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How can slot racing's visibility be raised?


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#51 Race O' Rama

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 11:36 PM

I know that everyone has put in their thoughts the problem here is that it is not on TV like it use to be years ago manufacturers like AFX & Tyco use to run commercials https://www.youtube.... TV commercials

back then everyone knew about slot car racing because they heard or seen it on TV or heard it on the radio, if any of the big manufacturers thought about this today it would be a win win for both the manufacturer & the slot car shop, because the people would come in to the shops to buy car & parts and the buying of those items would go up also for the manufacturer, so come on manufacturers work out something nationwide with the TV networks to run slot car commercials so that this hobby will not die and more people will come to check it out and not avoid it like the plaque.






#52 Race O' Rama

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 11:44 PM

Also with all of this said I have had our shop on TV twice, been on the radio once, and I live, eat, & breath my slot car business and always tell everyone I meet or see on the street that I own a slot car shop. I am the business 24-7. my other half thinks I'm insane to talk slot cars to everyone I see or meet but I try very hard to get the word out there I don't hide what I do nor am I ashamed of what I do, I love the hobby, and don't care what people think because of what I do for a hobby and business.


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#53 Chris Dadds

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 11:47 PM

This would work...

 

The Big Bang Theory has the guys (and Penny) go to a slot car shop on one or more episodes. We need slot cars to be on TV commercials and shows.   

 

Excellent idea! And it fits! I've seen Sheldon's character in a raceway more than once before. To make this happen we need to put together an outline of an episode and get it to the writers. They obviously know nothing of slot racing or they'd have done an episode or two by now. It's what geeky kids did way back when isn't it?   

 

 Perhaps Howard's uncle comes into town to retrieve his childhood slot box (and/or go to the west coast slot mecca) and appears shouting through the walls (a family trait) about the cool stuff that Howard (the engineer) has found in the box from the attic. Howard has an epiphany about the reasons for his career path.  When Howard shares the news with the gang Sheldon reinvents the Wing car as the only way to do it (you can always tell a Texan, but not much.) and after much discussion of physics, mechanics and the usual folderol both Penny and Bernadette trounce their butts on the track because they'd learned to drive when their respective dads had dragged them to the raceway with them when they were little. The girls get into an excited bit about memories of putting decals on their dad's cars and head off to the bathroom together. Go to commercial...


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#54 HillbillyYart

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Posted 18 July 2015 - 11:56 PM

They already had a show with Sheldon playing with toy trains. I think it would fit GREAT!!!! Hillbilly


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#55 Cheater

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 09:20 AM

The TOAA became the TOA. It died a slow death from the lack of interest & participation as the quantities of distributers, manufacturers, & trackowners decreased. Maybe something similar to them could be resurrected within the IRRA.


The TOA was not well-supported by the people it tried to help, i.e. the trackowners. Many of them seemed to feel they got nothing of value for their $60 (IIRC) dues.

Plus IMO the TOA seemed more focused on providing advice and services to the raceways, as opposed to working to advocate for the hobby itself.

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


#56 Cheater

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 10:01 AM

I can tell this topic has been eating at Greg recently as he has made many remarks about it...


Matt, my feelings on the subject are not recent but go back more than a couple of decades. A number of other silly, frivolous leisure time activities, i.e. hobbies, have achieved higher levels of visibility, significantly greater respect in the public's "eye", and much more stability in business terms. And I don't believe that this is due to the inherent characteristics of the activities themselves.

Comparing and contrasting the various more-successful hobbies with slot cars over 25+ years has brought me to the opinions I hold today.
 

This is where the R/C industry not only kicks the slot car industries ***, but many other industries. They do a great job at keeping those in the hobby in it and even a better job of getting the newcomer enthused.


Agreed and I note that it is the actions of the industry as a whole that have been the telling difference, not actions at the individual raceway level.

R/C also is not generally considered to be "toys for kids", as is the case with slot cars. And to be honest, that perception is all too often reinforced by the "childish" behavior of some participants.

The slot car hobby needs to be perceived by the general public as one hobby, not as its various pieces of HO, 1/32, vintage, Retro, Wing, etc., just as is the case with many other diverse hobbies: model railroading, model planes, doll houses...

The only fruitful approach I see is to promote model car racing as being an affordable, safe miniature form of 1:1 racing that is accessible to a wide range of participants to include those with handicaps and disabilities. The costs of attending just a couple of NASCAR races can finance a full year of slot racing in many cases.


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#57 NSwanberg

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 10:58 AM

Excellent idea! And it fits! I've seen Sheldon's character in a raceway more than once before. To make this happen we need to put together an outline of an episode and get it to the writers. They obviously know nothing of slot racing or they'd have done an episode or two by now. It's what geeky kids did way back when isn't it?   
 
