The beloved venue for slot-car racing, Buzz-a-Rama in Kensington, Brooklyn is now closed for good. The shop, which was opened in 1965 by Buzz and Dolores Perri had several electrified racing tracks, vintage arcade games, and dusty glass displays selling tiny slot-car racing parts. It’s likely the last slot-car racing joint in New York City.
Inside, there was no music, no flashing lights, just the hum of cars zipping around a track, and the occasional scream when one flipped over speeding around a corner, which would inevitably happen.
While there were a few arcade games, the owners unplugged them during birthday parties so kids could focus on the racing. And the fact that the shop lasted as long as it did is evidence that humans still crave the simple analog pleasure of watching shiny things zip around in circles.
The owners’ son, Frank Perri, is selling off the remainder of the slot-car racing inventory on Sunday, as well as a wide assortment of other items his father had collected over the years—this includes vintage barbershop poles, old New York City shop signs, as well as slot-car racing parts, die-cast cars, and a couple of the arcade games.
Buzz and Dolores, who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine, died of the virus just 10 days apart in May 2021. Both ran in marathons and kept containers of health supplements on display at Buzz-a-Rama. The Daily Beast chronicled Dolores’ adherence to the beliefs of an anti-vaccine “natural living guru.”
Perri, who owns a car service in Westchester, told WNYC/Gothamist that financially it didn’t make sense to keep the shop running. The taxes alone were $50,000 a year, he said.
The sale, which started on Saturday drew nearly a hundred people the first day, many of whom grew up going to Buzz-a-Rama.
“It’s kinda sad, it’s the end of an era. People are coming in, ‘I used to race here, my father, my grandfather used to take me here,’” Perri said. “And people are coming in and shedding tears that this is coming to an end.”
A message board dedicated to slot-car racing had several remembrances of the shop and the owners. “Dolores was always with him, what a beautiful experience it was to witness the relationship they shared, very inspiring. Buzzy was also very inspiring, believing that slot-car racing was a wonderful way to teach kids dexterity, sportsmanship, math and science all in one hobby!” Here's Buzz talking about the tracks set up inside Buzz-a-Rama in 2014:
While the shop was only open on weekends, and closed during the summer, Perri said his parents kept it open for so many years because they loved the intergenerational continuity of keeping it running.
“He loved seeing the expressions on the kids’ faces and he got a charge out of kids just enjoying this,” Perri said. “It was priceless.”
The sale is going on at 69 Church Ave in Kensington, Brooklyn on Sunday until around 4 p.m.