People are often advised to turn a passion into a career, but for many of us that doesn't seem feasible. But we met a guy who's gainfully employed pursuing a hobby he's had since childhood.
Slotmods president, David Beattie, was once the devoted corporate employee of a highly-respected company who found himself sitting in his basement, contemplating the next move. He'd developed a talent for building impressive slot car racetracks - a hobby that kept him sane.
Slot cars were a cultural phenomena well before Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport. Clubs and magazines proliferated around the country, dedicated to 1:32nd scale racers. After all, this was the closest many people would get to owning and racing their dream cars. Authentic livery, micrometer detail and high-speed thrills were the attraction to these fun playsets.
While many of today's kids are distracted by smartphones, tablets, game consoles, online videos, etc, David has managed to turn his hobby into an art form and created a wonderful story of success through his passion.
An Enterprise Begins
When he started Slotmods, David simply needed something to do. His first creations were 4x16ft and cost around $700. Before he could blink, he was commissioned to build 20x30ft tracks and these would reach into six-figures!
His personal track remains in the basement and was declared the largest personal slot car track in the US. It's a staggering 170ft, six-lane racetrack snaking through a 20x30ft structure with lane changes and a functional pitlane.
The first commission led David down the path to building some of the most impressive slot car tracks in the world. In fact, one of his early creations was an accurate replica of Laguna Seca for Ford executive, Jim Farley. The track maintained every trademark corner, including the Corkscrew, and was topographically correct with scaled elevation changes.
It's one thing to assemble a slot car track from a box and shove books under it to see cars perform accordingly, but Slotmods takes it to another level, with scaled trees and environment. In doing so, David's recreated a childhood dream most of us forgot about long ago. He's made it possible to imagine what it would be like to race on world championship tracks with your own slot car.
Taking things further, Slotmods is able to create any track imaginable. With a CNC router they can produce any track configuration and shape the environment around the car.
Can't find a 1:32nd scale version of the car you're after? No problem, Slotmods can 3D print almost any bodyshell to capture the experience you want.
We ran into David at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and discovered his latest creation; a track built into a Sunoco-liveried '69 Camaro racecar. From hood to trunk, the car was bursting with slot car thrills.
His next creation is rumored to be set inside a Porsche 917 body and will be unveiled in New York this Christmas, so keep an eye out for it.
David still accepts commissions for less ambitious projects, or you could just search through the garage to find that slot racer track you put away years ago and rekindle the fun you used to have.