Slot Car : Custom Track Build ( Additional Footage) VILLA RACEWAY
In this interview, Philippe de Lespinay charts the history of slot cars, from the prototypes that ran on model train tracks up to the slot car crash of 1968.
Then, in 1957, I saw a new Scalextric racing set.
It came out in late summer and was in French department stores by.
The track was a figure eight and it came with little push-button controllers for the cars.
Suddenly you could actually race somebody on your own track.
It was a whole new dimension in play.
We also found a picture from 1904 of a racing layout for model cars in a French spa near Paris.
By 1906, the American model train company made a prototype of a model car that ran on a.
It was shown at a trade show but was never commercialized.
In 1908, the German firm issued a single car to run on a train layout, and then in 1911, the American company produced the first true racing set for cars.
They had two very heavy racing cars with little drivers in them crouching forward.
These two cars raced on a modified model train track and were run by AC electric motors.
There was a transformer, and you could control the speed of each car.
We have one of these sets at the museum, which is owned by my friend Scott Bader.
In the 1980s, Lionel reissued reproductions of the cars, which are also now highly collectible.
By 1912, were on the market and very popular, but after World War I, Lionel stopped making the sets.
Nothing really notable happened in the field until about 1936, when Marklin issued a racing set with two fairly heavy tinplate cars, again using AC electric motors.
These new cars were no longer designed for model train tracks.
The Lionel cars and Marklin cars had run on a raised rail, not a slot.
There were pickets set around the track that kept the cars from going off the edge.
When the car would slide, the inner wheel would hit the rail and stop any further sliding.
De Lespinay: The first true slot car system was patented in the 1930s in the United States, but nobody knows whether any vehicles were actually produced.
Apparently the set was patented and then offered to several toy companies, but the inventor decided not to pursue it.
In 1949, a British fellow named Woodland designed and built a beautiful little Maserati slot car.
In 1957, Scalextric made tinplate cars with a spring motor.
Fred Francis designed a modified tinplate car using a rotary guide on the front.
It ran into a slot track made of molded rubber.
It was very much like a modern track.
Victory Industry Products, VIP, put out an almost identical product at the same time and the Model Road Racing Company, or MRRC, eventually made a complete set.
Those were all British companies.
That absolutely launched the whole thing in the U.
Suddenly there were slot cars everywhere.
People started forming slot car clubs and building tracks.
Bob Coogan opened the first commercial slot car raceway in about 1961.
The Strombecker became the most widely marketed set in the U.
Collectors Weekly: Who were some of the other early slot-car companies?
Classic Industries sold more than a million Manta Rays in the 1960s.
Then Aurora bought the company and began marketing its new HO-scale Thunderjets.
They eventually became the biggest sellers.
Department stores and hobby shops sold millions of those little cars packed in racing sets, but Thunderjets could never be mixed or matched with cars and tracks custom slot car track manufacturers other sizes.
They live in different universes.
For many years, collecting magazines have only covered HO when it comes to slot cars.
They need to wake up to that fact.
When the American Model Racing Congress was formed in Beverly Hills, they decided to take over the manufacturing of all tracks and organized races sponsored by Ford Motor Company and Dodge.
They had various league races and a big final once a year.
Aurora organized click here events, but in HO scale.
Then, in 1966, AMF, which had all the bowling alleys and that sort of equipment, purchased the American Model Racing Congress and added slot car tracks to its line.
They basically gave their franchisees complete stores with inventory and everything, but the people who ran the stores generally knew nothing about the product or the hobby.
Most of them failed read more because they were not business people.
They were generally retirees who invested in it because it sounded like a gold mine, which was how it had been presented to them.
To properly run a commercial raceway, you needed to have another business on the side.
It could be a restaurant or even a hobby shop.
By 1968 the whole thing was beginning to crumble.
Then came the 1968 Chicago blizzard, which happens the same week as the annual industry trade show.
Nobody came, and that absolutely killed the hobby.
A lot of the companies just quit after that show.
Literally hundreds of manufacturers that had been involved in the craze were impacted to some degree.
At one point there were millions of American kids playing with.
Nobody knows exactly how many commercial raceways there were in the U.
In comparison, there were only 2,800 bowling alleys.
