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LEB Product Review: Carrera D124 BMW M1 Procar slot cars, #23821

While the BMW M1 didn’t make a huge impact on the racing world back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the looks of the car and the drivers that raced them left a small mark in the racing history books. BMW hoped to compete with the Porsches of the day, but failed to succeed. While the M1 wasn’t much of a race car, it is hard to not do a double take at the body design and eye-catching liveries they donned on the race track. We’ll take a look at Carrera’s version of the car driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck in 1980, Carrera D124 BMW M1 Procar BASF, No.80 (item #23821).

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For those with experience racing Carrera slot cars, the fact that this car looks great is no surprise. While there may be a sponsor logo missing here or there for licensing reasons, the artwork that is present is clear, crisp, and brightly displayed. Although with the BASF livery, you may have to give yourself a shake to snap out of the trance you’re in created by the red and white paint scheme!

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I don’t want to jump ahead of myself, but when taking photos for this review, I happened to notice something that, while it makes no difference to the performance of the car, it does show just how detailed and to scale Carrera slot cars are. So imagine yourself following this M1 down the racetrack just hoping to get to the inside of the next turn. Too bad you won’t be able to because Hans sees you in his rear view mirror! Look closer!CarreraD124_BMW_M1_Driver_Rear_Small

Speaking of Mr. Stuck, the other details in the cockpit are impressive too!

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Looking at the underside of the car shows the guide setup that has become the standard on Carrera D124 cars, which includes a double braid system to insure good contact to the track while racing. You’ll also see the small, white dip switch that changes the car from digital to analog, as well as the IR sensor for digital operation. One other thing to notice is the part number stamped on the bottom of the chassis in white, in this case ‘23821’.

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Removing the body from the chassis is quick and easy by way of four screws, two near the front and two in the rear. With the body removed we can see the simple wiring that is nicely routed to and from the digital chip.

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The front and rear lights are each on separate boards and are held in place by housings made into the chassis.

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Taking a quick look at the parts that make this car go, we see the standard motor and gearing from Carrera, a 14 tooth brass pinion on the motor shaft and a 50 tooth spur gear on the rear axle. This gear combination give us a 3.57 gear ratio which is a nice setup for good top end speed as well as some quickness out of the turns.

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The half tray interior can be seen from the underside of the body as well as the mounting posts with threaded brass inserts and blacked out areas that prevent light from showing through the red body where it isn’t wanted.

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Now that we have taken a look at what makes this car not only look great but run great, let’s talk about how it runs on the track.

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Since the majority of folks that race slot cars do so with a car that is unmodified and raced on a plastic track, that’s how I did the testing for this review. I removed the car from the case, made sure everything moved freely, checked that the tires were on the rims correctly, and began testing.

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Right out of the case the car was smooth and quiet. All the lights worked as well as the digital functions of the electronics inside the car. The tires have sufficient grip and with help from the single bar magnet located just forward of the motor, the car zipped around the turns with ease.

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While the Carrera D124 slot cars are quite heavy compared to most cars that are geared to organized racing, this BMW has no problem going from zero to fast. Throttle response is very good between the controller and the car. Braking (completely letting off of the plunger of the controller) nets a stop in less than 24”. The combination of acceleration and deceleration makes for a very responsive car in both the straight sections of track and the twisty technical sections too.

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As with all of the Carrera D124 cars that I own, this one performs well. The quality is top notch in all areas and one would be pleased with adding this one to their collection. For those that are interested in scale racing, the Procar series was limited to the BMW M1 so your only option for a competitor car is the other livery of this same model that was just released, the Regazzoni, No.28, 1979 (item #23820). There are two more BMW M1’s scheduled for release sometime this year though, so a nice lineup of four of these cars racing around the track will be a great sight to see! You can see all four liveries being offered by LEB Hobbies HERE. Grab an M1, or two, and enjoy some friendly competition on the slot car track! And remember, when racing slot cars, if you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.

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by Jeremy ‘bibbster’ Bibbee
3/4/2016

A Triple Threat: Carrera Porsche 917K

Review by: Jeremy ‘bibbster’ Bibbee

What could be better than a Porsche 917K in 1/32 scale manufactured by Carrera? How about two Porsche 917Ks in 1/32 scale? How about three?! I’ll be reviewing all of the recently released Porsche 917Ks from Carrera which comes in two liveries; the Martini International Watkins Glen 6h, No. 35 (digital item# 30737) and the Martini International Kyalami 9h, No. 2 (digital item# 30736), the latter of which is also available in analog (item# 27498). I’ll take a look at all three of these cars, and though their mechanicals are the same, they all deserve a look especially if you like Porsches and slot car racing.

