Does your kid wanna get a taste of being Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Danica Patrick? Fill your small fries’ need for speed – on the tracks at Lightning Speedway in Saline.
Zoom around tight turns and be the first to cross the finish line while racing your slot car into victory. This Washtenaw County business, located at 1235 Industrial Drive, Suite 10, offers a big superstore for slot-car racing enthusiasts of all ages.
Never heard of a slot car? They’re miniature motorized vehicles that use a handheld controller to regulate their motors. They’re guided along racetracks by grooves or “slots” cut into the tracks (a pin-like protrusion from the bottom of each car holds it in place).
Lightning Speedway, which opened in October of 2009, features a variety of tracks for folks to race their tiny autos along (either bring your own car and controller, or rent the pair for a few bucks more). Its four tracks include the high-speed “Daytona Trioval,” the flat and challenging “Riverside,” flat ‘n speedy eight-lane “Laguna Seca,” and high-banked “Sebring.” That means there are plenty of challenges for all abilities.
Storeowner Andrew Smith says his love for slot cars began when his grandmother brought him a set from England when he was 12. His wife Bonnie Smith, who’s the shop’s part-owner, says his love for cars is probably why he became a mechanical engineer at Ford. After retiring, Smith began to manufacture controllers and now ships his products all over the world.
The store itself also sells slot cars, offering 1/24, 1/32 and 1/43 models (those numbers refer to the scale of the cars). The Smiths also offer car parts, tracks, tires and paint to customize your car.
Children and even adults gather around a track to race their cars, and there is even a monitor synched-up to show the race times and rankings – just like in real racing.
Looking for a tutorial, first? Lightning Speedway offers free once-a-month kids workshops on select Thursdays. They’re recommended for ages 6-plus (with adult). Children build their own slot car (with a screwdriver only), learn how cars work and, of course, race them!
Visitors are welcome to bring in their own cars to race or rent a car and controller from the store. If you bring your own car to race, it costs $3/half-hour and $5/hour. If you rent the store’s equipment, it’s $5/half hour and $10/hour.
There’s no charge for kids who want to give the pinewood derby track a spin. A drag racing strip is also in the works. And, just like at an arcade, the store has a NASCAR simulator to get a feel of what it is like to be behind the wheel while racing a car.
Lightning Speedway offers birthday party packages, too, where parents can rent a track and children can participate in races with cars provided. They even give out driver’s licenses for kids to race the cars.
All cars in the store are made for racing, with MarioKart DS and Disney Pixar’s Cars brands to choose from.
Lightning Speedway is located at 1235 Industrial Drive, Suite 10, Saline. For other information about car brands for sale, racing times, seasonal hours, birthday parties and prices, zip over to Lightning Speedway. You can also reach the store at 734-316-2177.