Slot cars are still around, though, with all of the radio control cars and trucks you see, you might not know it. If you're a man of a certain age, you remember slot cars, probably with fondness. You might have found a set under the tree on Christmas morning and there might have been a good sized track in your town where you could race against the other guys who were serious about the sport. At home you had a snap together track with impossible curves and things never seen in the real world, like jumps and loops, but they were lots of fun.
Over the years, they faded away, never completely, but there were so many other options (video games) for young people, many of whom never got the auto bug anyway, that you didn't see them anywhere. That local track? Long gone.
David Beattie, a 47-year-old printing company COO, built a track in his basement back in 2004. A 20' by 20' layout, it was pretty impressive, but in 2008 the market took a nosedive and he was out of a job. He was looking for something he could do and built a little slot car tuning kit for sale in hobby shops, but after selling only one, knew he needed to do something else. A Ford executive had seen his ad and when he saw the race track Beattie had built, asked if he would build one for him. Well, sure he would, and from that first customer, Slot Mods has become the custom builder of slot car tracks for the well to do car lover. Jay Leno and Bobby Rahal are two notable customers and auto related companies and museums are lining up.
The tracks are designed in CAD, the slots carved by a CNC router and then the rest of the layout is constructed as needed. Some are off the charts. The scenery is excellent and the base for the track can be almost anything, sometimes in the shape of a full size car. Of course, technology today allows things you never saw in the old days, like point of view cameras that give you a driver's eye view of the race. Neat! Prices, as you would expect, can rise rapidly, up to $30,000 or even far more, if the customer wants something truly exceptional.
There are quite a few guys that construct elaborate model railroads in their basements, the kind they could never have had as a child, but slot cars had fallen out of favor. Maybe Slot Mods will give some of them, whose thoughts run more to the automotive side of things, the incentive to build a track of a different kind.
This is a great story. David Beattie is building these superb tracks to show some of the glory of the old days, but it shows how someone can take a change in circumstances to come back better than ever. Nice work, Dave!