Hey, remember these–slot racing cars?
It’s my brother Mark’s birthday today, the weather is atrocious, and he and I were on the phone reminiscing about our old slot racing cars. He still has our set, vintage 1964; and after a fashion, it still works.
The cars had little pins underneath that kept them fitted to the slots on the track, and metal brushes to pick up the electricity from those white lines you see in the photo; they’re wires. You couldn’t steer the cars, of course, but you could control how fast they went. And you could lay out the track with enough curves to make speed control a kind of art. Do you slow down for the curve, and maybe let the other guy’s car pull ahead? Or do you go for the gusto, and hope the rubber guard rail keeps your car from winding up on the other side of the room?
The cars were only two inches long, tops, and you could customize them by fitting them with tiny racing slicks or fiddling around with the actuator on the inside: that was the thing that went up and down, moving the gear that spun the wheels. We had the first-generation slot racers, the design of which was so simple, even I could understand it.
It was a very simple pleasure, to be sure, compared to the fancy-schmancy electronic toys kids have today. But sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that you remember.