When I was a child, one of my favorite things was getting to play with my father’s early 1970s era slot car home set.
I didn’t realize until much later that not only is there quite a following of slot cars, but that this following is nearly as large and devoted to slot car racing as those who do scale model train dioramas.
During my childhood slot cars saw an explosion of popularity in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Just about every toy company jumped on the band-wagon, and the variety and “coolness” of slot car tracks exploded. Near the end of the slot car popularity boom, tracks had loops, vertical turns, upside down u-turns, and even jumps. Just about every channel that had kids programming had numerous commercials for the latest slot car super-track.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) most of these gimmicks died out when slot cars lost popularity around 1995. These days slot cars have more of a cult following. Tracks are more subdued and tend to be equal parts modelling and actual race design than they are about doing stunt-like maneuvers that seem to defy gravity. In this way slot car racing has really faded into a more sophisticated hobby that, like train diorama building, is as much about perfecting artistic skills and small-scale construction as it is actually racing the cars.
There’s a part of me that really wants to get back into slot car racing. As mentioned, my child self loves the idea of getting to race little cars. Unfortunately, with the implosion of the hobby in the 1990s, it’s much harder to get hands on an inexpensive set. Today most tracks you find are sold in pieces, and most of the equipment has to be assembled nearly from scratch. Maybe some day I’ll get back into it, but I’ve got so many expensive hobbies already that I’ll likely just keep loving slot cars from afar.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?