A.G. Kimbrough never thought that racing slot cars, a hobby he started in 1964, one day would turn into a business venture. But the semi-retired Kimbrough, who moved to Evansville in June from North Carolina after a five-month stint in California, figured he’d give it a shot.
"I needed to keep working a little bit, but figured if I am supposed to be retired, I might as well do something fun," Kimbrough said.
He bought an intersecting figure-eight track last summer and took it to several events in the area, including the Vanderburgh County Fair. He wanted to see if there was enough interest to open a shop devoted to slot cars.
"A lot of people were really interested," Kimbrough said. "Slot car racing was really big everywhere in the mid- to late-1960s, but after that boom, it died off, except in pockets around the country where NASCAR racing is big."
Kimbrough rented out a space in Washington Square Mall and got several more tracks, making FastLane Raceway a reality. Kimbrough has four tracks in the store — an intersecting figure-eight, drag track, a hill-climb track and a sprint track. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, Kimbrough holds races for all different types of cars and all different ages.
On Friday and Sunday, anyone can come and get some practice time in for the next week’s race. Kimbrough rents out cars for beginners and people interested in checking out the hobby and sells everything needed to build your own car.
Business started out slow but gradually has picked up. Sean Thomas, 6, his brother John Thomas, 10, and their father, Chris Thomas, were headed for the arcade at the mall when they discovered Raceway had replaced it. The three decided to rent a few cars and check it out.
"It’s really a lot of fun. It’s like a giant playground," Chris Thomas said with a laugh as he and his boys headed home for dinner. He said they’d be back.
"Men, women and children can all have a blast racing slot cars. There is no age or gender limit," said Janie Gordon, whose husband and son race real drag cars in the summer. They found out about FastLane Raceway and are now regulars, getting their wintertime racing fix through the slot cars.
Kimbrough hopes eventually to knock out a wall and expand to add more tracks, but for now he is content.
"I am having fun doing something I never imagined I would do," he said.