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Why did slot car racing fade so quickly in 1967-68?


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#451 sportblazer350

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 05:50 PM

I don't think that there is one reason why commercial racing ended so suddenly, but here is what i have seen. There were home sets made before commercial raceways. The home sets started out in 1/32 scale. As a child (born in '58) in the early sixties, as my older sister carted me around to her friend's houses, i saw many a 1/32 scale slot car track, along with train sets, in basements. Also in the early 60's the h.o. scale home sets were getting popular. So the slot car hobby started out marketed towards  home set racing.

 

   Then more hobby manufacturers jumped in (such as Monogram, AMT, Revell- note plastic model makers) making cars, accessories and race sets for home use. 1/32 scale clubs seem to have always been popular. The other dynamic is the boom of commercial raceways and now companies making 1/24 commercial slot cars and accessories. Then there were the slot car/model kit magazines. The slot car articles in these magazines seem mostly about 1/24 scale cars, and all of the racing articles were geared towards commercial track racing and building.

 

    Did all of these groups ever get together? Namely the manufactuers of home and commercial cars, race sets, and accessories, the commercial track industry, and the magazines which was the consumer's source of the current happenings in the hobby? I ask because of the 2 dynamics going on- the home set race set crowd and the commercial raceway crowd.

 

  As i look back to the 1965-1967 era of commercial raceway cars and accessories, it seems that new products werre being made so quickly, with constant improvements, that you could buy a car back then only to find that what you just purchased was not competitive in a race, which must have been very discouraging. The average person buying a rtr or a kit car could not compete with a scratchbuild with a rewound hot motor. Hobby manufacturers were creating a product line that did not match the serious racing at a commercial raceway, yet they expected their product line to be sold at a hobby shop-commercial raceway. Sales began to drop for these types of companies (e.g. Revell, Cox, AMT, Monogram) and small cottage industry companies making performance parts geared towards the more serious racer were picking up. The novelty/excitement of the newbie began to diminish, leaving mostly racers at commercial raceways left. This making the slot car commercial raceway business appear to have been a fad that came and went rather suddenly.

 

  Here is part of an article I read in the October 1966 issue of Model Car Science entitled "Is 1/32nd scale slot racing dead??" (the article compares 1/32 home/club racing to 1/24 scale commercial racing): What we're saying, in effect is not that American Thumbs should turn up their knuckles at 1/24; but rather that the whole sport would be certainly healthier if a few more companies paid a bit more attention to 1/32nd...and HO, for that matter! The heavy emphasis on commercial racing is simply hurting the entire scene; who wants to take up racing if all the good stuff is in 1/24th scale, and the local center just folded! It just isn't a very comfortable feeling to have put $10, $15, or $20 into a high-speed machine and accessories, only to have no place to open her up!

So, how about it, Mr Manufacturer? Don't you think perhaps it's time to look around the slot racing scene to see if maybe you've forgotten somebody...maybe the hundreds of thousands of us who'd rather race at home."    

 

   If this was the feeling back in 1966, which was very close to the near end of commercial raceways, what can we say now as we look back, with what we know now? Was it 1/24 commercial racing itself the large part of the reason that commercial racing faded so quickly in the late '60s? Did the 1/32 and h.o. scale manufacturers of home race sets do all they could have to keep that part of the hobby alive? Could raceway owners have made more of an effort to promote rtr/kit car racing, at least as a class(es) in itself, in order to keep sales and racing them more attractive to the less experienced consumer?

 

   As I look at how 1/32 home/club slot car racing (and collecting, which is an additional dynamic for today) has grown, especially in the US since the late 1990's, that seems to indicate that possibly much more could have been done in the 1960s in 1/32 scale vs the emphasis on 1/24 scale commercial racing. Also in this same current time period there has been a resurgence in racing and collecting both original 1960s H.O. scale cars and the various re-issues of them. And if the modern 1/32 plasticar and the original/modern Aurora Thunderjet types of slot cars would be considered slow compared to the commercial raceway cars,  does that tell us that these are the types of slot cars that the majority of us in the hobby wish to race? As I ponder that question, it makes me ask myself- if that is true, then why aren't there commercial raceways with tracks built for h.o. and 1/32 scale plasticars? Seems like h.o. scale and 1/32 scale plasticar racers are more home/club oriented. Which then tells me that 1/24 commercial racing is a separate entity in the overall slot car hobby.