While the Porsche 917K has been produced by other slot car manufacturers, the releases from Carrera beat them all by a long shot. There is a lot of value and several features that make these cars shine. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide you with some information to help you decide which model(s) you will choose.

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Before I go any further, I want to speak about the value aspect of Carrera slot cars for a moment. There are no other manufacturers that offer 1:32 scale slot cars at the price point that Carrera does. Period. While there are occasionally analog cars offered at similar prices, they usually have blacked out windows and no interior, among other things. Where is the fun in that? For approximately $32 USD, you get a very close representation of an actual car, interior, driver, and all. For about $12 more, you can get the digital version which comes with lights as well as the opportunity for you to change lanes, make pit stops, and various other features that come with digital racing. So overall, Carrera has the dollar, fun, value, and feature ratios set at a place where anybody can enjoy the hobby of slot car racing.

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As I mentioned earlier, there are three models available from Carrera, which brings us to our first feature; digital and analog options. Whether you race digital or analog, Carrera has you covered in more than one way. If you are an analog racer, you can easily convert all Carrera digital cars to analog mode with the flip of a switch on the bottom of the car. After flipping the switch, put the car on the track and depress the controller throttle three times. The car is now in analog mode. Purchasing a digital car affords you to have lights in your car. Analog cars do not come with lights so if you like lights, go with the digital version(s).

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The digital versions provide you with two liveries to choose from; the Martini International Watkins Glen 6h, No. 35 (digital item# 30737) and the Martini International Kyalami 9h, No. 2 (digital item# 30736). Both liveries look very nice and you may as well not settle on one. Go ahead and get them both, they are Porsches after all! Seriously though, each model is executed very well. The sponsor logos, text, numbers, and other graphics are all very crisp and the colors are vibrant. You can see just how nice these cars look in the various pictures throughout this review. So while other makers produce a detailed 917K, Carrera has upped their game over the years and provides a striking execution of this iconic race car that runs very well, as you’ll hear about later, for very little money.

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The size of the car is very close to scale as well. While it isn’t spot on, the Carrera 917K is close enough that you won’t be able to tell, which makes it a very good representation of its full size counterpart. Here is the rundown on the measurements of the full size car and the slot car model.

1:1 – Length / Width / Height / Wheelbase 4,120 mm  /  1,980 mm  /  940 mm  /  2,300 mm
1:32 (True scale) 128.75 mm  /  61.87 mm  /  29.37 mm  /   71.87 mm
Carrera Model 130.51 mm  /  61.30 mm  /  29.20 mm  /  72.40 mm

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Here you will see the mechanicals of the cars. The pictures below allow you to see the digital chip which is required to run on the Carrera digital track system. As mentioned earlier, you can run digital cars on analog track with the chip in place. The gear ratio is 3.37:1, by way of an 8 tooth pinion and 27 tooth crown gear. While typical gearing in Carrera cars is 3:0 (9T pinion and 27T crown), this car utilizes a motor that allows it to be competitive with other cars using the standard gearing. The motor in the 917K is a FF-050 (slimline) and is rated at 25,000 rpm. The extra rpm’s allow it to keep up easily with other cars motored with the Carrera E-200, which is rated at 21,000 rpm.

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Notice that the lights at the front of the car are each on separate circuit boards. With the slope at the front of the body, a single circuit board is not possible. While the full size 917K did have brake lights, the Carrera model does not. You can’t blame them though as the car doesn’t lend itself to the required wiring and such while keeping kids safety in check. For those like myself that may have an urge to add brake lights to this car, the rear light plug (orange/white wire) is present on the digital chip so wiring will be pretty straight forward.

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Carrera has done a nice job on blocking out most of the residual light from the LED’s, but there is still some very minor bleed through. The most noticeable amount of escaping light comes from the underside of the car, which you can see in the photo below. It is more prevalent on the #35 car than the #2 car that I have. If it really bothers you, some strategically placed black paint and/or electrical tape will take care of it. Me? I’m gonna race ‘em!

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The bottom of the chassis shows the item number, the dip switch to change the car from analog to digital and the IR sensor (located on the digital chip), as well as the guide and magnets (one located just forward of the rear wheels and one inside the chassis just below the item number).

