“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” –Mario AndrettiWhile the present generation has thoroughly moved into the digital age, for millions of people before them slot cars were a cherished feature of childhood; and, for a few wonderfully eccentric hobbyists, they are still the next best thing to climbing into turbo-charged reality, smashing the gas pedal down, and roaring into the thrill of the race.
1912 was a rather eventful year: New Mexico and Arizona became states, The RMS Titanic hit a iceberg and sank, The Girl Scouts were founded, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Giants, and Lionel toys produced and sold the very first slot car set (left image below):
(images via 1, 2) “I am an artist the track is my canvas and my car is my brush.” –Graham Hill Here’s a classic slot car track :
(images via 1, 2) For those unfortunate few who never had the bliss of assembling the track, picking just the right car, squeezing the little plastic control – and sending that same perfect car flying out of control across the rec room carpeting, slot cars are mechanically very simple: The track is modular, allowing an almost infinite number of configurations: from the Monaco Grand Prix to Germany’s Nürburgring. It has two power strips and the cars have fickle brushes to pick up the power as well as a neat little electric motor to make the wheels go ’round. However, what those already-mentioned eccentric hobbyists have done with that simple concept is truly staggering: from cars that are exquisitely detailed and painstakingly reproduced from high-performance reality – to tracks that run from exact scale copies of legendary circuits to totally insane fantasy. It seems that slot cars have become the medium for a dazzling amount of creativity. “Anything happens in Grand Prix racing, and it usually does.” –Murray Walker