Competitors from Auckland to Dunedin flocked to Tony Cooks shed today to take part in the largest slot car competition in the country.
Tony Cook has always had a passion for slot car racing, it started back in 1967 when he stumbled across a commercial raceway in Bolt Road, Tahunanui. From that moment on he was hooked and used to bike down to the raceway and pay fifty cents to race cars all afternoon. Over the years, time and family commitments got in the way, but the love of racing never left him.
Once a very popular hobby and sport, sadly, there are no commercial race tracks in New Zealand nowadays, however, Tony says the sport is making a resurgence.
“Around 12 years ago, the Nelson Slot Car Racing Club went into hiatus, but a friend approached me about four years ago and said that we should start it up again. The club awoke from its slumber and it just all grew from there,” says Tony.
There are now 18 members in the Nelson Slot Car Club, with other members from outside the region travelling to Tony’s property in Hope to take part regularly.
Last year, Tony organised the first NSR Challenge Cup which saw 27 people racing, the event proved so popular that he decided to put it on again this year and now has over fifty racers entered.
“There hasn’t been a slot car racing event with that many entries since the late 1960s. It involves cars racing against others that are identical in terms of wheels, tyres and specs, and rules are set which makes for very competitive racing,” says Tony.
Tony believes that the resurgence in popularity can be attributed towards people aged between 40 years and 60 years who were involved in slot car racing when they were younger taking it up again in their later years when they have more time and money available.
It is a family affair for Tony, with wife Sue also involved as race controller and running the computer operated track.
“I really enjoy racing slot cars. It is like the real thing in some ways, it is a great feeling when you have a car beside you lap after lap, you spend all day working on your car and then it is a challenge so far as in getting the car to handle the track,” says Tony.