don't qualify). I can't think of many other leisure-time activities where the vendor community is seemingly so disinterested in the long-term success of the activity that provides them income.

I have said this before, it was healthy for the manufacturers that raceways failed. it made them lots of money. BUT, the system has finally come home to haunt them. In the past a person invested 20K to open a nice raceway and it went well for the first two years, because it was new, new cutomers needed everything etc etc etc. Then summer came and Blam, almost zero. Said raceway is now a money pit so it is sold off for 5K just to get rid of it. TADA, another new raceway opens up, across town, new location, new meat, the manufacurers are selling product again. New owner, new money to invest and he knows how to do it. This went on for 20 years.

The pyramid scheme has finally saturated.

Raceways of tomorrow will need to be Charters and Clubs with enough members to pay the monthly expenses. Probably opened as a non-profit org and any money left over after expenses given back to the members via pizza nite etc. The members would need to support each month or sell their share to a new person to keep the club going. Club officers take turns opening and closing. Clubs can have beer in them. :) Get my drift?...

PS: Wasn't Hallmark the one that sold beanie babies to the masses by the gazzilions. And yes Greg, last card I bought was $4.85, LOL
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#46 jimht

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 08:32 AM

Hundreds of millions invested in Raceways of all sorts since the Sixties...an abysmal record of failure regardless of location or funding.
The problem is the product not the presentation.
You don't get what you pay for.

Jim Honeycutt

"I don't think I'm ever more 'aware' than I am right after I hit my thumb with a hammer." - Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts]


#47 Jairus

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 10:50 AM

I disagree, if it was the product then why are we still here discussing it? If it was that slot cars and tracks were flawed and the idea of a commercial track was wrong, why has it continued to exist all these years and not all gone poof?
Presentation and location are everything! If you put a Coke machine out in the middle of nowhere it will not sell nearly as much product as a machine placed in a high traffic area.

True, today's market is diluted with a myriad of other products, hobbies and glittery bling to attract the attention of America's youth. Not to mention we are many generations removed from the boomers.... BUT, the American boy still likes things the work, have gears and motors and goes fast! The product can be marketed, it is not flawed!

The concept of a club track is great and has proven to work. That I will conceed... but like the train market, it has a sunset clause! Meaning that the members are bound to die off eventually. Unless the track is well advertised and located where a new generation of clientele can "stumble" upon it and thus learn about it. It will only languish in the hearts and minds of a few aging veterans.

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#48 jimht

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:18 AM

Ask me if I've stayed in business, this business, for 35 years by selling the product you're touting, Jairus.
The fallacy is the argument: "If you build it, they will come."...no they won't, no they don't.
The product has been promoted, presented, wrapped by experts, shown umpteen different ways to millions of people.
The Raceways still fail.
Here's the inherent problem that has existed since the Sixties:
"Wow, what a neat looking toy, I want one!
Whoops, it broke while I was using it in the manner it was designed to be used...that's not right, is it?"
Try pulling that one with any other product on the market & staying in business.
;)

Jim Honeycutt

"I don't think I'm ever more 'aware' than I am right after I hit my thumb with a hammer." - Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts]


#49 ViperJerry

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:59 AM

The "club" track and "basement" tracks are going to come back and bite the person who is responsible for operating them. I looked into this myself here in NJ. My home insurance, would not cover any commercial ventures in/on my residential property. I'm waiting for one of these club racers to take a tumble down the basement stairs, or, twist their ankle running back to the driver's panel. Here in NJ we have the most liberal juries you will ever find. Good luck dealing with your "buddies" law suit.
Gerald Kastner

Viper Raceway
100 Main St.
Sussex, NJ 07461

#50 Rick

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:37 PM

Oops, sorry guys, I wasn't plain in my mention of a club track. It would be a club/charter track open to the public in a retail location. Not in a basment. The difference is that the charter assures all expenses paid before the door is unlocked. Anything that comes in off the street is for amentities and many other things. Much like The Track in MD, that is a club track in a retail location and a win-win for the shop owner and the racers...
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