In the Los Angeles area, there were 50 raceways.
There are now between 150 and 200 raceways in operation in the U.
We have a listing on our Slot Blog forum at.
We keep it as current as possible.
New Jersey seems to have the most raceways.
Collectors Read more Did the collapse of the pastime change the collectability of the cars?
Revell probably wrote off and threw away millions of dollars worth of merchandise.
Cox did the same and nearly went bankrupt.
Leroy Cox was forced to sell his company in 1969 to a holding company called Leisure Dynamics.
You now have condominiums in Irvine built over old Cox kits.
Naturally those have become very difficult to find.
The ones that were sold are now used, but collectors want unused collectibles.
So the brand-new unused kits have which m 2 slot to use very desirable.
Prices are down now because of eBay.
Basically, eBay brought everything that was buried to the surface.
The collectors are still here, though.
There were a lot of big finds between 1980 and 1995�old toy stores that had been packed up in the 1960s.
So that stuff became very valuable.
But there are no more secret warehouses today.
The aesthetics of the vehicles are fantastic, and the packaging can be superb.
If you look at some old collectibles from the 1950s, like by Cox, the box is sometimes much nicer than what was inside.
Collectors Weekly: Do collectors only look for complete kits?
De Lespinay: In 1964, Classic, an important company from California, came on the scene.
It sold more than a million units from early 1965 to 1967.
When you bought a Scalextric set, you could also buy Monogram or Revell assembled cars.
For example, Cox had a deal custom slot car track manufacturers Mr.
Wai Shing Ting in Hong Kong.
Ting worked for all kinds of companies in the U.
He was producing the see more models for Cox, and then shipping them to Santa Ana where they were verified, tested, and put inside smaller boxes as ready-to-race models.
The Dugan Oldsmobile Toronado from 1967 is quite scarce, especially inside its original box.
These models are now highly sought after.
Most of them were played with, demolished, and thrown away.
The Vietnam War was actually a big factor because many of the young men who were playing with these cars were drafted.
Their moms or dads threw their slot car collections in the garbage.
We have a lot of these stories from people about how their stuff was thrown out.
The cars and brand new kits in the box are much harder to find.
Ebay is the place to find the more common ones.
Auction houses rarely sell.
They expected the book to sell 3,000 copies over three or four years.
That means the interest is still there.
It will have a description of the car, the type of motor, and other things.
There will also be all kinds of side stories in there, too.
For instance, in the new book I talk about the Mabuchi Motor Corporation, which is now the largest electric motor company in the world.
It has 10 factories, making eight million electric motors a day.
Toyota, for instance, will put 15 or 20 Mabuchi motors in each one of its cars�for electric windows, mirrors, seats, and fans of all kinds.
All of those motors are made by Mabuchi, now mostly in China.
Mabuchi was a company of about 10 people when they started making slot car motors.
In two years they had something like 500 employees.
houston slot warehouse year later they had a thousand employees.
From 1964 on they made just about all the motors for every slot car that was produced.
There were millions of motors, so this is a very important side story.
After the slot-car crash, competitors absorbed companies like AMT, which was basically bankrupt by then.
Cox was nearly bankrupt when it was approached by a holding company.
So they made a huge amount of money in the beginning and then lost a lot at the end.
Their late-entry came in 1967, when they issued four models and a racing track with three lanes.
Jim Russell, who was one of the pioneers in the hobby industry, founded the company.
By 1968 he was being hounded by creditors.
People also began to realize that a lot of the manufactured slot cars were not very good.
So many people started making their own cars using steel wire, brass, brass plate, brass wire, and components they would buy at the raceways�wheels, tires, gears, motors, bodies.
By 1966, those hobbyists represented about 80 percent of the market.
People were still buying the new kits and ready-to-race cars, but not nearly as much.
That inspired a lot of people to make their own cars.
When you find an old slot car box, 90 percent of the time it will have homemade, hand-soldered cars with vacuum-form or hard plastic bodies.
Those cars were very efficient.
In 1966 an American magazine organized the first pro racing series in the U.
The participants showed up with gorgeous cars, and the racing was very competitive.
Cars had to be built to certain specifications.
Pro racing is still alive click />They use the most advanced electric motor technology and go at incredible speeds.