Perhaps Howard's uncle comes into town to retrieve his childhood slot box (and/or go to the west coast slot mecca) and appears shouting through the walls (a family trait) about the cool stuff that Howard (the engineer) has found in the box from the attic. Howard has an epiphany about the reasons for his career path. When Howard shares the news with the gang Sheldon reinvents the Wing car as the only way to do it (you can always tell a Texan, but not much.) and after much discussion of physics, mechanics and the usual folderol both Penny and Bernadette trounce their butts on the track because they'd learned to drive when their respective dads had dragged them to the raceway with them when they were little. The girls get into an excited bit about memories of putting decals on their dad's cars and head off to the bathroom together. Go to commercial...


Wow, Chris. This episode practically writes itself!
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#58 Rick

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 11:11 AM

There is nothing that could be done to raise awareness and no one is doing anything wrong today. It is simply the change of culture trying to revive something that has run its course. Times were much simpler in the '60s, but today very complicated and crammed full of easier or attractive pasttimes to everyone, not just younger people. Things just change, for example, look at Little League baseball today as compared to the '60s. Look at Port Jeff as another example, surrounded by 12 million people or BP, again millions of people all around it. Still only a couple of dozen attend. Also have to you tried to find a real hobby shop there days? Even the big box stores hardly carry model kits, that speaks for itself. ALL hobbies are greatly down in these high tech days.
 
Of course, us, the hardcore, wants it to be great again and feel it's as much fun as can be found, but we are the ever-shrinking minority.
 
Not trying to be negative, just realistic. We can all enjoy what we have left until we can no longer go to race or the raceway(s) goes away.

IMO, the only way to preserve what is left and get a few more interested is break-out racing. I know that the old guard hates to hear this, but it saved drag racing in the '60s. It is apparent that there is an elite 5% that really get good at what we do, but that leaves 95% that are not. That or those are the ones you need to retain. At least that way the 95%ers can't blame the equipment, just themselves. Will it change the winners circle, probably not much, but the appearance of having everything you need to win is there for everyone on the track.

Two pasttimes that have stood the test of time are golf and bowling, and if it were not for handicapping, I feel pretty confident that would not be the case.
 
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#59 Cheater

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 11:37 AM

Good post, Rick.

The only counterpoint I would offer is that the slot car hobby exists at a much higher level in Europe (except for the 1/24 commercial raceway segment which largely doesn't exist there). The question is why aren't the factors you list operative to the same extent over there?

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


#60 Dennis David

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 11:50 AM

All the manufacturers are there. Slot.it, NSR, BRM, Ninco, and Scaleauto hold mega events that cannot be ignored. Scalextric is so engrained in the British Christmas tradition that literally every boy gets a set at some point in his life.

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#61 Rick

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 01:41 PM

Now this is just my opinion, but Europe is trending about 15 years behind the US. Although they are sporting some very nice entry numbers, if compared to the demographic, still miniscule percentage-wise.
 
Some other fodder to compare and realize. In the '60s, it was young people that were coming out in droves to participate in slots and there was a track in about every town, rumor has it, there were between 5,000 and 7,000 tracks operating compared to about 150 today. If you have no local level to draw from, it harms regional and national events also.

Second thing is inflation rate for slots didn't follow standard rates, for example, the Dynamic body mount kit that I knocked off, original packaging was retail for 59 cents with screws included, bubble packed for display. I can't buy the brass raw material for that today. My closest track is now two hours drive away, toll fees of $11, etc., sure isn't like riding your bicycle. :)
 
And I stress again, I don't think anyone is doing anything wrong today, it's doesn't have the same appeal to people today vs 1960-70...
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#62 jimht

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 01:55 PM

As Fred noted in post #4, we need more raceways.
More raceways means higher visibility and more customers generally, problem solved.  
Should I go on?   :laugh2:
 
Even though Cheater said at the start that the issue is how to promote slot car racing in all scales, the focus here is on 1/24, OK, let's discuss our favorite subject.
 
As has been proved endlessly by thousands of well-meaning, many times seriously funded attempts since the boom ended around 1966-67 (and the big toy/model companies bailed, taking all their money and promotion with them), the big space eating eight-lane tracks Raceways are not a viable business proposition.
 
The reasons:
The revenue from the tracks  themselves won't pay for the space they occupy so retail sales have to make up the shortfall.
The cars and parts available are extremely unreliable and expensive to maintain for the customer just looking for a toy to play with. Likewise, the expense is also too high for for the hobbyist who likes the idea of tinkering.
 
