Slot Cars

I’m feeling like a bit of oral history emoting is the thing to do. It happens. This happened long, long ago.

My father had remarried and the new family unit had moved to a new house. I was removed from my peer group buddies and plopped into nowhere land. I did not adjust well to the new settings which involved some heavy doses of forced Evangelical fellowship . But, a few months before that fan and it’s rotating blades of good intentions got to me, I was a winner. A Champion.

My [soon to be old] friends and I were Slot Cars racers and builders. There were the craptastic sections of plastic and metal rails that could be assembled into a race course at home on a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood and there were “real” race tracks at hobby stored. It cost money to race on those circuits. A lot of money if your 12 years old, paying as you go. Like all racers, We modified our rides and I had taken the path of rewinding the electric 3 pole DC motors. Forty wraps per pole of 28 gauge or 30 wraps of 22. Which was better? Like a Telsa without a NYT reporter, the cars accelerated like a banshee and would stop on a dime without inertia. And you had to control the creation by varying the juice applied to your slot rails on the track with a rheostat controller. I didn’t know all the fancy words back then but I was learning.

I entered a competition at my main hobby store (nearest race track – the only race track?). I did well and made it to the finals to be held on a Saturday. And then the phone call. It’s always a phone call. Wednesday, if memory serves. The final race has been moved up to ‘tomorrow’. I panicked. Dad arranged his work schedule to drop me off at the hobby shop at lunch time and pick me up after work. I was still in panic mode. Dad could do a lot of things but he couldn’t make me an expert slot car drivers two day ahead of schedule. I wanted advice. Dad said to Pray. I did. “Oh Jesus help me” It did not make me more confident of myself, Jesus or Dad but I did pray a lot.

Due to Dads work schedule on race day I got there a half hour sooner than the others. More time for prayers because they would let me test the track without the others. My competitors arrived, winners of other semi finals. Yikes! They were big guys, men, 18 or 19 or even older and their contempt at racing a 12 yr old was obvious.

That was my first time in “The Zone”. Every thing thats needs doing at exactly the perfect moment happens in the “The Zone”. I won the race and got the trophy. A fine trophy, a third my size. All the big guys rode off in their real cars and I was standing on the side walk in front of the hobby store with my trophy waiting for my dad to get off work in a few hours. A lot of time to think that maybe Jesus and the Zone aren’t connected. Or maybe they are. It was also first time I did something I was proud of and no one told me about “The Zone”.

Everything is perfect in the Zone until it wears off.