Category Archives: Slot Car Overview

King of the Mountain!

Ford, Bobby Unser, Smokey Yunick, Holman & Moody.  These legendary names came together in 1969 for a record-setting effort at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. If there was a truly unique car for Carrera to choose to model, this one certainly qualified.

For those that enjoy the history of our models, take the time to watch this priceless interview.

It just doesn’t get much more classic than this. No, it’s not a car that flew around the high banks of Daytona but it seemed to have wings on that famous mountain in 1969.

Carrera has done a good job in giving us this car in our scale. Nothing is perfect but I feel the effort represents the car well enough.

No matter how many years this mold from Carrera has been with us, it just never gets old to me. I just do not take for granted classic American cars in our hobby.  Then they produce a car with this kind of history behind it and I can’t help but appreciate it even more.

And although it was not an oval racer, you can bet that is exactly where I will race it. We already race completely fictional schemes alongside scale efforts, why stop now? In our scale world anything is possible.

Great job Carrera. I truly appreciate this classic Ford.

-Harry

Model acquired from:

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Scalextric Ford Daytona Prototype

The Daytona Prototype series seemed like an odd choice for Scalextric to choose. This series is not the most popular, but there are those that follow it with a passion and having a new player in scale is a welcome sight.

One reason for the lack of a large fan club is most people simply do not like the look of the cars. And I cannot argue that because they certainly have a very unique shape. Just one of those types of cars that either you like or you don’t with no middle ground.

If you are not up to speed (ahem) on this series, here is an interesting overview. With the series going through a dramatic change for 2017, this mold by Scalextric will have limited liveries to produce, but with some creativity I can see it lasting for quite awhile.

This car represents the “Gen3” series of DP cars and the last of the series as we know it. As it is Scalextric did a fair job in 1/32nd scale. Nothing is ever perfect of course, but a clean and acceptable job all around for my eyes.

Quick Data
Height – 34 MM (36 MM @ Rear Wing)
Length – 145.5 MM
Width – 61.75 MM
Wheel Base – 87 MM
Weight – 74.8 Grams

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Scalextric Javelin

Scalextric 1/32nd Scale Javelin – 1971 Mark Donohue #C3731

Slot Car of The Year? In March? This could be true given all the buzz about this release. It’s easily the car of the year for Scalextric on this side of the pond and it is finally time to take a closer look.

How many years have we been waiting for this one? Since the day the first Mustang arrived in my shop back in early 2002, the pleas for this Javelin were heard. There have been many molds done over this time period but very few match the popularity of this one.

I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. Overall I think Scalextric did a decent job of producing this in 1/32nd scale.

Quick Data
Height – 39.50 MM
Length – 151.5 MM
Width – 58 MM
Wheel Base – 87 MM
Weight – 72.2 Grams

By the numbers this car is VERY close to scale. It is slightly narrow but not enough to bother me.

This car is historic in so many ways. The dominance it had in the 1971 Trans-Am series was impressive to say the least. That year was called a “steamroller” with Mark Donohue at the wheel. He won seven races, including six straight, in this AMC Javelin. Donohue easily won the Drivers’ Championship along with AMC claiming the hands-down winner among the manufacturers.

Here is my video review.

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Carrera Slot Car Track Sets: Finding Your Groove

So you want to buy a slot car set, but aren’t sure which one to buy? Which brand is good, better, or best? Which one is best for kids (even though we know it’s for the parents)? Well, perhaps this article will help you to make that decision. We’ll discuss the things to look for in general that will help you get the most out of your new hobby as well as some detailed things to look for.

While there are many brands out there, the top brands are Carrera, Scalextric, and Ninco. And, of course, everyone has their opinion to which brand is best. I would like to suggest that you take a hard look at Carrera. My first and foremost reason for recommending Carrera is that their customer service is top notch. Though their quality and craftsmanship is impeccable, on that rare occasion when you do have a problem with a product, they are there to help you out. Not only do they work well with you, the consumer, they also support their dealers. Upon making your purchase, knowing that you can get help when you need it speaks volumes in my book.

Now you’re thinking, “Customer service is all good and well, but what about the product? Why should I choose Carrera?” As much as we do not like to admit it, we all shop with our wallets. Meaning that we buy products at the lowest price possible. Usually when you do this, you sacrifice quality. Not so with Carrera. The items in their track sets are extremely well made and durable. When you make a product for the entire family, it better stand up to some rough handling and Carrera has that figured out.