 

    After all of these comments and opinions, is there any one answer to all of this? Is there a solution to bring back more commercial track racing? Or is it simply that  there has been less and less interest in the past 50 years? For me, I enjoy almost all aspects of the slot car hobby- collecting, building, racing, home set, club and commercial. For me, fast h.o. scale cars with heavy traction magnets that go at such high speeds that all I see is a blur, as I race at full throttle all the way around the track, is not "racing" at all. Same for 1/24 scale commercial cars that travel at such high speeds.  I am not saying that it is wrong for those who enjoy it, I am just saying that I don't enjoy that type of racing. And that is why I enjoy 1/24 scale Hardbody racing- building a plastic model kit into a slot car, that performs much like a Cox, AMT, etc type of mid 1960s car did, and is real model car racing, like when this hobby became popular in the 60s.  And why I enjoy real 1960s-1970s original and re-issue slot cars (Aurora Thunderjets, AFX, Tyco pro, Curvehuggers, and similar).

 

    I am glad that The Race Place in Farmingdale, NJ  is still in business, open since 1966! I hope that there is enough interest in the commercial raceway aspect of the hobby that raceways stay open for my lifetime and beyond. I am glad that there are so many different types and scales of cars to own, race, build, collect to not ever get bored in this hobby. Bickering and arguing over what is the right way to race is not good for the hobby, nor is just thinking that racing and going faster is the only aspect of this hobby. Buy or build the car you like, support the commercial raceways if you can, and let's keep this hobby alive. For those who are part of todays radio controlled airplane/helicopter/drone hobby, it is easy to see how that hobby has grown so quickly- manufacturers selling near rtf and assembled rtf planes that attract more of the general public into the hobby. I know that the kit builders complain about "foamies" (foam construction rtf airplanes right out of the box) vs building either a balsa wood kit or scratch building from plans. It is the ready to fly/foamies and the like that created growth in that hobby. So compare that to our slot car hobby- those who want to scratch build race cars vs a rtr car marketed to the new, average, not so serious (or however you wish to phrase it) racer. In order to see growth in the slot car hobby, there needs to be products made that are attractive to the general consumer. Sorta like the general consumer buying a daily driver 1:1 car by the millions worldwide  vs the few that build real 1:1 race cars.


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Glenn Orban
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Hardbody Racing at The Race Place





#452 Mattb

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 06:36 PM

Very good post Glen.    You hit on a point we mostly overlook.    1/32 home racing was here before 1964 and after 1967  and was  seed for the commercial hobby.

 

The 1/24 comm side was mostly created by the manufacturers and it benefited from a perfect storm of factors.    If the manufacturer side of the hobby had put all their energy  on 1/32 home racing, it may have well been a different outcome.   Smaller after 67 for sure, but maybe a bit better than what the 1/24 comm hobby went thru.   

 

What if..AMT had introduced a standard 1/24 plastic track in 1962 and not the Rube Goldgerg system they did market?    What if they had a universal chassis that would fit any screw post AMT model and a smaller version that would fit any of their hot rod style cars?   What if they had silicone slicks in the 60's homesets instead of tires that were nearly worthless?

 

What if??????


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#453 Superbird

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 06:12 AM

As I look at how 1/32 home/club slot car racing (and collecting, which is an additional dynamic for today) has grown, especially in the US since the late 1990's, that seems to indicate that possibly much more could have been done in the 1960s in 1/32 scale vs the emphasis on 1/24 scale commercial racing. Also in this same current time period there has been a resurgence in racing and collecting both original 1960s H.O. scale cars and the various re-issues of them. And if the modern 1/32 plasticar and the original/modern Aurora Thunderjet types of slot cars would be considered slow compared to the commercial raceway cars,  does that tell us that these are the types of slot cars that the majority of us in the hobby wish to race? As I ponder that question, it makes me ask myself- if that is true, then why aren't there commercial raceways with tracks built for h.o. and 1/32 scale plasticars? Seems like h.o. scale and 1/32 scale plasticar racers are more home/club oriented. Which then tells me that 1/24 commercial racing is a separate entity in the overall slot car hobby.

