Locating a slot car track

Driver skill plays a part in slot car competition, too. Aside from a small guide on the underside of the car, there's really nothing keeping the cars fixed onto the track, so some amount of driver proficiency is required to keep them from flying off in the turns. To understand how this hobby caught on and why so many are still racing slot cars, let's look at some of the details of this hobby on the next page.

Must-Have Toys from the s and Beyond. How Magna Doodle Works. The slot car tack, which was supplied by Scalextric, followed the route of the old Brooklands racetrack in Weybridge, Surrey, UK, which opened in , and was the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue. The circuit hosted its last race in , and was also one of Britain's first airfields see brooklands.

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Two slot cars raced around the track, which crossed a river, a pond, ran through industrial and housing estates as well as following the remaining parts of the disused Brooklands circuit, with the winner completing the circuit in a little over two and a half hours organizers had expected it to take a maximum of 30 minutes. We use cookies on this website We use cookies on this website. Sporadically over the next forty years, several other electrically powered commercial products came and went.

For guidance, the cars were clamped to a single center rail, or tethered from the center of a circular track, then they were started and let go for timed runs. There was no driver control of either the speed or steering, so "gas car" racing was largely a mechanic's hobby. In —, several clubs in the U. By , even the pioneer rail-racing clubs had begun to switch to slots. In , Minimodels UK converted its Scalex later, clockwork racers to electricity, creating the famous Scalextric line of slot-guided models, [18] and Victory Industries UK introduced the VIP line, [19] [20] both companies eventually using the new plastic-molding technologies to provide controllable slot racers with authentic bodies in scale for the mass market.

Both lines included versatile sectional track for the home racer - or the home motorist; VIP produced sports cars and accessories slanted toward a "model roadways" theme, [21] while Scalextric more successfully focused on Grand Prix racing. As Scalextric became an instant hit, American hobbyists and manufacturers were adapting car models to slots, [23] and British-American engineer Derek Brand developed a tiny vibrator motor small enough to power model cars roughly in scale with HO and OO electric trains. The tiny cars fascinated the public, and their cost and space requirements were better suited to the average consumer than the larger scales.

Find a Wide Range of Slot Cars & Accessories

In only a year or two, Scalextric's cars and Aurora's "Model Motoring" HO line had set off the "slot car craze" of the s. The slot car craze was largely an US phenomenon, [25] but, commercially, it was a huge one.


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In , after a million and a half [24] had been produced, Aurora replaced the trouble-prone vibrator cars with an innovative flat- commutator "pancake" motor, [26] also created by Brand, and what is probably the best-selling slot car in history, the Aurora Thunderjet was born. Faller Germany produced it for sale in Europe, and competing companies tried in vain to match the speed and reliability of Brand's design.

The Thunderjets and their improved versions, the AFX , sold in the tens of millions, [27] completely dominating the HO market for almost a decade, until challenged by the Tyco cars in the early s. By the late s the slot car boom was well over, the model train tie-ins and miniature motoring concepts largely forgotten, and the market returned to the more serious racing hobbyist, with local and national racing organizations evolving to set standards and rules for different classes of competition.

Technological innovation brought much higher speeds in all scales, with faster motors, better tires, and traction magnets to hold the cars down in curves, though some of the s enthusiasts thought that slot racing had become too specialized for the casual hobbyist, and fondly remembered the more primitive cars of their youth as not so fast, but more fun.

In the s, computer design and methods of printing on 3-D objects helped create much more detailed and authentic models than the simple shapes and rudimentary graphics of the slot car boom. In addition, newly manufactured replicas of Aurora's HO slot cars of the s and s appeared on the market and consumers gained the option of racing either the modern high-tech wondercars or the more basic designs of an earlier time.

In , the Digital Command Control DCC systems, which had revolutionized model railroading in the s, began to appear in slot cars, offering the ability to race multiple cars per lane with more realistic passing. The DMX track has a series of parallel slots, allowing drivers to choose lanes on the inside, middle or outside of the raceway, passing or blocking other racers.

DMXslot cars have a rotating mechanism underneath each car with four pins that retract and protrude as the driver commands the car to move left or right.

A number of technological developments have been tried over the years to overcome the traditional slot car's limitations. Most lasted only a few years, and are now merely historical curiosities. Around , AMT 's Turnpike system USA used multiple electrical pickups within the slot to allow drivers to control, to a limited extent, the steering of special cars.

In the late s the Arnold Minimobil system Germany , also marketed as the Matchbox Motorway UK , used a long hidden coil, powered by track-side motors, to move die-cast or plastic cars down the track via a slot and detachable pin. Cars in different lanes could race, but cars in the same lane moved at the same speed, separated by a fixed distance. Also in the '60s Eldon Industries, Inc. The cars and transformer used diodes to separate the control signals from the hand controllers that allowed for both cars to run independently in the same lane.

In the mid and late s several manufacturers including Aurora , Lionel and Ideal USA introduced slotless racing systems that theoretically allowed cars to pass one another from the same lane. Most used a system of multiple power rails that allowed one car to speed up momentarily and move to the outside to pass.


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Though briefly successful as toy products, none of these systems worked well enough to be taken up by serious hobbyists. In , a number of traditional slot car manufacturers introduced digital control systems, which enable multiple cars to run in the same lane and to change lanes at certain points on the course. Digitally coded signals sent along the power strips allow each car to respond only to its own controller. In addition, imaginative manufacturers have used the slot track system to allow the racing of a variety of unusual things, including motorcycles, [1] boats, [30] airplanes, [31] spacecraft, [31] horses, [1] fictional and cartoon vehicles, [24] snowmobiles, [24] and futuristic railroad trains.

The first sectional slot tracks from Scalextric and VIP were molded rubber and folded metal, respectively, but modern slot tracks fall into two main categories: plastic tracks and routed tracks. Plastic tracks are made from the molded plastic commercial track sections. Sectional track is inexpensive and easy to assemble, and the design of the course can be easily changed. The joints between the sections, however, make a rough running surface, prompting the derisive term "clickety-clack track".

Step 2: Track Slot

The many electrical connections cause voltage drop and contribute to more frequent electrical problems. For a permanent setup, the joints can be filled and smoothed, and the power rails soldered together or even replaced with continuous strips, but the surface is seldom as smooth as a good routed track. Routed tracks have the entire racecourse made from one or a few pieces of sheet material traditionally chipboard or MDF , but sometimes polymer materials with the guide-slots and the grooves for the power strips cut directly into the base material using a router or CNC machining.

This provides a smooth and consistent surface, which is generally preferred for serious competition.