Owners Association, Inc.
Very Thankful and Most Grateful!
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Once again it is my extreme pleasure to thank everyone who put for tremendous effort, took time from their busy schedules and invested considerable sums of money to be an integral part of the TOA’s annual Trade Show and Convention. Here then are some rambling remembrances of three days of frantic activity.
We met this year in what had always been one of the true "hotbeds" of slot racing – smack dab in the middle of he Tri-States, (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and now referred to as the Ohio Valley Challenge Cup area).
This was the city I spent my first 33 years – Indianapolis, Indiana. Back then we called it "Nap Town" or "India-No-Place" because in the 40’s and 50’s there was very little to do other than visit the Indy 500 for the annual time trials or the race once a year. A big date in Indianapolis in the early 50’s was to go to a drive in movie or "cruise" the drive in restaurants. When you got married you drove downtown and looped the Monument Circle – once for a single; twice for a double ring ceremony. Whoop-dee-doo!
It finally got a little better during the decade of ’59 to ’69 because slot racing came in big time and there were at least two dozen places to play in and around town.
Indianapolis has grown considerably since I moved to Georgia back in ’66 to work for Champion. Today there are professional sports teams, skyscrapers galore and a city with a tad more than just being a rest stop on a traveler’s journey from Chicago to Nashville.
Virtually everywhere you go you see signs that exclaim "WELCOME RACE FANS!" on everything from gasoline service stations to cardboard fans the old ladies use at church. Not bad for an area whose major claim to fame remains a race at the famed "Brickyard."
The only really good news for slot racers is one awesome slot facility out on the southeast side of town - "Indy Slots" – owned by members Dan, Loretta, Doug and Kaye Rockel. We dropped by following the convention to check it out but they had taken a day off to rest. From what I could see through the expansive plate glass windows, the place is extremely large and well laid out.
Since Indy Slots was the only commercial raceway for almost 50 miles, Dan ended up being the "official" parts counter for the USSCA Oval Nats which took place simultaneously with our show. More on that later. Anyway, Dan made several trips back and forth between Indy Slots and the hotel in order to supply racers with needed parts. We say "Thanks!" to Dan in behalf of the racers. Also Bob and Cheryl Lincoln of Wizzard High Performance H.O. also visited Indy Slots to host a celebrity event on the Rockel’s H.O. layout on Friday evening. From reports, a great time was had by their racers, thrilled to meet "Mr and Mrs. Patriot." And speaking of Wizzard’s Patriot 2, if you want to see something that will absolutely blister any HO layout, check out this model. We’ve seen an early test report and understand from Kerry Champion and others that the chassis is virtually indestructible. Can’t be done under any type of driving or racing conditions. I love talking with Bob Lincoln…the dude is definitely as opinionated as I am! Well…I’m getting ahead of myself again.
My job this year was made a lot easier with all the help from other TOA Board members, Officers and several extremely helpful volunteers. Teressa Pattillo of Carlson-Wagonlit (and that last name ‘Wagonlit’ is pronounced ‘Vag-un-lee’) Travel – our long-suffering convention and travel agent/planner, in conjunction with the indomitable Manufacturer/Convention Planner expert Steve Koepp – managed to get things flowing evening though the hotel did a last minute shuffle number on us. This involved putting the display area in a smaller-than-anticipated setting – in effect reducing slightly the various booths.
Newly elected TOA President, Joyce Buttner and soon-to-be-married business partner and associate, daughter Vickie Buttner, brought down from Chicago all the items we needed to make a smooth transition at the welcome reception desk just outside the entrance to the main display area. Vickie also purchased disposable cameras and the two of them took lots of pictures for us.
We anticipated a much larger attendance – not only from the tracks in the Tri-state area, but more manufacturers setting up displays. I needn’t have been because to the company, they were all extremely gracious, positive and upbeat. After listening to a highly charged and motivated pep talk by Board Member Downtown Don Purdy, a lot of folks came away with a fire lit in the boiler. And it’s always so nice to finally put a face with a voice or someone who’s been anonymous except for a lot of e-mail. Such was the case when I finally got to meet the dynamic team from Racetown in Massachusetts.
Talk about a team of charged-up individuals – as unlikely a match as a race between a 24th Open and an H.O. Neo!
Bob Demagistris says, "Let’s do this!" and partner Steve Massa responds, "Ah man…that’ll never work!" Fire and ice…oil and water. What a pair! And in the background there’s Don Cornelius…neat guy and a lot of fun to be around. These three finally opened their first store in Westfield, Massachusetts this past year. We exchanged e-mail almost daily and they were truly gracious in their appreciation of the assistance provided through the TOA. In fact, when we returned, one of the 176 e-mail messages we had waiting was from Steve.
Thank you one more time for the informative meeting you held. Besides having one heck of a good time - - - We, believe it or not did gather some very good information. The one thing that did bother us was the part during the annual meeting on how ‘down’ you all seemed to be about the turn out. We say – Look at the positive side. Everyone we met took the time to share complex thoughts and idea’s about the future of slot car racing and the industry that may not have been afforded us had more folks shown up.
To bring you up to date, On the way home (which was delayed by a day) we had the opportunity to discuss our current and future game plan. We have located two additional prime pieces of real estate and are now in the process of making an offer. Another race track close to us may be coming on the market very shortly and they know we
are very interested in buying it. Our plan by next year’s convention in Cleveland is to have locations up and running. I will keep you informed as things progress.
