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Slot Cars Make a Comeback

October 29, 2007

From the Orland Sentinel


These tiny cars whirl around on miniature racetracks, giving anyone the chance to be a race-car driver.

At Miracle Mile Raceways at 10837 U.S. Highway 441, adjacent to Home Depot, there are three tracks for slot-car racing. Co-owners Mike and Teresa Haire also sell slot cars, repair the cars, rent the cars and have materials such as stickers and paint for folks who want to build or decorate their own slot cars. Haire also can build a custom car.

They have races regularly and host group gatherings such as birthday parties. "The reason we got into this was I never forgot my father taking me to the slot-car track when I was 12," Mike Haire said. "I never forgot it." The cars are about 6 inches long, run inside slots set into the track and are maneuvered through hand-held speed controllers so each operator can control the car’s speed. For young children or the inexperienced, the speed can be set extremely slow, so the cars stay on the track easier. "Young, young children can play. We can make it fun for them because we dial down the speed," Mike Haire said. In races, the object is to go as fast as possible, but without the cars falling out of the slots or "crashing," Mike Haire said. The 10,000-square-foot shop opened this month, and races are on Fridays. Mike Haire, 52, plans to hold state-sanctioned races, too. "We will host at least three state races a year, and we have high hopes that within two years we’ll have nationals right here in Leesburg," Haire said. The shop is attracting all ages, from the very young to more mature. There’s the 135-foot track, a 143-foot track that has the steepest bank, and a 73-foot track that’s a figure eight and may be good for beginners. "It’s essentially our party track because it’s easier to navigate," he said. "For those of us in our 50s, this was the big thing in our teens," said Tavares resident and customer Bob Mansuy. "I used to do this when I was in my teens. When they opened, I thought I wouldn’t care for it anymore, but when I did it, I felt like I was a kid again." Though cars are available at the shop, some prefer to use their own. Mike Haire has to inspect all the cars before they run on the tracks, however, because some cars were not built for Haire’s current tracks. "A lot of guys will bring in cars from 30 years ago," Mike Haire said. Cars have to be oiled before going on the tracks, but Haire can do it, and he also sells equipment for that. Brad Bascom of Grand Island brings his 21-month-old son, Jacob, to play regularly. "He loves it," Bascom said. "It’s easy for him to do. They turn down the speed for him." There are televisions for posting racing scores, and a computer can keep and sort individual racing times. Before opening the shop, Mike Haire sold alarm systems and commuter-airline parts such as gas turbine jet engines for about 17 years in the Central Florida and Tampa areas. Pretty cool to know that Slot Car racing is alive and well!

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