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#1 don.siegel

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Posted 12 December 2020 - 06:02 PM

In the May 1967 issue of Model Car & Track, in The Midwestern Outlook column by Pierre Perrin, he reports on the meeting of the HIAA (Hobby Industry Association of America) Model Car Racing section meeting at the HIAA's annual trade show and convention in Chicago. According to him, Hy Johnson, General Manager of Dynamic, says that "73% of the population doesn't know about model car racing." He challenged Johnson on this figure, but was finally convinced. 

 

His column was probably written 2 months or so earlier, given publishing lead times - and early 67 is not far from the peak of commercial slot racing in the USA, which I would place in 1966. 

 

I've quoted this figure a lot over the years, but wasn't sure where I had originally seen it, so was happy to have found the quote again. 

 

If it was 73% then, it's probably about 98 or 99% now, at least in most countries. Maybe less in England, because Scalextric is still a pretty ubiquitous brand and a generic name. 

 

I had always been pretty surprised at this, but when I think about it, nobody else I knew in my high school of 4,000 ever came to the track... in grammar school, I raced with some neighbors and one fellow student had HO cars as well - and that's all folks. One of my neighborhood buddies told me years later that he had received a Cox Chaparral for a birthday, probably from parent or aunt, but had never used it - and there may have been a lot of that. 

 

Thoughts? 

 

Don 


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#2 Isaac S.

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Posted 12 December 2020 - 06:10 PM

I am very surprised by that too, it was in every magazine and all kinds of movies had slot cars in them. Maybe Johnson was saying the entire worlds population and not just America. I don't think many people in 1960's Russia had slot cars.  


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#3 Jesse Gonzales

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Posted 12 December 2020 - 06:50 PM

As  "Barrio Kid" in the 60's I can say with some authority that slot car racing was either not heard of nor thought of as a hobby in my group. Girls ( a very important segment of society) used to laugh at the thought of a potential boyfriend playing with toys. of course they only saw stupid commercials or magazine clips of guys being all dorky with HO sets or 1/32nd scale home sets. they never could grasp the thought of a full featured eight lane track and a real race. Girls that came to the track with little brothers or came to obtain pool chalk while scoping out the guys were another thing, to this day they have good recollections of slot cars.

 

the percentage is probably pretty accurate.

 

Jess Gonzales



#4 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 12 December 2020 - 08:48 PM

When people used to phone me up about buying a track I tried to give them as much of a heads up about the chances of making money in the slot car business. One thing I pointed out was that not that many people actually had hobbies.And all slot car enthusiasts are hobby people. The figure for overall participation in hobbies by the general population was around 3%. So if you opened a store in a town with only 10,000 people you only had a potential market of 300 people and that is not enough.

    This link gives stats on hobby enthusiasts but really can most of what they list be actual hobbies?  • Hobbies & interests in the United States 2020 | Statista  I play golf but I don't consider it as a hobby, same as hockey, to me they are sports. Music is a hobby? I agree if you play an instrument and make you own but listening to music is not a hobby.

     A hobby to me is something that involves building something for your own enjoyment, slot cars, model cars RC planes and trains, rebuilding old cars, building your own boat or an RV. And I think only about 3% of the todays world is involved in hobbies like that, maybe a little more maybe a little less.


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#5 Isaac S.

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Posted 12 December 2020 - 09:02 PM

Steve, I do agree, now everyone just plays video games. I do think that in today's slot racing world 300 people can be a lot. My raceway probably has about that but 90% are drag racers that buy ONLY at the track and do cash races every month or so. They haven't spent money on BIG tracks like the ones you talk about though as all their tracks are rather small no big engelmans or hill climbs.     


Isaac Santonastaso

#6 John Streisguth

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Posted 13 December 2020 - 09:22 AM

It's the difference between a "hobby" and "entertainment".  


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#7 Dave Crevie

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Posted 13 December 2020 - 10:22 AM

In the '60s it was geographical. As I have said elsewhere on this site, in and around LA you couldn't sling a dead cat without hitting a slot track. From my neighborhood near Chicago I had seven really close friends, and we did everything together, including slot racing. But there was only one track close enough for us to be regulars at. There was another a few miles away, but none of us were driving yet, and going there required that one of the "big kids" take us with when he went. At it's peak, you had to wait several hours to get a lane for 15 minutes. By the end of 1967, that number had fallen by at least two thirds. My circle had graduated to real cars by then, and most of our time was spent working on those. But for s***s and giggles, I built a routed HO track on top of the ping-pong table in my basement. I worked great, and before long, we would have 20 or more kids down there on a Saturday or Sunday night. ( my poor mother had to keep us all fed ) After a while, I converted the track with nickle-silver plated copper tape to run 1/32nd scale cars. The commercial track closed after a combination of pressure from the local school district and reduced clientelle. The school district claimed kids were cutting class to go to the track to play.   



#8 don.siegel

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Posted 13 December 2020 - 11:30 AM

The local government also tried to ban or just tax slot car parlors in New York, classifying them like pinball parlors, or maybe even gambling dens! 

 

Don 



#9 stumbley

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Posted 13 December 2020 - 03:07 PM

Growing up in small town New Mexico, there were no tracks within 75 miles of where I lived, so slot racing was relegated to "rug racing." Set up the Strombecker track for a few hours, and race with the neighbors. It wasn't until I returned home to California from a work stint in the DC area in 1976 that I found a group of people (the Farrout Slot Car Club) to really race with. So from the ages of 17 to 37, I didn't think slot racing existed at all.


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#10 tlbrace

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Posted 09 January 2021 - 05:12 PM

Might explain why year in and year out, slot cars have never been a finalist for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

 

https://www.toyhalloffame.org/


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#11 don.siegel

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Posted 09 January 2021 - 06:13 PM

Yeah, Hot Wheels, but no Slot Cars - how humiliatin'! 

 

Anyway, slot cars aren't a toy, they're a hobby-sport, yeah... and wait, what's Chess doing in the Toy Hall of Fame? 

 

Don 







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