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Thread: California Newpaper Article

  1. #1
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    Cool California Newpaper Article

    Slot car star

    Mega fun has mini turns for local slot car champion
    October 27, 2004

    By HARLAN OSBORNE
    FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER


    Paul Gawronski has the eyes of a hawk. They dance furtively, not truly focusing on one place but sensing movement, catching a nanosecond glimpse of both his race car and the competition's. He can read a slot car track and react faster than anyone alive. He is also a 20-time national and international champion in the miniature world of slot car racing.


    To a spectator, slot car racing is a blur. It's impossible to follow up to eight scale-model cars racing at break-neck speeds, "driven" mostly by men and boys holding electronic controllers. All the principles of racing apply: chassis set-up, bite of the tires, braking and cornering, and power. In its simplest form it's about speed, the fastest car, the fastest lap, the fastest 25 laps.


    For a champion like Gawronski, racing on the small track is a passion. His first visit to a slot car track in 1992 became an instant addiction, and five years later he won his first world championship in Southampton, England. Since then, the 40-year-old Gawronski has won more national and world titles than anyone in the history of organized slot car racing. For him, slot car racing has all the excitement of big time racing without the expense and danger.


    "It's comparable to the big cars but it's scaled down. Everything is scaled down except the emotion. Slot car racing can be very intense, but only your feelings get hurt," said Gawronski, a four-year resident of Petaluma, with his wife Krista, and sons Frank, 5 1/2, and Vince, almost 2.


    Three key ingredients for success are the mechanical aspect, or car preparation, hand-eye coordination, and an understanding of racing. Gawronski excels in each department and hones his skills locally at Slot Car Raceway, in Rohnert Park, a top-notch facility equipped with a 155-foot Blue King track, noted for its speed and high-banked turns, and a 110-foot flat-track road course. Running the length of a side wall is a 55-foot drag strip that ends with a 30-foot shut-down area. They're all built to scale size, and to handle the 1/24th scale racers, which are the most popular, the 1/32 scale and the HO size racers. Multiply 55 feet by 24 and you have 1,320 feet, the length an authentic quarter-mile drag strip.



    "It all comes down to the driver. That's my strongest point. Driving is the skill part of it -- I've never had a bad driving day," said Gawronski, with champion-like confidence.


    The road course is his favorite; it's on these that he's won four straight national championships in the Eurosport division, which led to him landing on the cover of prestigious "Slotcar Bulletin," the glossy, monthly national slot car magazine highlighting the popular hobby. All but a small handful of his championships have come on the road course.


    Like all forms of racing, preparation is a key factor in winning. Competitors take an assortment of racing tools and paraphernalia to the track, usually in a custom carrying case. Gawronski's kit includes about $300 worth of tools and equipment, with the controller, valued at around $200, the most expensive. Also in the kit are various Lexan racing bodies in every imaginable style -- from NASCAR, Indy cars, and Eurosport, to flexible-winged cars and vintage racers -- a couple of different chassis, and a tool kit for calibration and tuning.


    As a national champion he's sponsored by Fast Ones, of Kokomo, Ind., that provides him with the latest equipment including ample custom tires, valued at $10 per set, and transportation and lodging to national events.


    A beginning racer simply needs an assembled car and a controller. With experience, more expensive equipment can be acquired.


    Slot car racing imitates all the classes. The Lexan bodies, which attach to the chassis with pins, make the most difference. Some have spoilers to add down force. The motors are advertised as lighter, cooler, and faster than the competition. Top quality ones are balanced and blueprinted and can reach 100,000 revolutions per minute.


    The Eurosport division is Gawronski's favorite. "That's what I go to the big races for. It's the premier scale class and runs an open motor, similar to open-comp races at full-scale tracks." Before every race he tunes his cars, installs gears, mounts tires, and checks chassis clearance. At big events, all tech work is performed before racing begins.


    Aside from meeting people and building new friendships around the world, the payoff for winning championships is limited. Trophies, cash prizes of up to $1,000, and national recognition in print media are common rewards.


    "Lots of guys just stay local even though they have big talent," said Gawronski.


    On a typical weekday night he and a half-dozen other competitors man the stations at the road course. They race in timed heats, with each lap automatically counted by a computer. After each heat the race cars are moved into another slot and racing resumes.


    At the conclusion of the heats the racer with the highest total of accumulated laps wins.


    "It's more than just going fast, you have to stay in the lanes," added Gawronski. "I come out to race, and even on Thursday nights you can find some of the fastest guys around, the competition is fierce. What I like is every one of these guys has beaten me."


    He collects "race bucks" for winning but rarely cashes them in, choosing instead to pay the small rental fee to keep cash flowing at the Raceway, which is owned by his friend and fellow competitor Frank Sarkela.


    In April, he'll travel to Pennsylvania for the U.S. Nationals and make his bid for his fifth straight championship. The best talent in the world will be there and many will be gunning to beat Gawronski, which really pleases the reigning champion, who says matter-of-factly, "No one intimidates me."


    (Contact Harlan Osborne at argus@arguscourier.com)

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up Great

    article, for a great champion, and company.


    Ron

  3. #3
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    Real nice article

    The interviewer must have spent some quality time at the raceway to get it all correct.
    Ron

  4. #4
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    A fine piece of writing....

    but where do I get one of those $200.00 Third Eye controllers...?


