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Lack of kids racing will be the death of our hobby


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#1 gatormark

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 06:28 AM

I see a general lack of kids involved in slot racing today, not good, not good at all.

 

It's all about recruiting and if track owners don't wise up they will be history. Our local track has become a hangout for men playing with their toys and it sometimes seems when a kid comes along with a rental car they are in the way.

 

Just a word of advice, at our church we target youth and their activities to grow. Trust me, you show me a church with no youth I will show you a dying church.

 

Ater all, this is a kids hobby and nothing more.


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Mark Conner




#2 Cheater

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 06:56 AM

Mark,

 

I won't say you're wrong, but for me, the bigger concern is the small number of commercial raceways in the US today. Way less than 200 in a country with over 300 million people. This is as few as has existed since the early '60s.

 

And again, please acknowledge that what you're referring to as the "hobby" is the 1/24 commercial raceway environment. Model car racing, as a hobby, is a much more than that.

Slot racing is not the army or a church. Recruiting is IMO the wrong mindset. Seducing kids is the approach that needs to be embraced, in terms of demonstrating how fun and compelling organized racing can be.

And that's another critical problem. There is no entity, organization, whatever you wish to call it, that is publicizing and promoting what the slot racing hobby can offer, what it provides. Every salesman of any product knows to start off by relating the benefits of buying what they're selling. Ain't happening in slots and almost never has.


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#3 havlicek

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 07:56 AM

These issues (and this has been gone over ad nauseum... but rightfully so in my opinion) are only made worse by an educational system that has purposely and even purposefully denigrated hands-on and "industrial" arts. We have been told for decades that the way to a brighter future for people was not with cutting torches, plumber's wrenches, linesman pliers or table saws... it was in "0s and 1s," banking, business administration, whatever. That sort of "education" had resulted in generations growing up being unfamiliar with... and uninterested in all sorts of "real" (as opposed to "virtual") activities.  

 

I don't see slot cars at all as a "kids hobby," I see it as, above all a mechanical hobby or a "tinkerer's hobby." Everything from art as in painting a body (anyone who has looked at a Noose or a Jairus body and doesn't see art isn't looking), to engineering in designing and building a great chassis, to electrical (making or even winding motors) are big parts of what's going on here.  

 

Of course, there's also the competitive aspect which has a natural appeal, but competitiveness isn't something that needs "advertising"...t hat's just "human."

 

Younger people today have been brought up and educated precisely not to get their hands dirty. They've been told that success is exactly the opposite and they should try to get to a place where they can have other people get their hands dirty for them. As a grade-schooler, I can still remember how much I looked forward to shop class, whether it was woodworking, metalworking, or electrical shop. No doubt that exposure, along with "band," helped shape me (for better or worse) as much as anything else. It's a sort of "criminal negligence" on the part of our educational system that this is mostly all gone now. Then again, children get almost no instruction in even something as basic (and proven to be beneficial) as penmanship either.  

 

The insurance companies and lawyers have won, but our children have lost, and this has directly impacted "slots" potential appeal.  

 

-john


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John Havlicek

#4 Mattb

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 10:39 AM

You don't see kids getting into model railroading by setting up big prototype/scale railroad models. They get into RR'ing by getting some kind of toy train they can run around a loop of track on Christmas. If lucky, that interest leads to some online research or a trip to a model train/hobby shop with Dad, who encourages some expansion. While this progression is also on the way down. it is how a kid progress's to the adult hobby of model railroading.

If commercial slot centers were to survive, this same progression would be the way. Much better than just throwing a kid into a commercial track with no experience or friends involved in the hobby. Now if the kid got a decent home set and dad was a little interested and there was some expanding and hands on tinkering, that would be a great introduction. Next the trip to the hobby shop to see what could be bought. Remember our trips to the hobby shop in 65 to buy more track or cars for our home sets. Same hobby shop maybe has a commercial track and some 1/24 kits and parts. You end up with a kid who understands how it works, and is familiar with slot cars. Then an exposure to a commercial track and thru the hobby shop people involved in that side of the hobby that can mentor/guide a new racer. This would be a great path to more commercial racers.

All we need are more involved fathers with the kids and the race set, more full time hobby shops/commercial tracks with a nice variety of parts, tracks and rtr cars. Shop owners that have time to spend with new patrons, clean shops, well stocked, tracks every 30 miles instead of every 300 miles away! Don't look very likely to me.

Most track owners have, maybe 3-4 of any kind of rtr plastic 1/32 cars and probably no interest in helping a customer for those items. They stock parts that they use for their shops race classes and not much else. The shop is probably geared 99% for the regulars and walk in business is zip and is not even really a thought. The lighting is poor, the place is dirty or old looking, the restrooms have inhabitants that scare the hell out of doctors. You sure don't want mom to take you there and see the dirty old men hanging around!!!

What is the fix? There is none, the commercial side will continue to shrink. I wish it was 1965, but it isn't. Until we are all gone, 1/24 racing will at least continue in some garages and homes, even if all the shops dissapear.

