MONROE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The City of Monroe has deep roots in racing, hosting NASCAR races in the 1960s. NASCAR left decades ago, but the city is still hosting a special kind of racing that is unique to the area.
Monroe is home to the largest slot car racing facility in North Carolina, called “The Race Center”. The facility sits just inside the Monroe Crossing Mall near the “Roses” entrance.
Slot car racing is a hobby for most, but it also takes some skill.
“You have to drive them. You have to control the speed or they will launch,” said the Owner of The Race Center, Shelley McAnulty.
Slot car racing is fast and just as competitive.
“We do slot cars not only as a hobby but as a major sport,” said racer, Walker McAnulty.
The Race Center has hosted the Slot Car Racing Nationals in the past at the Monroe facility. Drivers who race for the competition aspect of the sport are known to take things very seriously.”
“Just like if you watch NASCAR and you ever saw the guy throw his helmet, well we don’t have a helmet around here, but we do have cars and things that they can throw. Occasionally that happens when they get a little spirited in their racing,” said Shelley McAnulty.
The Race Center is unique in that it has 5 different race tracks, with one coming from as far away as Canada.
Some of the tracks have familiar names from real-life racing facilities in the Carolinas. The racing on the slot car track is like real life in a way. Most drivers build their cars from scratch.
“The biggest major thing in slot car racing that you need to learn is how to solder. Soldering is a vital aspect of being able to build a car correctly,” said Walker McAnulty.
The tires on the cars are made of rubberized foam, bringing another life-like feature to the track.
“That means whenever they drive around they lay rubber down on the track and whenever more and more rubber gets laid down on the track the cars get faster because they have more grip,” said Walker.
Because of that rubber every so often, the tracks are cleaned. A glue is sometimes applied for additional grip, but the owners say you can hardly call the occasional maintenance, “hard work”.
“We are all about having fun, so it’s like making a living and not being serious,” said Shelley.
What the owners do take serious is keeping this facility operational for decades to come.
“Well it’s important for the history, the history of slot car racing,” said Shelley.
Former and current NASCAR drivers are also known in the slot car racing world. Former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan raced at The Race Center before he moved away from the Carolinas.
Former NASCAR driver Ryan Newman even posted pictures on social media recently of the slot car racing track he has at his house.
The Race Center is open every day for racing and even offers rental cars. More information can be found here.