Slot racing is racing with model cars on a plastic or wooden track. It is a wonderful hobby for young and old. Slot car racing was very popular in the 60s but the hobby is still very active.
How does it work?
An electrical engine powers the cars. The motor is connected to a guide that is positioned under the chassis of the model.
To the guide are copper braids connected and is positioned in a slot in the middle of parallel rails. The slot car gets speed if the driver gives power to the rails by means of a hand held controller.
The old fashioned hand held controller contains a variable resistor.
A spring-loaded trigger varies the amount of power supplied to the car. By variation of the power the car goes faster or slower. Nowadays you can get more sophisticated controllers but the principle of the system is the same.
Don’t go too fast
The slot car comes out of the slot if the driver gives too much power.
The driver puts the car back in the slot, but his competitor is able to continue. The skill is to drive as fast as possible without falling out of the slot. The driving ability comes with practicing. Concentration and the ability to react quickly make the better driver.
The winner is the driver who completes most laps.
Slot car races are over fixed length of time or number of laps. Nowadays, an electronic counter counts the laps. In the old days laps were counted by a mechanical lap counter.
Analog and digital slot car racing
The description of slot car racing as given in the first paragraph is nowadays called ‘analog slot car racing’.
This means that only one car is racing in a lane.
Digital slot car racing was introduced 10 years ago.
Digital racing allows more than one car to be driven on the same lane at the same time and to cross between lanes for overtaking (on a special crossover section).
Major 1/32 brands
The major 1/32-scaled track brands are Ninco, Scalextric, SCX and Carrera.
These manufacturers have developed digital racing systems. Unfortunately the companies do not work together so the cars and tracks are not universal. This lack of cooperation resulted in a limitation: if you buy a track of one of these brands, you have to use the cars of the chosen manufacturer.
The big advantage of analog slot car racing is that almost all 1/32-scale slot cars of different brands can be used on the analog slot car systems.
How to get started in slot car racing?
The best way to start with the fascinating hobby of slot car racing is to buy a track set of one of the 1/32-scaled track brands (Ninco, Scalextric, SCX and Carrera). Go to a slot car racing club or join internet fora (like Slotcarforum.com) to experience the hobby with others.
Your local slot car dealer is able to assist you in making your choice.
Unfortunately it is hardly possible to find a slot car shop in cities anymore. The trade of slot car stuff is mostly shifted to the internet. Not a big problem for buying cars and accessories, but a good advice is hard to find these days.