Aside from customer service, quality, and value, what makes Carrera stand out? Here are some things to note and keep in mind while you are shopping.

No Tools Required! You will get everything you need to start racing as soon as you get your new set home. Each set comes complete with the power supply, track, controllers, border, guardrail, and cars. Some sets also come with bridges, banked turns and supports where required. While I won’t cover them here, it’s also worth mentioning that Carrera offers both digital racing sets and wireless controllers. More on that in future articles, so stay tuned. The track pieces go together using a tab-and-slot system as well as clips. The clips help to hold everything in place to ensure that the track gets full power by the way of tight connections between track sections.

Carrera offers the widest track on the market. At 198mm (7.79”), it gives you the width needed to run both 1/32 scale cars and 1/24 scale cars as well. And yes, Carrera makes cars in both scales, something no other home set manufacturer currently does. The downside to this larger track is that the track layouts, or designs, sometimes require more space than other brands. This isn’t and shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you though. With an endless possibility of track designs, you’ll be able to create a track to fit the space you have available. Of course, another positive about plastic track sets, is that you can take them apart and store them away when not in use. Though once you see how much fun it is, you won’t want to put it away!

Carrera also offers track and cars in 1/43 scale, which are larger than HO, but smaller than 1/32. The track uses a smaller footprint allowing a larger race course to be created. Carrera 1/43 is a great way to get started into slot cars as well. All of the great features of the larger track and cars is also made into the 1/43 system and cars. So if space is a real issue or a smaller track is what you are after, look into the 1/43 sets as well. They are just as much fun as the 1/32 and 1/24 race sets and cars, and there are lots of cars to choose from in this scale as well.

A couple of things to note about what makes up each piece of Carrera track; the rails are stainless steel alloy and the track is made from durable ABS plastic, not vinyl. ABS will hold its shape under hot and cold conditions, whereas vinyl based track will warp and twist. The stainless steel rails that help deliver power to the slot cars will not corrode due to its stainless steel content, and while the amount of magnetism is less than other manufacturers because of this, it’s a small sacrifice that should be welcomed knowing you will not have heavy oxidation or rust on your track, which will occur at some point. Also, the less magnetic rail will afford you the opportunity to see more realistic movements and racing from the cars. To see a car slink through the curves and have a challenging yet fun time making it happen is well worth it. The plastic is rigid and provides a nice surface for the cars to race on. It won’t warp and there is no fear of twisting the track and bending the rails that carry the power. The track is yet another check mark in the ‘Yes to Carrera’ column of your shopping list!

The controllers that Carrera makes are called ‘thumb controllers’, meaning that you use your thumb to actuate a ‘button’ on the controller to make the car go. For me, this type of controller is much more comfortable to use than a pistol grip type of controller where you use your index finger to pull a trigger to make the car go. The controller from Carrera fits in your hand comfortably and is light weight so you won’t get tired of holding it.

With each Carrera set, you get two cars that are ready to run. Once your track is setup, look over the guide that comes in the set on preparing the car to run on the track. This guide offers simple tips to allow you to get the most fun out of your racing experience. Part of that fun is that no tools are required for preparing the cars so racing can happen quickly. Speaking of cars, there is what seems like an endless selection. From street cars, to classic and current race cars, there is something that everyone will like. Each car comes with some spare parts that can include braids, mirrors, or guides. Just a nicety that Carrera does to add more value to your purchase. So, add yet another check mark in the ‘Yes to Carrera’ column of your shopping list!

Your final selection, should you choose to make it, should have the name ‘Carrera’ on the package. There is no doubt that the products from Carrera are unrivaled. That’s why they are now the #1 race set brand worldwide! They must be doing something right, and that something is found in the smiles and fun that you’ll have with their products! So pick up a set today, you’ll be glad you did.

Jeremy ‘bibbster’ Bibbee

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Slot Cars

The average person has probably heard of “slot cars” at some point in their life; while most may not know exactly what it is, slot car racing has been around since the 1930’s.There is a significant segment of the hobbyist population that races slot cars in competitions, and while popularity may have risen and dropped several times over the past eighty years, there is still a core group of enthusiasts who race these small-scale vehicles. Slot cars are considered to be “classic” and oftentimes, worth a good amount of money. Many collectables are often modeled after real-life vehicles, making them very valuable. Just as vehicles change shape and size over time, slot cars often imitate vehicles of their respective time period.

What is a slot car and how does it work?

A slot car is a miniature scaled automobile that is powered by a small electric motor. Scales include: 1/28, 1/24, 1/32, 1/42 and 1/64 or HO. The cars are raced on a track that has a groove for each vehicle lane, and the slot car has a small pin or blade that extends from the bottom and into the groove.  The contacts for the electricity are picked up by the swiveling blade, or “guide flag” on the slot car, which provides the power to run around the track. The vehicle is controlled by a hand-held speed controller that filters in the voltage amount; the more that the trigger is pressed, the faster the car can go. The two types of controllers that are used are called analog and electric controllers. Analog slot car controllers allow the car to accelerate by distributing the desired amount of voltage to the car. Electronic controllers, unlike analog controllers, do not use the variable resistance method for power delivery, but instead use an electronic circuit to dispense the correct amount of voltage to the car. Because electric controllers offer improved control and the ability to command a wide array of cars, this type of controller is most recommended for a beginner.
What are the main parts of a slot car?

·         Body/Shell – The top of the slot car is molded and scaled to a real vehicle. The shape actually does not influence the car’s performance, as it would for a real car. Instead, the mass and distribution of the weight affects the car’s performance.

·         Interior – The interior often features a real driver and imitates the interior of the real, life-size vehicle. The driver and interior are typically modeled just below window height to allow more room for the motor. It is usually clipped or glued to the body shell.

·         Chassis – The bottom part of the car is called the chassis, which is often one piece but can be made with a separate motor pod section. This piece attaches all of the other parts.

·         Motor – The electric motor is what powers the slot car, placed at the front, middle, or rear of the car. It can be in-line, sideways, or at an angle. Like a real car, small gears transmit the power from the motor to the axle.

·         Axle – The axle is the steel rod in which the wheels are attached to.

·         Guide or Guide Flag – This is a plastic fin with the ability to pivot, which sits on the slot of the track and holds the braids.

·         Braids – Copper metal contacts or copper braids provide power to the car by making contact with the rails on the track. It’s important that these are adjusted correctly for optimal car performance.

·         Magnet – Front and rear magnets provide force to keep the car on the track.

·         Chip – This refers to the circuit board which interprets signals on the track and operating the motor for digital cars. Some conventional cars have a chip to control the lights, but many do not have a chip at all.

What are slot car racetracks made out of?
Slot cars include a variety of other features and parts and differ depending on when the car was made and the maker. The majority of the slot car racetracks used for home races are made from molded plastic snap-together track sections. This allows the racer to reconfigure their track at will. The tracks used for competition are often hand-built; the guide slots for the vehicles are routed into a type of sheet material, generally either medium-density fiberboard or chipboard. Voltage supplied to the track by the power supply is typically between 12 to 18 volts and 1 or 2 amps.

What types of slot cars are best for beginners?
Cars of the 1/32 scale are most recommended for beginners, as they are very durable and are actually the most common size among hobbyists. The cars with very strong magnets are good for beginners initially, but may limit the development of driving skills. As racing skills develop further, the magnets are needed less and less and you may find you need to update your slot car as your skills progress.

What types of racetracks are best for beginners?
A simple track plan allows one to learn how to drive properly and enjoy the hobby. Sometimes an oval of track is best so that beginners can learn the fundamentals of accelerating, braking and controlling speed in the corners.  A more elaborate and challenging track can be then enjoyed after some skill has been developed. Unfortunately, many sets do not have a good track layout for beginners.  The beauty of plastic track is that you can configure a simple oval first, practice and then expand the layout with the balance of the track to make a more challenging circuit.

Clubs are a perfect way to get more involved in the hobby. Whether it’s a few people getting together informally to share tips and run their cars for fun, or large clubs that are a little more serious, joining a club will allow you to get the most out of slot car racing. Major competitions do exist on large tracks in commercial raceways, but these are typically for 1/24 scale cars, which require more sophisticated cars and equipment.

Slot car racing is a wonderfully diverse hobby that can stay with you for a lifetime and can be shared by generations of enthusiasts.  Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro, there is always something new to keep you in high gear!

Lynne Bernhard