What’s old is new again, or so it seems in the world of slot car racing. The hobby that enjoyed huge popularity during the ‘60s and ‘70s has made a comeback in recent years.
|"I have racers surrounding me that visit on a weekly basis."—
Tim Newman, slotcarspeedway.com
“Slot car racing has exploded in the past five years,” said Harry Wise, a slot car track owner from Dixon, Mo., who operates a website, homeracingworld.com, dedicated to the hobby. Recent improvements in car details and the way they operate have contributed to the hobby’s popularity. The Internet has also played a huge role in spreading the word.
Slot cars are scale model electric vehicles that fit into a slotted track. A connector with metal strips provides electrical power to the cars. A magnet mounted inside the car’s chassis grips the connector strips to keep the car in the slot. With a hand-held device, users control the car’s speed as it moves around the track.
Tim Newman, who sells slot cars online at slotcarspeedway.com, says the hobby has seen renewed interest as baby boomers, who grew up with slot cars, now share the hobby with their children. Some hobbyists collect die cast cars, and enjoy the racing capabilities of slot cars. Interest in NASCAR has also played a big role in slot cars’ popularity.
The hobby seems to be popular across the United States, Wise said. “I can remember just five or six years ago that I knew virtually no one in the Midwest near me that even knew the hobby existed. Today, I have racers surrounding me that visit on a weekly basis.”
Some big names in the slot car industry include Artin, Fly, Carrera, Revell-Monogram, Scalextric, SCX and NINCO.
Carrera’s new 1:32 scale PRO-X Digital Racing System should prove to be a popular sell, according to Diane Creston, president of Creston Associates, who handles public relations for Carrera. In addition, the Carrera GO!!! Spider Man set is a great way to introduce kids to the hobby, she said. It includes 18.7 feet of track and a turbo speed controller.
A year ago, Scalextric introduced its Sport Digital System that allows users to race up to six cars in one lane and perform overtaking maneuvers, which brings a new level of realism to the hobby, said David Lubliner, marketing manager for Scalextric. The company’s Trans Ams and Indy cars have been hot sellers in the United States .
Purchasing a basic set is the first step for newcomers to the hobby. “Once you’ve purchased a set, you can extend it as far as you want — from two to eight lanes, if you wish,” Lubliner said. “You can purchase more cars and accessorize with buildings and pit crew figures, as well.”
“The thing about our hobby is that you can be involved and have fun racing in a very small space,” Wise said. “I know of some enthusiasts that have tracks as small as 3 feet by 5 feet. Some of them mount layouts on the back of their bedroom door and take it down when they want to race.”
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