 

    After all of these comments and opinions, is there any one answer to all of this? Is there a solution to bring back more commercial track racing? Or is it simply that  there has been less and less interest in the past 50 years? For me, I enjoy almost all aspects of the slot car hobby- collecting, building, racing, home set, club and commercial. For me, fast h.o. scale cars with heavy traction magnets that go at such high speeds that all I see is a blur, as I race at full throttle all the way around the track, is not "racing" at all. Same for 1/24 scale commercial cars that travel at such high speeds.  I am not saying that it is wrong for those who enjoy it, I am just saying that I don't enjoy that type of racing. And that is why I enjoy 1/24 scale Hardbody racing- building a plastic model kit into a slot car, that performs much like a Cox, AMT, etc type of mid 1960s car did, and is real model car racing, like when this hobby became popular in the 60s.  And why I enjoy real 1960s-1970s original and re-issue slot cars (Aurora Thunderjets, AFX, Tyco pro, Curvehuggers, and similar).

Great insight Glenn, and a good segue to the present situation in 32nd and home tracks. There is a significant difference between the culture of the '60s with the Baby Boomers (us) and today. We had the exuberant Space Race, Disney Technicolor,  Moon Landing, Muscle Car Era. Everything was new and exciting while kids today are more reserved and accustomed to a high level of sophistication in everything from games to flying drones to social media outlets. They also occupy a world of post-Vietnam, post 911 disillusion with the overriding expectation of permanent economic stagnation. Youngsters and Millennials aspire to owning upscale sports cars and vintage racing machines that are somewhere between professional Football player salary level and 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous'. The global industries have responded with a vast supply of offerings that are amazingly beautiful models of upscale exotics that are cleanly finished, beautifully engineered and ready to race directly from the box. They can have fun immediately driving them if they want or show them off to friends who collect them like jewelry. We boomers aspired to real car ownership and getting a piece of the exciting new and 'futuristic' technologies we saw around us. 32nd slot cars today give racers an image of automotive excitement and a level of status they can only aspire to. 


Pete Shreeves

#454 elvis44102

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 06:11 PM

having just joined this forum i am probably over posting,but here goes

 

seems i started at the age of 11 in about 67, used a rental car maybe for two visits...(being so young i had no idea of any sound business model, and maybe still dont)  after a few visits i bought a pre-made car at some discount chain and can to this day remember the attitude of donna hubell as in "we sell cars here you know" and from then on i bought everything at the slot shop.

 

by 1968 and on the cleveland area stores decided to have series races within the half-dozen or so raceways i being obsessed with slotcars could not wait to see the pictures of the latest

 

westcoast/eastcoast cars however we had NO king track in cleveland just englemans and orange tracks and such (thats i think why Ken M built the Parma King) anyway us "fast" racers wanted what the "Pros" had....

 

the slot shop had secondary road courses that were borderline 1/32 tracks these very wiggly tracks were much harder to drive and hardly no speed needed other than high torque to get from one corner to another faster

 

there is a beauty in a fast king track however there is way more fun in scale midget race on a course with esses


