November 2005 | Vol. IV - No. 11
Getting in the Slot Car Racing Groove
?Slot car racing has exploded in the past five years,? said Harry Wise, a slot car track owner from Dixon, Mo., who operates a website, homeracingworld.com, dedicated to the hobby. Recent improvements in car details and the way they operate have contributed to the hobby?s popularity. The Internet has also played a huge role in spreading the word.
Slot cars are scale model electric vehicles that fit into a slotted track. A connector with metal strips provides electrical power to the cars. A magnet mounted inside the car?s chassis grips the connector strips to keep the car in the slot. With a hand-held device, users control the car?s speed as it moves around the track.
Tim Newman, who sells slot cars online at slotcarspeedway.com, says the hobby has seen renewed interest as baby boomers, who grew up with slot cars, now share the hobby with their children. Some hobbyists collect die cast cars, and enjoy the racing capabilities of slot cars. Interest in NASCAR has also played a big role in slot cars? popularity.
The hobby seems to be popular across the United States, Wise said. ?I can remember just five or six years ago that I knew virtually no one in the Midwest near me that even knew the hobby existed. Today, I have racers surrounding me that visit on a weekly basis.?
Some big names in the slot car industry include Artin, Fly, Carrera, Revell-Monogram, Scalextric, SCX and NINCO.
Carrera?s new 1:32 scale PRO-X Digital Racing System should prove to be a popular sell, according to Diane Creston, president of Creston Associates, who handles public relations for Carrera. In addition, the Carrera GO!!! Spider Man set is a great way to introduce kids to the hobby, she said. It includes 18.7 feet of track and a turbo speed controller.
A year ago, Scalextric introduced its Sport Digital System that allows users to race up to six cars in one lane and perform overtaking maneuvers, which brings a new level of realism to the hobby, said David Lubliner, marketing manager for Scalextric. The company?s Trans Ams and Indy cars have been hot sellers in the United States .
Purchasing a basic set is the first step for newcomers to the hobby. ?Once you?ve purchased a set, you can extend it as far as you want ? from two to eight lanes, if you wish,? Lubliner said. ?You can purchase more cars and accessorize with buildings and pit crew figures, as well.?
?The thing about our hobby is that you can be involved and have fun racing in a very small space,? Wise said. ?I know of some enthusiasts that have tracks as small as 3 feet by 5 feet. Some of them mount layouts on the back of their bedroom door and take it down when they want to race.?
Here´s what?s hot in slots:
This system offers the ability to race up to six cars on the same lane. Users can make the digital cars change lanes by pressing a button on the controller. The digital power base allows a selection of seven race modes, lap counting, lap timing, individual braking options for each car, false start detection and power control that cuts power to cars as they cross the finish line. It includes a red Porsche Boxster and a yellow Porsche Boxster.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5125 (added 10/21/2005)
This finely detailed replica of the single-seat Indy racers includes exceptional detailing, a front axle width of 6 mm and front tire diameter of 20 mm.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5126 (added 10/21/2005)
Cars in this set are each fitted with a microprocessor, which allows the racer to run multiple cars on the same track, just like the real thing, with more bumper-to-bumper thrills and lane change capabilities. The set includes a digital power control unit and track sections within the layout.
— Mary M. Tague, owner of Toy Town Inc. in Key Biscayne, Fla., suggested these sets for those coming to her store this Christmas.
— Steve Valentine, owner of Faster, Faster, Race, Race in San Diego thinks these are “the big-ticket item this Christmas. You wanna impress a kid? This is the thing to do it with.”
— Wally Wombat, icon for Wally’s ToyWorld in Boise, Idaho, got a set for his own kids. “My two sons are gonna love it.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5127 (added 10/21/2005)
This set features hot superhero action. This 1:43 scale set is a perfect way to introduce kids to the hobby. The basic set includes 18.7 feet of track and has two lane change sections and double looping. It also includes a turbo speed controller that provides a race boost.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5128 (added 10/21/2005)
An ideal way for youngsters to start in slot car racing, this set includes color-coordinated track, throttles and cars. Cars are fitted with Superhesion, which provides added grip, especially on the corners to keep the vehicles on the track.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5129 (added 10/21/2005)
Easy-to fit scale system allows the track to be taken up and down easily. A turbo hand controller is part of all basic packs. It includes a race boost. It comes with two Mini Coopers and 12.46 feet of track.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5130 (added 10/21/2005)
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Writer's Bio: Margaret H. Evans is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives with her husband and children in Bountiful, Utah. Read more articles by this author
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