    Seriously, a nice write up about a very nice guy.


    John Emmons

  5. #5
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    Who Won the Big Race?

    Interesting to not the our investgating roving reporter "Harlan" failed to mention who won the 1/24th Eurosport race at Paul Gawronski's home track, Rohnert Park. Herman James, an unsponsered Speedshop customer, won easily. In fact Herman won last year and unsponsored Speedshop customer Greg Gilbert won the two years before. Congradulatiuons Herman and Greg for dominating 1/24th Eurosport racing at Rohnert Park for the last four years!

  6. #6
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    Cool

    Big Race or Big Winner????

    Yes it would seem that our roving reporter did not mention Herman's 1/24 Euro Sport win.

    But then again he failed to mention Paul Gawronski's wins in 1/32 Euro-Sport, GTP 12, LMP and Nascar. Four wins in the six races entered was not a bad weekend for Paul.

    It would seem that the roving reporter was there to write a article about Paul Gawronski and not the race itself.

    Congrats to Herman and Paul!!!!

  7. #7
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    Truth

    it's all about the benjamins

    so should you guys.....so stop comparing the size of your (favorite body part) and get back to work.
    All machines are amplifiers.

  8. #8
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    Great article!

    Such well-researched articles on slot-car racing are very rare in the print world. This was a pleasure to read indeed. You Americans are very lucky to have journalists who can match the quality of their subjects.

  9. #9
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    The great part about any mainstream media articles, regardless of the completeness, details, or accuracy, is that instead of reaching 3,000 slot car racers who already know about the hobby, or from 50 to 500 racers who may even care about the particular race event.... the article is likely to be read by THOUSANDS of readers who never even heard of a slot car - and who never knew such a cool thing as a slot car raceway even existed in their town!

    Instead of continuing to behave like a few flees fighting over the same dog - instead we should be looking for more dogs!

    Just think how many potential customers there would be for Speedshop AND Fast Ones, AND all the others.... if this hobby was able to grow by being exposed to THOUSANDS of potential new customers.



    (my rose colored glasses post for the day)


    Ron.... was there a link to that article online???
    I try to keep links to all articles on mainstream media about slot cars....

    Besides..... it doesn't matter who won anyway.... because Matt Zenovitch wasn't there!!! LOLOLOL (old inside joke.... Ron & Lee will know what I mean)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Paul Kassens
    OWH Slot Car Talk "Mom"
    The Old Weird Herald
    email: paulk@oldweirdherald.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  10. #10
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    Post Here you go Paul...the online version

    Online version at the Augus Courier:

    http://www.arguscourier.com/community/news/slots.html

    The front lead in w/picture:


    http://www.arguscourier.com/community/

    Raymond
    Last edited by Slapshot; 10-29-2004 at 07:12 PM.

  11. #11
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    Not to belabor Mom's point, but....

    About 3 years ago, I came across an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (about...you guessed it...Gawronski and Tracy Chin) and found out slot racing still existed (because tracks here don't advertise). It also mentioned the Old Weird Herald website, and that nailed it. I'm thankful every day that I came across that article. How else can I resolve toy car issues from my childhood and dump every spare cent in doing it?

    I love yoush guysh, *hic*....

    Durl

  12. #12
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    WELL DESERVED!

    As a nice guy racer myself...yea, I'll pat myself on the back, I truly appreciate THE BEST article written about the BEST RACER I've ever met! I've enjoyed being around Paul since he began racing 'bout the time I was getting into the slot biz and kinda out of racing. I saw him as a Lion with a Lambs breath...

    I too read the article a few years ago and wonder how and why this MOST talented writer has so famously graced Paul...TOTALLY AWESOME!

    I should leave it there but I must say I am saddened by Lee's comments. Give the dude his due and when others don't get their's just go to bed
    Last edited by CruzinBob; 10-30-2004 at 08:42 AM.

  13. #13
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    And yet with all those DRIVING credentials....



    They still made him pose turn marshalling.....

    and not only that,

    but marshalling INSIDE THE DONUT!!!!

    LOL

    (and how many of you guys noticed that???? he's marshalling inside the donut on the King Track! )

    I guess Paul's a better driver then a marshal! LOL

    (still makes for a good pic though)

    Great article - and even if each article gets at least one new racer into the hobby like Big Durl - it's well worth it!

    (MUCH better article then the one they did after interviewing Paul G in Portland - that article was terrible )
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Paul Kassens
    OWH Slot Car Talk "Mom"
    The Old Weird Herald
    email: paulk@oldweirdherald.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  14. #14
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    Great article on Paul! He is always helpful at the big races and just fun to be around! I'll see you at Keystone!

  15. #15
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    Notice that Lee Gilberts post is specifically aimed at a "speedshop" costumer. This was a great article about one persons achievements who is local to the community that the author is writing for, and the first thing that is said is how Paul got beat by one of Lee's customers. It doesn't say Paul Gawronski greatest slot racer ever, or unbeatable slot racer. It showcases the hobby and the successes of one man, not highlighting every win he ever had. It would be great if more articles like this could appear around the country as it could expose the hobby to so many more people, like paul said if just a few people read this article it is a few more who have a relatively well described summary of this hobby and someone actually grasped in writing what the excitement and drive is for playing with these little toy cars.
    -Brian

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