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#455 gc4895

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 09:42 AM

I remember the sport, at that time, being an almost all adult activity with just a few of us kids thrown in. Lots of hobby guys with the money to buy stacks of Dyna rewinds and sort through them for the good ones. A few college age guys, a few high school kids (like myself) but most of the real serious racers were adults. A couple of them sponsored really good driving kids but the good drivers, to my recollection, handed the car back to tighten anything and everything. They couldn't pin a body. Older guys were copying the west coast chassis designs and selling chassis. From my perspective in the Midwest, it was never a kids sport then. Adults moved on from the racing scene. As for broad market, the over the counter cars were total junk - couldn't make a lap with them. Kids and everyone else quickly tired of the stuff some collectors are now paying big bucks for. They sold cars on looks rather than any semblance of on track performance. I couldn't wait to dump my cuckarachas for cars that actually worked. My view is the hype (unrealistic expectations) of slot car performance was never broadly translated into any tangible, accessible user friendly on-track experience- except of course for the few who took the time and effort to figure out how to make them really work aka the lunatic fringe. Of which, I'm glad to call myself a survivor today and am still trying to go ever faster on the track. Slot cars were never easy enough for kids or the casual participant or "the public". It's an enthusiasts activity. Has always kept it in a very small box. Just my 50 years of observation- as always, YMMV.
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#456 Steve Deiters

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 09:51 AM

Cleveland big league racing scene in the early '70's at Parma.  When ever you saw Dave Smirka, Dan Bloodworth, and John Wisneski.....you saw the other two.  Good times.


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#457 don.siegel

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 09:56 AM

That makes sense - slot racing has always required more of a commitment to become good than a lot of people are willing to invest. As far as I can tell, it's also true of modern "plastic" 1/32 cars and even Flexis, which are basically good running cars. But there's always some basic tuning to do because you can even think of competing. 

 

Also agree that most of the 60s cars were pretty crappy, but with the distance of a few decades, I've also seen that most of these cars can be made to run very well indeed (yes, even Cox), but you need to know what you're doing, and at 14 or 15 I definitely didn't! 

 

It actually seemed to be part and parcel of the whole deal: if you were really into slots, you had to like tinkering with them. 

 

As for the drivers, I raced at a very local place in Chicago, and it was almost all teen boys, with just a few young adults. We had more of a problem of getting enough participants than of anybody dominating by spending more money. We did actually have one "spoiled youngster", with seemingly unlimited funds, who built beautiful chassis, but was not an especially good driver or tuner, and had a bit of a temper... 

 

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#458 Tim Neja

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 03:29 PM

Slot racing died because of simple economics!!  A LACK of adequate RULES to stop the "rush" to better technology and control the COST of racing toy cars!!  I started racing in 1961---cars were CHEAP--and of course -- not very good.  But -there were really no rules to control the cost of racing.  Manufacturers jumped in with nothing more in mind than making big bucks.  But-- the cost of racing went from 25-30 bucks in the early 60's to $HUNDREDS of dollars in the late 60's!! And with "open" rules--- the technological RUSH to improve meant the car you bought today was obsolete next week!!  Retro racing today has solved that problem, with RULES and CHEAP MOTORS!!   The same cars I built 5 years ago are still competitive today--at least on the flat tracks!! So racing is economically sound today---and out of control in the late 60's.  Heck,  the death of wing racing today is from the SAME THING!! It's TOO expensive to run an open wing car.  The need for RULES to control the cost of racing has always been needed.  Simple economics!! 


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#459 gc4895

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 06:30 PM

Agree that slot racing in the late '60s was like the Can Am, unlimited racing and unlimited expensive.  And that expensive becomes it's own limiting factor with a crash landing just around the corner. 

 

But I was thinking more broadly as to when there were tracks springing up in every darn strip mall all over the country.  My view continues to be that the slot car experience, for the consumer, simply put - sucked.  The OTC cars of that era were awful - despite the crazy prices they may bring now.  Moms and dads were buying cars for Jr. that didn't deliver the promise of the box and they and the kid behind the counter didn't have a clue how to fix them.  This is an enthusiasts product.  Slot car tracks should have never been built in most of the places they showed up.  Even the mild mannered flexi cars of today require someone with expertise to get it to perform correctly.

 

That being said, I remember what was for me the seminal True magazine article about teenage kids being termed "professional" racers.  As a just turned teen I couldn't think of anything more exciting or interesting. 


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#460 don.siegel

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 03:40 AM

It was the article in January 69 issue of Car & Driver: "Sooo-krus ... The Sound of Teenage Money". 

 

The only article in True was from December 66: "Slotniks make slot cars go boom". 