In the meantime, the late 1960s and early 1970s pro racing cars have become highly collectible.
The craftsmanship is unbelievable and the paint jobs are pure art in many cases.
In fact, there were some very famous slot car body painters back in the day.
In the last 15 years, it has become a new form of collecting.
A lot of people made the mistake of collecting as an investment instead of for the fun of it.
Right now the market is pretty stable.
The vintage market is solid.
A good item sells for a lot of money, and the competition for it is fierce.
Common items are fairly cheap, as they should be.
Collectors Weekly: Who were some of the primo painters?
De Lespinay: The best painter of them all was Dave Bloom.
His style was wonderful.
He was the first to deviate from normal paint jobs to psychedelic designs or the name of the racer on the car in big letters.
Bob Kovacs in California is still a very famous painter.
He paints and cars now.
Those are the two biggest names.
There were others, but these two guys dominated.
Bob Kovacs painted virtually all the bodies on the pro racing cars on the West Coast.
On the East Coast, it was all Dave Bloom.
Dave Bloom died of cancer in about 1995.
We also have replicas made by very talented new painters.
Collectors Weekly: Were the kits modeled after actual cars?
De Lespinay: Yes, most of them.
Classic was one of the few companies that made dream cars or freaky cars.
It was very loosely modeled after a real custom job made by Dean Jeffries in Los Angeles.
John Power designed the Manta Ray.
It was a bubble top.
When John Power quit the company after a dispute with the owner, he went to work for BZ, Beck and Zimmerman.
Power designed a dream car for them called the Banshee that was going to kill the Manta Ray on the market.
But the Manta Ray was so successful that nothing could stop it.
The Banshee sold very well, but never in numbers like the Manta Ray.
The BZ Banshee was an original design by John Power, the man behind the styling of Classic's Manta Ray.
After John Power left, Classic hired Bob Cadaret, a General Motors designer.
Those cars were very successful and are icons today.
Then he went back to General Motors and concentrated on designing car interiors.
Cadaret designed some fantastic machines for Classic, like the Stinger, which had a working wing.
When you flapped the wing the car slowed down because the motor would hold it slightly at an angle.
He designed the Gamma Ray, which was an extraordinary looking car in shades of purple and yellow.
He also did the Asp, which was lime green.
Kids bought them by the hundreds of thousands.
Larry Shinoda, a Japanese-American, was the number-one designer at General Motors in the 1960s.
He worked under Bill Mitchell, who was basically the vice president of styling.
Shinoda designed the Stingray and the famous Mako Shark, plus a bunch of other cars like the Pontiac GTO.
Larry was a fan of.
He started making bodies of his own design on the vacuum-forming machine at the General Motors Research and Development Center.
Very serious people raced those cars at the Groove.
They were the fastest things in America at the time because they were designed for functionality.
All the other companies were making realistic cars.
Cox was making Lotuses, Chaparrals, GTs, and Ferraris.
Monogram was also doing extremely realistic models of Ferraris and Lotuses, but a few companies were making thingies, which were very successful.
Of course, those bodies will never be assembled.
He fell in love with them.
He had a very successful gallery exhibition of thingies in Milano last year.
He photographed scantily clad young ladies with the cars.
They wore lipstick that matched the color of the car, and things like that.
They were beautiful, very artistic.
Slowly but surely, slot cars are becoming recognized as a form of toy art, like tinplate toys or from before and after World War II.
That was before the heated-plastic era in the 1960s, which virtually killed the tinplate industry and the good toys.
Would you collect a new Volkswagen Beetle?
Would you collect a new Camaro?
They represent a completely different era when things were still made by hand and you could sense the personalities of the people behind the object.
The same goes for the Japanese tin toys of the 1950s.
The Marusan tinplate Cadillac is an absolute piece of art.
Marusan toys were built by hand by craftsmen custom slot car track manufacturers assembled in very substandard facilities, but those toys sold very successfully, especially in the U.
Collectors Weekly: What are some of the most sought-after kits?
De Lespinay: The most collectible kit ever is the Cox Chaparral 2E.
Less than 25 still intact are known to exist today, although they made thousands of them.