Consider the reliability of a Tonka truck or an HO scale locomotive as comparisons... both ends of a spectrum, both reliable, totally unlike the 1/24 slot car comparison: a Flexi with a tissue paper body and tires that have to be replaced if not used for a couple of weeks or an Open class wing car that needs rebuilding after five minutes.
 
The products provided to run on the big tracks don't suit the customers who want a cheap toy to play with. Unfortunately, it has been pretty much impossible for raceways to come up with a vehicular solution by themselves and all the manufacturers that have focused on racing always compromise reliability for speed.
If there were cars that were cheap slow reliable toys that folks could buy for family fun, the tracks would maybe generate enough revenue. But, just like in the '60s, there really has to be a ridiculous variety of cheap toys so that if something breaks it's sensible to just buy another car and keep playing... consider  the sell-ability of a complete line of Lightning McQueen character cars that cost less than $19.99 each and would be collected by the kids.
 
The companies making small tracks with small cars never lost sight of the necessity of the toy car.
 
 
In addition, 1/32 has been rejuvenated by the baby boomers worldwide getting back into slot cars that really remind them of their toys of the '60s... slow and realistic. The success of 1/32 has even enabled the development of 1/43 scale as a viable replacement for HO in the toy market.
 
So, slot cars are at least holding their own in the smaller scales.
 
Elsewhere on Earth, big tracks never really caught on as they did here. If Hasse hadn't come along they would have died a peaceful death after most of the AMCR tracks went to the dumpster or Mexico. Certainly big tracks could go away as commercial operations and the club raceways in 1/32 and 1/24 would keep it going. As a matter of fact, that's pretty much where we're at right now.
 
Through the years I've not had that hard a time getting warm bodies to come through the doors, the issue is getting them to stay or come back. That has to do with what we offer.
 
So, it's not so much that we need to raise visibility, we really need to rethink what we sell for fun to play on the track.
 
If we can get more actual customers from the potential we have now we'll obviously need more raceways to handle the business... and we're right back at the start of this public soliloquy, problem solved.   :D  
 
Fred was right.


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#63 PCH Parts Express

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 02:44 PM

Ahh. The first two renters of the day. A father and son. It is their first time doing commercial slot cars. Maybe I'll try to sell them cars when they are done (in 30 min.). 


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#64 Jairus

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 02:48 PM

This is a thread that is being spun-off from the "World's largest wooden track" thread to discuss what might possibly be done to increase slot racing's visibility as a viable hobby. And please do not confine your thinking to just one aspect, i.e. 1/24 wood track racing. Lets cover the whole gamut, from HO to wing.

 

What doesn't or hasn't worked is not the subject. Please keep that in mind.

 

Gentlemen, start your opinions!

 

Gee I don't know.

Maybe someone should start a magazine showing a cross section of the hobby and post it on the shelf where anyone can see it?
And maybe some members of that hobby could actually write informative and interesting articles to inspire the greater unwashed public?

 

Oh wait... never mind.


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#65 jimht

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 02:48 PM

And if they don't buy, make sure they leave with some coupons that give them two cars for 30 minutes for the price of one.  :wink3: 


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#66 PCH Parts Express

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 02:52 PM

If I can sell these guys one or more cars today will any slotblog readers be willing to make it interesting? How about for every car I sell to them, one or more readers of this thread donate $1 or more to Slotblog? Who will donate $1?  


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#67 PCH Parts Express

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 03:55 PM

Any takers? They left 10 min. ago.


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#68 Cheater

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 04:00 PM

I'm in, but not for Slotblog. For Awareness Speedway.


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#69 MSwiss

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 04:22 PM

I just had my best summer weekend that I've ever had, where a bigger organized race wasn't involved.

Lots of casual rentals, with I'm guessing, about 40% of the them repeat business.

To get that repeat business, it was discussed before, toss those belt driven rental cars and use something better performing.

Also, I make sure I give some coaching and most important, throw out some positive reinforcement.

Point out when they just ran their fastest lap, or on a solid stretch of staying on.

And if I can fit it in, hold some sort of races at the latter part of the rental.

Whatever you do, you can't just ignore them for the duration of the rental.

Jim, of course, is right about slot racing needing a cheap car.

$20-25. Doesn't have to be fast. About 7 or 8 seconds on a King would be fine.

Just sort of flashy looking and fairly reliable.

It should be possible if someone made the commitment to do it.

I just bought an R/C motorcycle for less than $20, and it has way more going on with it than a slot car needs.