 

Don 



#461 gc4895

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 08:35 AM

Yeah, that was the one from Dec '66. I was 14 and my dad always had True magazine around since it was a man's publication! We were in Florida for Christmas. It would be 2 more years 'till I turned 16, got my license and my 396 Camaro. 4 speed, Hurst shifter!!!
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#462 Mattb

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 09:03 AM

I guess age and the numbers were really the main culprit.   When I look back, I was 14 years old and had a small track open up near our home.   We were in a 1960's subdivision and there were several more and older residential areas within 2 miles of this track/bowling alley.  Same building, not same business.   There were kids in at least half of the homes, at least half.  They were all aged 15 or less and rode bikes all over.  Lots of kids, lots of bikes, outside all the time, no air or cable tv or cell phones.    The bowling alley, slot track and local pool were the regular hangouts.  Kids were out  running all day long.

 

At the track lots of kids hung out, most had some kind of car and "played" some, but only a few really took it serious and built and raced their cars weekly.  This was the same situation for about 2-3 years.   By 1967, many of the kids graduated to real  cars and jobs.   We left behind bikes and local hangouts.   There was no next generation coming up to replace us as we left.   What was left after the next 2-3 years were older guys/men that really got into the serious racing.  The kids and fun scene slowly dwindled away, and with it the hobby as we knew it in 64-66.  Those were the "glory years" for our memories and for numbers of participants.

 

Kind of a perfect storm for those couple years and I don't think  minor factors like cost and  junk rtr cars were a major factor.  I think the main factor in the loss of interest was more about the aging of the initial base than anything else.   What was left were serious guys and casual fun became a minor element.  For the most part it has stayed that way.


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#463 elvis44102

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 05:33 PM

not so sure all the RTR cars were of poor quality as we had weekly cox cucaracha which drew maybe 15-20 regulars and they were very evenly matched which meant the best driver usually won, there was also some sort of midget racer which we did the same with...late 60's....

 

as late as 1975 my last year racing i drove a stock RTR of sorts a limpach 888 in an eastcoast regional to around forth place..car weighed a ton being solid brass and lost about five feet a lap to fastest cars per lap...but if you just dont de-slot it was competitive  (having Joel and Jan in the pit crew helped as well)...

 

the fastest cars then were essentially 888 with some holes in them


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#464 MSwiss

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 06:28 PM

car weighed a ton being solid brass and lost about five feet a lap to fastest cars per lap.

Are you confusing the 888 with the Pacesetter?

 

post-3-0-74217900-1442340638.jpg

 

post-1363-0-89508800-1315534288.jpg


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#465 Samiam

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 06:39 PM

as late as 1975 my last year racing i drove a stock RTR of sorts a limpach 888 in an eastcoast regional to around forth place..car weighed a ton being solid brass and lost about five feet a lap to fastest cars per lap...

 

the fastest cars then were essentially 888 with some holes in them

A while back I picked up a bunch of brass 'N wire chassis from Ebay. To my surprise one was a "888". An early hand engraved one. In my last Ebay pile of old brass I found a stamped "888" drop arm. I guess I have to build up an entire chassis with it.

 

BITD I raced a so called "Box Stock 15" at Roy Crawley's Phaze III. Bought a Parma kit and built it to spec.It was very similar to the "888". Never did any racing with earlier RTRs. Then Parma came out with the "Flexi-Kar" and the rest is history. And if PdL ever gets that gosh darn book finished 'yall be able to read about it. 


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#466 Jaz

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:55 PM

simply put, all the kids that the slot industry of the early to mid '60's targeted, grew up, got drivers licences and started chasing girls.

 

well....almost all. My girlfriends could not understand my fascination with those 'stupid little cars'  haha!


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#467 Half Fast

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 08:57 PM

They also went to college to get theyselves a gud educashun! :shok:

 

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#468 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 11:25 AM

There are chapter of the "fade" that I'd definitely like to hear opinions upon. From my own observations, I've seen four major developments that in my estimation have done a great deal to give more longevity to the hobby as a whole. 

