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EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT OPENING A SLOT CAR TRACK Almost!
By John Ford
Q. How does one get started in the slot car racing business.
A. First, set your budget. How much you have to spend on your project. This amount could vary from $5,000.00 to $25,000.00. Yes, you can actually start your own slot car raceway for as little as $5,000.00
Second, find an approiate building in your area that you can rent or lease, the price of which is not out of line with your budget.
Third, contact someone about building your tracks for you.
Q. What are the possibilities for success?
A.The possibilities for success lay in your hands. It has nothing to do with how much money you spend, or how big your raceway is. It has to do with how well you treat your customers, and other "little" things like whether you keep your rest rooms clean or not. Your possibilities for success are the same as the guy down the street that has just opened a pizza parlor. To be successful, he cannot just sell good pizza, he must sell pizza good!
Q. Are slot cars becoming popular once again?
A. Slot cars never quit being popular with those of us who kept the sport alive all these years. It was the major corporations getting rich off the fad of the '60's that killed the sport before its popularity could decline normally. They sold their products to anyone, with no client protection. Discount houses and mail order houses sold slot cars at a price that the raceway owner couldn't compete with. 70% of the raceway owners income comes over the counter in the form of retail sales. He has to have the big building for the tracks which makes his rent high, and he simply cannot make it financially without the retail sales. When the major manufacturers saw the raceways beginning to fold they bailed out, stopped manufacturing slot cars, and began manufacturing other things so they could stay in business. Some of them turned to model airplaines, some of them to plastic models, and some of them to the newly lucrative radio control market. The fact remains, they did not care about slot car racing, they only cared about their bottom lines. Today's slot car manufacturers from the smallest to the largest really care about our sport. Most of them could be classified as cottage industry manufacturers. As long as we continue to support the manufacturers who are not the bottom line big buck corporations, we will keep slot racing from going the way of the 60's again.
Q. Where or how do you buy a track.
A. Several reputable slot track manufacturers advertise in Scale Auto Racing News. With a little shopping around, you will find the widest variety and most cost effective tracks available today. How you buy a track, is to call and interview all builders, and then make your decision which one to go with.
Q. What do tracks cost.
A.That depends on who will build them. You will find several price ranges available to fit any budget. For example, you can buy a 100ft. track unfinished for about $2,000.00. If you feel confident to paint, braid, and wire your track, you can save a bundle. The bottom line is "the bottom line". What you want is a track that will make you the most return on your investment.
Q. Can I build my own track?
A. If you feel confident with wood working tools (skil saw, table saw, router, belt sander, etc.) you should be able to build your own track. It will take you about two to three weeks, working evenings, and create more sawdust than you have ever seen, but it is really easy to build your own track. The hard part is thinking about it!
Q. Where do you get cars and parts.
A. All reputable slot racing distributors advertise in Scale Auto Racing News. Once you have contracted for your track, you can obtain catalogues from one or all of them, and begin making up your initial start up order. Many distributors have a computer print out of initial stock orders in varying amounts to help you with your first shipment.
Q. What do you recommend for lap counters.
A. Today the computer systems are the only way to go. There are many on the market, some which advertise in Scale Auto Racing News, others you will have to find on the internet. Today's slot car software will let your computer do it all. Turning on and off the track power, timing the cars, counting laps, and giving an updated report at the end of each heat of racing, and with a point of purchase program, it can even let your computer be your cash register and inventory control.
Q. How large need the track be.
A.The answer to this question is simple. It needs to be as large as your budget will let it be, and no larger. There are many raceways in business today that are making good money with small one track operations. My suggestion is always at least two tracks and a drag strip, but first and formost, you should consider your budget, and not get in over your head. It's no problem to open a one track operation, and save up for a year to buy your second track, and possibly move to a larger location.

I have always said that the hard part is thinking about it. If you have more questions, feel free to email me: johnford@slotmail.org



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