John#8217;s Raceway and Hobbies

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 26, 2007

BOYKINS — Gentlemen, start your motors.

Just because the cars at John’s Raceway & Hobbies don’t have engines doesn’t make the race any less exciting.

On many Friday nights at the Boykins establishment, excitement is in the air as participants prepare for the slot car races.

Racing on a scale of 1:24 and 1:32, the drivers take their hobby very seriously.

Sitting in the “pit” area, they do what they have to do to get their cars ready to go against their competitors. One regular participant comes all the way from Chesterfield, about a 73-mile ride.

The hobby shop is owned by John Tubbs of Branchville, who has been racing slot cars for 25 years. But, the ride back and forth to Virginia Beach gave Tubbs the idea to open something local.

“My friend, Marlon Reed, had a slot car track,” recalled Tubbs. “He said that if could find a place, he’d help me get started.

“He gave me two tracks, $1,000 and a $1,000 worth of inventory.”

Tubbs eventually bought an old coin-op laundry building on Beaton Avenue, which also houses Tubb’s automotive shop in the back.

“I opened the same type of business about 15 years ago on Main Street in Boykins,” said Tubbs. “I rented a place from Rick Francis.

“Things got slow and I closed it, but I brought the people who used to go there with me to the new place. The time was right to reopen.”

“My customers are loyal race fans,” he said. “Now, they are grown up and still coming, and they bring their own kids.”

John’s Raceway and Hobbies sells everything one needs to build a car, even specific decals to match those of favorite race car drivers.

“They look like the real deal,” said Tubbs. “And rules apply almost like a NASCAR race.

“We race eight heats, three minutes on and two minutes off in the pit, but don’t stay on the same lane. That way if someone gets a bad lane, everyone runs that lane.

“We try to be fair to everyone.”

According to Tubbs, races have been known to last until 2 a.m.

“Each week, we race a different car,” he said. “Right now, we are running a point series through March. There are five different classes of cars — a 4 _-inch NASCAR, a 4-inch NASCAR, a 4 _-inch NASCAR truck, a womp, which is a small car, and a GTP, which is like an Indy car.”

Race fees are $10, and at the end of each race, everyone gets a ribbon. At the end of each point series, everyone gets a trophy and various racing items.

Tubbs also offers birthday packages for children. Parents have a choice between silver, gold or platinum party packages.

The silver party package, which is $95, includes up to eight children, with parents supplying the food, plates and utensils. Tubbs supplies the chairs and tables. There is a $10 charge for each additional child.

“The gold package is the same set up,” said Tubbs, “except I supply the pizza, cake and ice cream. Each additional child is $15. The birthday kid gets a free car.”

That package is $165.

The platinum package, according to Tubbs, is again, the same set up except he supplies everything and each additional child is $35. Each child up to eight kids can also receive a car. The cost of this package is $325.

“I need to have an advanced notice of two weeks,” he said.

John’s Raceway & Hobbies, located at 18082 Beaton Avenue, is open three days a week, on Friday from 7 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 4 to 9 p.m. For more information, contact Tubbs, 434-632-1085.