Although the popularity of slot car racing largely declined in the early seventies, it has recently returned with a vengeance. The uninitiated may ask, what is a slot car, by the way?
To begin with, slot cars are small cars driven by a single engine. Slot cars are miniature racing cars driven by a slot in a racetrack. A pin protrudes from the underside of the model into the slot. Some slot cars are based on the regular cars, but the vast majority of them are based on original-size racing cars. Most of these have become famous on NASCAR, Indy and Grand Prix tracks.
The motor is fed by metal bands next to the slot. This is detected by contacts along a device known as a guide flag, which is a pivoting blade located under the front of the slot car. The speed of the vehicle is regulated by a hand control device, which is held by the driver.
All racing slots cars have bodies specially developed for miniature races. Most people who get involved in this slot car racing hobby use slot cars that are offered for sale commercially. It can be that these cars have been modified to give them better performance. Some slot car racers build their own racers from parts and mechanisms bought from many specialized online shops. Several big brands also offer their own special components.
Although some people think they’re only for children, many adults like to run these miniature cars too! In fact, some people have so much fun that they have custom race tracks installed in their homes. One of the main attractions of slot cars are their customizability. You can endlessly change and adapt your set! It becomes like new every time.
There are even local, national and international organizations that help enthusiasts build their own models. They also guide them to follow the best practices in slot car racing.
Although it’s easy to learn how to drive a slot car on a racetrack, learning how to build, modify and race in a competition requires a lot of practice and skills.
How to start
Although there are more than three time slot car ladders, the only officially recognized sizes in competitions are: Scale 1:24, scale 1:32 and scale HO. There are two additional slot car scales outside the competition standard. These are the 1/48 scale and the 1/43 scale.
The length of the scale refers to the unit of length (one inch or one millimeter), so that a unit on the model is equal to 24 units on the real car, it is made to look like. Most 1:24 scale cars require a course that is too big for home fans, so people driving 1:24 scale cars usually do this on a club track.
The basic equipment of a rack and pinion trolley comprises the body of the car. An electric motor, a controller and the track complete the set. There are many different types of slot cars, and there are always new body models in development. Catering to the ever-changing tastes of the consumers.
Slot cars and their track components are easily available as kits in local hobby stores. However many enthusiasts still choose to build their own custom models according to their personal preference.
In addition to learning how to effectively modify a slot car to improve its handling performance and speed, it is also important to learn how to properly maintain the parts of the vehicle to ensure that it remains in perfect condition all the time.
Slot Car Racing Tracks
Slot car tracks can be made of plastic, wood or polymer materials. Although the track itself works in the same way, there are several ways to position the track. For example, some slot tracks form a single oval, while others contain many different loops, figure-eight shapes and ramps.
While some niche car competitors are happy with a simple series of racing tracks, others prefer to spend as much time making their tracks unique as they do it for their cars. In fact, slot car tracks sometimes include miniature decors of the same size as the car.
For example, some enthusiasts create miniature trees, people, benches and buildings for their tracks to make them look more realistic and life-like. Usually you find these elaborate layouts for slot car tracks at home and use many different materials such as resin, wood and clay.
The competitions are organized at local, national and international level. There are three main types of official slot car competition formats that describe how much time a driver has to spend on the track and how many laps he has to complete. These formats include Round Robin, Main and Last Chance rounds.
Originally, the term “slot cars” was limited to models that resembled real cars. Now, however, some competitions are more general in the sense that they allow slot cars to compete with motorcycles, trucks and other types of miniature vehicles that work according to the same principles as the slot cars.
However, each competition has its own rules. It is therefore imperative that you know these rules before building your car and before taking part in a competition. Slot car racing is a fascination game which anyone can enjoy with their family or friends and still remains popular among the masses.
Slot car racing: A beginner’s guide
We are going to talk about two brands of high quality slot cars: Carrera, which appeals more to young drivers, and Scalextric Sport, which attracts an older audience and enthusiasts. In other words, Carrera is a bit of a “toy”, while Scalextric is much more of a “hobby”. In this article we will explain some of the characteristics of each brand to help you make an informed decision when you decide to purchase your favorite slot car.
