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Old 01-14-2019, 08:38 AM
Maddman Maddman is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Originally Posted by Wet Coast Racer View Post
And yet, oddly (yet predictably) enough, you ignored all of my questions about the people you referred to. Thanks for that, very helpful eh?

I rest my case.

No need to rest your case. If the goal of SCI is to grow the hobby it would help if the moderators (and some others) would learn about the hobby, its history and who the movers and shakers were and still are. Toward that end here is a brief history lesson.

Gary Beedle, Tony Porcelli and Bob Lincoln’s roots date back to Slot Car Racing's "Golden Era" - the 1960's.
In the mid to late 80s and early 90s Gary was developing parts for and racing the Tomy Super G+ chassis. Tony and Bob were doing the same with the Tyco 440 X2. This resulted in some epic battles in the late 80s and early 90s. These three eventually developed their own chassis to continue to up performance and to get an advantage over the other.

In 1978 Gary took over the HO side of Speed and Sport and re-named it Scale Auto. While Gary started building up Scale Auto’s HO mail order business on the side, he continued to help Ron expand Speed & Sport's customer base until they became the dominant distributor of both Slot & R/C cars in the mid-80's.

Through Scale Auto, BSRT introduced high-quality "pro" HO parts that made it possible for everyone to compete on a level playing field. Scale Auto offered Bucktrax routed commercial tracks and LaneMaster computer software, both allowing HO slot racing to become a viable commercial possibility. Scale Auto was responsible for saving the Aurora AFX brand in the late 1990's as Gary secured the North American selling rights so Tomy Aurora AFX could see the light of another day. This new venture, started by Gary along with Jim Russell (of Russkit fame), became today's Racemasters company. Jim Russel was also originator of the Russkit 1/24th, the MAXX HO slot car and the Rokar HO scale product lines. Rokar eventually became Lifelike.

Gary went on to develop the BSRT G3 series of chassis based on the Tomy SG+ platform. Tony went on to develop the Slottech Panther and Thundercat series of chassis. Bob developed the Wizzard Patrior and Storm series of chassis. The Slottech and Wizzard chassis were based on the Tyco 440 X2 platform. Gary, Tony and Bob were the big three of HO racing. I was fortunate to be on Bob and Gary’s teams, win two national titles for Bob in 1987 and participate in the development of the G3 chassis.

Tony’s company was Slottech. In 1990 Slottech introduced the Polymer Bonded Magnet, as well as the first truly performance oriented HO gears. In 1993 the Cheetah Unlimited Chassis was introduced. Tony’s other high-performance HO chassis include the Thundercat and the Panther. Tony is also known for custom rewound armatures and other performance parts. Tony is a multiple HOPRA national champion.

Bob started Wizzard High Performance (WHP) and is the third of the big three. Wizzard is known for the Patriot and Storm chassis along with custom rewound armatures and other performance parts. WHP has recently branched into producing T-Jet parts and produces numerous high performance parts for the car including what is probably the best front-end setup, period. It appears that WHP designed the Super III chassis based on its similarity with the Storm. Unfortunately, they didn’t manufacture it.

Where are they now? Tony has passed. Bob is rarely seen at races and Gary is getting up in age as well. R.C. has effectively taken over the helm of Wizzard. Roger has taken over the helm at Slottech. Gary is still running Scale Auto/BSRT. Who will eventually take over the helm at Scale Auto/BSRT is unknown. Comparatively speaking, Dan Cronin of Viper Scale Racing is a relative newcomer. The Viper chassis is based on the BSRT G3R chassis with some of the Slottech front bumper design tossed in for good measure. Sorry, but when you can interchange all of the parts and pieces between the two different manufacturers chassis you have to call it like it is. Viper Scale Racing also offers a quality routed HO track in either kit or RTR form. Harden Creek Slot Cars is trying to revive the Lifelike HO slot car line and has a prototype chassis developed. The 3D printed prototype chassis appears to be a Viper V1 chassis with an open frame can motor as opposed to the Viper’s Tomy SG+ bulkhead based motor. It looks good but, in my opinion, won’t pass the child safety and electro-magnetic-interference, radio frequency interference (EMI-RFI) laws. The chassis might be marketed as an adult only “hobby” product. Even then it would require modification to pass the current EMI-RFI laws. This is especially true if Harden Creek wants to market it in places other than the US as the European EMI-RFI laws are stricter.

There are other HO parts suppliers such as Rick DeRosa (Quicker Engineering). They won’t be getting into the chassis game. The only large production quality home track chassis supplier still in business is AFX. Dan Casmer’s DASH Motorsports provides a high quality pancake motor based car. DASH is really targeting the T-Jet racer market and is not available as a kit with track, controllers and power supply. The other quality high volume suppliers such as Lifelike, Tomy (Aurora) and Tyco (Matell) are defunct. Today’s other chassis manufactures are either low volume or provide a sufficiently poor-quality product as to not be worth mentioning.

That was the past and in some instances the present. The truth is that the hobby has been in decline since the 70s when commercial slot racing went out of fashion and was replaced by video games and other hobbies.

Reversing this trend would be difficult at best. Marketing a commercially available HO car or set is difficult as customer service and returns make up a significant loss as the ability of a typical parent to fix a HO car is almost impossible. The recourse is to contact the store and return the “defective” product for a full refund. The store either absorbs the loss or passes the loss along to the manufacturer/supplier. This is the primary reason that many of the big box stores quit stocking slot cars in general and HO scale slot cars in particular. Gary related many a story about this. I also experienced this when I was selling MaDD Lexan bodies. A customer was upset as the clear Lexan body ordered from a supplier arrived unpainted, untrimmed and when placed on the chassis fell off when the car moved. I carefully explained that this was a high-performance aftermarket product, body mounts had to be added to the chassis and what had to be done to mount, trim and paint the body. This explanation was not well received.

Commercially speaking HO slot cars are toys. Today’s toys have to be more bulletproof than ever. The typical commercially available HO home set is quite fragile and intolerant to dirt, pet hair and carpet threads. The cars require constant maintenance. Track sections are subject to damage if not assembled and disassembled with extreme care. If the owner can’t (or won’t) clean the hair out of a rear axle, are they going to tear down a HO car and replace tires, pickups, brushes etc. when these parts wear out? Coupled with ever increasingly difficult Electro-Magnetic-Interference, Radio Frequency Interference (EMI-RFI) and Child Safety laws the cost of a HO scale home set will continue to increase. The larger scales are more tolerant to these issues.

Then there is the up-front cost to for a new racer to enter the game. Cars that sold for under $10 are now marketed for $40 or more. This is especially true if obtained at a hobby shop as opposed to direct from AFX. Most will buy a video game or some other diversion for their children rather than cough up $100 or more for two cars and a track. This is especially true if they want a decent size track as opposed to the typical 10 or 15 feet of two-lane plastic track supplied in most sets.

I have been involved with slot cars and HO scale racing since the late 1960s and have over 50 years of experience with the hobby. I don’t see a bright shiny future for the HO slot car industry. The customer base is aging and in the US HO scale racing will continue primarily as a basement hobby until it eventually dies out. You may be fortunate to find the occasional brick and mortar store with cars and a track. The situation in Great Britain is unique as clubs can, and do, build large temporary tracks for their races. That trend hasn’t caught on in the US. However, a return to the good old days when hobby shops with decent size commercial tracks such as the Aurora Tub Track were located within a few miles of my house doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

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