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Did you ever race using a steering wheel?

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  • Did you ever race using a steering wheel?

    When I was very young...along time ago, my Mother took me to a hobby shop in Milwaukee I believe that had a slot car track in it. This would have been in the mid-sixties. The kids were racing on it and the track had drivers stations on it with large steering wheels that they turned as the cars went around. I could only watch at the time,( maybe why I am so hooked on the hobby today), and didn't get to race myself. OK definetely why I'm hooked on the hobby today!
    So did these steering wheels actually steer the cars or were they just for show? Help me out you little brats who were racing that day!

  • #2
    Right...a really obvious question...how can you steer a car that's running in a slot?

    Answer...you can't

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    • #3
      I'll see if I can scan one of the photos I have from the ads used to encourage hobby shops to buy the system. It was from AMCR, later bought by AMF, the same company that nearly destroyed Harley-Davidson.

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      • #4
        There is a a track like that in this video.

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        • SlotCat
          SlotCat commented
          Editing a comment
          I’ve watched that cool video many times!

      • #5
        When I was younger , my brothers had HO sets that the controllers were steering wheels , is that what you are talking about ?

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        • lance
          lance commented
          Editing a comment
          I think that was called TCR (Total Control Racing). HO size cars would steer on the track. The track did not have a slot

        • Fathead59
          Fathead59 commented
          Editing a comment
          lance , the track had slots , I think the wheel was the power to the track , just like the trigger or plunger the controllers

      • #6
        My father worked for both AMT and MPC when I was a kid and I remember the tracks you speak of very well. They would set one of them up every year af the Autorama hot rod shows. MPC alwaya sponsored a model contest at these shows and we would go down for a father/son breakfast and get into the show before it opened to the public.

        The steering wheel had to be turned in the dirction the car was moving or it would slow down. For example if you did not turn the wheel to the left going into a left hand turn the car would slow down, and coming out of the turn into a straight you had to straighten out the wheel to maintain top speed. The wheels only turned about 60 degrees or so in either direction. So it was all about timing to keep the car running fast and smooth and was alot of fun. I do not remeber if there was a throttle pedal but the cars never came out of the slots.

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        • #7
          Guess I should have watched the video first! Definitely was a pedal. I do remember them not coming out of the slots. It was pretty much a 1 man show running the track with no track marshalls, and you paid to race once the show opened. Winner of the race got a plastic checkered flag

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          • #8
            The first track I ever went to in the mid 60s had the thumb plunger type controllers.

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            • #9
              Gipper, thanks for sharing that. I knew there was some element to the steering wheel, but could not remember what it did.

              dge467, thanks for providing the video. I had seen it awhile ago but did not know how to find it again for this post. I was sure sad that day when we left the shop and I didn't even get a chance to race a car.

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              • #10
                Our family actually was in a commercial using that system in the mid 60's at Tiny Tim's in Royal Oak Mi. It played at the Oak Drive in. Was just a youngster at the time and I don't think I made it fast the 1st turn. That was also the most expensive track to rent so we didn't use it much.
                Dave
                Dave
                Saginaw Valley Raceway
                Only Rule: Just enjoy who you are racing with.

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                • #11
                  As mentioned above, the commercial tracks with steering wheels needed to be turned in the direction of the corner, and straight on the straights for the car to move forward. There was a "T" shaped slot, and a "T" shaped guide, which locked the car onto the track eliminating deslots.........rather boring actually, and most of these tracks were soon were replaced , with traditional "plunger" type controllers, and straight cut slots/guides.

                  Several tracks found in amusement parks, carried on with these "steering wheel" tracks for quite some time

                  Below is an early Aurora Model motoring speed control........turn the steering wheel to the right to go faster, to the left to slow down.............I had these on my first Aurora set, and while I had tons of fun, they were certainly not the best for producing quick/consistent lap times. Life got much better with the advent of "plunger" type controllers, and better yet again with "trigger" controllers.

                  Cheers
                  Chris Walker

                  Click image for larger version  Name:	download (1).jpeg Views:	0 Size:	7.4 KB ID:	58163

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                  • oldspark
                    oldspark commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yep had a blast with those type of controllers, the plunger type were great until your thumb felt like you been hitting with a hammer all afternoon.

                  • slothead
                    slothead commented
                    Editing a comment
                    These were the controllers on my first slot car track when I was about 7 years old. I thought you actually had to drive the car around the track at first. When I learned how they worked it was a bit of a disappointment but turned out to be good for setting the speed for what we now call a ghost car. I know some guys have fond memories of the Model Motoring sets and cars and collect them but to me they were junk compared to the Strombecker stuff I got a year later.

                  • SlotCat
                    SlotCat commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Oldspark, lol ya my first second hand Aurora set had the thumb plungers, I too used to race so much that my thumbs both hurt. Had to switch hands every so often. Terrible design for controllers, they used to get hot too

                • #12
                  I also once had the opportunity to drive on one of the steering wheel tracks and I want to say it was at a World of Wheels car show at the Wisconsin state fairgrounds in Milwaukee. I was young and remember standing in line with my dad waiting my turn, and I remember that I was young enough that I struggled a bit with the whole operation. I do remember it operating just as Gipper mentioned. Interesting that we have so many Wisconsin and Michigan responses in this post. I grew up in Milwaukee but now live in Michigan, I remember frequenting Garmen Hobby and Tom's Hobby with my dad in Wisconsin.
                  DAVE - MI, USA

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                  • #13
                    Yep.... I spent many many hours using those controllers. I thought those were the coolest things ever.

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                    • #14
                      Great question that I’ve been wondering about too, as I was born a little late for those tracks, thanks for the answers!

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                      • #15
                        Well, it took me forever, but here's the treasure trove...
                        These are the biggest of the books that came with my AMCR Imperial track, and the last photos are of the steering wheel arrangement they were trying to sell to people who bought their track. In the Pre-opening Guide, there are instructions for everything- where to put your building, parking area, ashtrays and placement of ashtrays, a set of junk food and beverage machines in a special nook called, "Refueling Station", carpet, seats, stools, and vendors of cars, parts, controllers, etc. The Track Installation Manual has prints of hand-drafted circuit designs, electrical requirements, incredibly detailed assembly instruction- just amazing.






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