Yea, it doesn't rain or snow much around here, but when you can't ride your bike, slot car racing is a great alternative.
MyTeamCar.net has built a 60-ft, four-lane, HO-scale track complete with cup holders and smooth variable regulated DC power. The track was built using Tomy/AFX track pieces and has been designed and built to industry standard specs, including complete power distribution, lap timing/scoring system, skid borders/aprons, and alligator-clip drivers stations with test track, brake and direction switches.
Been out of slot cars for a while? Yea, me too. Not a whole lot has changed since we were kids but the cars sure are faster out of the box than they were in my day.
So what do you need to get going with slot cars? All you really need is a car and controller. Like cycling, it's a bit more complex than that, but you can get started racing on my track by just purchasing a car and controller. Or, you can see what it's all about using house cars and controllers on my track,. And, if you want your own setup, you can purchase one of several track sets, from 2-lane to 4-lane that are quite good for home use and testing. A complete boxed race set is the best way to get started in HO Slot Car Racing. A boxed set includes track, cars, power packs and hand controllers. Everything needed to start racing. Just open the box, assemble the chosen track layout, plug in the power pack and the hand controls and you're ready to start racing! The best setup for serious home racing and testing is Tomy AFX 4-Lane Super International set. The Tomy AFX 4-Lane Super International is the best set you can buy. It offers a wide variety of track sections, four (4) fast Tomy AFX Mega-G Plus cars and enough track to build any number of challenging 2- and 4-lane raceways.
Cars vary widely in price, type, make, and performance but stockers go from around $15 to $45 and controllers from $15 to $50. Yes, you can spend a whole lot more, but that will get you a very competitive setup to get started.
What kind of car?
Well, there are quite a few out there. I've found the AFX platform to be the most readily available with plenty of factory and aftermarket parts and accessories to support it. There are various versions of AFX cars as listed below in descending order. Again, I've found the AFX Super G+ or Mega G platforms to be the easiest to drive and the fastest out of the box.
There are a few versions before the Magna-Traction platform and after, but these will be hard to find parts for and are not competitive with anything after the G-Plus platform. In fact, I recommend starting with the Super G+ or newer to get started. I listed the others because I still had them from back in the 70's when I last raced. There are plenty of sites out there that cover the history of the various brands of slot cars available. Here are a few that I've referenced recently:
I've recently discovered that there are a few tracks in the Bay Area similar is size and capabilities as mine, some quite a bit better. In fact, there are at least three nearby. One is very similar to mine in that it employs plastic snap-together track sections on a large wooden table. Another is a 50-foot routed tri-oval built to mimic the famous NASCAR Superspeedway Talladega tri-oval, the track is called Shaunadega.
One interesting thing I discovered after blowing off the cobwebs on my old cars was that while my fastest AFX G-Plus and Super G-Plus cars from the 70's were no match for the more current Super G+ cars, a Mattel/Tyco 440x2 car I pulled out was super fast and very competitive with the modern era platforms--after 40 years! So the Tyco 440x2 is a great car to have also.
As far as I know, only the Mega G+ is currently being manufactured. However, there are plenty of hobby stores and sites that still carry inventory of the Super G+ and Mega G platforms. Parts for all of the above versions are readily available on eBay and via a plethora of online retailers. In fact, you can still get parts, bodies, and accessories new for almost every version ever made, including the Tyco 440 and 440x2.
The site Whoracing.org.uk has a good set of links for all things HO scale related.
You'll find that 1/32 scale and HO scale are the most popular out there but HO is the fastest and least expensive of the two.
You can find slot car stuff on Amazon, eBay, and a massive number of web sites out there as the above link will show. You can also buy ready-to-race cars from various companies that come all "tweaked" and dialed in for competitive racing. Of course they're more expensive, but that can be a good way to get a competiive "modified" car without doing the work yourself. Once you get into it you'll find that the sky is the limit in terms of customization and performance. However, as with other forms of racing, there are categories and classes. So you can stay in the Box-Stock classes or graduate to the Super-Modified classes, it's entirely up to you. All the aftermarket performance parts available for nearly all makes and models is amazing and will keep you busy upgrading, pondering, learning, and tuning forever.
My track, currently named Stewart Raceway, is ready to go now.
9 Right Hand
5 Left Hand
Single Mastech HY3010E, Variable Regulated DC Power, 30V, 10A
Parma Plus 45 Ohm
Lap Timer 2000 v4.5 or Race Coordinator v1.9
5' x 10'
The track is complete with a lap timing system that tracks all lap counting, lap times, best lap, race results, race formats. etc. etc. The current system is based on photocell signal technology from ViaSue and a free software app called Lap Timer 2000. Probably by the time you read this, I'll have upgraded the hardware and software. The software app will soon be Race Coordinator, which provides a lot more feature/sfunctions, including the following:
The hobby/sport is more popular in places with long periods of inclement weather, but it was once pretty big all over the world. I'm hoping it'll be fun for family and friends and hope to have regular track time sessions, races, and related events as soon as I can get a core group of drivers actively participating. The initial classes will be Box-Stock Formula 1 and/or Champ Car body styles so make sure your first car comes with those body styles or can support it.
The shot here is my wonderful wife doing a little wall time. She's great to race with but she's a bit too competitive sometimes. In fact, if I upgrade anything in my livery or setup, I have to do the same to her's. Get's expensive, but she'll quit racing with me if I don't.
Keep in mind, the AFX Mega G+ cars are available in two different wheelbases, 1.5 and 1.7. The 1.5 (short) wheelbase cars were not readily available when I got going on this but I'm hearing they are coming soon. I have a couple of the 1.7 cars and find them to be a bit less competitive out of the box than the Super G+ or Mega G short wheelbase cars. I'm sure they can be improved but that was my intiial assessment.
So, if you're interested in getting into (or back into) HO slot car racing, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be glad to help you get started, answer questions, and keep you in the loop on the slot car racing activities.
(Live Web Updates from Race Coordinator. Right-click, open image in new window for larger view.)
Discovered a few local groups that do a fair amount of HO slot car racing right here in the Bay Area. Below are links to the ones I've made contact with:
Interested in learning more or getting back up to speed? Here's a few links to get you started: