Ed & Mary Beard's
Electric City Raceway
309 McGee Road
Anderson, S.C. 29625
Phone: (864) 261-7223
Fax: (864) 375-1399
|Click any image for a larger view|
|The entrance to a huge racing facility whose grand opening was July 1999||Mary Beard getting ready to marshal an event on the Paperclip layout|
|Corner marshalling the deadman curve during a NASCAR race on the King|
|More views of the very smooth blue King track built by Steve Ogilvie.|
We thank Ed and Mary Beard for quickly coming to our rescue for the cover story for this month.
We’re reprinting the newspaper article which appeared in a local Anderson, South Carolina newspaper on Sunday, January 31st. It read:
"Start Your Engines!"
"Kids of all ages remember slot car racing. This hobby as been reborn in a huge way at Electric City Raceway, located at 309 McGee Road in Anderson.
After many years of living in south Florida, Mary and Ed Beard and their children, Brenda and Eddie, moved to South Carolina and brought their favorite hobby – slot car racing – with them.
It has been thirty years since slot car racing has had a location in Anderson. Many people in this city remember racing slot cars at White Jones’ raceway back in the sixties. The hobby of slot car racing has changed throughout the years because of new materials, better technology, and more products from numerous manufacturers.
During a vacation to Anderson a few years ago Ed met a group of local slot car enthusiasts called the ‘Midnight Racers.’ With the help of Jerry Richey, Gary Swift and several other club members, Electric City Raceway became a reality. ‘The interest was here,’ Ed said. ‘We just needed a larger facility, more tracks and a complete selection of inventory.’
Slot cars aren’t just for kids anymore. The cars at Electric City Raceway are set up the same as the cars on the NASCAR circuit. There are regulations and restrictions on height, weight, and width, in addition to specifications for the tires. All cars have numbers in three places and a model driver behind the wheel. There are several classes of cars at Electric City Raceway, and all of the classes have different specifications. The cars are "teched" before each race to insure they meet the the specific rules for the class being raced.
‘This hobby is not limited to any age group,’ Ed added. ‘We have men, women, boys and girls participating every day of the week. We have many people who can answer questions regarding car set-up and maintenance. Out goal is to educate and teach all we know to anyone who is interested in slot car racing.’
The slot cars can do everything a big car can do, but faster and in a smaller way. Even the track temperature is a variable. The racing is very competitive. Accidents do occur, just like at the big tracks. Cars and parts do fly! Each racer has a pit area. If a racer needs to replace a motor or any other part, the work is completed as quickly as possible so they can rejoin the race. The top three
finishers win "track dollars" which can be used to purchase parts.
Electric City Raceway has two f-a-s-t tracks – the twisting, high-banked 155’ Blue King, built by Canadian Steve Ogilvie and is the track on which the faster wing cars are raced. There is also a 110’ Tri-Oval built by Ed and Karol Tunkel in Tennessee for the NASCAR and Busch cars. Both tracks have eight lanes and racers compete in eight heats on all the different lanes to insure all entrants have an
equal and fair chance at winning the races. Track speed and laps are monitored by computer. Ed recently ordered a Drag Racing slot track that will be added to the facility in the near future.
Groups from outside the Anderson area have already visited Electric City Raceway on several occasions. Ed and Mary recently hosted the Southern USRA with more than 100 entries coming from seven states for the four events.
Electric City Raceway also offers cars and parts for sale as well as cars and controllers for rent. There is an impressive amount of quality inventory behind the large counter, located just a few feet from both tracks. Racers can buy a car that’s ready to go or purchase the parts and build their own. There is a Rent-A-Race series for beginners and Electric City Raceway also plays host to church groups, birthday parties and other special events.
The atmosphere at Electric City Raceway is family-friendly. The cost of the Rent-A-Race is only $7 and includes car and controller rental, as well as track time for the race. These events usually take about an hour to complete. The points-leader at the end of any six-week series wins their own slot car.
Enthusiasts who have their own cars and equipment meet on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday nights to compete. There is a Kids-Only Race on Saturday afternoons.
‘People love the tracks and all of them enjoy being here,' says Mary. ‘This gives people an entertainment option during the winter months and a nice, clean, attractive place to cool off during the summer. We have a l-o-t of fun! My wife and I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to visit us anytime you’re in the Anderson, South Carolina area. Our phone number is 864-261-7223. Give us a call and well give you directions to the raceway. Edward L. Beard, Electric City Raceway, Inc."
According to the two-page application form and survey sent to us by Ed and Mary, Electric City has now been open since July of 1999. As stated in the previous article, racing for many classes – ranging from scale appearing NASCAR to the fastest, pro winged machinery – is hosted on a weekly basis using USRA rules. Races are scheduled on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Track time rents for the extremely affordable rate of only $2.25/15 minutes and $7/hour and discounted track time cards are available to all customers. Race entries are very reasonable at $5/juniors; $7/adults. Race prizes in the form of "Slotto Bucks" are awarded for weekly race program winners. Birthday parties are an active part of their business program.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Electric City Raceway, be prepared to have your cars teched - both before practicing as well as races. They also require the use of lane change; run straight rotation and stage only main events for all weekly programs. They also host quite large events for regional and national associations, including the USRA.
Ed reports there is one other raceway 35 miles from Electric City and he encourages his racers to visit other places in order to become better drivers. The other raceway was friendly and helpful to Ed and Mary as they were getting started in business.
They have wisely set up accounts with five distributors, so getting parts is usually not a problem. They also report the best selling items have been manufactured by Parma , Champion, JK and Slick 7 . Ed says he has no complaints or problems at this time.
We had the privilege of meeting Ed and Mary Beard in Atlanta when they brought their tracks to the Hilton Hotel in Marietta and hosted the Southern NATS, sponsored by them along with Terry Kelly of Kelly Racing Products, soft-drink magnate Gary Swift, and Joe Reid. We helped announce the scale events while the really fast winged cars were competed on the King. One of the races on the King was the next-to-the-last in the Joe Reid Manufacturer’s Cup Series which culminated at P.A. Watson’s Pasadena Raceway in Houston a month later. There, Paul Pedersen won the largest pro purse in the history of slot racing – some $7500! They need to do that for the USRA NATS every year. It’s way beyond time that the pros raced for major bucks!
Ed and Mary Beard are to be commended for expanding on the concept started several years previously in Anderson by Gary Swift and the Midnight Racers. Those folks began as a club, racing on a small, twisty home-built layout. We know they’re thrilled to have a new, large and spacious facility in their city to play and compete on a regular basis.
The racers from Anderson are all enthusiastic proponents of slot car racing and will travel just about anywhere to compete on any track in any class of car under just about any set of rules. South Carolina and the city of Anderson are fortunate to have such a wonderful and friendly group of racing enthusiasts!
Electric City Raceway would be a great place to conduct the USRA National Championships one of these years and I think the Beard’s should definitely bid to host it for 2002.