10653 E. Apache Trail - Suite 102
Apache Junction, AZ 85120
Phone: (480) 249-2090
|Cruisin' Bob Scott is your friendly Racemaster!|
|1995 - Phoenix swap meet. Wife Teri stands with "downtown" kids who helped turn marshal throughout the weekend.||1995 - Phoenix International Raceway - slot drag racing was very popular but very time consuming to run.||1995 - Chandler, Az. Ostrich Festival. Pre-IRL Indy promo w/PIR. Track is a 12X30 Tri-Oval.|
|1995 - Chandler Ostrich Festival - Cruisin' and PIR. We used .040 Parma Indy bodies for IRL per race promo.||1995 - Phoenix International Raceway. While Arie Lyendyk was on his way to winning IRL, young Arie was showing his talent at slot car racing.||1996 - California Mid-Winter Fair - 50MPH winds blew sand on track. You can't see the 1" sand drifts but they're there!|
|1997 - 21st Century routed H.O. track built by Cruisin'||1997 - 21st Century routed H.O. Phoenix International Raceway layout built by Cruisin'.||1998 - Cruisin' Bob tutors Hasse Nillson on track building.|
|1998 - Good Guys car show a L.A. County Fairplex. Notice Hot Wheels display trailer behind us.||1998 - Good Guys car show - Teri's going Cruisin'!||Los Banos, Ca. Fair - 2000 - 5X16 6 lane Figure 8 featuring Magnatech (steel over copper) braid.|
|Cruisin' 1/32 Scale 4 Lane 4'X16' "Donut" figure 8 style is a greater challenge than an oval.||Cruisin' 1/32 Scale 4'X12" 4 Lane "Inverted Oval" packs more punch into a smaller area.|
Right back where we started from.
When Teri and I had Cruisin’ Slot Car Raceway in Chandler, AZ in 1993-94 many of our devout customers recommended we look into setting up a mobile track at the AZ State Fair. We were relatively new to the slot car business and had our hands full with the roller coaster ride our new venture proved to be! We didn’t give mobile slot cars much thought.
Early on at Cruisin’ I noticed that Arizonans in general, were much more cautious and informed buyers than Californians. There were many enterprising individuals that frequented our store. One fella who had a son that was a serious bicycle racer wanted a mobile track to exhibit at the bike racing events they attended. The start up cost was more than he wanted to spend and he lost interest.
At the same time some of the local Intel staff were becoming regular rental car racers and one began asking about a mobile track for an Intel sponsored booth at the Chicago Auto Show. The booth also had Michael Andretti’s Indy car on display. I contracted Steve Olgivie, who had a track built and shipped directly to Intel in Phoenix. When the track arrived I went in to assemble, test all the equipment (it was a complete ready-to-run system with cars, controllers and battery) and provide some tutoring for staff. I took a couple photos and was surprised to find I had been in a Top Priority Area but luckily I escaped with my camera!
Cruisin’s first Mobile Track
In 1994 Gary Barr, a Cruisin’ regular drove to Monty Ohren’s in California and picked up 2 4x8 4 lane flat oval tracks that he had purchased. One track he kept for his Tire Shop and one was set up in Cruisin’ in place of a Figure 8 we sold to a business in Palm Springs who provided interactive games for local conventions…slot car racing 4 hours = $2500!
The first time we used the 4x8 oval was at a Gilbert Street Fair in 1995. The Fair was a perfect opportunity to promote our store, as it was only about 7 miles away. The 1/8th mile drag strip in the store was portable so we brought it also. Unfortunately like any business venture several words are key to success. LOCATION…LOCATION…LOCATION and ours sucked for the event. We still had some business for a few hours and we charged $1 for 5 minutes.
We didn’t do any other promos with the mobile track but we did loan it once to a Slot Car Raceway, Hot Tracks in Tucson at the time who set it up at the Tucson 1/1 Raceway for a weekend.
1/24 to 1/1 Racing – The Big Strrreeetch!
Shortly thereafter Kevin Whiteknack, Director of Promotions and Advertising of Phoenix Int’l Raceway approached me with an idea. Kevin thought our mobile track would be a great addition to their events and gave me a vendor rate sheet. Oops, $2000 for a 10x20 at the NASCAR race for 4 days…I really put that on the back burner! I found out later that the rates differ with each race according to the popularity.
Cruisin’ moves and becomes two, with the blues…
Late in 1994 business in Chandler was down and high rent kicked in ($3660/mo+NNN+many other costs…) it was time to move! We sent the King track to North Phoenix bordering Scottsdale and one month later opened a second location in Tempe with a Hillclimb. Neither store really took off, so in 6 months I "horse traded" the Tempe store to my brother-in-law after one year we closed the Phoenix store.
