If you’ve landed on this website, we suspect you already know this: racers gonna race. Even when they can’t get to a proper-sized racetrack, this special breed of humans somehow finds a way to feed that hunger for competition and, relatively speaking, speed. Pandemic-related restrictions aside, one of the more unique methods of satiation is slot car racing.
The hobby became popular in the 1960s and is alive and well in distinct pockets across the country. In basic terms, a slot car is a miniature version of an automobile designed to run on a grooved (or slotted) track.
Oh, but these aren’t just for kids.
Slot car racing has become ultra-competitive, and modifications for performance are common. There are commercially available slot cars, sure, but it’s no secret that racers don’t like to leave things alone.
Dallas Glenn is one such racer. By day, he’s a truck driver, back-half specialist, and tire specialist for the Mooresville, North Carolina-based KB Racing NHRA Pro Stock team. The Kent, Washington, native’s heart is in the driver’s seat, though. Glenn is an accomplished NHRA Sportsman and bracket racer and spends as much time as possible behind the wheel of the 1968 Chevy El Camino that once belonged to his grandmother, Bernice.
He picked up the slot car habit after moving to North Carolina and joining friend Doug Foley Jr. at a few slot car races. Glenn soon realized he was going to need to make an investment in an operation of his own.
His slot car collection has grown to include pint-sized replicas of Jason Line’s Buick GS Stock Eliminator car and the ’55 Chevy wagon that’s been in his family for three generations. Wife Sadie has been roped into the hobby as well and has ownership of a winning slot car fashioned after Tow Mater from Disney Pixar movie Cars.
“It can be expensive if you want it to be, but really, it’s a pretty cheap hobby,” said Glenn, fresh from purchasing CNC billet aluminum wheels for the Buick. “The engine in the wagon was $16. Racing on a Wednesday normally costs $30, plus buy backs, if you enter the max. It’s fun and doesn’t cost a lot of money, so I like it.”
Although it doesn’t take a ton of investment to be a hobbyist in the world of slot car racing, it can be financially beneficial if a driver is good and lucky. Glenn attended a race last winter that paid several thousand to win, and there are events that pay even bigger, like the 1/25th Scale Million Dollar Race at Top Slots Raceway in Oklahoma City.
In normal times, Glenn tries to race his slot cars at least once a week, usually on Wednesdays between races, but he’s likely to squeeze in a race on weekends off from full-sized competition.
So, what’s the winning formula?
“Number one, be patient,” said Glenn. “It can be challenging and frustrating at times, especially when you’re racing against some of the best slot car racers in the country. Number two, don’t be afraid to ask for help with a car that isn’t working as well as you would like. Pretty much everywhere I go, slot car racers are very nice and always helping each other out. Number three, have fun. At the end of the day, win or lose, you should be enjoying it. It can be serious, but they are little toy cars, after all.”
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