Many of them were destroyed when Leisure Dynamics dumped its leftover inventory.
Jim Hall started the Chaparral Company.
He this web page in collaboration with General Motors out of Midland, Texas.
He signed a contract with Cox in Santa Ana to produce exclusive approved-by-Jim Hall Chaparral models.
If the item is perfect, it still sells for big money, but anything less than mint loses 50 percent of its potential value instantly.
It uses different wheels and tires and has a less-realistic but great-looking chassis.
And the box is beautiful.
They made a lot of them.
Tamiya and other Japanese companies got into the hobby market in 1965 and were very inspired by what the Americans had done.
Very few were made, and they were sold mostly in Europe.
De Lespinay: The most successful form of commercial racing in the U.
Collectors Weekly: What are some of your favorite models in the museum?
Gene is now in his 80s and lives in Indiana.
He made everything but the motors, wheels, and stuff like that.
Miyazawa slot cars from Japan, such as this Lotus, were made out of aluminum.
I love my check this out pro racing cars that I restored for the museum.
I made them between 1971 and 1973.
At the time I had no green card in the U.
I was a pioneer in design at the time as far as technology and body design.
It was a little orange beast that sold very well.
There are variations of them.
We must have 20 or 30 at the museum in different versions.
Cox pretty much comes out on top.
MPC, the Model Product Company, from Mount Clemens in Michigan had some gorgeous models, too.
I think the biggest mistake toymakers make today is that they try to create exact models of cars, planes, or boats.
When you take an actual object and exaggerate its features to make it a little click child-friendly so that it becomes a toy, then you have something great.
Collectors Weekly: Just to clarify, were vintage slot cars in the 1960s made out of plastic or metal?
De Lespinay: All the kits had plastic bodies.
There were two distinct types of plastic: injection-molded and vacuum-formed.
The former is a hard plastic with color molded into the plastic.
Cox, Monogram, Revell, and other companies made those.
The latter is a clear plastic formed by heat over a mold and then hand-trimmed and hand-painted.
The paint is done from the inside of the plastic.
Cox's La Cucaracha Https://fukiya.info/slot/evolution-slotted-rotors.html was marketed as the Super "Cuc.
The vacuum-formed kits have a charm all their own because they were hand-painted.
They were trimmed and assembled by hand.
Some of the color schemes on these particular cars were especially beautiful.
The, or slot cars made in the era have that special lead glow.
The chassis were always at least 99 percent metal.
Types of metal ranged from diecast magnesium, which corroded very easily, to brass, which stained.
The environment in which the cars are stored is very important.
Some chassis were made of steel and others were made custom slot car track manufacturers aluminum.
One thing people think, jammy duck slots and bingo sorry are the tires, which were very important in because they helped determine how the car would handle on the track.
There were all kinds of variations of rubber�natural rubber, neoprene rubber, foam rubber.
Thanks for everything you are doing to research and document the history of this great hobby!
Thanks for a great interview on a hobby many of us still love and nobody knows that better than Philippe!
We met briefly at one of the Chicago slot car shows before Ebay changed everything.
I have sold many custom and restored vintage slot cars all over the world.
If I can be of any service to you in the hobby, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I cherish the signed copy of your first book and look forward to your next one.
Thanks for your devotion to the hobby that brings back our childhood.
Bob had the requirement for a new business location in the middle of 1958.
He selected the location for track placement, product distribution and walk in traffic.
He was the MRRC distributor for the west coast, but shipped all over the US and Canada.
I helped build and landscape his racing circuit during late 1958 to middle 1959.
A lot of hobby shop and private club owners visited this new track and immediately wanted to build their own circuit.
The hobby exploded from that point.
The hobby was initially created for teens and adults over 15 years of age.
Let me know if you want to explore any information.
I have included a link to this article on my web site, which is The aim of my site is to encourage the racing of vintage slot cars.
Says: This brought back so many memories, good ones of course.
Just got back into slot cars; pretty much collecting vintage on Ebay and racing some newer stuff with my 11 yr old son.
Great time of bonding.
Wish my dad would have done that with me, he was too busy delivering milk.
Yes, I am the son of the milkman.
And of course, ad me to your list.
My mom threw my slot car stuff away while I was in Viewt Nam.
