A brief introduction to slot-racing

Introduction to Slot Car Racing

Large scale slot racing has returned to North America in a big way. Now you can race in the comfort of your own home with top quality products that promise to make this a lasting hobby the whole family can enjoy. If you take the time to read our summary below we promise you will be more informed about this hobby and which direction is the best for you to take. There are three major brands of race sets that dominate the market today. They each have their advantages and disadvantages and we tell you specifically what they are. By reading our recommendations below you will be better prepared to make the best decision for your needs.

Please read this entire page before you buy…updated for the Holiday Season 2004/2005
Includes a link to read more about the brand new Digital racing systems that are changing the hobby of slot car racing. First though we recommend you read this entire web page and near the bottom we will provide a link for you to read more about the Digital racing systems.

Welcome! You have just found the best large scale home slot racing mail order company in North America, as well as the most informative slot racing web site! Bookmark this page now, because we are sure you will want to come back again and again.

retroslotcars-252x300 A brief introduction to slot-racing

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE PAGE
BEFORE ‘RACING’ ON

We want to introduce you to this fun and inexpensive hobby. Yeah, we know, it is not new … BUT, it is much better now than it was back then. The track sets are better, the cars are better, and modern technology has enabled the development of some very entertaining new electronic and computer devices which make the “sport” or “hobby” much more fun. Before your curiosity causes you to click on one of our slot racing pages to look ahead, we recommend you read through this page first. On this page we try to summarize how the products work together and how you can make intelligent decisions for planning your purchase and track plan. Large scale home slot racing is much more than a toy for children, it is a growing hobby with a multitude of options to choose; and it won’t break the bank!
In a world of “virtual” everything and video screen games, this is one “real life” 3-D activity the whole family can enjoy; and if you are a car-nut to boot, well, it’s a no-brainer.

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS 1/32 SCALE REVIVAL?

Several factors have come together to create a genuine revival in large scale home slot racing.

Reasons for the renewed interest are:

(1). Perhaps more than anything else, it seems to be the quality and variety of the 1/32 slot cars made by several very talented companies. Not only are these cars well made for racing, they are incredibly accurate looking scale models; some people think they are too good to race on a track. All major brands of modern slot cars will work on any of the major brands of race sets we sell so you are not limited to the cars made by the company’s race set you choose.

(2). The driving realism is a huge improvement over older and smaller (H.O.) products. Race sets today contain race track pieces made of a tough flexible black vinyl, virtually indestructible, which can be put together and taken down often without breaking pieces. This vinyl track gives incredible grip, and combined with magnets imbedded into the bottom of each slot car, the cars are very quick and fun to race. We have customers who report that 5 year old youngsters and sometimes even younger can catch on to the racing skills quickly. You get best results with youngsters when you work with them to teach them to improve their driving skills. That being said, the majority of our enthusiastic customers are adults who are reliving their childhood memories of slot car racing.

(3). Three or four major brands have emerged which account for 99% of sales of modern slot racing, Scalextric (the largest and oldest company producing 1/32 home racing products), Ninco, a relatively new company, and Carrera which can accomodate both 1/32 and 1/24 scale cars (including your old “attic” 1/24 scale cars). Each of these companies offer plug and play race sets with a variety of car types and track layouts at prices from $99.95 to about $250. Below we describe the basic differences of these brands and their particular advantages.

(4). Economically priced add-on devices attached to the track add direct computer connections to the track (Scalextric), computer controlled race cars to practice racing against (Scalextric), and electronic lap counters/timers that help manage races. The future looks bright too as more computer devices and even digital control cars are planned for the future. These future products will be adaptable to existing track systems so the race set you buy today will not be obsolete.

These factors are creating new excitement for us “old timers” like me as well as young families looking for an alternative to video games and train sets for the family.

WHAT ABOUT 1/32 SCALE

Nearly all of the products we offer are 1/32 scale (cars are about 5″-6″ inches long). These cars are big! This size factor not only makes the cars more realistic to race, and more enjoyable to watch on the track, but youngsters can more easily handle and watch these cars than those tiny H.O. cars. All brands of 1/32 scale cars that we sell will work perfectly on all the new 1/32 scale home race sets, including Scalextric, Ninco, SCX, and Carrera. These slot cars also work on some of the older Strombecker, Revell, Monogram, and Eldon home race sets in case you have one of those stuck away in the attic. Carrera also offers some 1/24 scale race cars to be used with their race sets. Keep reading, we describe the advantages each of these major brands below.

WHY IS 1/32 BETTER THAN H.O.?

The quality of the current products is much higher than the toy-like H.O. race sets and cars. The track pieces of our 1/32 and 1/24 race sets are made of a tough modern plastics (Carrera) and tough flexible vinyl (Scalextric and Ninco) that are very strong, and they snap-lock together until you want to take them apart. BUT, more importantly, the larger cars are so much more fun to drive than the H.O cars. The control of the larger cars is much more realistic; you can power slide the cars around the curves, and the acceleration is amazing. You can also modify most of the cars with aftermarket 25,000 rpm motors, silicone tires, and stronger magnets…..how fast do you want to go? The 1/32 and 1/24 race sets we sell will last for years. Today’s H.O. Slot race sets are cheapened and available mostly at major toy chains. Beware, these stores do no stock extra track pieces or car parts in case something goes wrong. H.O. sets today are virtually throwaway toys.