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Okay, so how do they run? When reviewing slot car I take them right out of the box and head to the track. On my way to the track, there are three things that I do; make sure the front and rear wheels spin freely, make sure the guide braid is adjusted so that it makes good contact with the track rails, and make sure the guide turns freely. Carrera cars come from the factory with a decent amount of lubrication on the gears and axles which usually suffices for testing. All Carrera cars come with an instruction sheet on maintaining your slot car. It is easy to skip reading it since it is in the back of the case and we’re usually anxious to get started with racing, but give the sheet a good once over and you’ll be set for future purchases as the procedures are the same for all of their cars.

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All three cars ran very smooth on my custom routed wood track. Typically, if a car is smooth on that track, it will be smooth on my Carrera digital track. That held true with all three of these cars. I had a spare digital chip, which can be purchased separately for any analog car (item# 26732), so I put it in the analog car and tested it on my digital track as well. Lane changing functions worked well as did all the other functions of digital racing, including pit stops, lap counting, and so on. Again, analog cars do not come with lights which means no night racing for this particular model.

Grip from the tires on both tracks was good for two of the three cars. One rear tire on one car was significantly harder than the others. It reminded me of Carreras old tire compound from a couple years ago. The tires, while the did have some grip, would quickly begin to lose traction. Their newer tire compound is almost more of a urethane type as they are much softer and hold their grip for many more laps over the older versions. Aside from that one single tire, the cars performed very well in the tire department.

In less than fifty laps, on each track, the cars became very predictable making them easy to control. Speed out of turns was quick with very little tail-out action. Braking was smooth and crisp with the cars stopping in less than a foot from full throttle to zero on both wood and plastic track. I was able to drive deep into the turns and find the sweet spot for exiting quickly. Racing these cars is loads of fun!
In conclusion, this model definitely does not disappoint in the looks department or the fun department. As I mentioned before, you’ll be hard pressed to find this much fun in an affordable package in the slot car hobby. Adding this model to your collection, whether it is the first slot car you buy, or you have hundreds, is a must! So give this one a try, you won’t regret it!

A Carrera Digital Slot Car Set: The Perfect Holiday Gift!

With so much technology for families to get wrapped up in these days, unwrapping a Carrera Digital slot car set this Christmas is the perfect way for families to unplug. How so you ask?

As you know there are smart phones, tablets, e-readers, gaming consoles, and more, that kids as well as their parents are deeply rooted to. We are more concerned about checking our social media pages to see what the Jones’s are up to than we are at spending time as a family.  We just can’t seem to put the gadgets aside these days. Gone are the days, for most, where families sit around the kitchen table and play cards or board games. It seems that unless there is a computer chip of some sort coupled with an LCD screen to look at, we’re just not interested.

What is this slot car set that I mentioned? To keep the answer simple I’ll offer you this. A slot car is an electric powered toy car that runs on a plastic track that resembles a road. The car is guided around the track by a ‘guide’ or ‘guide flag’ in the bottom of the car which rides in a slot within the track. So that’s the simple version. A digital slot car track works the same way except that the cars, with help from special track sections, have the ability to switch lanes.

Let me tell you about that Carrera Digital 132 slot car set that recently made its way into our home. The set is called D132 (which is short for Digital 132) Hybrid Power Race Set and comes with everything you need to play. Two of my kids, both girls, saw the set and liked the cars that were in the set, a Porsche 918 Spyder and a Ferrari LaFerrari. Yeah, they have expensive taste in cars, but no matter, the toy versions are very affordable.

When the set arrived, we began unpacking the parts, laying them in piles respective to what they were. While the package contains lots of parts, they are all easily identifiable and assemble simply. As they unpacked the parts, they made their way to the cars that they had seen in the catalog and online. Katelyn, 11, picked up the Ferrari LaFerrari, looked at it a bit and said, “These cars are really detailed.” While Kelsey, 8, grabbed the Porsche and exclaimed, “I like the stripes!” As with all the newest offerings of cars from Carrera, the detail on the cars is impressive, especially considering their low cost. There is lots of value in those little toy cars when it comes to quality and fun.

As we finished unpacking the box of parts, Katelyn said, “Man! How big is this track?” The Hybrid race set comes with twenty eight feet of track that sets up in a 10’ by 6’ area. We began putting the track pieces together making sure to use the interlocking red clips that help to ensure that the track stays together. We found that inserting the clips into the last piece of track and then adding the next piece of track was the easiest way to install them.

We worked our way around the track piece by piece which brought us to the first digital section of track. The girls liked the set when they saw it because of the cars that were in it. Once I explained to them that the set was digital and the cars could change lanes, they were really excited! So I showed them the lane change pieces and explained to them how they worked as we assembled them. We continued putting the rest of the track together as indicated in the instructions, which included another lane change section, the power base and the controller charging station.

