Growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s there was not much opportunity to experience organized sports. It was Little League or nothing. If I wanted to be with my friends I had to play baseball. Little League back then was not like it is today. Oh sure, we started out with Tee Ball in the first year but by the second year, you faced opposing pitching by a kid your same age. Because few of us had the arm strength to reach the plate, the pitchers had to be the kids with the strongest arms. Their throwing was strong but their accuracy was lacking and we used a regulation Big League baseball. Needless to say, it hurt when that ball hit you. I was a skinny boy with asthma. When the ball hit me, it hit a bone. I learned quickly to stand away from the plate so that I wouldn’t get hit by that big white rock being thrown by the strong kid whose father was encouraging him to throw harder. This was not the best way to learn to bat. The kids that bought their clothes in the “Hefty” department had a better time of it. They had the cushioning to absorb an errant pitch. As the years passed and we moved up the ranks of Little League, the pitchers got a lot stronger but only a little more accurate. I was still skinny. In all my years in Little League I never once touched the ball with my bat. When my required three innings of play in right field were satisfied, I sat on the bench. I suffered the taunts of “Easy Out” and “No Batter” from the opposing team and the ridicule and disappointment of my team mates. My non athletic reputation followed me to school where I was always picked last. The irony of it was that I could always run fast and I ended up excelling at track and soccer in high school and college. But, back then if you couldn’t play baseball, you couldn’t play anything.
And then a slot car racing arcade opened in my village. One Saturday my dad said we should check it out. When we walked in we were awed by the size of the tracks and the size of the model cars zipping around the tracks. The place was full of excitement and laughter. We walked up to the counter, rented our cars and started racing. This wasn’t anything like the little H.O. set in my basement. This was fantastic. With a little practice and some fatherly coaching I was able to race against anybody. It didn’t matter if I had asthma or was skinny. I became competitive and it felt good to have the respect of other enthusiasts. I didn’t win all the time. Looking back I probably lost more than I won but I was competitive and it felt good that I was good at something. When I would race against my baseball buddies I wasn’t disadvantaged. Some of them pooh poohed it, you know, the “sour grapes” type, but others gave me their respect and became hobbyists also. My dad was encouraging and we spent many hours building, tweaking and racing our cars. I always liked model building and now I could race what I built. Pretty cool stuff, for a kid. My self confidence zoomed. Being a dad now, I realize the sense of satisfaction it must have given my dad to see his son excited about a competitive activity.
Alas, the arcade closed, and my dad passed away. The two events were not related. But, by that time I had grown both physically, emotionally and socially. It’s funny how puberty deals everyone a new set of cards. Some kids that were the star athletes remained the stars. Others peaked in sixth grade and never progressed and others, like me, grew taller and stronger. Socially, I had an advantage growing up with older sisters. I knew how to talk with girls and my sisters told me how to dress. Those baseball buddies looked to me for advice. Life was good.
Would life have turned out different if I hadn’t had slot cars? I don’t know. What I do know is that it was a blast while I was doing it. Which brings me to the whole point of the story.
There are still boys and girls that aren’t the star athletes, or the best musicians, etc. They are just good kids looking for something fun to do that doesn’t require any special inborn talent. Something they can be good at with practice. Something they can enjoy with an important adult in their life. Something they can bond over. This is one of the reasons my partners and I decided to keep open the last slot car emporium in Nassau and Queens. Slots-A-Lot Raceway is a vitally important facility for children and adults. Come check us out. This just might be the thing you’re looking for. Our friendly staff will get you started with our rental cars, or if you want to progress further, with an affordable starter kit.
Going Fast Having Fun
Car and Controller Rental
Red and Yellow Tracks
$50/all day (subject to availability)
Blue King Track
$70/all day (subject to availability)
Drag Strip Racing
$20/one racer per hour
$30/two racers per hour