Slot car racing was popularized in the 1960s although the hobby has been around a few decades earlier. The first commercial slot cars were made during 1912 by an American company called Lionel. From then on, it was only a matter of time until mass production of slot cars were fully realized.
Several decades after the first slot cars were produced, people are rediscovering the hobby.
Slot Car Scales
Slot cars are basically miniature versions of actual models of car. The only difference these have with other commercially available miniature models is the fact that it is a specialized toy that requires specialized tracks.
While slot cars come in different scales, the most popular fall into the 1:24, 1:32, and HO scales. These designations indicate the number of units in length that is represented by a unit in the actual model. Say, the largest scale is the 1:24 scale. This indicates that for every 24 inches or millimeters on the actual model, there is 1 unit represented on the scaled down version. The same is true with other scales.
One should take note that the HO scale is a generic scale that covers from 1:64 to 1:87 scales. In this scale, slot cars would often measure anywhere from 2.5 inches to 3.5 inches, making them the most commonly raced slot cars in home racetracks. Larger scales are often impractical to race in home racetracks due to their size. Thus, they can be commonly seen in hobby clubs and shops as well as commercial tracks.
Slot Car Components
Slot cars, just like real race cars, are composed of many different components.
The shell of the slot car represents the exterior of the car it was copied from. Most commercially available slot cars have decent detailing which somehow represent the details of the actual model. High-end slot cars, on the other hand, often have intricate details.
The motor of the car, although not exactly the component that gives it its power, is what it uses to process the power it receives from the rails on the track. This is often attached to the chassis to gain better control of the car’s body.
The guide is that small plastic component that hinges to the rail or ‘slot’ on the track. This is partially what gives the slot car its name.
The gears, meanwhile, are the components of the car that dictate how the car would perform.
An optional component of the car is the magnet. This is attached anywhere on the car, giving it the downforce to keep it stable.
Slot Car Track
As was mentioned previously, slot cars run on special racetracks called slot car tracks. These are usually made of plastic, cardboard or wood and have layouts that can resemble actual racetracks used in popular racing tournaments. Such layouts are specially designed by the builder.
Although looking somewhat like other miniature racetracks, slot car tracks are different from common racetracks as these have parallel rails that run throughout the entire track. The parallel rails have two different purposes – one keeps the car attached to the ground while the other gives it the power to run.
Individual components of the track can be bought in various slot car shops. However, these can also be made from scratch using common materials used for creating slot car racetracks.