I have a confession to make: I own a 1969 Ford GT40. I also own a 1970 Porsche 917, a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, a Porsche 962, a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang, a BMW M3, a Corvette C5R and one of the Cadillac Northstar LMP prototype cars. They’re currently all parked in my wife’s office, surrounded by layers of crumpled paper and bubble wrap. The problem, it seems, is that houses in Florida lack basements, and no basement means no place to set up the slot car track.
Back when I owned a basement, I had a fairly impressive track setup on an 8’ x 8’ table, covered with Astroturf. At least I thought it was impressive, but that was before I saw the tracks built by Slot Mods, a new startup company in Detroit headed by David Beattie. Beattie was an operations manager who found himself unemployed when the Detroit economy imploded. He listened to the old adage, “do what you love and the money will follow”, and started building custom slot car tracks for high-end enthusiasts. If you think that this is just a niche market, or that slot cars are just toys, think again: in the United States, slot cars and accessories are good for about $20 million in annual sales.
Beattie’s clients include Ford’s head of marketing, Jim Farley, who had Slot Mods create a 6’ x 12’ replica of Laguna Seca, circa 1969. A Slot Mod track appeared in the Ford booth at the LA Auto Show, and will be set up in the Ford booth at the Detroit, Chicago, New York and Washington auto shows, because the layout’s attention to detail just draws in visitors of all ages. They’ve even been shown at the Pebble Beach and Meadow Brook concourse d’elegance events, to rave reviews from attendees like Jay Leno, Morgan Carter (VP of Gooding Auctions) and Derek Hill, son of the legendary Phil Hill.
The Slot Mods website doesn’t give information on pricing, but if you have to ask “how much” you’re probably not in their target demographic. Each track is built to order, based on your exact specifications for size, length of track, elevation change and richness of detail. Like any other commissioned piece of art, Slot Mods tracks are designed to be shown off, not banished to some dusty corner of a spider-infested basement. If I had the disposable income (and room in my house), I’d certainly send them an e-mail to find out what the price of admission really is.