 

1: Magnatraction HO scale slot cars

2: The introduction of the stamped steel chassis (Parma Flexi-Kar)

3: The growth of slot car bracket drag racing

4: Fly's emphasis on scale detail in 1/32nd scale

 

While only one of these directly relates to commercial track road racing, each of these have been major game changers for the hobby in the post-Pro era. Thoughts?


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#469 Dallas Racer

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 01:15 PM

The growth of slot car bracket drag racing

 

It dawned on me the other day that many tracks have successful drag racing programs. That seems to be the real future of commercial slot cars.

 

And this just dawned on me: Everyone talks about getting kids involved to save roundy round slot car racing. What about drag racers? They already know about slot car racing. They're at the track weekly. Often a lot of them. Why don't they race road course slots? I know some do but the vast majority doesn't.


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#470 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 01:31 PM

Having had a drag racing program at my shop, I can tell you that drag racing tends to be its own social scene generally involving a large number of folks who also frequent 1/1 scale drag strips and know each other from there. 

 

Further, drag racing itself is VERY purse-conscious. It's a whole culture of not only money to win, but sidebets as well. The few drag racers I've encountered who have shown a passing interest in road course racing generally are appalled to hear that road course racers tend to race for little to no money. 


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#471 Mattb

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 04:42 PM

I don't think some of the guys can run a road course where I race.    They drag race because it is bracket racing, it's not about building the fastest car, it's about the tree.   It doesn't take the lap after lap of concentration.   You hit the tree, hold it down and then you can talk to the guy next to you and not lose your concentration.    Some of the drag racers do run the organized racing, but a lot of them  can't build cars that turn.   There are a couple guys at the track that  have as much business as they want building cars for quite a few of the guys.   I asked the owner one time why he didn't  give handout motors for some of his big events and he said he only had a few guys that could even change a motor and set the gears right!

 

I know that to guys that have been doing this for 50-60 years it seems incredible that a guy  can't do this basic stuff.   One guy called me on the phone because he wanted to go faster with his road course car and wondered if he should get a bigger gear or a smaller gear.   This guy has been slotting for 55 years and was a slot car  shop owner at one time.  

 

I think the simplicity to just bracket race is the reason so many drag race and they are comfortable with that and the driving is much easier than a road course!


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Matt Bishop

Vintage Cox Slot Cars

#472 gc4895

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 05:31 PM

I agree that magma traction HO cars were a real breakthrough. A wonderful innovation that motivated me to build a track that took up two 4x8 sheets of plywood. Great stuff.

And the flexi car FINALLY brought a modicum of accessible racing to the common man.

But these innovations were too late to save the vast majority of commercial tracks from the "bust". Honestly, the majority of the boom I don't think would have survived even with flexi's and Hawk 7's in hand. These innovations helped, at last, deliver a better consumer experience. Slot racing is an enthusiasts activity, like golf. Even with great clubs it's not for most people.

Drag racing, where I race, attracts an almost entirely separate group of racers. I can only think of 1 crossover. Different skill set and different interest level. Just like pistol shooters, rifle competitors and the clay target sports. All shooting but few crossovers.
Mark Bauer

#473 elvis44102

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 08:24 AM

Are you confusing the 888 with the Pacesetter? Yes ..it was a pacesetter main difference between open fast cars if memory is correct was solid middle section (as in no hole more weight) and ALL brass

race was a king track and i went several heats without de-slotting..i was never the best driver and probably choked when i found out i was leading while simultaneously avoiding cars passing me and coming out of slot...as i think i said i had Jan glueing the track and Joel changing motors..i remember i had virtually nothing to do between heats (most unusual) Jan was pushing the pacesetters then as we also had orange pacesetter shirts HA

 

post-3-0-74217900-1442340638.jpg

 

post-1363-0-89508800-1315534288.jpg


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John Wisneski

#474 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 02:12 PM

Just scanned this thread - it is an oft-debated topic and brings to mind a favorite quotation: "To every complex problem there is a simple solution and it is wrong!"  That said, I'm not going to add any general observations but rather insert a bit of personal history.  The following is an excerpt from a lengthy "History" section of a website, www.ecuriemartini.com, that I put together some years ago. The time period covered was 1963.

