Slot car racing
The boom of slot car racing in the sixties
Racing was it the only serious rival to television as a leisure pastime in some households, according to Phil Drackett in his slot car book Slot Car Racing. Racing was an event for the whole family.
Slot car racing was very popular in the sixties
"Any number can play" was the slogan of the manufacturers. When two (or four or even more) are playing the spectators are turn marshals, mechanics or timekeepers. At the backside of the book the author wrote: "The competition's the Thing which makes slot car racing the most absorbing pastime today".
Strombecker was a well-known brand in the 60s
Sales of the cars jumped from 20,000 race sets in 1961 to 500,000 sets by 1963. Strombecker became one of the industry's leaders in this category.
Aurora caused the slot car boom of the 60s.
By 1965 Aurora had sold over 25 million HO slot cars. Current manufacturers can only dream of such sales.
HO was dominating the sales of slot cars with a wide margin to the larger scale models. At first the adults bought the sets for their children. During the sixties the adults got interested into slot cars themselves. From that moment the sales exploded.
1966 was the peak of the slot car boom
In the mid-sixties the large-scale slot cars attracted adolescents and adults more than HO cars. Many raceways opened the doors.
At that time more than 5,000 public raceways hosted competitions in the United States. Racing on commercial clubs was possible in all major cities and many smaller towns. The number declined to about 1,500 at the end of 1967.
The slot car boom died because children lost their interests in model car racing.
Model Car & Racing
The editors of the magazine Model Car & Racing knew about the future of slot car racing.
In the Editorial article, which talks about many slot car makers going out of business and raceways closing they wrote:
"..also, the 1/32 scale tracks don't go out of business. They and HO are really the future of this hobby. Most people would really like to race at home, if only new and interesting cars and motors were made available to them in just half the volume catering to the 1/24 scale crew. We are glad to say that a few manufacturers are beginning to show more interest in 1/32 scale. There's a future in it."
Let's go back to the future!
Published: 20 June 2015
By Jan Willem van Capelleveen / @jwvcapelleveen