Slot Car City
There is no finish line in sight for a slot car raceway in Brooklyn, the only one left in the city. They have been running miniature race cars there for more than half a century. NY1’s Roger Clark checked it out: Buzz-o-Rama is named for its owner, Frank “Buzz” Perri. He opened this slot car haven nearly 52 years ago on Church Avenue in Kensington, when there were nearly 50 others like it across the city. “It was my hobby to begin with, and when they commercialized it I jumped right into it because I knew about slot car racing,” said Perri said. But, one by one, they closed, unable to compete with computers and video games for the attention of kids. Now, Buzz-a-Rama is the last one standing. Frank Perri runs the place with help from wife, Dolores. “They come here, they have fun, it’s simple, it’s safe,” he said. And fast. Slot Cars run on electricty powered by a hand control. Nick Traina builds his own cars. He came here as a kid, and made a comeback when his nephew decided to get into slot cars, too, pleasently surprised his childhood haunt was still motoring. “I called the phone number one day and he answered the phone. He said yeah, we’re still open, I couldn’t believe it,” Traina said. Buzz and Dolores say things can get get pretty wild at their track when kids of all ages are racing their cars. But if you get too wild, you can find yourself out on the street on Church Avenue. “If they get out of line, they’re outside, they can’t come in. If they curse, if they use profanity, if they are going to bully anybody. No, you don’t stay in here. This is not tolerated in here,” Dolores Perri said. That’s the type of old school place it is. They’re able to keep it open because they own the building, and don’t have to worry about the rising rents that are a problem for many family owned businesses in the city. There are no plans for a final checkered flag. “You have to know my Dad to know that this is his passion. This is one thing that he said that he will keep these doors open until he takes his last breath,” said Frank Perri Jr., the owners’ son. Adds his dad, “I’ll be here forever. My wife tells me i’m going to live ’till 125. I listen to er because she’s a nutritionist” Which is good, so this piece of our past can keep racing into the future. To learn more, visit buzz-a-rama.com.
Slot Car City
Jalaine S Del City, Oklahoma Level Contributor 11 reviews 3 attraction reviews 6 helpful votes “Slot Car Racing!” Reviewed April 2, 2015 Great place to have a great time with great people. Slot Car racing is fun for pretty much any age. You can race or you can sit and watch the races. A laid back place where the people are very helpful to get you started on the right track. I have had a couple of birthday parties at top slots and it was fun for the kids and adults both. It also was nice to do something different. Visited April 2015 Helpful? Thank Jalaine S Report Ask Jalaine S about Top Slots RaceWay This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Slot Car City
Slot Cars run on electricty powered by a hand control. Nick Traina builds his own cars. He came here as a kid, and made a comeback when his nephew decided to get into slot cars, too, pleasently surprised his childhood haunt was still motoring.
Slot Car City
With a few notable exceptions, American cities will never be dense and small enough to adopt European approaches to urban planning. But efforts to make sprawling U.S. cities denser, more walkable, and less reliant on automobiles are more popular than they have been since the car and the suburb took over for the train and the city-center after World War II. Increasing safe access to major roads for bicycles and walkers, for example, might offer an unexpected benefit should the robocarpocalypse arrive: Neighborhoods with deliberately-built, well-maintained paths for non-automotive transit will retain the freedom of entrance and egress that the car currently insures everywhere. And a renewed interest in denser, mixed-use zoning and development has created more opportunities for superblock-like communities in car-centric cities like Atlanta and Houston. Even so, the automobile still rules these towns, and especially in the cheaper, more sprawling suburbs and exurbs where a majority of metropolitan-area inhabitants still reside. Avoiding the roboway entirely might prove impossible.
Slot Car City
Other, stranger realities are possible. Imagine if walking across the street required a microtransaction to insure safe passage. Violations might be subject to tickets or fines—although more likely, your local transit vendor would already know where you are thanks to your smartphone, and just debit your metered service plan accordingly. (Cities like Los Angeles and Honolulu, which impose steep fines for jaywalking, offer a prototype. The car industry has a long history lobbying against jaywalking.) And imagine if Google or Apple, which already provide most folks with mapping services, also got into the business of conveying those citizens through cities. Maps might become accessible only by the good graces of car services. Perhaps you could buy a subscription for unlimited access to your block or neighborhood. The materially fortunate might spring for an all-access plan—the only way to see a whole-city street view.
Slot Car City
Eventually, other, larger cities might choose such arrangements to spare themselves the cost and trouble of maintaining public transit services. Such an outcome wouldn’t be entirely new, either. Before the car took over after World War II, public transit was mostly privately owned and operated in America. A return to privatized transit in the form of car-hailing services would make a poetic victory for the automobile over the train and the bus.
Once autonomous cars reach a tipping point, cities and the private companies that operate robocar services might voluntarily exclude human drivers from the roads. Not only because doing so could save hundreds of thousands of lives per year, but also because ceding the roads to robots might become a more convenient and economical alternative to sharing the roads with them. Given the opportunity, autonomous car services will likely be willing to invest heavily in redeveloping urban infrastructure that would give them an economic advantage in serving the populations that live there. Especially if it would mean a monopoly on local transit. The results could change city life entirely.
Surely not all roads would be made robot-only at once. Perhaps freeways and major thoroughfares would do so first. But a city is a network of roads, and the shift from shared to computerized streets would spread. Roads connect to other roads, such that the transition from hybrid passageways to fully autonomous ones would imply an alteration to the urban landscape not yet conceived. It might be easier just to ban people from roads entirely—even secondary roads and residential side-streets. After all, that’s also how the car took over from the train and the sidewalk in the United States.
The past offers lessons for the future in this regard. In Atlanta, where I live, urban planners of the mid-20th century effectively zoned the city into distinctly separate black and white areas. As public transit and economic development-driven investments like stadia entered the picture, black communities were physically cut off from white ones. Streets were dead-ended and renamed, hampering navigational continuity. The effects of these choices continue today, invisibly. They would become even more entrenched if the publicly-passable thoroughfares that already segregate the city were made impassible except by robocar. Historically, thoroughfares have already helped isolate neighborhoods by race and class. If those arterials were impassible like freeways, their divisive effect would only intensify.
When imagining a future with self-driving cars, the impact on the immediate future seems most urgent. For the moment, safety and liability issues concern the public most. But even if imperfect, autonomous vehicles are already much safer than human-driven ones. When it comes to robots on the roadways, city dwellers would be better off worrying about their future access to the roads in the first place. Eventually, those citizens might enjoy a new kind of freedom, that of avoiding owning and operating automobiles altogether. But in exchange, they might also give up freedom to move around the city without the help of a few, large global technology companies. Then the suburbs might reverse their fortune and become desirable once more. Not as a place to live, but as a place to escape and move about freely, without the intervention of Big Robocar. That is, if you can still get there in the first place.
Unfortunately, America’s roads have seen better days. After a massive investment in new infrastructure since the mid-20th century, streets, roads, and freeways have ossified. New roads are tough to build in established cities, and existing ones are increasingly difficult to improve. When roads do get built, they are usually constructed for new development in suburbs or subdivisions. Fear, local resident entrenchment, and lack of funding has hampered adequate upgrades of roads, too. America’s car cities—Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas, for example—have endured increased congestion when more and more cars travel on roads built for far fewer.