During a nightmarish 1994 in which many attempts at good business failed, including 7 "public interest" news shots by 5 different TV stations we began to look at mobile slot racing more seriously. My love of slot cars and a belief that there was a way to make this racing thing work fueled me for miles to come!
Hittin’ the Big Time
In 1995 Dan Moynihan (Dan’s RC Stuff) and Bob Sarnelle (Victory Raceway in Woodland Hills 1994-97?) contacted me about running a mobile slot car track at the annual AZ Auto Show indoors at the Phoenix Civic Center. They gave me a very good deal, which opened my eyes to the possibilities of income at these events. The event netted us more than several hundred dollars and brought some new customers to my failing store…
The Car Show piqued my interest so that I spoke more to Dan and Bob about the various events they did. We struck up a deal and bought the track.
1/24-1/1 For Real This Time
Kevin, from PIR had seen us at the Auto Show and wondered if the track was available for use in their space at the Chandler Ostrich Festival. The stage was set, I set up next to their booth, which helped draw a crowd, and I charged $2 for 5 minutes for 4 action packed days! We entertained about 1500 racers for the weekend and I was stoked!
Getting down to basics
Another Cruisin’ regular was Mike Paquette, who owned a medium sized cabinet shop. He built a 10x20’ 8 lane flat oval with 5" centers on ¾ particle board, which we used at the local and very large (100,000 people a weekend) swap meet. Through this venture of a few weekends I began to realize how to keep the track busy during slow times by recruiting the help of local kids whom had nothing better to do than dream of racing the fastest car! We found that by giving interested kids some free races in exchange for turn marshalling duties our work was much easier and by encouraging the more behaved and responsible kids we made some valuable friends. We do wind up babysitting in many cases but watching over kids instead of adults was refreshing also.
Let’s do this!
I began looking into the requirements for a new and small mobile set up of our own. I gained the help of carpenter Mike, who loaned me space in his shop and use of the tools necessary to build 2 tracks. I contacted Hasse Nilsson who was not working much and contracted him for 2 "wood ready" tracks. The tracks were both 9x18’ 6 lane tracks (4" lane centers), one Tri-Oval (as similar as I could to PIR) and one Lazy 8. I felt I needed a lap counter so I used the SRT system from the closed raceway for one track and for the second track I used the crank-up timers. I used standard deep cycle 12-volt batteries for power.
I know many of the current track builders and have worked with several of them. There are a handful of premium track builders and before Hasse left the USA (due to illness from which he has now mostly recovered) his work and habits suffered. I have however become a great admirer of Mr. Nilsson. He’s a one-man track building King, I’d say. Hasse is a great person to work with and he can really hustle when inspired and healthy! I recently built an 8x18’ 6 lane lazy 8 totally by myself including crating and shipping it to Missouri. I now know what he has gone through to make some bucks building tracks and it ain’t easy! $45-50 a foot, please….
The rest of the stuff
In addition to the tracks I needed a complete self-contained booth set up. We went to the local and very large swap meet and bought a 10x20 swap meet tent for about $150. I also got the necessary electrical cords, shop lights, tarps to enclose the tent, etc. I bought a 5x10’ utility trailer to haul the goods and a 10’ cab-over camper for my 68 Chevy pick em up truck and we were almost ready! Let’s schedule some events!
Who’s in Control here!
While planning to build the tracks, I began checking into Fairs and the procedures required to get in. Our first experience wasn’t good. We went to the AZ State Fair Administration who advised that we should go talk to the carnival. The carnival wasn’t interested in us taking away $ from the midway so we left with our heads spinning.
Make those contacts
We finally found that there were organizations that had information and contacts for our area called the Western Fairs Association. (Many states have Fair Associations and there is an International Fair Assoc. also. WFA membership is $200/yr). When we began calling some of the fairs we were interested in I was met with much ignorance. At the time (1995) there were several mobile Radio Control set ups exhibiting at Fairs in the Southwest and when speaking to various Fair Concessions Managers they were confused and mistook slot cars for the radio control cars. They thought I required a huge area (RC set up is generally 30x40) when I needed only a 20x20.
We received our first positive reaction from the Fair Manager of the Sonoma-Marin County Fair, Ethan Hirsch. When we spoke of our set up and that we had worked with PIR he was very happy, as he had worked with some of the staff at PIR also. He said he knew a place for us and placed us near the Livestock area. Ethan had a great insight in that the Livestock area is full of kids, and generally kids that have some money! And what do the country boys and girls like? NASCAR, yes sir! It worked and we loved our new job!
