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The hobby's speed addiction?


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#1 gc4895

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Posted 02 May 2019 - 09:28 PM

[Spillting this off-topic line of discussion from Steve Deiter's POST about Carlo Tonalezzi's new book.]

Interesting perspective. I don't remember all the realistic body stuff. I never spent a moment fitting stacks or fake knock-offs to a car. It was always motor, chassis, handling, goo the track racing.
 
Sure, there was always some model hobby guy that won the concours award and always was totally non-competitive. That was an expected part of racing. Hobby guys matched paint colors and we could not have cared less since this was wasted effort as far as we were concerned.
 
So, just my recollections. As always, YMMV.


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#2 Cheater

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Posted 02 May 2019 - 10:19 PM

It was always motor, chassis, handling, goo the track racing.


Over the years, most (but not all) in slot racing single-mindedly worshipped the gospel of 'faster is always better' as the only true religion. And that dogma was often accompanied by a brutal level of intolerance for those who believed differently.

In hindsight, at least from my perspective, that approach has led the overall model car racing hobby in a very bad direction.

As you said, YMMV.
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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


#3 gc4895

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 08:05 AM

In terms of faster cars, Stephan Johansson in his Radical Proposals for F1 suggests that aerodynamics focus has effectively killed F1 racing. Perhaps the same could be said about slot car racing when the air dams appeared and changed everything.

Just a view that perhaps has relevance. Or not.
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Mark Bauer

#4 Pappy

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 08:14 AM

I've hated wing cars since the first time I ever saw one.
 
I've gone back to my roots, 1/32 hardbodied cars that look like cars. It feels like 1963 all over again.
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It's the same when you are stupid.

 


#5 Dave Crevie

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 10:51 AM

When I first started slot racing there were no vacuum-formed bodies. They were all styrene or ABS. Most of the big-track races I ran in (around LA) required that the cars start the race with all details in place. Of course, a lot of those pieces got knocked off during the race, and that was allowed. But you were not allowed to remove anything after the race started. Monogram and Revell bodies were most popular as they were available alone without having to buy the complete kit. I believe wheel inserts were also required, but don't remember for sure.

When the Ninco, Scalextric, Fly, etc., cars came out, I got back into slot racing simply because the cars were great models. I would be quite happy to see a 1/24 class started in my area with either hard or Lexan bodies fully detailed, with a concours where the points from that were added to the lap times of the race.
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#6 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 11:22 AM

Look at NASCAR: It is my belief that the competitors' drive for speed (i.e. roll cages that are really auxiliary chassis) and the organizers drive for parity (identical bodies distinguished only by stick-on emblems) are a big part of the decline in attendance. Some may remember the days of the Hudson Hornets, Olds 88s, and Chrysler 300s.
 
It will not surprise those who have read my occasional posts that I see a parallel between that situation and door-stop bodies, stickers for front wheels, and wings on one hand and multi-page rule books and arguments about thousands of an inch of body thickness as well.
 
EM
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#7 The Number of

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 11:22 AM

I've hated wing cars since the first time I ever saw one.

 
Don't hold back, Butch, tell us how you really feel!   :)
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#8 Dallas Racer

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 12:49 PM

There's been so, so many threads about how to fix slot cars. Years and years of them. No one's managed to fix them so far. In fact things are getting worse and worse.

So either slot cars are unfixable or all of your remedies suck! :)

Phil Smith ® ©


#9 Cheater

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 01:43 PM

Phil,

Medicines don't work unless the patients take them as prescribed. My harsh opinion in post #4 wasn't a prescription for 'fixing' the slot car hobby.

What I said is that focusing on a single aspect of a broad and diverse hobby combined with steely intolerance for all the other aspects of that hobby has been a recipe for failure and I'll stand by that opinion.

The problem is illustrated by subsequent posts from members I respect (well, except for Butch) that tend to the same narrative that always seems to occur: "that (other aspect) is the problem and if the hobby had focused on (my preferred subset or discipline), things would have gone better."

