My slot car involvement and history. Around 1969, 1970. My oldest brother Jimmy came home from the Navy. He brought an HO Aurora Indy car set. He said “this is for you”. Unfortunately my middle brother older than me, wound up racing on it. I had to watch lol. But the next day, I was able to enjoy the set. I expanded this by getting more t-jets. The first was a Mustang that found at Town & Country, was a cool car. My older brother David said he wanted to play poker.
I said I don’t have any money. He said, we’ll put up that t-jet Mustang. We’ll I was a kid, and said ok. Well you know where this is going, and he won the Mustang. He was sure to put it high on a shelve so I could not reach it. I was 9 at this time, 54 years ago to this day. After a week or so, the fun wore off of him winning it, and he gave it back to me. I had a few more, but was so long ago, I only remember the Mustang since the story above, never forget that.
Pass in the grass- early 1970s.
This is kind of long but very interesting.
My mom took me to my aunts to visit. It was my birthday. So my aunt asked me what I would like? Me of course said
“a slot car track” lol. So we went to Kresges dept store. My cousin had never had a slot car track or knew about them… so I was very excited to show him all about slot car stuff.
Well this is where the story gets interesting.
So we got home to my Aunts house.. with the afx HO slot car track.
And my aunt said Why don’t you take that thing outside in the yard?
I said what ?? out in the yard?
Well my mother told me …do not disrespect..
and take it out of the yard.
So my Uncle got an extension cord and next thing you know… we were setting the race track up in the yard ..with grass all around it lol
So after a while. The cars of course didn’t perform as good.
So I thought it would be a good time to teach my cousin how to service the pancake cars.
I had him get a pencil and paper. And we cleaned the brushes and armatures..
the next thing you know we had lost a brush!
The HO scale pancake cars.. brushes are very small.. finding them in a yard full of grass impossible!!
I was a kid in trouble at this point!!
About this time my aunt stuck her head out the door, and said why aren’t you racing with that racetrack?
Well my cousin said “he broke the car.”
Sold me out!
Boy did I get it..
my mother came out yelling at me..
I was like ..oh my goodness!
My mother and Aunt took turns.
“You took a perfectly good new slot car track and you tore everything up “
“it was a brand new track what were you thinking!”
Well after them blasting for a few minutes ..they went back inside.
So I took the pencil that we used. To clean armature with the eraser.. I pushed the tab that normally contacts the brush ..way up until it contacted the armature.
The thing actually ran!
So me n my cousin ..had fun racing the rest of the day with it that way.
My mother and aunt came outside a few minutes later ..and said
” oh wow it’s fixed!”
I didn’t tell them any difference.
We left later that day.. I thought I got in enough trouble already .
I surely wasn’t going to tell them modified the slot car. Put it all in the Box and went home.
Stage II of slot cars
After a separation and divorce, I had to go with my mother and move into what I consider my hometown of Winchester VA. After a few years of riding bikes and playing outside, decided to setup the track again. So built a table in my room, and now I was about 12 years old. And at this time the AFX was at the stores, and got some of those. The old crazy Peace tank, the 55 chevy, the Nomad, Datsun 510, Oscar track cleaner. Added a 4 way intersection and train crossing. Had a cool setup and friends and cousins had fun racing. It was only two lane track.
Had a bad experience with family member
On one occasion we had what I found to be an unscrupulous family member, on my stepfathers side of family. When family or freinds visistes, they always found the slot cart track and messed around with cars and racing. Well after all went home, I could not find the ’55 chevy AFX. I always looked at the cars, because when was a kid was cool to mess with them before going to bed. I knew something was up. So I told my mom, hey someone took my “55 chevy! She said no way, no one would have done that. So the next day, I highly protested with my stepfather, and mother at same time. Well they started questioning this grown man. And guess what? he had lifted the 55! My stepfather got it back. His excuse, he really liked it and wanted it. From that moment on, I was on guard, if anyone was in the room with my slot cars!
Slot car money, and new slot car racing friends
I mowed grass in neighbor hood, since gave me money, that I could use on my bike customization’s, and my slot car track stuff. Later years got some tycos, but they were just too fast! and hard to keep on the track. On the school bus, was fun to trade bodies of the AFX and talk of slot car racing. Some talk at school too about it. But about a few miles from our home, the Zacho family had a 4 lane setup, and was fun for all us kids to go there after school. We would ride our bikes to that place, and hang out and race. Was some fun times. Never had any lap counting races, just put car on and have fun. Some of these old friends are not with us anymore, and have left this earth, but great memories of those times of 1972-1974.
In or about 1974, I traded my slot cars for a motorcycle. Was a Honda 90. it needed some work, but I was up for the challenge. Had it running good in no time, and would take it behind the house up in the fields, one of my friends next door Doug had a motorcycle too and we’d ride them after school and weekends and fun times. While I did still go to Zachgo’s once in a while, and raced slot cars, I did not have a set of my own at home anymore, only kept a few AFX cars, since had traded all and track, for the Honda 90.