Not overly flattered, wanna make money!
1995 seemed to be the year for us to entertain some notable stars. Our first Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction and Show found former Cruisin’ racer Bob Bondurant checking out our action along with Arie and young Arie Luyendyke. Young Arie was very interested while dad didn’t appear to like the distraction…And, while set up at the Phoenix Swapmeet, singer Alice Cooper stopped to watch our racing while his wife inquired about home tracks. During one of his last Sprint races at PIR, Tony Stewart and family raced on our Tri-Oval while it was set up outside at a local nightspot that was designated for a Drivers Signature session.
I took a little heat from PIR staff because I wasn’t personally there when Tony first showed up and my help, Jeremy, gladly charged them and collected $2 each! Later in the evening though Tony and Family raced a few races with me for free and I found them to be very nice and fun loving slot car racers. Several months later while at the Napa County Fair in the very beautiful Calistoga, CA I was busily managing the 2 tracks when I looked up to see Joe Montana, wife and 2 kids looking like sunshine and paying Teri $2 each to race! It was another great family moment as the kids raced several times and Joe wound up turn marshalling but with such style!
It seems that musical performers love to slot race. We have entertained many musicians including Tower of Power, War and even Bob Dylan’s drummer at the Del Mar Fair 2000 and some raced quite a lot. The lead singer from Tower of Power raced many times at several different fairs, telling us we were the most fun at the fair!
We’ve exhibited at almost every race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway since January 1995 and have had some very exciting times. During one our first visits, while Arie Luyendyke was on his way to winning the 1995 IRL there, his son, young Arie was winning at the slot car track! I’ve invited full pit crews, emergency crews, IRL officials and other notables for free races and it’s quite a treat to see a slot track full of serious 1/1 racing folks!
In 1998 while exhibiting at the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo a couple of father/son teams stepped up for a race. One was flippant and appeared to know it all…none other than Dennis Miller! He did the strangest thing, at about the halfway point in the race and after having continued on about how they (his son and he) were kicking everyone’s butt, he nudged his son and they jumped over my barrier and claimed victory as they walked away! They had lost but I wasn’t about to have them leave like that so I made sure they took the checkered flag too!
Teri dances to the music
During our second year exhibiting at the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction and Show Teri made a contact with a vendor selling 50’s-60’s CD’s and tapes. He was getting out of the business and referred us to his manufacturer/distributor. We then dropped one track and set up a table with a boom box playing those Golden Oldies from the era that made slot cars popular! Teri had been a professional singer/dancer and now she had fun lovers be-boppin’, dancin’ n singin’ like there was no tomorrow! We had great fun!
Through the years I have tried to make the tracks as small as possible without being too small for 6 lanes. I used the 9x18 for 2 years and built and used an 8x18 for one year. I then used a 7x16 for 1999, which then allowed us to buy space at events in 10’ frontages, thereby cutting space fees in half.
1/24 to 1/32, Scaly it is
In the spring of 2000 I built a 5x16’ 1/32 lazy 8 with Magnatech braid. The layout works great allowing enough room to get around in the 10x20 while also giving enough track length for the cars to get up speed. It was a hard transition from 1//24 to 1/32 and after several events I noticed a drop in income. I conclude that I had lost money because I had been using GTP and DTM bodies, NASCARS are a must! Also, it seems that even on the road slot cars are a fad! I was very pleased with the debut of the 5x16 at the Grand American Race at PIR. It was PIR’s first night race in years and there was a good crowd. I display and sell the Parma, Scalextric, Fly, Pro Slot, and Pro-Track 1/32 cars and sold several cars during the event.
I made the change to 1/32 for many reasons. I hoped the use of magnets in the cars with the Magnatech braid would eliminate the need for glue. Not good enough, I still use some glue as the tires just pick up too much dirt. The glue helps but lots of tire cleaning is necessary at most events. I like the ability to make a smaller set up with 1/32 and loved the ability to run Pro Slot, Scalextric, Fly, Pro Slot and other Euro magnet cars on the track. They are lots of fun and with minor modifications and tuning all cars run competitively.
Our spaces at events for 99% of the time are outdoors in the good weather of California and Arizona. We’ve experienced some dust storms such as our only year at the California Mid-Winter Fair. We moved indoors for that one and found that the more business we did, the more our vending neighbors complained…racing can be noisy and I don’t tell people to quiet down! I do, in fact, encourage loud cheering for their favorite driver!
