Like A Motorway: Tether Toy Cars, ca. 1940s

Anyone who enjoys the hunt as I do knows that the more you look, the more you understand how little you know.

While in California recently I picked up these three locally manufactured, cast aluminum racing cars. To my eyes, the appeal came from the fact that they were clearly 1930’s – ’40s, very heavy and more or less intact despite obvious play wear.

What I didn’t realize is that in the ’30s/’40’s there was an underground movement of several hundred miniature car racing clubs that put these cars head to head. Each car had a finely tuned, hand-built motor which ran on gas! These cars were run in closed off parking lots (tethered to a pole and timed as they went around) and at 220 ft. race tracks, traveling at speeds upwards of 150mph. Blimey!

Later I found out that back in the ’40s these customized cars sold for $40 – $50. Clearly, not toys at all…

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