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The cost of a slot car


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#1 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:02 PM

In another topic some one quoted $350 as the coat of a fully assembled Retro car and I stated that this was $100 too much but come to think of it I think it's closer to $200-225 even if you are talking a top line chassis, painted body, ball bearings, and all the other bits and bobs. So anyone reading Slotblog doesn't get the wrong idea. Now this may mean you might need to do the final assembly but if you know how to use an Allen wrench and a pair of scissors to trim the body that's pretty much it.

A flexi car is what, $90-100?, and a decent wing car with a sealed motor is about the same. A Slot.it you can race out of the box and that's way less than $100. A 1/24 Scaleauto with sponge tires is just under $200.

All these cars are way better then the cars we used to be able to buy and closer to race ready.

Not a bad state of affairs.


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#2 Cheater

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:24 PM

A lot depends on whether you build up a kit yourself or buy a chassis someone else built. And whether you go with ball bearings, threaded front axle, BB front wheels, etc., etc., and whether you have to buy every little piece or can use gears, guide flag, axles, etc., that you have on hand.
 
Round numbers for a Retro car from memory...
 
Chassis kit $50 or built chassis $100
Motor $14
Gears $15
Rear axle $7
Front wheels, non-BB $15, BB $25
Guide flag, clips, nut, washers, leadwire $15
Rear tires $14
Body and interior $10
Misc, like piano wire, paint, axle spacers, etc. $15
 
Taking the cheaper options, the total $155.
Taking the more expensice options, it's $215.
 
The lower end could even be cheaper, as there are usable $2 axles, $2.50 guide flags, etc., but that level of parts was not what I included.
 
And there have been plenty of complete Retro cars offered in Racer Swap Shop for $150 or less.


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


#3 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:31 PM

Absolutely. Those are good prices for a ton of fun. Spend about $200-250 for a decent controller and a tackle box and you're good to go in still one of the best hobbies out there,

Might not be as easy hopping on your bike again but nobody will complain if you still make race car noises, just try not to drool.

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#4 Tim Wilkins

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:32 PM

The initial cost of a top of the line slot car is relatively inexpensive compared to the repairs, upgrades, more cars, more controllers etc. that slowly drains your bank account.   :pardon:


"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough" - Mario Andretti


#5 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:33 PM

But you don't have to do that, that's your choice.

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#6 Cheater

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:33 PM

I'd suggest the big expense is the ongoing tire bill, especially if one test numerous brands of tires.
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Gregory Wells

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


#7 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:35 PM

The fun in slot car racing is running your cars and talking with your buddy. It's never been all about winning. And at these prices you won't embarrass yourself, you just won't win except in the fun racers and your kids and wife won't care.

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#8 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:37 PM

I don't and I don't buy more motors unless the old one slows down. I just choose to spend my money on more cars, not faster ones.

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#9 Cheater

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:37 PM

It's never been all about winning.


Sorry, Dennis, but for some minor percentage of 1/24 racers, it is very much all about winning.

Gregory Wells

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


#10 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:40 PM

Maybe I'm in the minority and Slotblog is really geared to racers. I notice that a post on a new guide shoe that may save you .1 sec a lap will get 100s of posts. ;-)


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#11 James Grandi

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:41 PM

I build a lot of Retro chassis, and wrote up spreadsheets of my more common builds that use kit components/over the counter parts. I also build nearly all customer cars with front tires and rear bearings installed, as nobody I have asked has ever turned down the option of having me do it for them.

Lowest cost in retail parts, just for the chassis build itself, was about $70-73.

Using better quality parts (better bracket, guide brace, bearings etc), $94.

Throw in things like the highest quality bearings, and also ball bearing front tires, price goes all the way up to $115-125 range.

I'm talking just parts, over the counter, what you would pay at your local track (roughly). That isn't including a penny toward me for doing the work to build the chassis at that point, or any other parts needed to assemble the car like the guide flag, braids, motor, gears, rear tires, etc.


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#12 Cheater

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:44 PM

Slotblog is not really geared to racers, as we also have a pretty significant collecting and restoring scene here as well as a dencent level of USRA/ISRA racing, too.

It's just that it has become the defacto place where the Retro racing crowd hangs out (when they're not on Facebook LOL).

The serious go-fast racing crowd, the wing car guys, hang out elsewhere.

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


#13 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 03:48 PM

I think Retro is getting pretty serious, maybe too serious.

 

James, I'm pretty sure you also put in a lot more work than you could get doing something else.


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#14 bbr

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:05 PM

Thou I'm not that concern about winning, I do like to have a fast car. I like to be in the mix with the fast racers. So I do have alot of parts and equipment.

 

In HO and 1/32, l field cars for fast pilots that can win and like to win. And they get the best I can produce.

 

My experience is that I putter around until I start knowing enough to go fast and then things start to get expensive. LOL.


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#15 James Grandi

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:08 PM

The rate that I sell my builds at, price-wise, I end up making slightly above minimum wage in terms of per-hour. Do I think I'm worth more than that? I do - but to keep the price tag on the frame reasonable, takes cutting some money out somewhere LOL.


