The first unofficial tether car races were held in an abandoned lot in Los Angeles, California, in 1937.
At the height of their popularity in 1949, the sport boasted 440 tracks and some 3000 racers across the United States.
But by the mid 1950s numbers had dropped to the degree that tether car racing had achieved cult status.
By 2008, membership of the American Miniature Racing Car Association had dwindled to just 150 and only three tracks remained.
First made by hobbyists, the cars were later produced in small numbers by commercial manufacturers such as Dooling Brothers (California), Dick McCoy (Duro-Matic Products) and Garold Frymire (Fryco Engineering).
Tom Dooling and his brothers receive much of the credit for starting the whole tether car thing.
After building and flying model airplanes, the brothers decided that they could build a car using an airplane engine.
During World War II, the demand for scrap metal almost brought an end to the hobby.
One of the biggest names in the industry was Colorado’s Cox Models, noted for its miniature internal-combustion engines.
In the 1950s and 1960s it produced a line of hobby-oriented models of cars, airplanes, and other vehicles.
The most noted are the .049 cubic-inch displacement, glow plug, fuel-powered models, controlled by line or radio.
Cox reed valve engines are regarded as nearly indestructible.
Founder Roy Cox retired in 1969 and sold the company to the hobby conglomerate “Leisure Dynamics”.
It has passed through several hands since then and is now known as Cox International.
The company continues to revive Cox brand miniature aircraft engines as well as introducing new engine versions, reproduction parts, spare parts and accessories.
Original examples of the early cars, made from 1930s to the 1960s, are highly collectable and fetch thousands of dollars.
There are tracks in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and other countries.
World Championship races are held every three years, the last in Brisbane in 2019.
The Sydney Tether Car Club meets on the last Sunday of each month at Model Park, Luddenham.
There’s a lot of other things to see there too, including model planes, radio-controlled rally cars and a ride on train for the kids.