Slot cars are roaring back into the popular culture, and the resurgence has hit Mason City.
Slot car racing, a recreation begun in America early in the century and enormously popular during the 1960’s, lost its appeal during the Vietnam War era. Enthusiasts kept the sport alive by setting up private tracks, and touring the few remaining public venues for regular competitions.
Randy Easley and Jackie Willis Jr. of Mason City hope OSSCARS Speedway will become part of that circuit. OSSCARS stands for “Old School Slot Cars.”
Originally, the winding track and supporting electronics were going to be a private project. “My grandson has a heart condition and can’t compete in sports,” Easley says. “I was looking for something he could get involved in. Jackie had raced back in the 90’s when Springfield had a slot track, and had to quit when it closed.”
The men purchased the old Dollar General building on Chestnut in Mason City, fixed it up and purchased a 1:24 scale track: Forty feet long and twenty two feet wide with eight lanes and a sophisticated computer system to track speed and distance for competition purposes.
When word got out of what they were building, they started getting calls. They welcomed the interest. “We’ve gotten a lot of help and support not just from our families and the families of the kids who get involved, but from experienced racers as well,” Easley says.
December 8 was the third week for competitive races in Mason City. First to take up the controls were the kids: Lucas Tracy, Carter Montgomery, Rylan Alley and Aidan Haigh.
The youngest racer was Carter Montgomery, 7 years old of Mason City.
Haigh is a go-cart racer from New Zealand. His parents recently moved to Mt. Pulaski. They are a racing family and the father rebuilds engines.
Given the “Go” command, the kids concentrate on sending their electrically charged cars through the hairpin turns and down the straightaways without losing their grip on the track. Slot cars can travel as fast as 450 scale-adjusted mph.
After a series of eight short races, victory this day went to Lucas Tracy.
After a break, the adults took over–most of them experienced racers.
Gordon Pari was here from Pekin. He’s been in slot racing 50 years and has his own track. “It’s a competitive interest,” he says. “I haven’t traveled much because there haven’t been a lot of opportunities. This is going to be my home track, now.”
Currently, OSSCARS SPEEDWAY is operating in two race classes: children (15 and under) and adults. More race classes will be added as warranted. Now that they’re becoming connected to other racers, Easley and Willis hope to host some of the bigger traveling competitions over the summer.
The owners hope OSSCARS will be popular locally, as well. “This is something the whole family can do together,” Easley says. “We’ve got rental cars, so you can come and get started right away. It isn’t expensive, it’s completely safe.”
Come check out OSSCARS on Monday and Tuesday nights from 6:00 to 8:00pm. They are available Saturdays for birthday parties or other events, and Sunday is race day, with the doors opening at 11:00 and races beginning at 1:00pm.
For all the news of Mason City, read the Mason City Banner Times.