With POWER Play­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By MATTHEW DAL­LAS

Rway? It does not di­min­ish with age. ‘‘What­ever he tells you, it’s just big boys play­ing with their toys,’’ said Welling­ton Slot Car Club’s Al­lan Tucker when Kapi-Mana News vis­ited its re­cent­lyestab­lished Porirua clu­b­rooms.

The ‘‘he’’ is club mate Chris Dillon, who had been con­tem­plat­ing a more con­sid­ered re­sponse to what at­tracted men of mid­dle and se­nior age to build­ing, tin­ker­ing and rac­ing small cars that go re­ally, re­ally fast.

‘‘We’re all in­ter­ested in mo­tor­sport; a lot of us prob­a­bly had slot cars as kids,’’ said Chris, who, like Al­lan, has just re­turned from a slot rac­ing event in Swe­den. Yes, it’s that se­ri­ous. ‘‘Peo­ple are drawn to the com­pe­ti­tion of rac­ing and fine engi­neer­ing skills. There’s a rea­son­able level of com­plex­ity,’’ said Chris.

These slot cars are 1:24 scale, larger than the 1:32 scale plas­tic sets kids may find un­der the Christ­mas tree and re­quire a lot more space than a bed­room floor would pro­vide.

The club found a new home in Lyd­ney Place, up­stairs from Work and In­come, last De­cem­ber af­ter its old clu­b­rooms, a for­mer bowl­ing alley in Pe­tone, was marked for de­mo­li­tion.

Sev­eral months were spent re­fit­ting the new premises. This in­cluded re-as­sem­bling a 55.3m wooden race­way – the only six-slot track in New Zealand – be­fore club nights re­sumed in April.

This Satur­day, Au­gust 4, the ecall the child­hood thrill of rac­ing slot cars at high speed around a toy race- club will host the Na­tional En­duro Chal­lenge, a 12- hour marathon in­volv­ing six teams from throughout the coun­try.

Mus­cle mem­ory is a big fac­tor for slot rac­ers, said Chris, who must ex­e­cute pre­ci­sion brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion and ac­count for drift.

Crashes do oc­cur, though the cars – made from steel and poly­car­bon­ate plas­tic – are fairly ro­bust, he said.

De­pend­ing on their class, slot cars reach speeds of 30 to 50kph, and com­plete a lap in about seven sec­onds. The ac­tion is so fran­tic a com­puter is re­quired to fol­low races and reg­is­ter po­si­tions and stand­ings.

Mem­bers who aren’t at the con­trol booth trig­ger­ing the ac­tion are put to good use, posted at the cor­ners to re-align cars that pop their slots.

‘‘We yell ‘track!’ when a car comes off in the tun­nel and the con­troller cuts the power,’’ said slot racer Keith Cheese­man, from Khan­dal­lah. ‘‘Oth­er­wise there’s po­ten­tial for all hell to break loose.’’

The pub­lic is wel­come to watch the En­duro from 8am this Sat- ur­day at the clu­b­rooms. Part of the race will be in the dark, rac­ers re­ly­ing on their cars’ head­lights to light the track.

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