The term “slot car” might first bring to mind toys for kids you pick up at a big box store, with small cars and tracks to be set up on your kitchen table or living room floor.
But there’s a hobby beyond that, with tracks up to 200 feet in length and cars that exceed 100 miles per hour while racing wheel to wheel.
“It puts a smile on your face,” said Roger Schmitt, owner of Mid America Raceway. “You could be driving your car around and racing your little brother. Your little bro might have better reflexes so he’s faster, but just because you’re fast doesn’t mean you win. If you fall off, the other guy is going to be faster.”
The trick is learning how much to slow down for each curve so you can go around without flying off the track.
It may sound simple, but each track has different elements and cars handle differently depending on what parts they’re made of.
“This is the chassis, made out of loose spring steel. It’s direct drive, with a spur gear, pinion gear, and axle. Then there are the tires, which can be made out of different compounds. They could have plastic or aluminum hubs and are typically foam tacky tires,” said John Miller, owner of Pro Slot.
For most forms of real life racing, there’s a slot car equivalent. From GT Racing and NASCAR to IndyCar, Formula 1, and even Drag Racing.
And there are different levels of racing on offer as well.
“If you like to compete, there’s a place for you here. If you like to just have fun, there’s a place for that here too,” said Schmitt. “It’s a little bit of everything for everybody.”
And for regular drivers, it’s about more than just the racetrack.
“It’s being around people. You ask any one of these guys and it’s not just about the cars but it’s getting with the group and having fun,” said Miller.
A high speed hobby keeping friendships on track.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.