Slot car racing
Club racing started in model hobby shops in the 60s and the customers could try new models in backrooms of stores. The owners of stores realized that a track in the shop was an enormous impulse to their sales and commercial raceways were opened.
Around the world
The first commercial raceways were opened in the United States. Other countries followed including Canada, Australia, Japan and some European countries. It took a few years before the first commercial race club was opened in the United Kingdom. The Grand Prix Model Raceway Center in Hammersmith, London, was the first eight-lane raceway in England.
Companies as Aurora felt the need to open own raceways. In 1965 Aurora opened a raceway in a gym nearby the factory. Two HO tracks and seven large-scale tracks were available for the public in the first Aurora Raceway Center.
Controlled by steering wheels
At some raceways the cars were controlled by steering wheels. These circuits were places for children, because "experts use a hand controller". The system was called "wheel-and-accelerator" method, a real different technique than the hand controllers that are still used. The steering wheels disappeared, and the hand controllers took back control.
People went to clubs to race because most people did not have a track at home or they were looking for friendship and competition. The giant prices in the United States attracted also many people. Yearly the organizers of commercial raceways presented more than $ 100,000 in prizes.
Most big tracks are now runned by clubs for members only, but there are still commercial tracks. Lou del Rosario established Elmsford raceways in the United States in the sixties. Open for the public is the raceway at the Saw Mill River Road in Elmford, New York.
Sometimes the enthusiasts become too excited while racing. After a crash somebody has to put the car back on the track. On big raceways (or serious competitions at home) the other drivers (those who are not racing) have to serve as a corner or turn marshal. It can happen that the marshal reacts too slowly. Some racers react verbally and aggressive. In Paul Plecan's Model Car Handbook the author wrote: "When you ask someone to put your car back in the slot, it doesn't hurt to say 'please'!"
Published: 20 June 2015
By Jan Willem van Capelleveen / @jwvcapelleveen