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Strombecker commercial tracks?


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#1 LolaGT

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 11:41 PM

Hello all, first time poster but long time lurker.

 

In the early 1990s, I raced in a small town in central WI that had two tracks, a 1/24 track for modern cars, and a 1/32 Strombecker commercial track.

 

I remember the Strombecker was six lanes, had two levels in a sort of stretched figure 8 shape, and was painted dark blue.

 

Would anyone know where to find any information on these tracks? Google is no help, and I would like to copy it in my basement using four lanes of Revell track.

 

Thank you and Merry Christmas,

 

ken


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#2 don.siegel

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 07:22 AM

Hi Ken, 
 
Here's what I've able to find. I'm from Chicago and so was Strombecker at the time, but never raced on one of their tracks they were up north in Skokie, and I was in South Shore, on the south side of Chicago a world apart, and no wheels... 
 
Don't think they ever made a six-lane track, and am not sure of colors, since nothing from the time was in color, at least in the docs I have. 
 
Here's a couple pages from their brochure introducing the program: see if the track layout corresponds to your memory. Strombecker seems to have made some of the smaller commercial tracks at the time: 64 feet with eight lanes! 
 
Strombecker%20raceways%20brochure-1_zpsx
 
Strombecker%20raceways%20drawings_zpsk3x
 
Here's a flyer with a better picture of the track: 
 
Strombecker%20raceways%20flyer_zpsfawh33
 
And an article on the Strombecker Raceway in Skokie, from the September '65 issue of Model Car Science. This seems to have been more a less a showcase raceway for Strombecker. 
 
mcs38.jpg
 
Hope that helps jog the memory! Doesn't really look like it matches up, and not sure a Revell four-lane track would really be able to replicate this, but let us know. 
 
Cheers, 
 
Don
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#3 LolaGT

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 03:33 PM

Dear Mr. Siegel,

 

Thank you for the info on the track! Now you're got me wondering...

 

I recognize the track shape as #7965 and it was very small, about the size of a UPS brown truck. Tthe drivers stations on this track were on the other side of the course on the short straightaway, so the overpass and big curve was on your left as you raced. Race direction was CW. I remember when 1/24 cars were run on it they used every other lane.

 

There were Strombecker logos on each drivers station, so we called it the 'Strombecker,' and the track was just wide enough for six lanes. I'm wondering if somebody took apart a Strombecker track and reused whatever they could to make this one? Turning a Strombecker eight lane into six wouldn't be too hard with a jigsaw.

 

Anyways, the reason for the Revell track is simple... SWMBO. Wife had four older brothers who had a Revell track in the day, and somehow I ended up with a box of it. There's almost enough track in the box to make a 6'x12' or 14' track, maybe a little less if four lanes. Besides, I couldn't beat the price.  :)

 

Happy Holidays,

 

ken


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#4 Mattb

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 11:45 PM

Without digging through old paper, I seem to remember that Strom made some versions of routed home tracks that were four-lane, maybe even six lanes. I bet Don will keep digging and find more info!


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#5 don.siegel

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 04:32 AM

Hmm, that does ring a very vague bell - will keep digging! Thanks, Matt. 

 

Didn't really think of that for a commercial raceway, but it's possible. 

 

Don 



#6 gjc2

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 07:14 AM

Buzzarama in Brooklyn, NY has a track that looks very much like the one in the picture right after: “Here's a flyer with a better picture of the track.”


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#7 Bill from NH

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 09:22 AM

Some of the Stromie photos look very similar to the AMR Windsor that Modelville Hobby had in the late '60s and '70s. I've never seen it, but I wonder is Buzzie's could be an AMR Windsor, too?


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#8 Mike K

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 12:11 PM

There was a Strombecker franchise in a shopping center in Rolling Meadows Illinois on Kirchoff Road. It was one of the the first commercial tracks I raced on as a kid. It was similar to a Windsor but I don't recall it having esses. It was a very simple track. They ran competitive races for trophies and race bucks. There were no computers to keep track of any changes in lanes so we raced the entire race on one lane.

 

Alice and Charlie's was the name that we called the shop. They were a retired couple and my dad helped them with the track power. I believe he converted it from the power supply to battery. I recall that I got plenty of practice track time there!


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#9 tonyp

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 03:30 PM

Buzzi's is an American.
 


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#10 Mach9

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 03:48 PM

This is a scanned copy of a Strombecker poster from the '60s. A friend bought it on eBay (not sure if original or copy) and I borrowed it long enough to take it to Office Max and have it scanned/copied/laminated. Have it on the wall of my slot car room. It lists six raceways with Strombecker tracks in my state of NC alone. I had no idea.

 

Of course, I was yet to see my first slot car of any kind at this point. If there were six tracks in my state with just Strombecker tracks, I can't imagine how many there were total.

 

strombecker poster 1.jpg


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#11 Mike K

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 04:04 PM

Interesting that there is a track listed in the Sears toy department on State and Van Buren in Chicago...


So much DRAMA for such small cars....
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#12 MSwiss

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 04:06 PM

Very interesting.

 

I certainly don't remember ever hearing the downtown Sears having a track.

 

I wonder if it was considered a "Raceway Center," because it carried the cars, or possibly had an assembled Strombecker snap-together, plastic track, like my local hobby shop, started out with.

 

Also, FWIW, Turek, when it closed, had an American Aristocrat/Hillclimb.

 

My local raceway, B&C Hobby Shop wound up buying it.

 

I got the impression it was the only track they had.


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#13 hiline2

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 05:31 PM

So does anyone know how they compared to the American tracks?