Keep it up Philippe, please let me know when you finish the book.
Question, where is the museum you speak about.
I had 5 cars and the figure 8 track.
All of the original parts are still there including the cardboard guardrails and the cardboard brige that crossed over the track.
How can I find the value and someone who might want to purchase it.
I am now 65 and am into big boy cars now.
It did not come out correctly on the story, but is correct in our new upcoming book.
To Paul Ober, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news: unless your set is in pristine condition with virtually no visible use and a perfect outer box, it is only worth the value of the cars in it, and unless the cars are in pristine or near pristine condition, they will be worth little.
Pictures can be sent to Electric Dreams at for free and more accurate appraisal.
The museum is still in a temporary location inside the building.
Company custom slot car track manufacturers called Speedway Trackburners.
Item is 63 chev impala and very well built for early slot car.
This was the 1st year carrera put out these cars 124 and I was wondering how do I find the12th missing car or how do I know what to insure these at.
The original models were of a Lotus 40, a Ferrari Dino and a McLaren MK6, all with vacuum formed bodies.
By 1970, others were added such as a McLaren MK2, Cobra Daytona coupe, a Cobra roadster, a Ferrari 512, Porsche 917 etc.
Carrera also issued a Porsche 906 with an injected body.
Because the track is still produced today, the vintage 1970 track has no more value than the newer stuff so you should not worry about that.
The older chassis with the Mabuchi motors are worth more.
As far as finding the missing car, first you have to find which one is missing, but I could not find a period catalog handy, so you will need to do click the following article bit of search.
I hope to get a copy of the new book.
I do happen to be one of the few that collects all scales, but I will admit that I was raised on h.
It has mods witcher slots 3 a fun hobby, that I have enjoyed most of my life.
Font Says: I love the story and some history involved.
I have been collecting H.
Carrera is by far the best track and I put this track to a series of brutal tests and it always came out on top.
I also have Eldons which I love very much and they run great on the Carrera track.
I was able to restore some of them as well.
I am always on the look out for Eldon cars parts,motors,etc.
A NOTE; I am in serious need of Aurora plastic.
I am looking for any kind of bodies with any damages like cut wheel wells,breaks, painted over bodies etc.
I have had it for over forty years, I would like to find out what it is worth if anything.
Please check this website page to decide what exactly you have, and then ask me again?
Copy and paste this link in a new browser.
slot car remember that place well, and it was a favorite stop for me.
I raced and purchased gear there.
It was on Lankershim Blvd.
Although this was many years ago, I believe it was abruptly closed under the suspicion of an illegal drug ring operating from there.
Do you have any information on that?
I remember being surprised at seeing something on the news one evening, and then the shop was closed after that.
Actually it was Lenny Bruce who was in trouble.
Coogan closed the shop to open a distributorship on Sunset Blvd.
I was an amateur racer for Team Checkpoint from 1974-75.
I won the amateur 1974 Western States Championship at Crash and Burn Raceway.
Stork built the car and Bill Sr.
Imagine this, when I qualified I was turn marshaled by fellow Team Checkpoint members, Billy Steube, Bob Crane, Big Jim Greenmeyer, Gil Gundersen, Herb Wade, and Don Aspensen.
I was the amateur USRA champion in 1975 at the age of 16.
I have many good memories of my adolescence during this time.
It was an offer of a lifetime, but I had to go on to college.
The last time I saw Bill Sr.
The last time I saw Billy Jr.
It was at this time he informed of the loss of Bill Sr.
Incredible re-vist to great times in my life.
I do have some questions for you.
Hope to meet you soon.
The book of Mr.
Philippe de Lespinay, Vintage Slot Cars is one of the best books around, it gives a lot of information about collectable slotcars and a great insight of the history article source mostly USA slotcar companies.
It is definitely worth buying.
Ofcourse USA brands were difficult to find in those days in Europe, we had brands such as Scalextric, Carrera, Marklin Sprint, Fleischmann and later Ninco.
Nowadays a lot of other slotcar companies exist, SlotClassic from Spain, Ostorero from Italy and cottage industry from United Kingdom.
Their products are often handmade and of very high quality.
Looking forward to see the new book about slotcar racing of Mr.
