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How ModelMotorist.Com came to be

    This story begins with me, Jerome A. Lepinski.  As a young boy in 1970, I used money from my paper route to buy a used Model Motoring HO scale slot car set-up from a neighbor.  The set-up was about the size of four factory sets and included several cars.   I continued to buy tracks and cars from every source available, friends, neighbors, relatives, garage sales, as well as hobby and retail stores.  Gathering track has always been my real interest, or obsession; cars were a secondary concern.  Track brand was not an issue to me because adapters were always some of the first tracks that each manufacturer would produce as they entered the market, or I would make my own.  In the early years everybody made adapters to my first Aurora Model Motoring Slot Car Tracks because they had the biggest market share.  I quickly discovered that as the track got longer, the power would get weaker the farther the car got from the terminal track, so I added more terminal tracks.  The addition of more terminal tracks solved the power problem and seriously complicated the wiring.   My track soon became so long that the early cars would only get a lap or two before they would overheat and need to be rotated for a cool car.

    It wasn't long before I added HO model railroads to increase the excitement of racing my slot cars around the track with my friends and family.  I considered trains to be nothing more than obstacles that needed to be avoided.  The rule I set was; If you hit any part of the train other than the engine, your driver's license was revoked for the day.   This rule was well accepted, since the train cars were no match for the speed and velocity of the slot cars.  The slot cars would only cause damage to the train's delicate cars.  It also made "Pushing your luck" at getting past the train possible.   Sometimes you would hit the engine, sometimes the engine would hit you, and sometimes you would get past the engine.  Most of the time the train would not fall off the track when a collision with the engine would occur.

    When my family and I moved to a smaller house, space became a bigger issue.   My track was now limited to a five by ten foot table at the head of my bed.   Rather than settle for a smaller, shorter layout, I built my track up in layers.  This track had a small oval of H.O. scale trains on the second level.  The slot car track quickly became fourteen levels deep with all the feature tracks available built into it.   The only way I could get a fast section of track was to use bank turns at the end of nine consecutive lengths of the table.  It was a difficult track to master, but a lot of fun to race or drive on for hours on end.

This is two pictures (from 1985) taped together, since I wasn't able to get the whole layout in one picture.

    During this time I took a Fluid Power course at the local Technical College.   I learned a great deal about hydraulics, pneumatics, and electrical wiring.   I continued to work as a production machinist, learning everything I could about various production technologies.

    Because I could not find what I wanted to improve my layout, I sat down and designed an entirely new line of slot car tracks, vehicles, and accessories.  I contacted a patent research and development company who took my money and provided no results.  When I got no response to my complaints to the company, which I am not legally allowed to mention by name, I contacted the Minnesota State Attorney General's Office to complain about the company.   The Minnesota State Attorney General's Office convinced the company to return my money to me.   The company then changed its name to avoid being sued out of business.

    When I bought a house of my own, I quickly built a table the full length of the house's basement, 26 feet.  On this table I built a high-speed track with 13 straight-aways the length of the tables.  This track had only 9" and 12" banked turns and some 15" flat turns.  This track turned out to be almost exactly 5 scale miles long.   I continued to buy every version of slot car track and vehicle set I could find to expand the layout upwards and outwards.  Having been a machinist for several years, I began to build functional proto-types of non-existent tracks and vehicles that I had designed years earlier that could be added to my layout.  I made tracks in sectional components that could be easily added to the massive layout.  With the help of my brother (an electronics engineer) I built a dual electric eye lap counter, which I connected to a Commodore Vic20 computer.   It provided as many functions as I could program into the 8K of memory in the personal computer.

    My brother and I traveled to the International Toy Fair in New York where we attempted to contact the manufacturers who consistently refused to accept my letters as "Unsolicited".   We met with representatives from all of the major manufacturers of slot car products, which resulted in no response after the fair ended.

    My track had grown to such enormous proportions I contacted Facts on File.   Facts on File is the company that gathers information for the Guinness Book of World Records.  Facts on File said, It is an uncontested category, so we will not publish your name or track information.  In the same year I contacted a news channel to come interview me and report on my track.  I was hoping to gain some response from someone involved in manufacturing or maybe to start some competition in track size.  I got neither, but what I did get was about five minutes of coverage at the end of the 10:00 News and a few teasers earlier in the day about the upcoming story.

    In 1994, I married a loving and supportive woman, Janice.  My brother and his wife presented us with a trip to San Diego as a wedding present.  My wife agreed to spend part of our honeymoon in a meeting with Tomy U.S.A., who had an office in California.   The meeting went well and I received very positive reactions from the Tomy's representatives we met with.  Over the course of the following year their reactions turned from one of great interest to one of indifference.

    Soon afterwards, Tomy sold out to Racemasters and Tyco sold out to Mattel.   I can only assume I scared both of them out of the market, for fear I would manufacture my ideas and put them out of the business anyway.  Rather than invest in the future, they chose to get out of the market all together.

    In the years that followed, I continued to attempt contacting the manufacturers in the slot car industry, to no avail.  No one seemed interested in trying to expand the role of slot cars from their status as novelty toys to real hobby status they once had, for a short period of time.

    As a change of course, my wife and I purchased the web address, Model Motorist dot Com.  The web site is dedicated to the promotion of H.O. Scale Slot Cars as a hobby.  This site is operated with the intention of creating a place where people can find useful information about Slot Cars to the rest of the world.   When the site now has enough members and traffic, so we added retail and hobby stores and rental track locators, to the site.

    I have learned from many of the mistakes that have been produced by the various manufacturers of slot cars and tracks over the years.  I have many ideas for the enhancement and expansion of slot vehicles, which still have not been produced.  So join our site and help me improve the slot vehicles, tracks, and sets that will be available in the future.

Thank you for reading my story.
Jerome A Lepinski
j2@modelmotorist.com

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