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#16 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:19 PM

Let's have a little rundown fun at MSRP for building a "top of the line" car from scratch for the entry level OCC category, GT1. 

 

Aluminum Pan Mossetti Patriot Striker - $30

JK Retro Hawk - $13

Red Fox Peugeot 908 body - $7

Camen Das Sprocket, 36t angled - $8

Sonic 10t XL pinion - $3.75

Cahoza cut down guide - $2.45

JK .047" axle drilled fronts - $7

Koford flatted axle - $5.79

Parma Big Mama braid - $2.50

1' of lead wire - $1

Parma GTP interior - $2

stick of .047" piano wire - $0.65

JK Wonder Rubber, small hub - $12

 

Grand total out the door for a new OCC GT1 - $95.14

 

So, quite frankly, even the most "inexpensive" class in touring racing right now in Ohio is still a sizable chunk of change to lay out all at once.


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#17 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:20 PM

I think if everybody was forced to build their own Retro chassis half the people would drop out, especially if they had to build it at the track before the race. ;-)


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#18 Dennis David

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:23 PM

Justin, thanks for doing the breakdown. I know that's not exactly chump change but still a deal when you compare it on other things you could wage your money on. Still cheaper than sex. ;-)


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#19 James Grandi

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 05:52 PM

It could definitely be worse LOL. With the asphalt modified team I help out, one decent whack to a front tire means a bent upper control arm, tie rod, possibly spindle, lower control arm, and caster bar as well. Grand total to replace all of those in one shot? Close to $1,000.

Replace a chassis entirely? Closer to $20K.

I'll stick with Retro cars for now ha-ha.


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#20 bbr

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 06:03 PM

No harm to yourself when you hit the wall and total the ride (I've been there, don't want to do it again).


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#21 Tim Neja

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 07:07 PM

The whole intent of Retro racing was to ENCOURAGE people to learn to build their own chassis.  That was the design of the original racers that thunk it up!!  Where people take it is always another matter.  I know for myself--I enjoy the building as much as the racing!  And I don't build for anyone else.  I've sold good cars to people to help them get started, but I"ve always encouraged people to break out their pliers and soldering iron and start building!! And if you do--it's not very expensive!  If you think $100 is expensive--find a different hobby --- any kind of racing takes some financial commitment!  Guys CAN win on a budget!! But the most fun is simply being "in the mix" for the podium!! :)


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#22 Dallas Racer

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 08:46 PM

Sorry, Dennis, but for some minor percentage of 1/24 racers, it is very much all about winning.

 

I don't know, Greg. A series race (at one track, not multiple tracks) with a good payout for the series winner, is usually well attended for the first couple of races. Once the racers that are not doing well realize they have no chance of winning, the field starts thinning out. By the end it sometimes has thinned out a lot. Theses are the racers that never had a chance of winning to begin with, and you would think they would be the guys racing just for fun. But it sure doesn't seem that way. Or at least it doesn't seem that way to me.


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#23 eshorer

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 08:51 PM

I race three pretty different programs, and I would list the cost in this order, from low to high:

 

1) 1/32 club racing (Slot.it, SCX, Ninco, Fly, Racer).

2) 1/24 Hardbody kit bodies on scratch-built frames.

3) 1/24 Retro scratchbuilt, usually just the big races here.

 

And I like to win. I don't go crazy about it, and I certainly recognize my limitations in the third group that I race.

 

Because the club cars cost $50. or so, I tend to buy more of them, and because I like to do well, I end up taking parts from one to switch with another to try to get a winning car. I tend to leave my Hardbody cars alone, except for replacing tires and motors when they wear out or lose their brakes.

 

I don't have the eyes for detail work any more, so I really do appreciate the help I get in setting up cars, or being able to borrow a car on occasion (thanks, Mike!), or purchase a affordable used one (thanks, Tim!).

 

I love to drive, and fortunately my eyes can still handle that. It's a great affordable hobby, and I feel fortunate to have rediscovered it in time for my retirement.

 

Eddie


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#24 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 09:11 PM

What is your hourly wage relative to the price of a slot car?  

 

In 1964 I started working for Caterpillar at $3.10/hour. A new Cox or K&B kit was under $20 with extra tires. Five hours wages.

 

Reverse that and a current $200 slot car is $40/hour wages...


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#25 Mattb

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 09:39 PM

The basic car we run for fun is a complete H&R chassis with silicone tires. $40 or so complete. Model kit or promo body $10-$20. $60 for basic, fun slot car racing. This is not serious racing, just fun playing with slot cars.


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#26 Samiam

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 04:08 AM

Reverse that and a current $200 slotcar is $40/hour wages...


This is a good case for a $40 minimum wage.
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#27 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 07:34 AM

I think I fit pretty well into the original intent of the retro class. I build my chassis and do not have a big bucks motor program.
 
It's a hobby; back in another day it would have been more serious.
 
I can build a full car for about $100, and the chassis will last for a good long time.
 