Digital vs Analog
Carrera and Scalextric offer analogue and digital formats. With an analogue package – as it has existed for half a century – you can only drive with as many cars as you have tracks. Your controller adjusts the current that is sent to the track, thus accelerating and slowing down the vehicle on this track.
The “driver” of the car sends a low-voltage current to an electric motor hidden in the car by means of a manual override. As a rule, each individual car drives on its own lane. Recently, the manufacturers of slot cars have developed a new technology that enables cars to share a lane. We can find this feature on some of the new digital race stations.
In a digital configuration, the controller is programmed to control the vehicle itself. Digital assemblies have connection sections that allow you to switch from one lane to another to overtake, block and slow down. These tracks also offer space for a larger number of cars so that three or four people (with a few sets, up to six) can start at the same time. We will come back to that later.
The biggest challenge for the pilots is that these miniatures have to complete high-speed turns. Drivers must be qualified in such a way that their cars do not derail or completely leave the track when cornering.
In all modern slot car vehicles, traction magnets are often used to generate a “driving force”. This helps the vehicle to stay on track at higher speeds. However many slot car racers believe that using a car without traction magnets is a much more demanding task. They also appreciate the way in which a car glides or “drifts” outwards without a magnet. For them this conveys a more visual realism.
3 questions to help you find the best slot car set
There are a few things you should consider in advance when looking for a slot car racing set.
How old are your slot car racers?
We advise against slot races for very small children. Ideally, a child should be eight years or older and certainly not less than six or seven years old. An eight year-old child can even find it difficult to meet the more technically demanding requirements of an advanced Scalextric set.
It takes a lot of skill and intuition to navigate on the track. Especially in curves. You have to train yourself properly. You can’t just push the throttle and expect slot cars to zoom in perfectly. They jump out of the track and fly away.
Of course, that’s part of the fun. If there were no skills required, it would be boring. In most cases, a child under 8 years of age simply does not have the skill and coordination to grasp the intricacies of speed adjustment to stay on course, and may not have the patience to practice hard for developing the racing skills.
Where are you going to put your racing track?
The three-dimensional and practical physics of the slot race is great. However that means you need space to dedicate yourself to it. Even the smallest slot car racing tracks have a diameter of several meters. You don’t want them to be in the middle of the living room, where it is trampled or crushed, full of crumbs of biscuits, pastries and other kind of litters. The tracks are generally quite flexible and robust, and they are designed to withstand one or two bad experiences if one steps on them, but they are certainly not indestructible.
How often will you race?
It’s not a good idea to position the track, make a few laps and then wrap it up again. The rails are designed in such a way that they can be assembled and dismantled without great effort.
However, the distance between the slot car racing tracks is usually somewhat more difficult than tying them together and can require a lot of effort. You want to make sure that you pull evenly to avoid loosening the tabs from the connectors that hold them together. Repeated assembly and disassembly wear out and loosen the connectors if you want a perfect fit.
Your best option is to place the track where it can be left out, preferably on a table or platform. You should dismantle it only if you want to add or change the layout.
The slot car racing hobby is an affordable way to drive cars. A good slot car set costs about $100 plus $50 for a controller. High-end cars with many modifications can cost up to 400 dollars.
Many slot car tracks for amateurs are composed of pressure-mounted parts and can have up to eight tracks. One can design the layout by using computer programs. Several people choose online forums where manufacturers show how they can reproduce famous tracks. Some designs include realistic-looking features such as trees and buildings as they appear in real life.
Racing slot car is a really exciting experience. You should enjoy having one set up at home. This will appeal not only to your children over five years of age, but also the elderly ones who want to be a part of this exciting racing game. Be that as it may, before you buy one, you should check all the articles we have made done for you so that you can buy the best slot car set for you and your family according to your personal choice. Go and race like a true champion!