Working lights, articulated rider, plenty fast, and banged into the only stretch of hard walls I have on my flat track, numerous times, somersaulted it s few times on less than smooth parking lot, and it keeps on running.
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#70 PCH Parts Express

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 04:24 PM

We sold one car to them. A new JK 4" Porsche 908 with Hawk 7 motor, Cheetah 7 chassis 64 pitch gears and fully dressed out with realistic stickers.


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#71 SlotStox#53

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 05:01 PM

Scalextric is so engrained in the British Christmas tradition that literally every boy gets a set at some point in his life.

 

+1 for this boy who got his Scalextric set one Christmas :D :laugh2:

Biggest thing for the UK in particular is that possibly the biggest demagraphic is the slot car/model "collector" buying two of every livery and model that all the 1/32 companies produce. One for the track and one shelf queen in the box.

Back in the '60s slot cars were big but not on the scale of the USA. Some commercial raceways existed like Tottenham Model Raceways but a lot of ECRA (Electric Car Racing Association) events were run on home/club based circuits.

Some tracks were huge being located in popular holiday resort towns like Westcliff and Southend (Southend inheriting Tottenham's King track after it had been used in a guys basement/garage!)

Today there are hardly any true model shops left and only one true commercial raceway that I know of, being MillStream in Ringwood. The Scalextric effect that was mentioned is definitely real and everyone knows the name and what it represents. But the majority of people see it purely as a toy and the hobby will forever stay a small niche market.

Having said that, there are hundreds of very popular home and club based circuits with plenty of people racing and passing the racing gene on!

Edit: basically because there's never been a huge chain of commercial raceways and the fact the home and club scene is so popular, maybe people feel it's visible enough?



#72 Mayberryman

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 06:57 PM

I am not too sure that commercial slot car racing can ever grow to more than it is right now, I will give you two reasons why.  (1) Add up the cost to purchase a new track (I will use the old 155' five turns and a doughnut as an example).  I am not too sure what a new track now cost per running foot but I know it is not cheap.  The other alternative is to purchase a used track and then you must factor in the cost of getting it to your track, the new braid, the cost for initial stock and the cost per square foot of space that you will pay in rent not to mention the utilities and then you must figure how much you must make just to pay the bills, let alone pay yourself McDonald's type money.  I wonder in the current cycle of 2.5 to 3 years and then move would you ever recover your initial investment above and beyond just paying the bills?

 

Now as far as getting people in the business that have the money to spend one must remember that both in the late 60s to the rebirth in the mid 80s to the current shops that open and close that most potential racers who are hobby people by nature have either been bitten by or know people who have been bitten by the fact that a track will sell you the $250 to $2,000 box of cars to get you racing but one day, many times without any notice, this track has become an empty building and I do not know anything sadder than a box full of prized slot cars with no place to race them.  I fully believe that the rebirth of the mid 80s was a direct result of the kids of the 60s growing up and now were the 30 to 35 year olds with disposable income and further I believe that this core group of 60s kids still remain the main core group for racing.

 

1/32 club racing and club/commercial tracks have sprouted up with fairly good results as have some drag strips but in my part of the country only one road course remains and this is a "Club Track" located in an RC business and the Slot Car end is run by a group of club members.

 

I would be very surprised if things remain the same if there will be 100 commercial tracks in this country in the next 10 years and about 90% of those will have to piggy back off of a more income generating primary business. 


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#73 Samiam

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 07:29 PM

"How can slot racing's visibility be raised?"

 

We've all heard the gloom and doom, the sky is falling, sell your stuff now while it is still worth something predictions. 

 

Greg wants to hear of ways slots can be exposed or re-exposed to more people.


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#74 Dennis David

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 07:58 PM

I think an industry can still exist in a hobby that mostly exists of clubs but not with the products that are currently available from most American manufacturers. It would look completely different involving after market parts for kit cars, somewhat similar to what you see in HO.

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#75 Gator Bob

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Posted 19 July 2015 - 08:30 PM

Random

1:1 scale base sample:

 

Make friends with your local short track owner and fans get a flier/coupon handed out upon entry for some free track time your local scale track.

Random draw to a ticket holder for a free car painted up like one of the local on track favorites.

Could tie it in with a local food bank "Meals on Wheels' program or church .... and to get in on the drawing you have to bring a canned good. 

Do a raffle .. local handicapped kid gets a starter set and beg some of the local stars to come out and play with him ...

 

It's about exposure ... Right?

Co-operative marketing can create a win, win, win at very little cost.

 

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Random - other.

 

To help Band-Aid the bleeding from internet sales ...

Give back track time (limited use hrs.?) for over the counter sales.

Ten bucks over the counter  = ten minutes.... or something.


  • Samiam likes this
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                            Bob Israelite





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