From my perspective, the approach that a non-trivial number of other activties have successfully utilized is one of tolerance and acceptance, i.e. it's all good, all part of the same basic hobby, and we'll tolerate, accept, maybe even celebrate varied and diverse personal interests within the hobby.

I would agree such an approach is not very common, but it does exist, but certainly not in politics, religion, and similarly emotionally-charged arenas.


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#10 MSwiss

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 02:48 PM

This year, I've held races for 1/32 cars, stamped 1/24, less than scale cars, scratchbuilt Retro cars, 1/24 Hardbody cars, and wing cars. They are all welcome at CR.

Criticizing one type of slot racing seems very unproductive, especially if the racing of it doesn't interfere with your preferred type.

And criticizing a leisure-time activity? Why take the time to bother?

It's like the Chicago people who get upset when they see ketchup on a hot dog. If they aren't squirting it on your weiner, why would you care?


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Mike Swiss
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#11 Dale B.

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 03:21 PM

To be clear Butch only said he has always hated wing cars.  He never said they couldn't race on any tracks they wanted to or that other people couldn't race them.   I would probably giver up slot cars if it was wing cars  or nothing.   I don't mind one bit if other guys race and enjoy them.   

 

It's all one hobby and if anybody is left out, it just makes the whole hobby weaker.    We need every participant we can get.

 

Back to the book, the question I have is not the price, but the written contents.  Is it a pretty accurate account and are the pictures nice to look at!


Matt Bishop

Vintage Cox Slot Cars

#12 MSwiss

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 03:40 PM

And to be clear, my comment wasn't directed just at Butch, nor did I (mean to ) infer he was campaigning against wing car racing.

 

My point was while I see someone (recently) with an 80,000 can beer can collection, and find it somewhat absurd, I wouldn't take the time to post my feelings.


Mike Swiss
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#13 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 03:43 PM

This year, I've held races for 1/32 cars, stamped 1/24, less than scale cars, scratchbuilt Retro cars, 1/24 Hardbody cars and wing cars. They are all welcome at CR.

Criticizing one type of slot racing seems very unproductive, especially if the racing of it doesn't interfere with your preferred type.

And criticizing a leisure time activity? Why take the time to bother?

It's like the Chicago people who get upset when they see ketchup on a hot dog. If they aren't squirting it on your weiner, why would you care?

 
Criticism and diagnosis are different. I don't "hate" wing cars, "thingies," etc. I'm simply not interested in participating although I do read about them to see if there are nuggets of technology that I can apply to my own areas of interest.  
 
I could argue that a theme of the book, the rise and fall of slot racing, is based on an erroneous premise; the health of the hobby is measured by a fad-like bubble of commercial tracks (most of which violated fundamental concepts like sales$/sq ft) and the appearance and disappearance of a few large vendors. A broader view suggests that, on a world-wide basis, the golden age of slot racing is today. The internet has had a profound impact, connecting hobbyists, suppliers and groups in a way that was unimaginable 50 or even 30 years ago.
 
I can applaud the approach of the Chicagoland Raceway. I wish that it had been around when I lived in Winnetka (1970-'83) - or - if it was there, I didn't find it. The proprietor of a track in Evanston was not interested in helping me find tires for my 1/24 scale cars or connecting me to like-minded hobbyists.
 
This discussion parallels another thread - a ten year running lament over the fate of commercial tracks. Returning to my original point, criticism vs diagnosis, don't call Davey Tree Experts if your lawn is dying.
 
EM


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#14 MSwiss

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 03:53 PM

I've only run a raceway since 2005.
 
You're referring to Art Harris of Tom Thumb.
 
My youngest sister-in-law's best friend in Colorado was Art's girlfriend in that era, and mother of his son.
 
She's not a big fan of Art, either.

Mike Swiss
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Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

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Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#15 axman

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 02:29 AM

Guys,
 
I have run a number of tracks over the years and am old enough to have been around when most of the raceways closed down in the the '60s.
 
