Polk's Model Craft Hobbies, New York
by Al Pollack
written Dec 2002
So, you want to know about Polk's? I guess there's not many people (still alive)
that remember Polk's. Starting around 1959, my brother and I raced at Polk's Hobbies.
Polk's was located on 5th Ave, right around the corner from the Empire State Building.
Polk's consisted of four floors. Floor one - static models, scenery, soldiers
(that kind of stuff). Floor two - model airplanes, gas powered airplanes.
Floor three - all trains, tons of trains, a full train layout in the middle of the floor.
Fourth floor - slot racing. So, how did you get up to the fourth floor??
By the elevator, of course. But, this elevator was operated by an elevator operator
with one wooden arm!
Polk's initially had a four lane track. The fee was 25 cents, for 15 minutes.
When you walked in, you put your name on a reservation list. When your turn was up,
they would shout out your name. You were allowed only 15 minutes at a time.
Ready to go, you would place your quarter in the box/timer, located next to your driver's panel.
A while later, Polk's upgraded to an eight lane track. Still only 25 cents for 15 minutes.
Polk's never had their lanes color coded, so there was always alot of noise and screaming.
A night to remember - One of the guys (Rick), from behind the counter, invited us to
the Thursday night races. Invitation only. My brother and I walked in that night
to a whole new world. Every fast east coast driver was there. In those days,
the east coast drivers/slot car tracks, were all located in New York. Ursaner, Emott,
Sandy Gross, Roy Wong, etc., were all there. There were separate classes for
Gp cars and GT/Sport cars. My brother and I marshalled all night long,
never putting a car in the wrong lane (and with no lane stickers!)
After the races, Howie Ursaner and Bob Emott let us try their cars, as
our reward for mashalling.
Roy Wong let my brother do a complete sketch of his two cars. We had never
seen cars like this. In those days, the state of the art setup was a brass tube/rod
chassis, connected to the magnet side of a Pittman 196A. The hot Pittman setup
was ball bearings added and an arm from a Pittman 65 motor. Tires, of course,
were Graupners - airplane balloon tires, that were cut with an Exacto knife, then trued.
Tire dressing - Lubriplate.
In those days, the Ursaner/Emott crowd were LIGHT years ahead of everyone else.
I remember saving up money, so that we could buy the necessary "go fast" parts.
Total cost was probably around $15.00.