 

I soon discovered, in a hobby shop in San Diego, the first commercial track I had ever seen. It was a relatively relaxed affair. I think the owner ran it out of enthusiasm and as an adjunct to the sales of supplies. The drill was simple: you showed up with you car(s), paid a very modest entry fee, and raced in a series of heats. At the end of the evening, the owner kept a fraction of the pot to cover his costs and the remainder was distributed to 1st,2nd, and 3rd place drivers. I suppose it was illegal but this was not big money. A 1st place purse would buy coffee and dessert on the way home. After looking over the competition - some early commercial cars, home builts based on newly available commercial parts and some English hybrids (1/32 chassis stretched to fit a 1/24 body), a quick phone call to the "home office" resulted in a package containing some rudimentary tools, the Vanwall and the 300SL and a few spares being dispatched. We shot off to the hobby shop with visions of victory laps in our heads. The cars wouldn't run! My phosphor bronze pick-ups were incompatible with the track. With some misgivings (it looked sloppy) I clipped the springs off and soldered on braid pick-ups like everyone else was using. Success! Ecurie Martini triumphant - coffee and dessert became a regular occasion. The cars were as fast or faster, handled better and were much more reliable. The only downside was that the track was running a 16 volt supply which meant that the 703's had a racing life of about 4 hours. The heat gradually weakened the magnet and performance slipped. All went well until one night, a competitor showed up with a rather rough looking Porsche G.P. car - with two 703's stuffed into the rear and dual wheels at each end of the two rear axles. It was fast. My observation that it bore little resemblance to any know car fell on deaf ears. (the counter argument was" no, but it might have been"). Others were inspired by the success of the "road warrior" and, in the ensuing weeks, more and more bizarre arrangements appeared. This was, I suppose, the beginning of the "thingie" era. I began to build a "super car" based on a Globe industrial 6 volt motor that would turn 20,000+ and still fit in a scale body but it was never finished. In 1963 Ecurie Martini packed its cars, carefully cushioned, in their metal travelling boxes. Unfortunately, one of the casualties of this cessation was the aforementioned 1/32 300SLR which was designed to answer the handling criticisms leveled at U.S. cars sent to England to compete by proxy. As I walked away, I strolled into "The Model Ship Chandler's" and bought a ship model.

 

EM


Alan Schwartz

#475 Mattb

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 05:26 PM

Alan's story is much like my own.   When the local track opened it had a small triangular track with an outside donut.  Straights maybe 25-30 foot long.   We raced for a trophy and only ran heats when we had more than 8 cars.   It was a run what you brung and to be honest there really was only 2 other guys (both men) that built cars.   The rest were box stock Cox mag frame cars or Revell cars with silicone tires.   I ran a tube frame, Testors 26D, vac form Chap 2D.     It was not great by later standards but far and away better than anything from a kit box.     

I read magazines and  believed in the "scale" part of slot racing.  The other two builders and myself got rules that required a driver in all cars,   Also, tires inside the body, and a body that covered the front and rear of the frame.   Not really a big deal, but allready guys didn't care what their car looked like and the scale part was gone.    

 

I don't know how things progressed at the track, as I gave it up after that summer and when I went back they had a flat figure "8" which I thought was a joke to race a nice car on.   The scale was gone by then and I guess they worked their way up to racing door stops.   

 

Most of the guys were my age and turned 16 in a year or two and went on to part time jobs, cars, and girls.   Slot cars became something most of us used to do. Kids that followed us were  smaller in number and that probably had more to do with lower numbers than anything. 


Matt Bishop

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#476 elvis44102

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 07:45 PM

i must belong too a subset of a subset....i enjoyed "racing" when we were on a smaller flat track racing similar cars...that said once we got to the big tracks i enjoyed building more, motor

 

chassis the whole works..being only 15-16 then i always built cars for Bloodworth and sometimes Simerka, cause i got motor parts from them...but it was a challenge against the clock and track

 

more so then actual racing. i know i was never the best driver but the best that i saw seemed to have eyes in the side and back of there heads and could avoid collisions during a race (not me)

 

so i was a slot car building enthusiast!!


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