Big thrills come in small bursts in slot car races – JSOnline

Big thrills come in small bursts in slot car races

photo by Mark Hoffman

Glen Deutschendorf and Nikki Kuranda launch their electric slot cars down the drag strip at Lucky Bob’s Raceway, the last remaining slot car racing track in the Milwaukee area.

By Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 3, 2011

It’s Tuesday night at Lucky Bob’s Slot Car Racing, where the competition is fast yet not too furious.

Around here, Gasoline Alley is a bunch of tables crammed with toolboxes and solder irons, the drag strip is a grooved track wedged belly-high into a basement wall, and fencing is an old pillow the size of a catcher’s mitt.

And down the 55-foot-long drag strip the tiny cars go, here a ’59 Cadillac, there a ’57 Chevy, some of the toy vehicles so geared up they hit speeds of 40, 50, and, yes, even 60 mph.

“I can’t smell burning rubber and nitro methane in the middle of winter, so I come here,” says Mark Dietrich, 37, a slot car racing enthusiast who likes to launch his cherry red ’57 Plymouth.

Dietrich, a radio DJ who also doubles as a race announcer at Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove, calls the model racer Christine, named after the vehicle in the Stephen King horror novel.

“This is a lot of fun, almost like a dart league,” he says. “This is a hands-on thing, and you can see what’s happening.”

It’s all part of a throwback atmosphere to a throwback hobby, a reminder of an age before computers and video games became toys for the masses.

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Big thrills come in small bursts in slot car races – JSOnline.

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