In closing, we feel that everyone needs to keep an open mind. We found the trip to Indianapolis to be extremely well worthwhile. We look forward to next year and think that everyone should consider attending. As all of you are well aware, it is very hard to find
Knowledgeable help and we would not be where we are without your help.
PS. Again we extend our invitation. Not only do we have some great slot car tracks to race on but also have a lot of good golf courses nearby!
…AND THE FOLLOWING FROM BOB HERMAN, PRO-TRACK CORPORATION, A VENDOR FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS:
"The following is for release in response to the 1999 T.O.A. show.
"The 1999 Track Owners Association convention held in Indianapolis Indiana was again a great success in our book. The quality of input and ideas from dealers, distributors and manufacturers as well as the general public was excellent. It never fails to help us sharpen our focus on the general trend in the slot car market so that we can take advantage of new areas of growth. To those manufacturers and dealers who did not or could not show up simply put "You missed out" The cost of attending the show does not compare to the value of the relationships developed between the track owners and our company. In the beginning when we missed two shows in the first and third year we struggled with the notion of whether it was worth it. From then on there was no question, it was very much worth the time and expense and has been ever since. In my view when a manufacturer does not show up because of perceived value, it tells the attending track owners that they are not worth the effort. We attend the show because we want to let the track owners know and feel that they are first in our eyes. We want to urge every manufacturer who is on the fence (just as we were in the past) when it comes to attending next years show to take a step for the good of the industry and make the investment. You will be glad you did.
Robert Herman, President Pro-Track Corporation
…AND ANOTHER VENDOR WROTE:
Jim Cichy of JC’s Slot Car Boxes e-mailed us the following:
"I want to thank the TOA for having me at the convention. It was a perfect opportunity for my new company to get some exposure for my JC’s Slot Car Boxes.
Before I started making boxes I went to a couple of tracks in the Chicago area to talk to the racers to see what they liked and disliked about the boxes they now have. I sat down with a ruler and calculator, put some numbers together, made some sawdust and came to the 1999 convention in Indianapolis with four 24th scale and one H.O. box.
The wood I use for my new boxes is birch that has solid, fine ply. This is not inexpensive plywood found in most lumber or hardware stores. Rather it is a special plywood that, while more expensive, is far stronger, allowing me to use thinner wood but maintain a strong design which weighs less.
I am now currently offering the following three designs:
All drawers are deep enough for plastic motor boxes. The opening is large enough for installation of a Slick 7 Power supply, plus more room on bottom for miscellaneous items. The box is 14" high, 9" deep and 21" wide.
The number #1 design features a front with two hinged doors and sets on top of Racer’s Box. Holds eight cars and is 5" high, 9" deep and 21" wide.
The H.O. Box holds 28 cars plus storage on the bottom. Future plans for JC’s Slot Car Boxes include a Drag Box, a 32nd scale box for scale electric cars or I will be more than happy to build custom made boxes to your specific dimensions.
TOA members can email for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (847) 740-7769.
Once again, I’d very much like to say "Thanks again, TOA. And to help the association I will give $10.00 to any new joining member off any first order of JC’s Slot Car Boxes.
…and from one of our members whose family attended the show in Indianapolis…
Vice President Bill Morton asked me if I would write a letter for this issue of the Newsletter so here it is. I hope it is OK.
After going to the TOA Convention in Indianapolis I felt compelled to write this letter. My husband and I, along with our children, use the convention each year as a business/vacation trip. It works great! We have a new destination each summer and always arrive a few days prior or stay after the convention just to be tourists! We have always come away from the convention feeling we’ve learned something helpful to our slot car business.
The opening reception and the general mingling throughout the convention are immeasurable in its value! Talking with other track owners from across the states is one way we’ve learned so much. We talk about the different race programs they use and how they work for them; which ones work the best for them; how they run their parties; what sells; how do they stay in control; how do they best use their space; and so many other things. All three conventions we have attended have been valuable because we have returned home to our business with fresh new ideas on starting a new race program or improving an existing one…and it’s working! We’re going to try another new program that we learned about this year too.
All track owners strive for the same goal – a successful, fun and profitable business – and all the different strategies and ideas are extremely valuable when we combine them and work together.
The seminars are informative, fun and well presented as well as the discussions that follow are also so important. The seminars are given by people that are involved and enthusiastic about slot cars, so therefore it’s always interesting.
The vendor booths give the opportunity to view new and different products and give us the chance to talk, one-on-one with Distributors and Manufacturers. It also gives us the chance to see products before we order them.
The General Meeting for all members gives everyone a chance to vote for new Board Members; find out what they are doing; vote for where we want the convention to be held in the coming years; and the members have the opportunity to voice their thoughts, concerns and ideas to the TOA Board.
If you were at the convention this year you already know how important it is to attend. If you were unable to attend this year, I encourage you to plan to go to Cleveland next year to learn new ideas and/or help others by sharing your ideas!!!
See you in Cleveland!!
Janice Wiedenhaupt MJW Raceway - Kaukauna, Wisconsin"
…And from a manufacturer/vendor who displayed at the show this year, JERRY KULICH OF JK PRODUCTS ....
Jerry called after we returned from the lengthy trip and was very complimentary about the efforts being put forth by the TOA and its members. He said, "You can count on me to be in Cleveland next year, and at every show from now on. We need to all pull together for the benefit of the industry and I will be contacting every one I know to request that they plan to be at the 2000 show in Cleveland!"
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