Feature Article, Motorsports Industry, Washington — May 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Pacific Slot Car Raceways (Issue 95)


By Steve Heeb

Northwest race fans searching for a high-banked road course where the action can be eight-abreast need look no farther than Pacific Slot Car Raceways in Edgewood, Wash. Behind the humble entrance, three substantial road courses, a dragstrip and ample workbench pit areas are packed into the 3,600-square-foot facility.

Jim Radford recalls racing slot cars as a teenager in Kent with Rob McCuistion.

“Twenty-five years later Rob opened this store,” Jim says of the Kent police officer opening the Edgewood location in 2009. “There are about 150 tracks in the United States and only a handful are close to this.”

Racing at PSCR starts with the 90-foot hill climb track.

“We have the voltage set for kids racing and rentals on that one,” says PSCR’s store manager Dan Parris. “On Wednesday nights there is a kids program where you can practice and race for two bucks. We have a lot of birthdays here.”

A scale dragstrip stretches the entire length of the north wall.

“It has everything a regular track has,” Dan says of the lights and timing equipment. “The speeds are all recorded down to a ten-thousandth of a second.”

Dan, who started drag racing slot cars in 2004, recalls moving the track from a South Hill location to Gig Harbor before bringing it to the current Edgewood location.

“Two years ago I got ahold of Rob and we lengthened the dragstrip to a full 1/25th quarter mile at 55 feet,” Dan says.

He points out that the world record e.t. on a track that length is a mere four-tenths of a second. The slot car was going a true 135 mph.

A short trip beyond the staging lights, work tables and announcers’ pulpit reveals two more impressive road courses, including the 140-foot Twister flat track.

“One of our big events is the Flat Track World Championships in July,” Jim says. “Last year we had 144 entries and I expect more this year.”

Dominating the southwest corner of the facility is the challenging track they call “The Chief”

It is based on the popular “Blue King” design with one leg of the track shortened in order to make it fit in the floorspace. After removing a four-foot section and the matching return portion, the Blue King’s standard 155-foot course was trimmed to 147 feet of long straights, dramatic high banks and treacherous chicanes.

“The winged cars can do The Chief in two and a half seconds,” Jim smiles. “Others take about four seconds.”

Getting speeds like that takes experience, and there’s plenty of opportunity for the drivers to get time on the track.

“During the winter season we get 50 to 70 cars in here every Tuesday,” Dan explains of the regulars, who can be as varied as the colorful cars they compete with. “The youngest is 7, Porter Johnson, who comes in with his grandfather. The oldest is well into his 70s.”

Jay McClelland says he has been racing slot cars off and on for 20 years, following the tracks.

“The tracks come and go,” Jim explains of the changes in slot car track locations. “It’s a hard business.”

Already the points leader in road racing, Jay is expanding to the quick-8 drag racing series.

“Jay’s a contender in every class of road racing there is,” Jim says.

One thing almost all the competitors have in common is a background in racing

“We’re all some sort of car guys,” Dan laughs. “Karts, drag racing, motorcycles. Everyone has raced or is still racing.”

When he’s not taking photos or shooting videos of the slot car competition, Roy Dredge can be found racing a blue 383-powered ’72 Nova at Pacific Raceways.

“Everything that applies to that is the same for these slot cars,” Roy says.

Kevin Kosir has plenty of experience with high-performance components on full sized cars, having worked at Honest Performance in Renton before starting with Art Morrison in 1994.

“When we do these 1/24th cars there’s every aspect of the 1-to-1 cars,” Kevin says. “Some of it comes down to 3/5000-inch clearance. That’s what makes it fun.”

But not everyone needs to CNC machine their own wheels to participate.

“You can get into this for as little as 55 dollars,” Dan says.

“On the serious side it can run 100 to 200 dollars for a car,” Kevin suggests. “At the pro level, the eurosport cars can be 700 dollars to put together. That’s the Formula I of slot cars. It’s huge in Europe.”

Kevin says one of his goals is to get his son Cody to one of the big races in Europe.

“Slot cars are about the kids,” Kevin says. “It gets them away from the TV sets.”

“It’s really family oriented,” agrees Cheri Sullivan who has helped run the drag race operation for about a year. “It’s the guys that make it work for us.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” laughs Sarah Parris with Cheri in the platform overlooking the tracks. “If we want to see our husbands we have to come here.”

Sarah, who has been with PSCR since it opened, admits she prefers running the drag races on Tuesday nights because they are the easiest events. She has even made some runs on the dragstrip when she gets the chance.

The weekly schedule also includes Nascar on Friday nights; Scale cars on Saturday nights; the Wednesday kid programs; and slot car racing clinics on Thursdays. Saturday themes rotate depending on the week of the month. Like their full-sized counterparts, the racing season includes champion point series.

“There’s as many as 25-30 people during the point season,” Dan says of the drag racing participation. “There may be as many as 50 cars.”

“A winged car series race can draw 15-20 racers in five different classes every week,” Jim adds. “Stock cars also get 15-20 every week.”

“Entry on race night is only five dollars,” Dan says. “They supply everything but the car.”

“By the time you put the puzzle together you hope it runs on the track,” Kevin says of building a slot car. “That makes it fun, but it can be frustrating.”

PSCR has a fully stocked parts room to assist racers during events and practice sessions.

“Racers can get anything from ready-to-run cars to motors and any parts you can imagine,” Jim says.

“Just give it a try,” John encourages regular racer John Walker. “There’s always something here.”

John goes to PSCR every Tuesday for the weekly series and during the week for testing sessions.

“Bring a buddy,” Jim says. “Stop by and run a car for 15 minutes.”

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