We killed slot car racing all by ourselves.
 
The moment we started soldering chassis together, winding motors. and having a few fast guys at each track winning races the track owner was in trouble. They just could not buy anything from wholesalers to sell over the counter to compete. Cars that were perfectly OK one month were out of date the next. Manufacturers got caught with the bottleneck when wholesalers and tracks got stuck not being able to sell perfectly good but non-competitive cars.
 
To win a race scratchbuilt was the only way to go... and that was long before wing cars. Too bad we didn't have the foresight to have classes for kit cars back then so they didn't have to race against scratchbuilts.
 
Mike's got the right idea, stamped, scale, wingcar, thingie, whatever... cater for them all and with so much good stuff around the options for slot car racing have never been better.
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#16 NSwanberg

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 07:28 AM

Seems to me a flexi car could have been manufactured in 1962.
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#17 Steve Deiters

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 09:12 AM

It's always interesting to see how topics on the internet evolve. Especially this blog.
 
In this case it want from "Look. A new book on the slot racing hobby looking back over its history"
 
The conversation now is what "killed" the hobby. I don't think it was ever "killed", but it is still here and continues to morph, evolve, and survive. 
 
It is still here and will be in one form or another. I'm happy for that. I hope others are, too.
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#18 Cheater

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 09:59 AM

Seems to me a flexi car could have been manufactured in 1962.


Could have been, yes, but in 1962 slot cars were considered to be no more than static models converted to run around a track. The realization that a low center of gravity was a key factor in slot car handling had not yet occurred.
 

The moment we started soldering chassis together, winding motors. and having a few fast guys at each track winning races the track owner was in trouble. They just could not buy anything from wholesalers to sell over the counter to compete. Cars that were perfectly OK one month were out of date the next. Manufacturers got caught with the bottleneck when wholesalers and tracks got stuck not being able to sell perfectly good but non-competitive cars.


All true, but the underlying premise here is that going fast and winning races is the only aspect of importance and value in model car racing. And in my opinion, that was the wrong approach from the standpoint of marketing a leisure-time activity, a one-dimensional viewpoint that unfortunately the whole industry (meaning the manufacturers, raceways, sanctioning bodies, etc.) seemingly embraced at that time.

Instead of selling the 'fun' of slot cars on multiple levels, the industry only sold the 'speed,' only promoted the racing, and only celebrated the winners at the top levels. Note that for almost its entire existence, the USRA has listed only a single champion in its annual rulebook (the Group 7 winner) and ignored the national champs crowned in the many lower classes decided at the Nats events.

Valuing and promoting only the top-level racing part of the hobby, and essentially ignoring the other aspects (including the lower level racing activity) limited potential revenue and neglected the people who were attracted to slot cars but were not interested in competing.

A telling illustration of the hobby's laser focus on speed is the fact that even though a commercial raceway generates no more than 15-20% of its revenue stream from organized racing activities, trackowners invariably expend the vast majority of their promotional efforts only on the racing.
 

Mike's got the right idea, stamped, scale, wingcar, thingie, whatever... cater for them all and with so much good stuff around the options for slot car racing have never been better.


Who would have thunk it? That perhaps the winningest Group 7 racer of all time would as a raceway owner come to understand that he needed to promote every aspect of model car racing. Hats off to you, Mike Swiss, you surprised a lot of us with your success.
 

The internet has had a profound impact, connecting hobbyists, suppliers and groups in a way that was unimaginable 50 or even 30 years ago.


The internet's influence on the hobby is IMO a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it has opened up cheap and easy channels of communication and marketing that didn't exist before.

On the other, it has by its nature encouraged fragmentation into smaller and small subsets of interest, where the ego- and agenda-driven can be be the defacto kings of their own little closets of activity focused solely on what they want.

No one seems to remember, in slots, in government, in politics, in religion, etc., etc., what one of the wisest of the founding fathers said a long time ago: "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin, of course...

