Group 25 Model Car Builders Club
(a boxer history - it's short)
While attending a collectable toy show in Toronto in the fall of 1975, I met a few guys who had some model cars and slot cars on display. After talking to them, I was invited to come over and watch a slot car race. The host of the race, Ron Dixon, gave me his info and directions to his house. This was my first toy show, but not my last.
A few weeks later, I was over at Ron’s watching a slot car race. I hadn’t raced in a few years, but the bug was still there. Ron lent me a car and away I went. I don’t remember the outcome of the race, but it was a lot of fun. These guys really knew how to enjoy themselves.
That weekend, I called my friend Gary Heavysege in Montreal. He mentioned that he had an old, unused slot car and I was welcome to it. The re-birth! The car was a Cox Chaparral 2E Iso-Fulcrum with a cycolac body. But, one car was not enough. These guys had different classes, Canam, Nascar, Formula, etc.
The guys were going to a toy show in Buffalo and I went along. There were three carloads of us and this was the beginning of my “Road trips”. At the show, we bought more slot cars and some old model kits.
One night after a race, Ron mentioned the idea of forming a club. It made sense. We slot raced, we all built model cars, we enjoyed each other’s company, we were car crazy. It was a natural. A name was suggested and it sounded good. It encompassed the scale most of us built, and maybe the number of members we would eventually get to. We finished up that night with a new club and history was rolling (unlike some of our slot cars that had hit the wall).
We had our first formal meeting in October of 1976 at the home of Les Smirle in Oshawa. It was quite interesting, while the guys were in the basement racing or talking; the wives were out shopping or at a movie, or upstairs watching a movie. The idea of a constitution was brought up and some ideas put on paper. Soon, we were ready. There were less than a dozen of us, but we were enthusiastic. We were doers. Builders. Racers. Oh, and we could eat and drink too.
We talked about doing shows and felt it would be too much work and would take away from the fun of the club. At the time, I was working with ‘Motion Auto Shows’ as an assistant to the producer. He asked me if the club would be interested in hosting a model car contest and putting on a display. Remembering that our constitution distinctly forbid displays, I mentioned it to the club and we jumped at the chance. We hosted our first contest as part of 'Vantastic 76'. We had a good turnout and picked up a new member, the grand prizewinner, Doug McLarty with a beautiful 53 Studebaker. For his efforts, Doug was awarded a trophy and a 1/8th scale Porsche kit.
In 1986, the idea of a club run contest arose. Ron provided artwork and advertising, Gary Dowling found us a room and we were off. Vendor’s tables were sold, sponsorship was brought in, hobby shops put up posters and we were going great. The contest was a success. The modellers were happy with the contest, the vendors were happy selling, nobody got yelled at and the club survived.
The contest went on for a few more years until the club ran out of steam. There were several discussions about continuing the contest, but in the end, it was dropped. It had run its course. A few years ago the club decided it was time once again to host a contest. A committee was formed and the process started. Once again, the contest was a success. This contest has just passed its 12th year and is going strong, with plans for the 13th already underway.
There were several very special times in the club’s history. We were friends with Herb Jackson, the founder of the Toledo Toy Fair. He invited us to bring our display to the fall show and we made a great impression. We brought down the fictional ‘West Hill Chrysler’ dealership. Ron Dixon had built it and we had shown it on a few other occasions. It was an immediate hit, the people loved it and we became instant celebrities.
One year we built a 4x8-foot oval slot track and set up at the Toledo Toy Fair. At one point, Ron and I were having a go at it. The previous year, Ron had bought a 59 Plymouth body for 50 cents and I had found a 60 Pontiac body for the same high price. They were both in bad shape, glue sinks and all, but they made excellent Nascar racers. We were racing these cars when the crowd started to pile up. There was a comment about how neat they looked going around the track when someone mentioned how rare they were. ‘You can’t race those, do you know how rare they are?’ Uh, uh. Not the right comments. We sped up. The noise got louder. We raced faster. The more they nagged, the faster we drove until we crashed. You could just about see the heart attacks taking place. It was worth it!
One year there was a press conference sponsored by STP, who brought in Richard Petty. One of our members was in the host club and we got invited. We sat around and listened and stared at the King. Some of the members left early and those of us who stayed were able to get our photo taken with the King.
What’s next? There is a whole new crop of younger members and some extremely enthusiastic ones. The displays are due for an updating or replacing. The models are still being built. Direction? Simple. Meet, have fun, build models, tell stories. Camaraderie, the purpose of a club. Enjoy, build something…it’s a hobby.
ALL INFORMATION AND PICTURES ON THIS SITE IS THE PROPERTY OF GROUP 25 MODEL CAR BUILDERS CLUB