By Lynette Carrington
Slot car racing is a time-honored hobby dating back to the early 1900s. Miniature powered race cars fly around a racetrack guided by grooves or slots in the track. Competitors pick their own car and race individually or as a team. Local business Total Control SlotCar Racing has brought the fun back into slot cars by providing an exciting and safe space for kids and kids-at-heart to race.
Owner Keith Baum opened his business in August 2019, and it is only one of two businesses like it in Arizona. “It’s tabletop racing and we have two tracks in the store,” explains U.S. Army veteran Baum. “Slot cars are a hand-controlled hobby.” The controllers allow racers to switch lanes at certain points on the track and up to six players can compete at once. Baum can adjust the racing speed to be slower or faster depending on how individuals choose to race. The racetracks are also fully staged with engaging scenes like one might see at a real-life racetrack.
Baum’s interest in slot cars started in childhood. “I’m from New York originally and in the wintertime as a kid, there wasn’t much to do,” he says. “My father and my grandfather were big into larger scale slot car racing and my grandfather had a track up in the attic.” His grandfather was a member of the local volunteer fire department and would invite fellow volunteers to race slot cars at the house.”
A slot car track can be set up with one racer with competing “ghost” racers, or multiple players can compete against each other. “We set up in half-leagues and competitions periodically,” adds Baum.
This type of racing also lends an extra level of fun for birthday parties and team building events. “I’ve done this for big companies before,” explains Baum. “They had their employees come in and set up two-person teams and race against other teams. It was a lot of fun for the company.”
Safety is a priority, too. The business is continually sprayed down with anti-bacterial. Controls are thoroughly wiped down after each use, masks are required, and gloves are available for customers. “We’re addressing all the concerns and we’re trying to build the business back to where it was at the end of last year,” explains Baum.
Racers make an appointment to play any day of the week. “We set appointments, and I’ll even open at 1 a.m.,” says Baum. “I’ve done that before. I’ve had customers come in at 11 o’clock at night and stay until 4 a.m. so they could enjoy racing with their friends.”
Baum has also seen how slot car racing has helped veterans with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. “Racing helps people that have stress issues,” Baum notes. The back portion of the business also includes a nutrition shakes, tea and coffee counter that is run by Baum’s wife, Anna Maria Baum.
Total Control SlotCar Racing and Dragon Nutrition is located at 4920 W. Thunderbird Road. Call 623-455-2169 or visit tcslotracing.com for more information.