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#14 don.siegel

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 06:01 PM

This is not a Strombecker home raceway! 
 
s2.jpg
 
But it might be: trouble is, it seems to be unidentified from Xmas ideas in December 1966 issue of Model Car Science. In a copy of a trade mag earlier that year, it announces that Strombecker is releasing a pro quality home raceway setup, four lanes, for $500... 
 
And here's the one made by Cox - a few companies did these, including Revell (a friend here in France has one that's his own home raceway!), Fred's (which probably became the Cox), and a few more. 
 
s3.jpg
 
Don't know if any of these ring a bell... 
 
I don't remember the downtown Sears store at all, much less a track in it! It may have been a Christmas promotion, in fact... 
 
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#15 LolaGT

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 12:32 AM

Wow, my memory really opened a can of worms. :)

 

I think the Strombecker track I remember was 1/32 specific, because six lanes of this wasn't even two feet wide. You could run 1/24, but the bigger cars tended to hit each other.

 

Also, a 1/24 car on the outside lane if long enough could 'ride the rail' and never spin out.

 

If you think about it, the next logical step for many companies like Strombecker or Cox back then would be to 'go upscale' and offer smaller more 'homefriendly' sized tracks for the 'rich kids', something more than just your normal homeset track.

 

I wonder how many other companies did this?

 

Thank you,

 

Ken


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#16 don.siegel

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 05:02 AM

Thank you, Ken, for starting the thread – it really forces us to look back at the record and see what was actually built. Not to mention comparing that to our often sketchy memories. 

 

The commercial racetrack field is especially nebulous in fact, since there were so many different companies doing it, from fly by night to major, and they didn't always leave much of a trace... Not to mention they were region specific in many cases. American Model Raceways is generally considered the biggest of the bunch, and the most widespread, but of the five or six raceways I visited in my youth in Chicago, only one had AMR tracks. And the hobby shop I worked in on the south side of Chicago when I was 16 had an eight-lane high-banked Formica track, and I have no idea at all what company built it! 

 

A lot of shop owners built their own, too. My local hobby shop first had a four-lane Strombecker track before making the plunge into the big one, and that may have been pretty typical, too. 

 

For the moment, haven't found any trace of a Strombecker six-lane track for 1/32 cars – are you sure it was Strombecker? Of course, in '65-66 things were changing so fast that a new model may well not have made it into the company brochure, like the one I partially scanned above. I do vaguely remember a six-lane track or two, but haven't found them in print yet. 

 

I would guess there were at least five or six of the commercial style home tracks like the ones shown above; I can think of three or four of these offhand, and I know that I've seen others. 

 

Don 



#17 LolaGT

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 02:35 PM

Thank you, Mr. Siegel, for all the information!

 

The track in question was only two towns over north, so this weekend I'm going to go to the library and see if I can find it in their local phone book archives. The track was open more than a year, so it should be in there somewhere.

 

Also, Alpha Products is only about 25 miles south from me, so once I get some info I can use I'll go there and see if anyone remembers the track or have some photos.

 

At least I have some idea now of what the racetrack was like, so that's a good thing. I have a free spot in my basement just big enough for a track like that one, too.

 

Ken


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#18 JohnnySlotcar

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 03:58 PM

Sears had a track on I believe the third floor on State St. My dad was PR director for Sears and had an office on a higher floor. They had one team race in 1967 with each member having an identical car. I think the big snow killed it.

 

Practiced one time there, just an empty track in the toy section.


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#19 MSwiss

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 04:05 PM

Very cool.

So it was some sort of eight-lane track like in post #2?


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#20 Horsepower

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 05:03 AM

Also, FWIW, Turek, when it closed, had an American Aristocrat/Hillclimb.
 
My local raceway, B&C Hobby Shop wound up buying it.
 
I got the impression it was the only track they had.

 
Man, I loved running that track! Turek's was the only track worth running on in the '60s in my neighborhood.

 

They actually had three tracks at one time. An HO, a 1/24, and a 1/32 plus a drag strip. When racing bugs began to die, they sold those tracks and the HO was broken down and the track sold to customers in pieces. They then added one great Hillclimb track which is why you may have thought they only had one.

 

Those were some of my best memories of slot racing. One day my cousin and I shlepped our slot stuff the two-mile walk in five inches of snow to Archer and Harlem only to find a closed sign on the door.


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#21 JohnnySlotcar

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 05:11 PM

I fuzzily remember it was that style with little banking. Had to run AJ's silicones.


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#22 ajd350

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 09:51 AM

I recall a location in Calumet Park on 127th St., far south side of Chicago in the late '60s with the Strombecker Raceways sign.

 

Never got to go in. It was gone before I got my license in '73.


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#23 JohnnySlotcar

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 10:19 AM

I was told there were Strombecker Raceways in Loves Park and Belvidere, IL!


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#24 don.siegel

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 10:27 AM

That address in Calumet Park rings a faint bell – maybe I noticed it in a magazine and saw it was on the south side – but I was in South Shore, without wheels... 

 

Don 



#25 JohnnySlotcar

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 11:53 AM

There was another Strombecker Raceway in Lincoln, IL. Raced there in late '67.
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#26 don.siegel

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 11:03 AM

Here's a six-lane track I ran across in a book about Toys of our Generation; don't have the book with me here at the office, but I seem to remember it was a Lionel home track! Will check... 

 

Toys%20of%20our%20Generation%203_zpsy4e7


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#27 Mbloes

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Posted 19 January 2017 - 02:30 PM

Those older tracks really look classy with those tapered aluminum legs.


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