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Back when men were relieved from having to fabricate knives, axes and spears in order to keep their family alive, the creativity continued to flow freely to prevent boredom from setting in during freetime. It appears to have culminated in the late thirties with something which is probably best described as: Sheer insanity for the mature man.

Imagine a small model race car, which even before World War II could reach astonishing speeds of up to 100mph or 160km/h. After the war these speeds were quickly and easily exceeded and eventually the little race cars were achieved centrifugal forces up to 90 times their own weight. These little monsters needed to be kept in a tight rope as they raced on special purpose-built tracks.

The cars were called “Tether Cars” and they would all have a special bracket on one side enabling a steel wire to hold them in place. The other end of the steel wire was grounded in the centre of a perfectly circular track. These cable tracks had an official size and were most often surfaced with smooth concrete. There was also another type of track called the rail track where the small race cars were guided around the track by a rail in the ground. This enabled several cars to race at the same time as the tracks could have as much as five or six rails.

The small race cars used proper fuel-driven engines of a similar type to those utilised in model aircraft. To start the engines – as can be seen in the video below – a grindstone could be used or the car was simply pushed into action by its owner. When the race was over, a broomstick or similar would be used to knock a kill switch which would simply stop fuel from being fed to the engine.

Races were won by comparing each race cars average speed over eight laps of the cable track. The “driver” would determine when he felt his car had reached its maximum speed, and the following eight laps would be timed.

Especially in the USA, a small group of enthusiasts keep the more than eighty year old hobby alive, while there are still tracks to be found in various countries all around the globe.

If you crave the smell of fuel and the sensation of speed during these dull winter months, you can learn more here:



One Response

  1. yrhmblhst

    Interesting – never heard it called ‘cable racing’ before.
    Tether cars are pretty cool, and some of them are now worth more than my house…!


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