Outdoor exhibiting is the most convenient with good weather and with modular set ups you can go just about anywhere. Outdoor exhibitors generally have much more room to work with whereas indoor exhibitors have tightly regulated space. Some type of tent is or covering is recommended, mostly to keep direct sun off the track but also to provide shade for racers and attendants.
When we started mobile slots, we ran it mostly like a raceway by selling 5 minutes for $2 (well, except for that!) and having the racer marshal their own car. Quickly we found that "getting their own car" created near riot scenes, we decided to try to re-slot their cars ourselves or by enlisting the help of young and broke hopefuls.
We now sell 2 minutes for $2. As new racers come in, pay and pick up a controller I have them test the trigger for movement. I then explain briefly but thoroughly how to race the track, show racers the lap counter and the checkered flag going to the winner. (It is possible to create additional interest by giving progressive prizes much like carnival games do. I have experimented with various NASCAR products and found it to increase the business while also raising the potential complaint level for satisfaction.)
While running the race I try to announce who’s doing best and if a drivers is having problems, I try to tell them how to keep from crashing. I take the opportunity to teach those who want to learn and most do! I have many parents look at me crazy sometimes as I deliver the introduction, like their kids won’t catch on but most do. I have seen many surprised parents following the races! I watch the track closely and interact with fun comments, which sometimes excites them into repeated races.
I have a saying (around adults) that you can legally drink and drive on my track and I have had some beer spills…keep a 1 hp wet/dry vac (WalMart/Home Depot around $30) for the drunken few. I don’t get overly excited anymore when the track gets wet, as long as it’s sucked out of the slots within a couple hours, it’s fine.
I have used Parma Controllers and Cars very successfully. In 1995-96 Parma sponsored Cruisin’ with product that helped in a big way. I began with the Turbo 4-ohm controller and Parma Flexi 2’s with Pla-Fit Cheetah motors. I used mainly NASCAR bodies and always detailed them with the hottest sponsor decals. I do some minor modifications to the chassis for durability. (For a car that’s easier to work on and may handle better for the beginner due to less torque is the Parma Belt-Driven Rental Car) For controllers I have replaced the 4-ohm resistor with a 15-ohm wet wound for more range of control, once again, for the beginner.
After a time I dumped the battery power and experimented with regulated power supplies. I wound up using a 15-amp 0-15 volt Zurich power supply. They are available at Parts Express. I have used the 25-amp supply but found that 6 cars with Pla-Fits on the 15 amp supply works great.
I am a firm believer in proper track surface preparation. I have run tracks dry-surface indoors and was amazed at how well the natural rubber tires gripped. Too much dust though, and look out. At first I spray-glued the turns as per commercial standards. It is very troublesome to carry the container for spray glue however so now I use a mustard bottle with Smoke-Treatment and apply dots before the turn similar to wing car gluing.
For 2000 we will have completed 23 events at 138 days of racing in the Southwest USA. Some of the events I did and some I hired help and even tried subcontracting entire mobile set-ups. To run the set-up properly, just imagine what you need to manage a mini raceway. A "front" person, outgoing and friendly to bring in and introduce new racers to the track. A technician is a must, to fix any glitches that seem to always occur. I am now able to set up the track and cars to run flawlessly for at least a 6-day event. If there were great activity or real "dirty" conditions it would be time to check for chassis bends, proper gear mesh, gear/tire side play and attendants emotional stability!
During the first 2 years I received so many inquiries about where to purchase home tracks (and always receiving complaints from moms, dads and kids about their local raceway closing) that I decided it was time to get serious about building. I built about 10 small track with Hasse and 1 or 2 with Monty Ohren and learned what I needed to build.
21st Century@GOFASTEST.com Rocks!
In 1996 I reunited with a So-Cal racing buddy Doug Shepard and we built two HO tracks in his shop while he was doing business as 21st Century Tracks. One was a cute 4x8 for myself to R&D and the second was a 3x7 Tri-Oval for Phoenix International Raceway to use in their promotions. (Although I wanted to use the 4x8 on a steady basis, I had an offer I couldn’t refuse at the AZ ST Fair and I sold it after only 2 weeks of its manufacture!)
As a result of my purchase from Doug, I took advantage of his Free Web Site to Purchaser’s of 21st Century Sites and Cruisin’ the Golden Era web site was born. The worth of the site is really beyond words. I have made several track sales via the site and one sale this year took place without my ever talking to the buyer! All was carried through via email! Doug has not only maintained my site to near perfection but is my mentor regarding most things computer or Internet related. (He also guides me in my new racing habitat at HO Speed Merchants racing venues!)