I agree with Greg, the big expense is tires. Just keeping tires on my cars is bad enough without talking about different compounds for different days on different tracks. You start off with a new tire and the first thing you do is put it on a grinder and cut it down to where it is just over legal size and in one race it is gone.
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#28 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:06 AM

My Cat wage was not minimum wage, just UAW union starting broom pusher wage. Back then the MW was about half that.


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#29 Cheater

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:10 AM

The federal minimum wage in 1964 was $1.25 an hour FWIW.


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#30 Half Fast

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:20 AM

Remember when considering costs, that everything but the chassis itself in Retro can be transferred over to another car in another class, so that cuts the cost of running different classes considerably.

 

I ran the same $11 handout motor, tires and gears in three classes at the recent RetroPalooza.

 

Cheers,


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#31 Tim Neja

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 12:51 PM

Good point, Bill .And If you run Can-Am and them F1, you can use the same tires. As the F1 size is now .490"!  So you can get away with all the same running gear for two classes if you really want to!! 


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#32 Half Fast

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:01 PM

Yes, Tim.

 

Tires were about .822" for the Coupe race, .812" for Can-Am, and .790" for F1. They are done now.  :)

 

Motor still might be good, gears are good.

 

Cheers,


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#33 MSwiss

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:43 PM

I agree with Greg, the big expense is tires.


FWIW, I think the raceway owners have at least gone along with most racers preferring to race on harder Wonder rubber, which doesn't wear as much, and prepping the track accordingly.
 
I use to spray on the conservative side, because I was always leery of possible blown motors.
 
But with cooked motors virtually never an occurrence here, I've stepped in line the last year or two.
 
Also, when IRRA® Stocker rules were being formulated, I suggested .840" or .875" minimum diameter rears, but a there was a few compelling reasons not to go with it.
 
I don't think Retro was ever conceived as a low cost class.
 
I wonder if anyone has ever asked Paul, Mike, or Dennis.
 
Regardless, I find it amazing how many cars, quite a few racers seem to keep in their box, for not much in the way of weekly Retro racing, across the country.
 
It does seem like guys like Bud, Cap, Dennis, Dom, Don, GVP, James, Jim, Tony P, etc., keep pretty busy building chassis for other Retro racers.


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#34 Dallas Racer

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 02:02 PM

I think parsimoniousness is as big a part of the demise of commercial slot car tracks. A good portion of slot car racers tend to be tight with their money, including me. I'm always looking for a way to save a buck. I remember a guy that would soak his worn-out tires in wintergreen to make them swell so they would pass tech.

 

Just another of the many things working against track owners trying to keep the doors open.


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#35 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 02:54 PM

I don't think Retro was ever conceived as a low cost class.

 

I would agree with that. 

 

I was not involved at the time but i understand the idea was, I build a car/chassis and you build a car/chassis and we race with the same motor.

A $100 chassis purchased from someone was not part of the picture. At this point it is what it is because not enough people are going to build from scratch.

 

Drifting from the topic!


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#36 Dominator

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 04:22 PM

Wonder tires definitely helps to reduce the coat of racing as long as the tracks are preppared consistently and correctly.

As we speak I am completing three Fangs before moving onto Coupe/Can-Am chassis LOL. As for the cost of a chassis some kits are easier to build than others and of course depending on the builders skills. A Fang chassis takes me about 90 minutes to put together but Cap told me he built one in a hour. Another builder told me they spent four hours. Most builders I talk to spend on average four-eight hoursbuilding a chassis, be it scratchbuilt or from a kit.

At the end of the day it's building something that you want to race, buying something that you can possibly copy down the road, or just something to get you started. Personally, when I'm building a ready-to-race car for someone it's the cost of me building the chassis plus the parts to make it race ready (about $70). So basically I am assembling the car for free but my customer receives a race-ready car that may perform better than if they were to assemble it to race ready themselves. This can create a perception of a "better chassis" when it is really just about the set up and details.
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#37 Noose

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 04:50 PM

Back to tires. This year all of the raceways prepped the same and it was Wonder rubber all the way. Either JKs or Stupid Fast Medium Thunders and also Alpha Mediums.

Everyone was happy as tire costs dropped and there was plenty of availability. A lot of the complaining stopped for those not able to get Kelly Retros and they saved money.

There is always a method to my madness. Lol


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Joe "Noose" Neumeister
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#38 Tom Eatherly

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 02:26 PM

I know of one racer at BPR that runs one of James Grandi's Can-Am chassis' on our flat track. And he really likes it. A lot. Keep up the good work James.


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Tom Eatherly

#39 James Grandi

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 01:42 PM

I know of one racer at BPR that runs one of James Grandi's Can-Am chassis' on our flat track. And he really likes it. A lot. Keep up the good work James.


Thanks for the kind words, Tom. I have sold 2 frames that went out to California, Jason Holmes has one and Dale Yamashita has the other. The car Jason has is likely best suited to being a flat track car thanks to its high-bite design, though I expect the car Dale has is capable as well.
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#40 Tom Eatherly

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 02:56 PM

No problem James, you build some very nice chassis'. Very clean work. Jason's works well on our flat track indeed, haven't seen Dale's car yet, but, I'm sure I will, as I'll be back at the BPR flatster in July. Take care.


Tom Eatherly





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