All that said, I know there are 8-10 really nice clean slot tracks in America. I have just never seen them.
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#5 SlotStox#53

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 01:27 PM

In terms of the model car racing hobby kids are still getting involved. Slot car sets and 1/32 slot it type cars and clubs are hugely popular in the UK and Europe, along with all manner of different scratch/purpose built & production cars/classes being run.

Hasn't been a size of commercial type raceway scenario in the UK since the slot car boom, with only 1 true commercial setup that I can recall active over there.

With regular kids/juniors nights every week, national org. races every year, walk in traffic along with spares and other hobby lines sold in the store.

I know they also have or had the last time I went a dedicated 1/32 routed track :)

#6 Mattb

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 02:14 PM

I really don't think a comparison between England and the US is valid. Scalextric is a household name in England and their $ have supported and publicized slot cars over there for 65 years or more. That has not extended to America. Carrera is probably top spender over here and I have never seen an ad on TV, not even in a magazine. I have never seen a Carrera set in a Walmart or Target.

How does that compare to Scalextric in England? Really no comparison.
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#7 eshorer

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 02:31 PM

Look up Wright Slot Car Raceway (in Palmdale, CA) on Facebook to see pics of kids and their parents racing in what looks to be a pretty successful series. True, it's only one raceway, but the owner seems to be doing something right! Maybe he, or some of his customers, could add to this conversation if any of them are on Slotblog. 

Eddie


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#8 SlotStox#53

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 03:56 PM

Can see your point, but, wasn't necessarily "comparing" merely trying to say it's not totally "dead 'N buried" and actually doing rather well citing the situation across the pond in response to the OP statement and thread/topic title.

Does it relate/compare or point to a solution for the commercial raceway business model over here? Probably not..

Maybe all the successful and existing raceway owners/operators need to get together and look for proper ways forward as a group? Or at least take some helpful examples of what makes the successful ones succeed and help out the ones in not so happy places.

#9 Ten shirt

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 04:04 PM

Did my best, https://youtu.be/Hnni5pyNths



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#10 Bill from NH

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 04:55 PM

Great video Kent. That's the type of participation this hobby needs if it wants to survive. When Oregon's Rich Vecchio was teaching school in AZ, he built a track at school & had a similar program for students as your video describes. This was about 12-15 years ago. :)


Bill Fernald
 

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#11 Garry S

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 05:03 PM

Did my best,
 

 

I would say that programs like this are pretty much the only way we will ever see a renewal of interest in the hobby.  This school is providing exposure to slot car racing in a "captive" environment where other activities may not look as interesting, and proving that kids will enjoy it if given the chance.

 

Contrast this to the plight of the commercial track owner: He not only has a large overhead and low profits, but he must also sell a product that is virtually unknown to the general public.  It's not like opening a restaurant or a nail salon, people know what those are.  

 

Programs like this could educate kids and parents, producing ready customers for commercial tracks, and all would benefit.                                                


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Garry Stoner

#12 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 05:21 PM

I can speak genuinely that the goal of the modern slot car track should not be to market to children, but rather to young adults. 

 

Particularly if you look to the relative youth of slot car drag racing (much younger than the typical road course program) you see that young men - now as ever - love to spend their disposable income on a chance to compete with their peers.

 

Providing them with a clean, accessible, relatively inexpensive, and well-populated location to do just that will always prove much more successful.

 

Much like darts leagues, bowling leagues, golfing, or other adult pastimes, slot car racing can and should poise itself as an inexpensive avenue for competitive recreation. 


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#13 MarkH

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 06:52 PM

I just sent an e-amil to our local Scout troop leader offering a day of racing for the boys and parents. Our group is club based. There might be interest, maybe not. But I intend to just let them run the turbo flex cars with 16d motors and high down force Ultimate Indy bodies.

 

I will provide the awards for the top three, fastest qualifier and the most consistent driver (Lap Master Stat). So, putting my best foot forward and we will see where it goes.


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Mark Horne

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#14 gatormark

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 07:04 PM

Tried to get the track owner here to call our scoutmaster.....no dice. Some people know nothing about business or marketing for that matter. My girls like running the cars so I guess we will enjoy it while it lasts.


Mark Conner

#15 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 07:07 PM

Raceways need to re-think pushing racing on their customers. Running slot cars without competition can be a very enjoyable hobby that both young and old can enjoy.

 

I was a very hard core racer at one time and sometimes still do race but racing is not the main reason I go to my local raceway anymore, I go to have fun running slot cars with my friends and to help them keep their kids cars running. I don't encourage my friends to get involved in racing either because I know their skill and financial limitations and I want them to return to the track so we can have fun just bangin around and having some laughs. Yeah were the guys who are making all the noise on the oval running our beat-up cars but were also the guys who are helping to pay the raceways bills and the smart owner realizes that and likes what were doing.

 

Racing requires constant equipment purchases weather the racer needs them or not. Tires wear, motors have to be bullets, bodies can't have creases and tears and this is just some of the things that slot car racers must constantly spend money on where as the hobbiest doesn't need to have the prettiest car, the fastest car or even tires that will pass tech or give him that last tenth of a second in performance.

