Well, it seems that after much discussion and opinions, that some of you are talking along the same lines as the way I see it today. That is, the slot car hobby growth in 1/32 scale by way of race sets and rtr near exact scale cars. And that these sets and cars are being collected as well as raced in homes by individuals and small clubs. The mere fact that there are hundreds, if not over one thousand, different 1/32 rtr slot car produced in the past 10-15 years is staggering, and identifies as the hobby's source of growth.
I agree with the points about slot car commercial track racing. It is after all a hobby, serious for a few as racers with skills to tune a car and race it. For more, it is a hobby to have fun with. I see the sale issue like this- yes the hobby started out as a scale car, with model kits and rail cars and tracks as their origins. And in the early days it seems that slot cars were a hobby for track (with scenery) and car builders, that raced their cars on their custom built tracks. the cars, the track, and the scenery being recreations of the real thing.
The toy companies in the 1960s jumped onto the bandwagon with their home race sets. Commercial raceways were a fad, today we see that as a fact. And that only really lasted for a few years in the 1960s. To view that for its time, we have to acknowledge that the rtr cars, and the Thingies that younger kids enjoyed, helped the fad/craze grow. One with no experience could buy a car and a controller and onto the track to PLAY with their new toy car.
Key words for that time period: TOY CARS, and PLAY.
Today, we adults talk back and forth about all of this, as we are doing once again here. Scale played a part in the beginnings of this hobby. Today, it is hard to not acknowlege that scale is playing a huge role in slot car hobby growth, in today's rtr plastic car 1/32 scale.
Some ask why there is not a huge growth within 1/32 scale and commercial raceways. Here is how I see it: 1/32 rtr cars and race sets are sold in hobby shops. Not toy stores, not in commercial raceways. If a raceway were to fully stock 1/32 cars, parts, accessories and race sets, as well as some general and related hobby items- then needing space for retail sales- advertise as a hobby shop (for the retail sales) and a raceway (for the racers), build smaller tracks out of plastic sectional track, then there would be hope.
Think of it- a father/parents buy a 1/32 race set. The father/parents and children PLAY with their toy race cars and track. They see what can be built with the very same cars and tracks with more space, and there are organised races for both novices and more serious, kept separate. Other hobby items are available to sell, such as paints, glues, model kits, etc for related hobby interest. Issues for the shop owner are retail space vs track space, time to organise and run races. And the owner must know the hobby!!
Can it be done? I think so. And the shop owner must work with the local small home club racers to attract them into his new shop and to race, buy their cars and parts, and work with the novice customers to encourage them, and to help build the hobby.
A personal note- I spent several years doing this exact thing at a small local hobby shop with a 1/32 scale and ho scale track. I actually helped inquiring customers, and made sales for the shop owner. I did it to help others to get into the hobby. I NEVER got a thank you, a discount, or anything like that from the shop owner....
.....needless to say, most of my slot car money is spent elsewhere.
So- we can discuss the reasons why this or that, both today and 40 years ago. All of what is being discussed here are valid points, and a little of this, a little of that, adds up to the answer for the topic here.
I still think that this hobby is seeing the beginnings of huge growth, and that growth is in 1/32 rtr plastic cars first, followed by h.o. scale.
The issue of scale in today's world: DivIII (D3) shows that scale is coming back in 1/24 scale. The addition of a small but growing 1/24 scale company: BRM from Italy shows that scale is popular in 1/24 and hopefully these 2 small groups can help scale to come back into 1/24. Carrera makes plenty of 1/24 scale plastic track and cars, even though the cars perform as toys vs racing a slot car.But- the scale and quality is there to enjoy.
Compare to 1/32 scale: Slot-it from Italy has proved that a slot car can be: scale, top quality to race, and inexpensive. All 3 of these qualities proves that scale can be part of racing- these two segments of this hobby can, and do, live in harmony, just in 1/32 scale for now. BRM proves it in 1/24 scale, but the cars are a bit expensive in comparison, hopefully just for now.
And look outside of the USA: 1/24 scale is enjoying a huge following with SCALE bodies being built onto racing chassis. So there is proof that scale and racing can live together in 1/24 scale as well. However, it has not caught on here in the USA. Our slot car makers bang out the commercial raceway model of a racing car, leaving scale realism completely out of the picture.
Lastly, as I know I am going on a bit here, the internet has opened up a new window of hope for this hobby. Again, I see lots of opportunity for growth in this hobby: slot cars. Racing is just one aspect of the overall hobby. And I enjoy just about every aspect of it nowadays.