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L.A. Auto Show: Ford brings fun to West Hall with slot-car racing, rally-car simulator

Ford Slot Car 1

Sure, Ford Motor Co. may be synonymous with American toughness, but who says it can't appeal to your giddy inner child?

In West Hall at the L.A. Auto Show, the domestic automaker offered businesspeople and car geeks a reprieve from serious car talk with miniature slot-car racing and a bumpy rally-car simulator. 

With trigger gun controllers in their palms, sharp-dressed auto show attendees stared down at their mini racers, modeled after the 2011 GT Ford Mustang. Buzzing around the black curves of winding track, players joked as they passed each other up or skidded off the road, crashing into plastic bushes on a faux rocky mountainside.

John Edwards, a representative for Land Rover, couldn't help wandering over to pick up a controller.

"I'm just a big kid, really. I love it," Edwards said. "I hit full acceleration around the corner and spun off. The red car won; that's the one to put your money on."

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Across the floor, Ford offered a more interactive experience with its rally-car simulator, which, by the way, requires you to sign a liability waiver before you strap in. So you know it's fun. The hulky orange contraption is outfitted with three flat-screen panels, creating a full view of a bumpy forest concourse as the whole apparatus rumbles, rotates and skids out with the driver.

An operator monitoring each game shakes his head as players rocket along the straightaways and tumble off the course once they hit a curve.

Gripping the wheel intensely, Edgar Gomez is skidding out left and right as the driver's seat vibrates.

"You have to actually know how to brake," Gomez said. "You can't just ride the accelerator."

 -- Nate Jackson

 Photo credit: Nate Jackson / Los Angeles Times

 
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