My father Ray Jones owned and operated it with my help and others.
We sponsored an Arca race and had racers from all over.
I remember John Cukras and Dave Bloom this was his home track and I remember him starting his body painting,I owned a couple of them.
Please respond if you remember any of those Glory Days in Hinsdale.
By the way it was in a lower level building it being an old bowling alley when we took it over and built the raceway.
Thanks much and hope to hear from you.
It must have been exciting growing up in a raceway!
Were you an active racer?
Going down the basement stairs was like the a trip to another world.
I remember being a corner Marshall at the hairpin turn just after the Monza during some of the races you held.
The cars that raced were unbelievably fast and held on article source the track like they were glued down!
The cheap, out of the box, cars that I, as a 10-11 year old, could afford had crappy engines and tires and would constantly derail, but I loved going downstairs to hang out and watch.
I remember that the store had an interesting and uniquely particular smell.
I have been looking to buy an HO set like the one you had.
Do you remember where you got it?
Your shop is a very fond memory of my youth.
Thanks for reminding me of it.
The first and last were by far the most popular.
That all had to be ripped out and replaced by aluminum tape strip material.
We ran at 18 volts, which made the normal 6-12 volt motors scream.
We opened in the Fall of 1964 and stocked what seemed at the time a large assortment of merchandise, ranging from Cox custom slot car track manufacturers Revell ready-to-run cars to parts and clear bodies for the builders.
Manny was averse to calling it a slot track; we referred to it as Berkeley Model Car Speedway.
It was so successful that he built a second, about twice as large, in an ex-Safeway grocery store in San Lorenzo, about 20 miles south.
At one time or another I managed both as I worked my way through the University at Berkeley, right up to the time I went into the Army in mid-1966.
By the time I returned in mid-1968, the Berkeley track was gone and San Lorenzo was fading.
The only question I had was the date on the Chicago blizzard, which you referenced as being in 1968.
I slot cars was a Strombecker set that I got one year for Christmas.
Been running and building them ever sents.
At the present I have about 200+ cars,still building.
This is the GREATEST Hobby in the WORLD BAR NONE.
Now it seems there is click at this page an active community of slot car enthusiasts who post on facebook in various slot car groups everyday.
Is slot car racing enjoying a resurgence?
It seems there is quite an active community still enjoying this hobby.
The only problem is that commercial slot car tracks are few and far between and home built tracks seem to be the new wave of slot car hobbyists.
His drivers was happ Hecox.
Happ drove, my dad was the designer.
Remember that Cox and Revel would send my father some of their latest ideas and he would correct the mistakes he saw in them.
Leave a Comment or Ask a Question If you want to identify an item, try posting it in.
Your name required Your email will not be published required Your comment.
Thunder Bay Slot Car Track Build
The techniques for building slot car tracks are much the same for any layout - be. people (From professional builders to people who have built one club track) .
This theme is simply matchless :), very much it is pleasant to me)))
In my opinion you are mistaken. Let's discuss it. Write to me in PM.
At all is not present.
What turns out?
It is a pity, that now I can not express - it is compelled to leave. I will be released - I will necessarily express the opinion on this question.
I recommend to you to come for a site on which there is a lot of information on this question.
Here there's nothing to be done.
Instead of criticism write the variants.
I apologise, but, in my opinion, you commit an error. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM.
And I have faced it. Let's discuss this question. Here or in PM.
I think, that you are not right. I am assured. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM, we will talk.
It agree, it is a remarkable phrase
This phrase is simply matchless ;)
It is a pity, that now I can not express - it is compelled to leave. I will return - I will necessarily express the opinion.
I join told all above. Let's discuss this question.
I consider, that you commit an error. Let's discuss. Write to me in PM.
I confirm. It was and with me. We can communicate on this theme. Here or in PM.
I congratulate, the remarkable message
Completely I share your opinion. In it something is also idea excellent, I support.
Really and as I have not guessed earlier
Prompt, where to me to learn more about it?
Here so history!
It is very valuable phrase
It has touched it! It has reached it!
Do not take in a head!
I consider, that you are not right. Write to me in PM, we will talk.
It is a pity, that now I can not express - there is no free time. I will be released - I will necessarily express the opinion.