WHO ARE WE?

Sport Craft is a mail order company with experience in 1/32 and 1/24 slot racing products. We stock virtually every important 1/32 and 1/24 scale home slot racing product offered anywhere and we stock these all year, not just during the holidays. Based on our experience in this hobby, we can make objective comparisons and offer you valuable recommendations before you spend your money. We have helped hundreds of people get started in this terrific hobby. Our sales staff have race sets in their homes and we have tried nearly all of the products we offer for sale. It is our goal to help you enjoy this fun new hobby. We ship products daily from our store-warehouse in central Michigan. Orders for in-stock merchandise placed by 2:00 EST will be shipped the same day. We are currently well stocked for the 2016 holiday season, but we will run out of some popular selling products as the holidays approach.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GET STARTED?

When you buy a race set from Sport Craft you get everything you need to enjoy this fun activity and hobby. Every race set comes with a pre-planned track layout, 2 race cars, 2 controllers, a power transformer, and various guard rails, borders, etc, to go RACING. Race sets start as low as $99.95 complete and go as high as $279.95. Of course, you can add to any race set at any time by simply purchasing additional track pieces. All the brands we sell also can be adapted to 4 lane or even 6 lane circuits. We have even created some turn-key 4 lane race sets using existing race set packages. This Sport Craft Exclusive saves you money because you don’t end up with unused track pieces. We offer 4 lane packages for Carrera and Scalextric.

HOW INVOLVED CAN YOU GET?

Expansion of home slot racing tracks is probably limited only by the space you have. Most starter sets will fit on a standard ping pong table. As for modifications, there are many ways to improve the basic set such as upgraded controllers, multiple power supplies, hot motors, stronger magnets, etc. We can recommend power supply upgrades for 4 lane race tracks or extended length race tracks.. We can supply several different radius curves so you can create your own circuit or speedway. And, we help you choose the electronic gadgetry to suit your interests. Trackside accessories enable you to add pit buildings, control towers, spectators, race mechanics, trees, and even a GoodYear pedestrian bridge. The other way to extend your enjoyment is to select various types of cars. The cars we sell vary from vintage 50’s sports cars to modern F-1 cars, to Nascar replicas, and everything in between. You will discover that every car has a different feel or handling characteristic; Ninco’s vintage cars have skinny tires with no magnet and on the other extreme, Fly cars have fat tires and strong magnets. Scalextric cars are some of the best engineered and best driving cars in the World. It is best to select pairs of similar cars to provide “fair” racing for all participants. Our sales staff can advise with these selections as well.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A RACE SET

Based on your needs we will recommend Ninco, Scalextric “Sport” or Carrera race sets and accessories. The quality and variety of modern race sets and accessories to choose from these days is unequalled. Each of the three major brands have their own advantages so we recommend you read the brand summaries just below and then visit each of our Ninco, Scalextric sport, and Carrera race set pages to learn more about the products so you can choose the brand that suits your space and racing needs. All three brands make a wide variety of track pieces so you can build 4 lane, 6 lane, and even 8 lane tracks if you choose. Our sales staff have used all three brands and we can offer further advice and answer your questions. Feel free to call us at 517-651-6305 during regular hours.

BRAND SUMMARY

Scalextric revised their track system late in 2002. They now call it the Scalextric Sport Track System. The improvements over the former Scalextric Classic track are numerous, including a deeper slot, flatter track that eliminates the crown effect of the old track. The track material is a flexible vinyl which makes it virtually indestructible. Whilst Scalextric is slightly narrower than the others, you can still race virtually any 1/32 cars side by side and fit a nice circuit in a smaller space. Scalextric metal contacts on the track have a high magnetic pull for fast cornering. Scalextric SPORT is the only company to offer a computer connection to the track which enables a host of interactive features never before offered as a package. To read more about this PC interactive system, click here New Sport Track System by Scalextric Scalextric also offers several race sets without the computer hookup. In addition, Scalextric offers an electronic lap counter timer as well as a special car that is computer driven so you can practice when no one else is available to race against. Scalextric makes some very attractive add-on borders to widen the track on the curve sections as well as nice buildings, a Good Year bridge, painted figures, and other accessories. Scalextric also makes available spare tires, wheels, axles, etc. Scalextric has been around for many years and has a well established warranty network. We at Sport Craft are pleased to be an authorized Scalextric warranty and parts dealer. We strongly recommend the new SPORT track system yet we will continue to support Scalextric’s old Classic track system as long as it is available.

