One of Elvis Presley’s favorite hobbies is making a comeback.
What millions of fans know as the large trophy room of gold records at Graceland in Memphis was originally a new addition to the mansion so Elvis and his pals could enjoy slot car racing at home.
In Elvis’s day slot car racing was so popular that annual sales were hitting $500 million and the United States was home to almost 3,000 public racetracks.
Recently the fast paced pastime of the King of Rock and Roll has regained momentum as a growing American hobby.
Even Hollywood’s Quentin Tarantino has admitted he loves the craze.
Ken Reese, the head mechanic for golf carts at Fair Oaks Country Club and Golf Resort near San Antonio, Texas has been a slot car enthusiast “off and on” seriously since 1976 and has recently renewed his passion by competing locally in the central Texas area.
...is that same track of the 1960s...
Reese plans to race his cars Saturday (September 28, 2013) evening at the Magnatech Raceway in the Wonderland Mall of the Americas at 4522 Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio.
Reese remembers going to what was known at the time as Wonderland Mall with his mom in the mid-sixties and watching slot car racing "through the big windows of the downstairs parking area.”
“The track we will race on Saturday is that same track of the 1960's only it’s been refurbished over the years,” grins Reese.
Jim Honeycut, the inventor of using magnets on slots cars to help keep them on the track, is owner of Magnatech Raceway at the historical mall.
“With magnets the car is attracted to the steel braid on the track,” explains Reese. “Honeycut sells the braid internationally as well as chassis, motors, bodies and accessories locally.”
There are now official “tracks in Amarillo, Tyler, Dallas, Houston, Odessa, Waxahachie and Keifer, Oklahoma in this part of the United States” Reese revealed.
Controller driven cars...
“These are controller driven cars," said Reese. "They have adjustable breaks and you have to drive the car. It's not something you put on the track and it drives itself."
Reese is excited about the Saturday evening event because "it's a 'Crash and Burn' format."
"It pays to be fast but it's important to stay in your lane," cautions Reese, who came in first place last weekend for MTC Stock class racing at 5.3285 for his best times at 242 laps.
That's why it's called 'Crash and Burn.'
"If your car goes off the track or out of its lane, you set out that heat," explained Reese. "That's why it's called 'Crash and Burn.'"
Adam Kohler brings his children Benita and Ben Huerta to participate as a family affair.
"There is great competition between these siblings," observed Reese. "The sister and brother can really get into the spirit of the hobby."
Racers like David Lara and Scott Taylor follow the Texas Slot Racing Association around the state and in Oklahoma. Lara has participated in the national events for the last three years.
Honeycut has two tracks that he rents out for special occasions including birthday and scouting events.
The more scientific it can become.
Saturday at 7 p.m. the public invited to watch the Group F races that begin on a 180 foot track at the mall. Group F includes wing cars that loop the track in just over 5 seconds.
The Open F races begin at 8 pm.
“The more you get into slot car racing the more scientific it can become,” observed Reese, who has seen many technology advances over the years. “Just like any hobby, it’s a matter of how far you want to go or how much you want to spend.”
Ken Reese drove a good race to grab the win.
Last Sunday’s results were “another good turnout for this race with 12 racers, and three of them juniors,” reported Honeycut. “Ken Reese drove a good race to grab the win. Christian Snocker had the best time for the race with lots of good racing action and everyone had fun.”
MTC: Stock ....................Laps.....Best Time
1. Ken Reese.................242.......5.3285
2. David Lara.................235.......5.4379
3. Christian Snocker......232.......5.2184
4. James Meadours........231.......5.6478
5. Charles Campa..........230.......5.6096
6. Adam Kohler..............225........5.5503
7. Glenn Erfurth.............186........5.2695
8. Courtney Sheppard...180........5.7070 (1st Jr.)
9. Ben Huerta................168........5.5512 (2nd Jr)
10. Karley Rae...............164........6.2616 (3rd Jr.)
11. Benita Huerta..........162........5.9293
12. Joe Legendre...........159........5.4413