Many times while exhibiting I set up a small 4x8’ or 10’ "table top" 4 lane 1/32 track as a second Self-Serve $1 track. I’ve used an inverted oval mostly but early on I built and used a couple Lazy 8 tracks also. I used Parma Womps and Sprints Plus Sprinters. The sprints are a kick because even at low power putting around the track, if the tires get tied up, it’s end-over-end for some spectacular slower racing. The smaller tracks (4x10-16’) are easy to build, set up and run.
Tracks for your House or your School!
After 3 years of building tracks I have sold about 30. Half have been for home use and rest for business. I’ve sold mobile set-ups to Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona and several in California. They have been for single individuals and groups. I sold one complete system to a private school, the Keystone Group in Agoura Hills, CA who uses it to teach kids various skills and for the kids to take out to local events as a fundraiser to help support the school. Another notable sale was to a fella who owns several large flower businesses in Carpenteria, CA who bought a complete set up for the annual carnival and fundraiser of his local church.
The Great Escape
Slot car racing is alive but maybe not all that well…I have seen such inspiration, joy and laughter while involved in the slot car business but mostly while being on the road exhibiting. I have seen and often ran away from much pain and suffering also. The latter comes from attempting to deal with commercial raceways, whether my own or in my attempts to work with raceways in my travels throughout the Southwest USA.
I have tried to help promote raceways that are near to an event I exhibit at but it hasn’t always been good. Some owners have worked with me, most, for whatever reasons have not. One notable exception was Chris and Lenore Gallegos of Buena Park Raceway who showed great hospitality at this year's USRA Nats 2000. Getting back to the good times, they come from folks that enjoy racing for the thrill of speed and excitement of racing fast cars. Those folks are the uninhibited fun loving slot car racing NOVICES who are not worried that they’re racing on a track that’s a dwarf in commercial standards, they’re not worried about paying $2 for 2 minutes, and they might not leave with anything but a smile!
I do, very graciously thank my wife Teri, for her knowledge and fortitude…and her good looks helped too! Without her the road leads to nowhere for me! And she recently decided she’s rather stay home with her hair salon than continue the fair circuit. (Many fairs in the Southwest are very dusty, we battle the elements often.)
Doug Shepard has been indispensable; Ray Gardner is today’s focal point for everything related to slot car promotions and knowledge thereof. In track building Hasse Nilsson taught me a great deal and provided for many good memories, Monty Ohren has helped also but being competition I have a close eye on him! Parma’s Mike McDowell has worked with me also and without Parma’s help, much of my R&D wouldn’t have taken place. I congratulate Eagle, REH and ERI in providing me products at various locations throughout the Southwestern USA. I must also thank Steve Olgivie for allowing me to tag along to learn track maintenance as he installed tracks in Southern California in the early 90’s. We owe The Home Depot thanks too, not only because my tracks are built with about 95% products purchased there but also for sponsoring one of the greatest drivers today, Tony Stewart.
And the Future Is…!
Mobile slot car racing and other interactive gaming is very popular right now. Exhibit at Fairs, Car Shows and Street Festivals. Go to your local big shot car dealer and set up a small track on a busy weekend for a couple hours. Use that for a photo/promo shoot and show the car dealer a better place to spend those big ad bucks. Take a track to school, get some magazines from SARN and Slotcar Bulletin to hand out while you demonstrate what slot car racing is all about. Take the track to the mall for a promo. There are many different venues for mobile slot racing. You want to write off one of those old tracks and get a new one? Contact your local fairgrounds and slot car groups to see if you can get a club track going at the fairgrounds. Skate parks are going up everywhere, I loved skateboarding along with slot racing in the 60’s but I learned a lot more and suffered no physical injuries while slot racing! Let’s get those tracks out there!
Currently Teri and I are looking for space for another storefront. We wanted to return to the Ventura, CA area but due to Teri’s parents ill health we may stay in AZ. We are looking at potential stores in Sedona, AZ. Look for Cruisin’ to become Red Rock Racing and Hobbies for 2001. I hope to get no more than 1000 SF to house two HO tracks and one 1/32 track. As our budget allows, I plan to stock the best moving hobby items such as Rockets, Pinewood Derby, and other popular items that will help diversify the store.
We will keep a circuit of events each year but we plan to work more on gaining sponsorship to exhibit for free or be a prepaid fundraiser for interested sponsors. We also plan to work with religious groups, youth groups and other non-profit organizations as a means of both goodwill and good promotional value.
Get Mobile, get on the Fast Track! You don’t have to come to us, we come Cruisin’ to You!