If you have not had much experience with slot cars or it was more than a few years since you last raced them in your younger years, it can be confusing working out what to buy to get started. My aim is to provide an overview of these cars to help you in choosing the slot car set that is right for you.
There are two types of slot cars, there is the analog cars and the new digital ones. If you raced slot cars when you were younger you will have raced analog cars. With these you were limited to one car car to slot and they stayed in that slot for the whole race.
Digital slot cars add a whole lot more to the hobby. You can race more than one car per slot and change lanes, make passing moves or blocking moves, program in pits tops, ghost cars, yellow flags etc. A lot more like the full size sport. There are sets where you can race 8 cars at the same time on a 2 lane slot car set. This style of slot car cost more than analog or traditional sets.
Digital slot cars can generally work on analog sets but analog cars will not work on digital sets with out a digital plug upgrade.
Slot cars also come in different sizes. The smallest size is HO or 1:64 scale. Initially they made to work with model train sets but they are now definitely made for racing – they are quick and can race over some fantastic track layouts. The next size up is 1:43 sized and have the younger racer in mind by including popular cartoon character cars and fun track layouts. The 1:32 scale is a popular size car for racing at home and there is a wide selection of sets. The biggest size car is in the 1:24 and are usually raced at clubs rather than in the home because of their size.
Cars from different scale will not work well on tracks of a different scale as they are designed to work on the same scale track (except for Carrera has 1:32 scale cars that race on 1:24 scale track).
As a general rule slot cars that are the same scale are able to work on other manufacturers tracks. But, track made by different makers can usually only be put together with use of special adapter track which will have to purchased..
There are several different makers of slot cars. Some of the best selling sets are by Revell, Scalextric, LifeLike and Carrera. You can get these models on line from sites like Amazon or eBay who have a large selection or from your local slot car raceway. The widest selection of cars and sets are made by Scalextric and Carrera.
One of the areas of slot car racing that can be frustrating to someone new to the hobby is that the cars will come off the track if they are driven too fast around the curves or too slow through some of the obstacles. The majority of people master this skill in no time.
Traction magnets are now included in cars to help keep the cars stuck to the track when racing around the tracks at high speeds. Because of the magnets the cars can climb vertically and race upside down for a time.
For the younger beginners and those without much space the Carrera Go range will make a good place to get started. You can get a wide range of slot cars and as they are1:43 scale size means you can get quite a bit of racing action in a small space. They are an analog slot car set and this helps to keep the cost more affordable.