Ninco track is a high quality flexible vinyl with a high grip factor and it is a little wider than Scalextric. We love the feel of the controllers and the overall quality of all their products is top notch. Ninco is a Spanish company with a strong supply network in the USA, and they offer some unique track pieces that appeal most to fans of professional rallying (WRC). Ninco’s metal contacts on the track have a high magnetic pull for fast cornering. For accessories Ninco offers a loop track accessory that turns your track into a one-lane rally race track. And, there brand new sand colored and bumpy track pieces which provides a realistic rally race surface that can be changed. Ninco also has a terrific selection of high quality slot cars to choose from. We stock all of their track pieces, many parts and lots of their cars. If Ninco has a limitation it is their lap counters and timer equipment. It is expensive and somewhat difficult to use. Many people choose Carrera’s free standing lap counter on their Ninco tracks. Some Scalextric accessories will also work with Ninco if you use the special track adapters. Go Ninco

Carrera offers the widest (true 1/24 scale) track in the industry and the only company which makes a truly workable banked track. Carrera’s track is a hard plastic material that is not flexible. Carrera track is somewhat more involved to set up and take down if you must do that frequently. Carrera sets usually appeal to serious slot racing enthusiasts who like to build permanent circuits. Carrera makes some very unique track sets in both 1/32 scale and 1/24 scale (they share the same track pieces so regardless of whether you select a Carrera 1/32 set or a Carrera 1/24 set you get the same track pieces). Two new race sets for 2003/2004 include vintage US Stock Cars. If you decide on Carrera, be prepared to provide sufficient space for the layout. Another advantage of Carrera is their excellent banked track pieces. The banked track pieces are so good this is the ideal product if you are considering a full Nascar speedway (either oval or tri-oval) or just prefer a nice banked turn somewhere on your circuit.. We have created some special packages to satisfy Nascar enthusiasts. For instance, we offer a full 2 lane banked Nascar track in oval form or Tri-Oval form and we offer a full 4 lane banked oval or Tri-Oval that we custom make up as a turn-key package. The awesome 4 lane Tri-Oval we have created is banked all the way around the entire circuit, not just in the turns. Carrera track is a smoother surface of a harder plastic material, but very solid and the banked supports are excellent. Carrera’s metal track contacts have a higher Nickel content which does not attract magnets to the extent that Scalextric and Ninco do. Carrera cars come equipped with magnets like the other brands but their cars do not grip the track as effectively as Scalextric and Ninco track. Carrera does make a very nice bridge type battery powered electronic lap counter/timer that is free standing and can be placed anywhere around your track. Go Carrera.

New for 2004/2005 the Digital Revolution

To learn more about the new Digital Racing systems please click here; Introduction to Digital Racing

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHOOSING RACE CARS

The terrific thing about this hobby is that all the cars we sell will work on any of the above mentioned race sets. So, if you choose a Scalextric race set, you can be confident that a FLY Dodge Viper or Ninco vintage Jaguar will work very well. That fact alone gives you a choice of virtually hundreds of slot cars to choose from, regardless of the race set you choose. However, that does not mean that all slot cars are created equal. Magnet technology is what usually separates the cars once they are on the track. While Scalextric and Ninco install medium strength magnets that are “just right” (give good cornering yet allow some power sliding), Fly and SCX cars have strong magnets which offer extreme cornering and the fastest lap times for “out-of-the-box” slot cars. Of course, most cars can be modified by swapping weaker or stronger magnets, higher revving motors, and even gear ratio changes. Modern slot cars all use a tough, resilient plastic for the bodies. This plastic is a big improvement over the brittle plastic bodies I remember in the 60’s so the cars will take an amazing amount of crashing without damaging the body.

When you are ready to try different race cars, we usually recommend you buy cars in similar pairs (a pair of FLY or a pair of NINCO). Racing is always more fun when you have cars which are nearly equal in speed. We usually have inexpensive slot cars available which are perfect when you don’t want somebody thrashing your new Fly Panoz or your Scalextric Ford GT-40s. If you have youngsters who are still honing their driving skills, we have have economy slot cars for under $20 each.

The following are our picks for the best slot car values for Winter 2004/2005 Scalextric IRL and Indy type cars, $19.95 to $29.95 each.
Scalextric Porsche Boxsters and Audi TTs only $24.95 each (great beater cars with little to break)
Selected Fly Lolas and Porsche in the “C” numbered range under $50.
Slot.It Porsche 956 cars under $50
Scalextric MG Lola (some people are reporting these are the fastest out-of-the box slot cars made.
Scalextric vintage Trans Am Camaros and Mustangs
Scalextric Porsche 911 GT3

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN EVEN MORE?

If you want to learn more, we recommend you choose from the following menu of web pages on our huge web site which take you even further into this terrific new hobby. Each button below takes you to another page devoted to that topic. You can browse through all the pages using your BACK button to this menu or progress through the pages using the buttons on each page.

Racing and Collecting Slot Cars by Robert Schleicher. This is unquestionably the best book written on the subject of the modern scale racing hobby. Robert Schleicher knows his way around slot racing, he was involved in writing back in the hey days in the 1960s. Robert has taken this experience and his considerable skills to write this up to date book on the revived scale slot racing hobby. If you could buy just one book on the subject this is it.

Racing and Collecting Slot Cars
by
Robert Schleicher

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