Controller charging station? Yep, that’s right, the controllers use rechargeable batteries (included) and charge on a special piece of track border. Not only are the controllers battery operated, they are wireless. What does that mean? It means that there are no cords to get tangled up and that racers can move about the track to find their ideal viewing position. The controllers feature 2.4 GHz technology and are good up to a range of about ten feet or so. Not only will our family be unplugged from all the distractions to race cars, but our controllers will be ‘unplugged’ as well. Upon seeing that the controllers were wireless, Katelyn asked, “Are these controllers cordless? Awesome!” So not only was I excited to know that kids wouldn’t be getting tangled up in cords any longer, the kids were excited too. Once we began playing with the set, they each found a spot that they liked and sat and raced their cars. Another great benefit to the wireless controllers, is that parents can separate the little ones a bit to keep some of the ‘drama in the race pits’ from getting out of control. Of course, if dad and mom get a little too competitive, the kids can put them in separate corners to race as well.

Included in the set are sections of ‘guardrail’ that can be installed in key turns around the track. These barriers help to keep the cars from getting too far off the track should the racing become a little heated. When the racing is side by side, racers tend to push the car to it’s limits causing the car to deslot from time to time. The barriers are held into place with clips which snap onto the edge of the track. Then the barrier slides into the clips which can then be adjusted left to right as necessary.

Now that the girls and I had the track assembled, we were ready to start playing. The set came with a very nice operating manual that went into every detail of the set and how it operated. However, that manual is very lengthy for parents with kids who are eager to race, so thankfully, Carrera included a ‘Quick Start Guide’ with the set. The ‘Quick Start Guide’ covers all the necessary steps to get everyone ready for playing quickly. For a little better understanding of what digital racing is about, I’d like to go over the things that you can do with the set and cars before I tell you about the experience that my daughters and I had playing with the set.

Digital racing from Carrera offers a nice selection of things that can be adjusted to help you and your fellow racers enjoy the experience. Aside from each controller being assigned to a car, the control unit, which is like the brain of the set, has various functions that you can control. These items include programming the maximum speed allowed, the amount of braking, the lights of each car, and fuel tank capacity. In addition, a pace car can be programmed so that one can race against the control unit if racing alone, or as many as 6 cars, either 6 racers or 5 racers and a pace car, can race at once on the same track.

The speed control allows the user to set the maximum percentage of speed that a car can go. For instance, if you set the car to use 100% of the available speed and you press the throttle and don’t let go, the car will fly off the track when you approach a turn. If the maximum speed is set to only 10% of the available speed, the car is much easier to control when entering a turn.

The braking effect, also in increments of 10%, determines how quickly the car stops when a racer lets off of the throttle. At a low setting, the car will coast a bit when the throttle is depressed, at a high setting the car will stop almost instantly.

Using the fuel capacity forces the racer to stop his car for a ‘virtual’ fill up of fuel. This can be set, also in increments of 10%, to ‘Off’ as well, so that no fuel stops are required. Use of the fuel feature does require Carrera Pit Stop 30356, which can be purchased from the Carrera dealer where you purchased your set.

Also, the lights on each car can be turned off or on. This is a neat feature when the fun of racing during the day goes into the night. Most Carrera digital cars come with both headlights and tail lights. The tail lights double as brake lights while racing. When the throttle is depressed, the tail lights will become brighter indicating braking is underway.

With that overview of the set and how some of the parts function, let me get back to why slot car racing is a perfect gift for under the Christmas tree. It is all about F-U-N! That is a simple three letter word that is sometimes easy to forget exists these days. My daughters and I, after setting everything up, enjoyed lots of racing. What is great though, is that while we were having fun racing, we were also talking to one another and interacting in ways that families should. When someone would drive too fast into a corner and deslot, we’d all laugh and joke about it. Sure, there is a time for serious racing and if you want to do that, this set, as well as the others offered by Carrera can provide that, but more often than not, it is all about the fun. With fun comes great memories and an environment where families can break free from the chaos of life and just smile and relax.


My kids will tell you just how much fun racing slot cars is if you ask them. Guess what? So will my wife. Slot car racing is something that the whole family can enjoy. While there technically can be one winner, after only a few laps, it will be easy for you to see that everyone is a winner by nothing more than the smiles on the faces of each racer, or even those just watching. So add a slot car race set from Carrera to your wish list or buy one as a gift for a family that could use some ‘unplugged’ time. While socks, ties, and candy are nice, there is nothing like the fun that a slot car set brings to a family. Merry Christmas!

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