I'm sure the 'racers' will dismiss these comments (as usual), but I'm hoping those with business and marketing experience might find them more thoughtful.


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#19 Cheater

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 10:19 AM

The conversation now is what "killed" the hobby. I don't think it was ever "killed", but it is still here and continues to morph, evolve, and survive.


The hobby has certainly not died nor will it, but is anyone arguing that it has thrived in recent years?

Gregory Wells

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


#20 Steve Deiters

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 10:46 AM

1/32 basement dwellers globally seem to be thriving.
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#21 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 10:57 AM

Pure racing without controls is an eat your young, your old, and your weak sport.

Therefore it is self-limiting, if not worse.
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#22 Cheater

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 10:58 AM

Would be interested in learning what data you've found to support your claim, Steve.
 
What I see is THIS and THIS.
 
Admittedly, Scalextric is not all there is in the 1/32 slots world, but I think it could be considered a bellweather.

Gregory Wells

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


#23 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 11:46 AM

On the other, it has by its nature encouraged fragmentation into smaller and small subsets of interest, where the ego- and agenda-driven can be be the defacto kings of their own little closets of activity focused solely on what they want.

 
I think that may be overstating the negative and understating the positive aspects. What I have seen, in the 1/32 world, is a growing consensus on rules for proxy races, various meets, and club activities to the point where the only differences between events is type/era of car (F1, sports/racing, LMP, etc.) and, in some cases motor restrictions. For RTRs, the typical situation is added weight is OK and aftermarket tires may/may not be allowed.
 
On the other hand, it does seem to me that much of the internet discussion in the 'commercial track' world is endless wrangling over what bodies, motors, gears are 'legal,' what constitutes 'commercial availability,' etc.  I gave up following the OWH board years ago for this reason.) Some movement towards consensus and simplification might help.
 

The hobby has certainly not died nor will it, but is anyone arguing that it has thrived in recent years?

 
Against the context of an overall decline in 'build 'em' hobby participation, I think it's doing quite well.
 
A general comment on speed: some time ago at one of our local races, a friend of mine and I fielded a pair of cars that were structurally similar.  Both were fitted with vintage purpose-built sidewinder motor/gear/axle units (forgotten the manufacturer, it was quite tall and narrow, not Pittman DC 70X or the Ram copy). His was fitted with a Jag Mk II body, mine a GTO. He was a hair quicker in the long straight, I had an advantage in the corners. We went lap after lap, never separated by more than 18", trading the lead at least once on each lap. It was one of the best times I've ever had on the track - neither of us finished first in the race and I don't even remember who was ahead at the end!
 
EM


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#24 Fast Freddie

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 12:05 PM

Wow, how quickly we forget. Race, as defined in the dictionary is "a contest of speed." The idea that the slot car hobby was ruined by racers wanting to go faster is absurd. Even in the '60s they were wanting to go faster hence the rewound and dewound motors. 

 

Personally I think it was the production of too much too fast. Mainly chassis, motors, and bodies. Just look at 1985-1990 then look at 1991-1996.Compare how many chassis, bodies, and motor variations were developed in these two timeframes and those are just five-year timeframes. 

 

Then if you take the following ten years look at what happened then. Until the open motor box flexi chassis came along the T-Flex reigned supreme. Since the C-11 how many open motor box chassis have been developed? I'm guessing several. You can do the same with bodies and motors. Yet only a very few chassis bodies and motor combinations work everywhere every time. 

 

So I say that it was technological production that has caused all the problems. Not even talking about 48-piece magnet open motors, $25 tires and $100 GP12 chassis. To most of us in this hobby money is irrelevant. We will always strive to have the latest and greatest just to keep up. I didn't even bring up the $500-$1,000+ controllers either.


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#25 Phil Beukema

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Posted 04 May 2019 - 12:15 PM

The hobby has certainly not died nor will it, but is anyone arguing that it has thrived in recent years?

 

Where do video games factor in to mix? That's all kids do.


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