Around 1975 my parents moved to Warrenton VA. So I did not get to race with my neighborhood and school friends and had to make new friends. With getting my drivers license the next year, that was the last of the slot cars for me.
Slot cars in house, 3 different slot car tracks
In 1993 we bought a home with a basement, at work in break room, someone started a conversation about slot cars. So this built a fire in me, soon I was on ebay buying every slot car that I remembered from old days, and ones I wanted. I setup several slot track variations in the basement. AFX track, US1 trucking set, slot car track 4 way intersection, HO train crossing, built a custom working traffic light. Loops, we had it all that could be had lol. But then I would up at the local Hobby Shop in Winchester VA. Met Mark Tutton, of Marks Models and Toys, and started a cool friendship with him. I met lots of others there that shared love of slot cars.
I met Rick Williamson, and he was in process of making a home routed Oval slot track. Seemed the 90s was hot times for home routed tracks, so I too went home and built a 15 foot long by 5 feet wide slot oval. We had races and was fun. I used copper wire, since as Rick mentioned, no magnetic down force could be had. So this made fun slip n slide racing like T-jet days. As years went on Rick moved his oval from Marks Models and Toys, to Skyline Hobbies, in Front Royal VA. When I went there and raced, met even more people who loved slot cars. Here I met Joe Andrews, and he obtained the home routed D shaped track, after Skyline Hobbies closed. So we had 3 tracks now and slot car racing fun and made new slot car racing friends. Rick Williamson’s HO oval, my routed track name Parrilldega, and Joe Andrews track he named Smokin Joes Speedway. but then Rick sold his oval, so was just myself and Joe having a points season between racers at our track. We did this for a few years.
Interesting 2nd slot car stolen story
So back in the late 1980’s-1990’s we raced at Marks Models and Toys in Winchester VA on downtown mall. Mark was always helpful on “how tos” and stuff. So I came across a AFX 57 nomad body that someone had painted. Mark said, go to bathroom. There is a cup there with some drano, that will clean off the paint. Leave it there while we race, go back later and it will be clear of the paint. Well I placed in the cup of Marks solution, after taking bumpers off. Went back later and was gone! Someone had lifted the 57 nomad!. I asked everyone there and no one knew. Problem was it was a public place, so anyone could have came in and used the bathroom and taken it. Never did find it, and was stolen for sure.
To the big 1/25 scale of slot car racing
My friend Rick Williamson mentioned throughout, had a place in his heart for big scale 1/25th racing. After he sold his oval track, he set his sights on getting the big scale racing going.
This intrigued me, so in meantime, I had the big HO routed track in basement, but added a 4 lane Artin track in garage. I puttied and smoothed the center joint between the 2 tracks and painted brown to simulate a dirt track. Since Rick and I were big fans of dirt racing, wanted to simulate slot cars on dirt track. Rick had been busy on his plans and had already made some 1/25 scale slot car super late model bodies out of plastic sheets by hand. His first one was in 1998 that he made.
Rick would not give up. He kept talking about the big scale and how fun it was. I still had my HO scale in basement, and we had some racing on the dirt simulated track in garage with RTR NASCAR. So he convinced me to got to the big car racing of 1/25 scale. I had always dabbled in HO scale, T-jets, AFX, Tyco etc, this big car thing was new and exciting.
So we got together and experimented and I made some chassis to fit the big cars bodies. Since I had a 1/32 track, it was big enough to run 1/25 size slot cars on for testing. After a race of RTR NASCAR, we asked all to test and drive the big 1/25 scale super late slot cars. All the drivers were fascinated, and could not get enough. Mark Tutton, our friend from Marks Models and Toys came out, and was there and said wow! this is great. So this is where I would wind up, racing the big cars on Ricks track he made public in 2005. I tore out the HO routed track in my basement, so had room for my brother and I to play music and our equipment. Rick had went forward to big cars, and so I went with him into this new realm for me. Was a very fun ride, and got to help with all aspects of helping him with his The Cave Speedway track. His new form of 1/25 super late slot racing caught on. Soon there were tracks springing up all over. I went and raced one some of these other tracks.
Sadly Rick Williamson lost a battle with life, and we lost him in 2019. I have since retired from slot car racing, but I love to write and talk about it.
New track for grandkids
But in 2020, I decided to build a private track for my grandkids. Wanted to get them into slot car racing, and make fun enough to keep interest. So in spare room upstairs, I built a table and 6 lane plastic 1/43 track and diorama effects, with lights for night simulation races, trakmate for lap scoring. Got the grandkids about 60 cars to choose from. And they have a blast. We have a victory lane celebration with winner.
So while I do not travel to other tracks and race anymore. When I need slot car fix, I go up to the slot car room. And think back to all the above of the slot car history of my life.
your slot car friend -Mike
questions on this or anything slot car you want to discuss ? email me firstname.lastname@example.org