The Attack of the Anglewinders
by Ed Shorer
Still, nothing put an exclamation mark on the importance of building cars for competitive slot car racing than an event that took place just a few months before at Classic Speedway in April, 1968 in Santa Monica, California, at a Rod & Custom event which drew the top racers from West and East coasts. This race could be considered the height of the Golden Years, and changed the course of building slot cars like no other.
Jerry Brady was an East Coast racer who was bragging about his new “Batpan” chassis, and how he was going to wipe out everyone with it. What he didn’t know was that a totally different configuration was already being used for a few weeks in Southern California with great success, thanks to Gene Hustings a top-notch slot car drag racer and reporter. Adopted from a scratch built 1/32nd car built by Roy Moody in the MidWest, the motor sat at an angle, in-between inline and sidewinder configurations. It was just assumed that the gears would grind, when in reality they were as smooth as smooth could be, with the little pinion gear making contact with the spur gear on the rear axle. The actual reason for angling the motor was to be able to move the motor shaft closer to the rear axle to get the correct gear ratio. In addition, they provided a better transfer of power and distribution of weight that gave them a huge advantage.
John Cukras, arguably one of the top slot car racers at the time, was using his self-constructed anglewinder with great results the night before the race, and because the East-West rivalry was so strong, he would rather have his local competition do better than to be beat by anyone from the East Coast. So he shared the information about how to build the new anglewinder with his local competition. Mike Steube picked up the story. “Me and Terry (Schmid, his fellow Team Checkpoint teammate) got home about midnight, got a Dremel and chopped off the back of our inline cars. Cukras says ‘Bend it like this…’ and the Rolling Stones are blazing on the radio… and at six in the morning Terry says ‘I got mine done!’ We got back to the track in time to take three… maybe five laps, before tech. And I could not believe how fast that car was.” Steube went on to win the race, with Schmid second, and Cukras third. Fourth was Keith Tanaka, who played, and still plays, an important role in the world of slot car racing. Whatever happened to Jerry Brady and his Batpan? He did make the A Main, but finished eighth out of eight.
Eddie Shorer spent his teen years in Los Angeles racing slot cars in the 1960’s. More recently he is a top racer in 1/24 D3 Hardbody Racing and the 1/32 Farrout Slot Car Club, and actively researches slot car racing. He has a B.A. in Japanese and English Intercultural Studies, an M.A. in Popular Culture Studies, and is a retired middle-school teacher. This article is an excerpt of an upcoming publication about Slot Car Racing by Ed Shorer.