 

Racing may be for some but racing is not for everyone and tracks need to realize that before its too late.

 

Merry Christmas....Bob K.


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#16 Rob Voska

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 07:45 PM

Post #11 was great.  Kids at that age have a place where they can have ideas & try them out.  You never know where it will lead their lives.

 

Bob K. Shhhhhhhhhh don't tell Al.


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#17 havlicek

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 07:05 AM

Re: Post #11...'zactly!


John Havlicek

#18 MarkH

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 07:20 AM

I agree with you that post #11 makes obvious what it takes to generate excitement.

 

I have not heard back the the Scoutmaster. I think following the lead of post #11 may be better than setting up straight races. Get them to understand the car, power, gearing and tires to engage the minds.

 

So my thoughts on a successful approach:

1) Get them started using Turbo Flex or the new JK-A. Both take hits and keep going. Turbo makes more sense to me because of motor mounting

2) Should they play first, maybe a race and then later start with building cars

3) Most likely 16D motors because they can run them longer and easy to do service

4) Higher down force bodies like the Ultimate Indy or Peugeot

 

Any other thoughts you guys have picked up from the video?


Mark Horne

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There are only two things in life that make me feel alive. Racing is one of them.


#19 havlicek

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 08:02 AM

First and foremost, I think it's important to see that there are two main areas of the hobby...the building and running part and the racing part.  We all started with off the shelf or ready to run cars, then played with fixing them when they inevitably broke :), then started trying to make them go faster, which led to more fixing because that made them break more!

The racing/competitive part can be tricky.  It can be very daunting for a young kid to see the older kids and adults zooming around a track, and also make them self-conscious about their cars.  In surfing when I started competing, there were 1A, 2A, and 3A classes, but there were also "junior" and "senior" classes of competition.  If kids are going to compete, then that (of course!) should be against other kids.  

 

Most important is that parents and schools need to be involved.  Parents are seemingly less-willing or able nowadays, and the schools are often not interested in fostering any sort of mechanically-slanted interests (*with some notable exceptions).  As I said, I don't see slot cars AT ALL as a "kids hobby", but for slots to survive at all, there will sure need to be younger generations getting involved.  None of this, even if it were to happen, would make for some sort of "renaissance" in slots, but it couldn't hurt.

 

-john


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John Havlicek

#20 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 08:36 AM

Perhaps the industry and the distributors need to take their old stock {low sale flexi's chassis, outdated motors, old bodies, etc] and give it to the local school, vocational or otherwise and allow young minds to build cars and then take the participants of the building programs to a raceway to see how their handwork performs. This will open the door to new slot car hobbiest and hopefully everybody will benefit from this increased participation. You got to lead them to the water before they can drink remember.

 

The door however needs a opening and the industry needs to open that door not people on the internet because first and foremost its the industries  liveyhood that is on the line and they need to wake up and realize that they need to make a move now more then ever.

 

Think beyond just assembling cars. there is huge potential for the schools to offer a complete learning experience all the way from basic car assembly to actual production of cars utilizing modern lazer technology and even electronic assembly and design of actual slot car controller within electrical classes. School art programs can also benefit by offering painting of old out dated bodies as canvas.

 

Merry Christmas....Bob K.


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#21 Rob Voska

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 10:14 AM

3D printed chassis.  Vocational carpentry class could build the track.  Who knows what a new generation might morph slot cars into......



#22 tazman

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 10:44 AM

Post #21 sounds like a great idea!

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#23 boxerdog

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 11:55 AM

I hate to be a pessimist, but I don't see any future in trying to lure in millennials and/or whatever they call the current group of kids. As a group, they have short attention spans and little interest in building anything. They have also been trained that competition is not healthy. Thus we have participant awards. 

 

There are always exceptions, but it can be very difficult to draw even those individuals out because they have so many options in terms of entertainment. I see many young adults, and I think, to a certain extent, that they have been pre-conditioned by their schools and parents. Hobbies are irrelevant, let's light up the social media instead.

 

Even the full-size car hobby isn't the same as it was a few decades ago. Actually, the "kids" that get involved tend to be very skilled, there are just fewer of them. 

 

JMO


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#24 Mattb

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 02:11 PM

Lots of good ideas here, I sure won't argue with any of them. I'm afraid it's just too late to save commercial racing in any meaningful way. 10-15 years, if there are more than 20-30 viable commercial shops I would be real surprised. Probably only a minority of us will even be here to see when that time comes. The school track and hobby type tracks with kids invited might bring a few of the kids/young adults into home racing (club style). Even then they will have to take off from age 15-35 just like all of us did. When you drive, discover the opposite sex, go to school, work, start a family, and raise kids, it's hard to put any meaningful time and money into a hobby. I think most all of us have been thru that stage of life. Still lots of good ideas, but I think we are better off to enjoy what we have, share it with anybody you can and let the future be whatever it turns out to be.
Matt Bishop

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#25 Bill from NH

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 03:34 PM

Some day the hobby is going to run out of us old men. Then what?


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