Sunday, January 11, 1970

International Slot Car Raceway at the Armed Services YMCA - Downtown San Diego

Probably the most well known and longest standing Slot Car Raceway in the history of San Diego was the big and super-fast 220 Engleman track located in Downtown San Diego at the Armed Services YMCA.   It opened around 1966 and continued to operate into the 1980's.  It was originally known as the "International Raceway Center", but the name was changed around 1971 to "San Diego Model Raceway" when it was taken over by the late Rene' Romero. Rene' was a wonderful and friendly guy who was the ultimate hobbist (slot racing, RC cars, photography and more) and was also a great track owner who kept this raceway going for quite a long time.  Some of the So Cal slot racers who "back in the day" called this track home include: Art Tarver, Dennis "Foamy" Hill, Leroy Vega, Bob Johannes, Tim Bunch, G Morgan, Jaime, and many many others.

Vintage Engleman Track at the San Diego YMCA


  1. Good lord does that bring back memories! I raced there for years. The second I saw the picture I knew that was home. The original banking was destroyed in a fire and the replacement was so rough that we ran the track backwards. You had to be careful not to come off under the bridge that way. I don't recall D.Morgan but the others were friends as well as competitors.

    Bob (buzard) Thurman

  2. My Brother use to go there in the Early 70's his name was Hector Cuadras and Rick, T

  3. Hector? Didn't he work at the hardware store?

  4. The Hector that worked at the hardware store?

  5. Lee Vega

    Bob Thurman...where are you heres my numbers call me....619-962-7633...those we the greatest of days my friend!


  6. Whas up Leroy? This is Gary Morgan. Rennie actually got me into HO racing about a year before he pasted. This is my blog. The only guys that I've seen from the old days at the Y are Dennis "Foamy" Hill who's in L.A., and Tim Bunch who races HO with us in Scripps Ranch and is still racing 24th at the flat track in El Cajon. Let me know if you want to do some racing, I'll hook you up with some cars that you won't even believe. Check out the some of the HO activity on the blog. The fast HO classes that we race in LA are faster than anything we use to run at the Y. I'm at

  7. I'll try again, can't seem to post.

    I used to hang with Tim Bunch a lot. I adopted his rocker front end on my chassis. I found Doug Flemming on a site for his go kart business. Saw a picture of Foamy and Stork at the Buena Park track web site. Leroy used to hang out at Arcade Record Store as well as at the Y.

  8. In my teens, my friends (Dave and Stephen Palmer) and I went there in the mid to late 70's. I didn't do much competitive racing... I didn't have the money to put together cars fast enough to compete with the adults, but had lots of fun none the less. I'm sorry to hear that Rene passed away. He was a real nice guy. I remember he took a small group of us one evening to race at a track in Tijuana.

    Eric Wright

    1. hi eric its tom cataldo i went to tijuana to race with rene and i think you was there to
      racing down there it was ok been a long time eric

  9. Raced there in the late 70's. Unfortunately, from Chicago to New York down to Florida I could never find tracks that had the power those tracks had. After watching my group 20's and unlimited's crawl down the track, I gave up the hobby.

  10. Raced there in the 70's with my brother buzzards. It was a blast prepping for local races then heading up to LA for Western States and USRA Nats. Those were really good times! Things sure are different now. Sub 2 second times on a King track... unbelievable!

    Tom Sneden

  11. i race at san diego raceway when rene own bob johannes was a good when it closed at ymca they try save old but landed in a land in el cajon that track will be miss some bug name slot car from l.a. came down to race too...

    tom cataldo san diego ,ca slot car racer 1962 to 1980