Thursday, April 21, 2011

A-Z Bloggiing Challenge - The Letter S - Slotcar

In so many ways I have never really grown up. In fact I have never understood WHY I have to give up the things I enjoyed in childhood now that I am technically an adult and have been one for quite some time now.

I still collect action figures (which I keep in the package because I like how they display on the wall) and I still get a charge out of reading comic books - in fact I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't read at least one a day. On any given Wednesday (which is new comic day) I read at least 10-20. I consider myself to be an expert on superheroes and their comic book adventures.

I take it as a badge of honor that I can spot and name the artist and often the writer responsible for a particular issue in the same way that a 'fine art' expert can distinguish a Monet from a Rembrandt.

I was looking around at a few sites yesterday and saw this slot car set for sale at Amazon. Immediately I was 10 years old again.

When I lived in Europe they had a great youth center on the military base that had tons of activities for us kids to do. I went to my first dance there, learned how to play pool, handball and Foosball there. I became good at archery and I developed a love for slot cars there.

These were not the simple cars that came with the track set. These were the larger, more complex vehicles that, along with the hand held controller, were set up to their own unique frequency and allowed the racer to not only modify their speed but to change lanes when they needed to.

Racing these cars was very exciting and required great hand/eye co-ordination. When you raced you stood on a platform above the track and environment so that you could see everything as you when from start to finish. There was even a lap counter for the longer races.

The slot car races were one of the things I look forward to on Thursday nights. After swimming lessons, most of the same kids would walk over to the CYC and go to the special room they had the huge track set up in.

Many of the fathers were hobbyists and had set up a four lane track that looped around an awesome environment complete with bridges and tunnels and a race timer so that you could challenge your skills against your friends each and ever week. The guys running the club organized a weekly race where time trials were first held and then off that, positions in the larger race were established. Twelve cars could race at one time.

They had classes on how to modify and run your cars to get the most out of them and how not to take the corners too fast lest your slot car become airborne. There was a real art to modifying your speed in order to get the fastest time you could without being disqualified for not saying on the track or for forcing another persons car into the landscape or the fake lake.

If I had kids I would steer them into hobbies like this. These kinds of activities socialize a kid and teach them how to interact within a larger group. They support a child's interest instead of alienating them from their peers.


M. D. Jackson said...

I loved slot cars as a kid. Our first Christmas together I bought my stepson a slot car set. I think we spent more time setting it up than we did racing it (with my parents looking on in knowing amusement) but it sure was a lot of fun.

Sarah said...

Never EVER grow up Kal. It ruins you!

Didn't know the magic of slot cars but I loved to play with my matchbox cars out in the play area in my front yard. I'd use little plastic beach shovels to make roads in the dirt and drive the cars all around the little cities that my sister & I built.

Woe to anyone who stepped on one of our "highways"! The only bad thing was that grit would get in the wheels after doing that and then the cars wouldn't roll as smoothly as I liked. A matchbox car had to roll smoothly or I didn't like it anymore.