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World Challenge Theory

As a slot car racer since 1964, I remember reading about Gene Husting’s Magwinders and other fascinating drag cars in magazines, some of which are still on my shelves.

1966 Magwinder drag slot car
Beautiful scratch-built Magwinder from 1966. So-called because the chassis is cut from magnesium plate and is integral to the motor.

Husting replicaThere are people reproducing such cars today. Slot Blog Thread on Magwinders I was too young to attempt such engineering, but I own many similar handcrafted cars now, most are restored or recently built from vintage parts.  All are tuned and race ready.

Vintage Pitmann slot car dragster
Vintage Pittman slot car dragster

I operated a commercial raceway from 2003 to 2016.  The Nomad Slot Racing always had an offsite event component and it gradually eclipsed the retail raceway.  I have produced hundreds of slot car events mostly for corporate clients. 2020 was scheduled to be the biggest year ever for Nomad Raceways.  We had the sponsorship of an Xfinity team, partnerships with Acura and probably Honda.  Nomad Raceways would have had tracks at Xfinity, IMSA, and Indycar events, as well private parties.

Slot car track at Watkins Glen IMSA race
Slot car track at Watkins Glen IMSA race

I have started a local racing club with bimonthly races on two tracks at my home.  Members have started to create their own tracks.  I also race and play at my local commercial raceways, now mostly at Batesville Slot Cras and Hobby. Like many commercial raceways, Drag racing has become their main racing program. Although my primary interest has always been in road course racing, my dad built and raced drag cars in the early 1960’s so it is in my blood. I still have more vintage drag cars than contemporary ones.

Slot car racing club
Slot car racing club

Since Covid19 has canceled all my Nomad Raceways events I find myself with time and resources to produce a drag proxy event.  I will bring the same level of planning and professionalism to the event as is required for corporate events.

Batesville has graciously offered the use of their facility for the event.  We have storage space for as many cars as may arrive and their strip will have its shut down extended for off-hours running of the proxy entries.  We will have a crew of 4 running the event, plus a videographer.  Our video tests so far confirm that we will be taking event imagery and coverage to a whole new level.  We hope to produce a final cut of broadcast quality.

Big Daddy preps drag track at BatesvillePerhaps one reason I have maintained an interest in slot car racing for more than 50 years is that I have not specialized in one scale or form.  I see drag racers who will not touch the road courses that occupy ¾ of the floor at their raceway.  I know super 1/32 clubs where traction magnets are treated as Kryptonite.

The NHRA has more than 200 classes in 15 different categories.  Informally some of those classes are further tribalized into Ford, GM, and Mopar camps.

So, it seems reasonable to me to have 29 classes on our Proxy drag race.  I have even included nostalgia classes, “Just for fun”, 1/32 and even two road course classes not normally seen on a drag strip. I hope to see strong participation in all of them.

To accommodate vintage/nostalgia cars, we have invested in a system to deliver the higher voltages that powered them in their heyday.  As far as I know, this may be first-time such cars have run on such power in 5o years.  It will be interesting to see you Space Age technology has held up to modern tech.

I studied many rule sets in designing this event.  Most rules are exclusionary, focused on preventing various body types of motor configurations.  Instead, I established a simpler set of rules.  The appearance will count for 1/3 of the total score, with qualified judges looking for accuracy, craftsmanship, beauty, and bodies least compromised by concessions to performance.  So, nothing is excluded, but the best is encouraged.

I understand rules that try to equalize performance and control cost, but by reducing the long list of requirements and exclusions usually found in rule books I think we have some real advantages. First, more technical rules often go over the lead of beginners and can discourage them.  Armature diameters and magnet gaps measured in thousandths of an inch are difficult to enforce and the trade-offs inherent in them are harder to understand.  Our rules allow for creativity and experimentation, which fill builder’s dreams.  It is fun to maximize a car’s performance with few restrictions.  Meanwhile, the inability to test in a proxy race means that on race day a simpler, lower-cost car built by a beginner is not out of the hunt.

Batesville and other drag tracks draw hundreds of entries to their larger events.  By doing more promotion, having more classes, fewer rules, and not requiring travel it seems possible we will have thousands…  Will you enter?