As a kid, I remember seeing ads in magazines like the one below. For some reason, I didn’t think I had a chance to compete against others at a higher level, so I didn’t enter these races. However, I did dream about such an adventure, thinking about what it would be like to be there in person. I could visualize a large hobby shop, somewhere in the USA, hosting a room full of kids with faster cars than I had ever built. I could see a group of tech guys in matching white shirts inspecting each car and qualifying each contestant. I knew that the air would be buzzing with the sounds of slot cars at speed. I could feel the tension of competition. It was a wonderful fantasy in my head.
Finally, one year, I read about a championship event that was to be held at a slot car raceway in the US. According to the rules, they would accept mail-in entries, which caught my attention. I read and reread the rules over and over, just to make sure I knew all the options. I decided to send one of my own cars in to the contest, just to say I actually did it. For the next couple of weeks, I prepped one of my Aurora HO scale slot cars for the race. I spent a great deal of time painted the body and hopping up the chassis, hoping perhaps my car might stand out among the hundreds of others that would be sent in. After carefully wrapping my car up, I placed it in a small box and along with the official entry form, I sent the package to the correct address. Agonizing weeks passed by, and I wondered what was the end results. I knew that the publication of the winning cars would not appear in the hobby magazines until months after the race date.
One day, my package was sent back to me with a note inside. One of the rules was that the car had to operate properly upon arrival to be officially entered into the race. The note mentioned that my car was tested and unfortunately, the gears had jammed, so it was disqualified. After reading the note, I felt very disappointed, but I was glad that I did get my car back.
The first thing I did was to test the car on my own track. Sure enough, the car did not run properly. I quickly took the car apart and fixed the jammed gears. I can remember thinking that perhaps someone at the event may have sabotaged my car, which of course is ridiculous, but I was at an age that the thought crossed my young mind. Either way, I was happy that my car came back to me, and that I had challenged myself to actually enter a car in the first place.
I wish these types of contests were still available for today’s youth. Slot car racing in the 1960’s was such a wonderful hobby, as well as a great learning experience.