When I was young there were a few things that I was involved in that I can honestly say shaped who I am today. Racing provides a couple of lessons that you can’t get anywhere else in the real world for kids. Today, I am a business owner and have had no problem communicating with people of any age or walk of life. I feel that a lot of that comes from the various forms of racing I have been involved in.
Slot Car Racing got me involved in a sport that is enjoyed by people of all ages. At the Slot Car Track, you will end up racing against other kids and adults. It’s not about how big you are, it’s about lap times and sportsmanship. As a kid, this was great. What kid doesn’t like beating adults at their own game?
After I got home from school, I would grab my Slot Car Box and ride my bike down to the Slot Car Track. This was before Motown Raceway. I would clean the tracks and vacuum the floors in exchange for track time and race entrees. I mowed lawns and had other chores that allowed me to buy parts for my cars when needed. Slot Car Racing is a rather inexpensive form of racing. By the time 5pm rolled around, other kids and adults were at the track practicing and racing as well.
Many hours of practicing prepared me for the races. Each week, there was a race where Slot Car Racers would come together and race each other. You had to prepare your car and your pit area for the race. You didn’t want anything to go wrong with your car during a race and if it did, you wanted your pit area to be setup so you could repair the problem fast and get back in the race.
The thoughts below are my own opinion and most likely but not necessarily the opinions of Motown Raceway.
Slot Car Racing taught me how to win and lose. There were races where somebody else would cause me to crash and my car would break. It’s frustrating but it happens. It’s racing. You have to understand that anything can happen, and it often did. You also had to learn to be a good winner. Nobody likes someone who rubs winning in everybody’s faces and nothing is more humbling than sitting a little to high on your horse and having something go wrong at the next race.
Preparing for the race was just as important. When racing Slot Cars, you race for up to 10 minutes per lane and there are 8 lanes. When your car comes off the lane in a race, there is a chance another car will hit you. It’s very fast paced. This means that you have to have your car in tip top shape. Just as a NASCAR racing team would prepare the car for a long race, you have to prepare your car as well so it will perform at it’s best.
Dealing With People
Slot Car Racing brings in all sorts of different people, so you learn to get along with everybody. You also make some great friends in the process as well. Learning to keep competition friendly is important. As a technology business owner, having good people skills is a must. It helps me relate to people and talk to them in a way they can connect and relate to.
Investing in a Hobby
Most kids these days don’t have hobbies, unless you count playing many hours of video games a hobby. With Slot Car Racing, you may still be in doors with a controller in your hands, but there is a lot more to racing with people face to face. Having something tangible that you can work on, customize and compete with is important in this day of online and digital that we live in. There have been years when there was not a local Slot Car Track because of the local track going out of business, however when a new track opens, the old slot cars still work. My 3 year old drives some of the slot cars I used to race with when I was a pre-teen.
Learning About Yourself
Slot Car Racing is something you do with other people but ultimately you are competing against yourself. You prepare your car and mind for racing. You have to focus when you are driving a slot car so you don’t lose control in a corner causing your car to come off of your lane. You are racing with others, but you are also racing yourself and stretching your ability to focus.
Becoming More Sociable
Most of our interactions these days are digital and it seems that our youth prefer it that way. Though there is nothing wrong with communicating through electronics, learning to communicate with people in person is a huge advantage. I want my kids to be able to hold a conversation with an adult and know how to share their opinions. When I was 13 years old, I was working on slot cars for adults who didn’t know how to set up their cars for a race. I traded my time working on their cars for parts for my own slot cars.
My Grandparents always had me around their friends and encouraged me to have conversations with people of all ages. It helps shape you as a person and the people skills you gain are very useful later in life when you are on your own in the real world.
Because Racing Is Fun!
Most importantly, racing is fun! My boys were born ready to race. I didn’t have to tell them about competition, kids are born competitive. If you subdue that and keep them back from learning how to compete, they will be at a disadvantage to other kids in the future who did learn how to compete. Racing is fun, especially when you can race a car as a kid. It may sound a little nerdy when you explain it to people, but when I would bring friends from school to the Slot Car Track, they left loving it as well.
There are not many things left that kids can do year round and in a safe environment. When I was racing Slot Cars, my Mother knew where I was and that I was safe. It was inexpensive to spend time at the Slot Car Track and it obviously had a positive impact on my life. Now it is time to pass on the positive experiences of my life to the lives of my children. I was a Latchkey Kid during my pre-teen and early teenage years. Having something to do was priceless and kept me out of trouble during those years of my life.
If I can find an old slot car racing photo of myself, I will make sure to update this post with a photo. Who knows, maybe I even have one of Gene and I racing slot cars back in the day. The photo above this article is of two kids who race at Motown Raceway. Reminds me of myself as a kid.
Written by Jerad Hill: Jerad is a Website Designer and Professional Photographer who was raised in Modesto and is now raising his kids here as well.