For Tim and Susan Buckner, the recreational needs of youth in Bartow County led them to seek out new business opportunities before striking on a local establishment looking for a buyer.
Victory Lane Model Raceway has hosted slot car races in Cartersville off and on since 1999 and before that, owner Eddie McDaniel began his love affair with slot car racing by opening the area's first raceway in the mid-'60s.
In their search for recreational business pursuits, the Buckners found an advertisement for the equipment, which once inhabited McDaniel's raceway on Cassville Road.
"As soon as my wife saw it she said, 'This will work.' And so we just tried to expand on getting the idea of slot car racing into the community because most people don't know what it is. It was very popular in the late '50s, early '60s and then it kind of went into the basements of people's homes," Tim Buckner said. "The biggest thing that drew us to this is that it is inexpensive to get into and it's inexpensive to enjoy. A family can afford to do this, actually cheaper than they can go to the movies."
Slot cars are model cars operated by remote control racing on a track with each car positioned within their lane by a guide tongue on the car. The car's guide tongue fits in the slot bordered on both sides by a metal braid, which carries a current to propel the car. Each racer controls the speed of their car with the remote control by squeezing a trigger to manipulate the car's speed.
After learning about slot cars themselves, the Buckners became excited about the teaching opportunities by incorporating racing and good-natured competition into the functional basics of electrical principals, mechanical engineering and other topics covered in slot car racing.
"There's a lot of teaching opportunities with this and that's kind of what attracted us to this," Tim Buckner said. "It's a lot easier to teach children if you can entertain them.
"You have your electrical to be taught and then you have your mechanical to be taught and that's your chassis. ... The racers tweak their chassises to make them handle better and after you leave the mechanical end of it we actually have a wind tunnel that you can check the aerodynamics of the car. So, there is a tremendous amount of teaching possibilities."
The Buckners hope to see children and adults of all ages get introduced to slot car racing. McDaniel now is acting as an advisor to the Buckners, helping Victory Lane settle into its new location at 1271-A Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville, next to Melissa & Co. Salon.
McDaniel was glad to see the two tracks now in use at the 5,500-square-foot former home of Turtle Trax Raceway. Although Victory Lane opened in 1999, McDaniel has raced slot cars for nearly 50 years and hopes to see more kids get into the hobby, which for him has become a life-long recreational passion.
"I started back in the middle-'60s working on model cars when I ran across slot cars. ... We couldn't afford a real hot rod but we could build one this size," McDaniel said, pointing to a slot car. "I built the first tracks in Cartersville in '64 or '65 I believe. I had it in downtown Cartersville on Church Street.
"I'm getting old and tired -- I just want to play now. ... Tim came along and bailed me out. I thought I was going to have to send it to Virginia or Kentucky or some place. I had some offers to buy it, I kept holding out hoping somebody would keep it in Cartersville, Bartow County. I think it should stay here, it's been here for over 10 years."
The Buckners have plans to add a third track this month -- a drag racing strip -- and have hopes of future expansions to include a mobile track for use at off-site parties and events.
Today, Victory Lane is hosting a benefit in coordination with Melissa & Co. to raise money for two local children battling cancer. The benefit for Beth Wesley and Alyssa Leonard will be held at 1271 Joe Frank Harris Parkway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
Victory Lane Model Raceway is open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 2 to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until races end that night. Currently Sundays are open by appointment only but soon will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. Beginning in June, Victory Lane will expand all hours for summer break.
For more information, call 770-676-8560 or search for Victory Lane Model Raceway on Facebook.