‘‘Staying calm under pressure is one thing that is comparable to real race cars,’’ slot car enthusiast Nigel Boyce said.
‘‘I think anyone would choose a real car over the slot car but you still get an adrenaline rush from competing with drivers on a slot car track.’’
Boyce got his first taste of slot car racing more than 20 years ago with ‘‘a friend of a friend’’, Gary Manifold, in his garage on Howick Road, in Blenheim.
Boyce’s need for speed wasn’t limited to the miniature though, he’s also a regular at the speedway, racing stock cars.
‘‘I started at the speedway as a flag marshal in 1987 and then got involved as pit crew,’’ Boyce said.
‘‘I then built a car, a production car originally, that I raced for two seasons. I have raced off and on over the last 15 to 20 years.’’
Sadly, Boyce’s racing chops didn’t secure him the top spot at the annual South Island Slot Car Championships, in Blenheim, last weekend, where brothers Andrew and Adam Bidwell took out the championship trophy, coming first equal on points.
The Bidwells bagged three firsts, two seconds and a third each to share the trophy.
Worldwide, slot car racing with metal chassis was declining.
Marlborough Slot Car Club member Neil Bidwell had big plans to increase membership.
‘‘We’re trying to liven it up a bit and have a bit of change in the programme,’’ he said.
To attract new members, they were going to introduce the NSR class, plastic chassis slot cars, at their club rooms at Blenheim’s A&P Park in a month.
‘‘We’re going to start running some plastic cars, like Scalextric, that are a bit more appealing to the wider public. Hopefully, that will attract them to the metal chassis as well,’’ Bidwell said.
Boyce said the Blenheim club had about 10 members, but warned it could be an expensive hobby.
‘‘It just depends on how serious you are. A basic car costs around $120. Everyone races the same type of car - you can paint the body and add stickers and decals as you want.
‘‘A controller can cost from around $200 up to $1000. When you start competing at a national level, you need to have more scope for adjustment which the higher cost controllers allow.
‘‘At a national level, there’s eight different chassis if you wanted to compete in every class.
‘‘We race two different-sized chassis. One is a 1:32 scale, the other is a 1:24 scale. On a race night, we race the 24s only or the 32s only,’’ Boyce said.
‘‘A lot of people understand Scalextric as slot cars, which are normally plastic chassis and plastic bodyshell and very authentic looking cars.
‘‘What we race are a brass chassis with a thin Lexan body that looks like a saloon car or a sports car.’’
The national 1:32 scale championship planned for Marlborough this weekend had been cancelled due to lack of interest.
‘‘Unfortunately, we couldn’t attract the people we wanted from Wellington,’’ Boyce said.
Hadley Boyce, one of the Marlborough Slot Car Club’s younger members.