JBs Journal: Slot Car Racing

EAST TEXAS (KYTX) - Slot car racing became popular in the United States in the 1950's but by the 1970's the enthusiasm slowed to a crawl. Today it's picking up speed and especially in East Texas with a group called "Tyler Slot Cars".

Sheriff JB Smith shows us why this hobby is taking off once again.

"Everything is basically the same, cars are faster," said Dave Berry. 

Berry discovered slot cars as an 11-year-old boy in Tyler in the 1960's. 

"Started when we were kids and now were not kids but we still have the need for speed." 

Slot cars are miniature vehicles that are guided by a slot in the track. Drivers use a hand-held controller to regulate a low voltage electric motor hidden in the car. 

"These cars actually go about 45 miles an hour." 

Drivers come from all over northeast Texas to race on this custom built track inside an air-conditioned garage at the Tyler home of Chris Tanner.

"Back in 2000, found cars on the internet ordered one, said I need to get a track to run it on," said Chris Tanner. 

Chris was paralyzed as a child after a diving accident, but his disability doesn't keep him from being one of the best racers in the Tyler Slot Car group. 

"If I come out by myself, car crashes a lot of places hard to get to, to put back on, I don't do that much." 

The racers build and repair many of their own cars.

Most do this for fun and bragging rights but they also compete for trophies at larger events in Dallas. 

"So when it comes to slot cars, I have just one question, does size really matter?" 

"Size definitely matters, these are 1/25th scale cars we can also run 1/32 scale car but they're only about that long," said Dave Berry. 

That's why having a track of this size in a home to race their scale of cars is unusual. 

"We had to get 4 or 5 of us together to come up with the money for this one," said Chris Tanner. 

A hobby they hope will continue to gain speed and maybe attract another generation of racers. 

For CBS 19, I'm Sheriff J.B. Smith, and that's my story.

Races are held every week in Tyler while many competitive races are also held weekly in the Dallas area.


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