Beyond the Game: Little Rock man driven by obsession over slot cars


If you step inside Jim Cunningham's downtown Little Rock apartment, you have to step around a giant slot car track. Framed posters of races at Monte Carlo cover one wall. A daunting amount of cars safely stored in cases covers another.

"It's not the biggest track I own but it's the one that fit in the biggest spot I could find in Little Rock," he said.

A New Jersey native, Cunningham spent time in San Diego, where he operated a business that brought slot car racing to parties and events. He moved to Little Rock last year to work for an emerging bicycle company. Though his slot car business didn't follow him to the Natural State, his collection did. So too did his passion for it.

"Because it requires a lot of concentration, it's very, almost meditative. It's a nice escape, I suppose. But also I am quite interested in the technology and the building of these things."

Slot cars were popular in the 1960's. Powered by electricity in the tracks, the cars glide in grooves. They're controlled by a remote throttle.

"I had asthma and so I wasn't competitive in sports. This enabled me to compete in a different way," Cunningham said of his interest as a kid.

Now 61 years old, he may have aged, though his collection remains just as captivating.

"It's one of the few things I can think of where you'll have young sons and dad and grandpa playing together."

His hope now is to find and cultivate a slot car community in his new hometown.

"Too many people spend all their time looking at their phone. This is not that."

If you're interested in joining, you can learn more about that effort here.

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