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Thread: Slot Car Racing

  1. #1

    Slot Car Racing

    Remember Slot Car Sets? If you're under 30, its possible you have no idea what I'm talking about, but from the late 1950s through the early '80s, just about every boy (and a few girls) owned a slot car set at some time in their childhood. These days, most kids go for gaming consoles over slot car sets, and the average age of most slot car set owners is somewhat older than it was in the '60s, but the hobby still enjoys a strong following.

    Slot car racing was an evolution of rail car racing, in which the cars were guided along a raised rail in the track. Although both forms were being marketed simultaneously by the late '50s, slot racing eventually won out, due to its ability to allow the cars to slide on the corners. Scalextric were one of the pioneers of the hobby, with their 1:30 scale, and later 1:32 scale model cars, and the first to mass-produce the complete sets.

    Stirling Moss was apparently an enthusiast, according to this early short documentary.

  2. #2

    American company Aurora created the much smaller HO scale, which was quickly copied by several other manufacturers. Its much smaller overal size made it popular due to it taking up less space in the living room. And its cars looked to be travelling faster. Aurora were also responsible for the hugely successful 'pancake' motor, which replaced widely used 'vibrator' motor. Here is an Aurora commercial demonstrating their HO products.

  3. #3

    Using celebrity race drivers was a common ploy for attracting buyers, and a highly successful one, as Peter Revson demonstrates.

  4. #4

    Attempts to branch out and offer new and innovative products included everything from Tyco's truck sets, and Nite-Glow sets, to Aurora's 'slot-less' tracks, which never quite took off despite the obvious advantages.

    By the late 1970s, the slot car craze was nearly over.

  5. #5


    I remember getting a new Scalextric slot car set for my 15th birthday. One of the best presents ever. Gave me and my mates many many hours of fun. I still have one or two of the cars but the track is long gone.

  6. #6
    We had a huge Scalextric set at home. Liberal applications of mum's sewing machine oil to the corners produced interesting tail-out powerslides and lots of spins. At Hunter's Corner in Papatoetoe there was an upstairs slot car track - huge and very fast. It was a commercial track but they had a club there too. These were quite common then, late 60s.

    We used to build our own cars, mostly from kitsets but with hot-rodded 26D and 36B (memory partial failure there) by rewinding the amatures. We added more windings I think. Superlightweight plastic bodies with heaps of downforce and wide super-soft foam tyres.

    Those things moved like lightning, until you lost downforce and they'd fire off the track like missiles. I built a car based on Grahame Harvey's Elfin 400, taking the shape from photos in Motorman magazine. Unfortunately balsa wood was just too heavy and even with a hot-rodded 36 engine it could barely move itself off the start line. Looked good though.

    Good times.

  7. #7
    Cool stories guys, and yeah, the sewing machine oil trick was a popular one. I burnt out an engine in one of my cars from over doing the sewing machine oil, it ended up all around the track.

  8. #8
    There was even a mobile slot car track set up in a large trailer that went to beachside funfairs during the summer. You paid for some time and used their cars (you could use your own if you had one). The one that used to come to Orewa had a wicked banked corner at one end.

  9. #9
    Semi-Pro Racer kiwi285's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Papamoa Beach
    We must all have had a set during our time. We started off with a purchased set and then built our own from two 8 x 4 sheets of chipboard and the track was routed out over a couple of weekends. There were about 8 of us and we all ended up scratch building our own cars with home made chassis's.

    I used to import plastic moulded body shells from the UK. We had some great cars and most were painted in colours of NZ race cars where applicable.

    Then like most things it got too serious and expensive !!

  10. #10
    "Then like most things it got too serious and expensive !!"

    Yes I can put my hand up and say I helped take slotcar racing out of the hands of Joe Public. We used to import Mura motors from USA to relegate the Hitachi 16Ds to the rubbish. We built brass tube and pan chassis with floating pans and outriggers, side winder and anglewinder "rear engine" setups, did "hot rewinds" etc.

    My first car was a Monogram Lotus 33 (Jim Clark #5) with injection moulded body and chromed wishbones etc and a 13A (slimline) Hitachi. Didn't compete with the F1 gurus of the time (about 1966 IIRC) but it was so pretty. Later came the clear bodyshell days, coming especially to mind of the 100 or so I built were McLaren M6A and M8A and Chaparral 2F, Cologne Capri, BMW3.5CSL "batmobile", countless Mustangs, TransAms and a Daytona Dodge Charger, Ferrari P4, Hillman Imp, Ferrari 312S.... I always liked to paint them in the colours originally raced in 1:1 scale though things like the Marcos Mantis and Alfa Carabo were more concept than racer and got the creative paint job. I remember being so taken by the opalescent gold/black of Graham Watson's Cooper S that I tried to emulate that on some concept cars.

    We originally raced on a 5 lane 130 foot "road course" with scenery and flyover bridge. The club died and we raced at a commercial centre that had an 8 (from memory) lane 180 foot heavily banked US type road/banked oval combo which ate cars with the high speeds being achieved (I think the 1/32nds were topping about 1000MPH scale!)

    It did get a bit serious - sadly. A lesson for racing in general.
    Last edited by Murray Maunder; 06-18-2011 at 04:01 AM.

  11. #11

    Anglia Slot Cars

    A couple of Anglia slot cars I use to race against my son with. There use to be a guy in Palmerston North that had some vacuum formed bodies of A40 Farina and other Allcomers. There use to be a Custaxie and Zephyr Corvette. I still have the Zephyr Corvette unpainted. You can still by the Zephyr on Trade me.Name:  Car_54.JPG
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  12. #12
    World Champion
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Love that Breadvan..I have a large collection ( over 100) of slot cars , most from the 60s ..both 24th and 32nd scale.

  13. #13
    awesome anglias Steve Ill get my resto pics and some of another Anglia sports sedan thats poped up in Mussle car mag and start a Anglia thread how do i collect all the Anglia pics off the other threads do i just blog this post ?

  14. #14
    Yep, they were great. Me and my bother got one for Xmas, could not work out why dad and my uncle were downstairs in the workshop with the door locked and we could hear them cheering and laughing between bottles. I reckon when santa delivered the set it was well run in. Remember the model Custaxie and I built a replica Mustang with BOAC on the guards and blue and gold strips and used to go over to the place in Takapuna and race on the big track. In the end me and dad built our own big 4 lane track down stairs (he was a builder so that helped) Big days with the neighbourhood guy's. It was under the old boys house for years and even when we had wiskers the cousins etc still played on it. (we did join in to be friendly) Actually still got an original Scaletrix Vanwell and Ferrari in my model collection.

  15. #15
    the smell of a hot hand control and the awesome acceleration little green Lotus great stuff I hired a large 6 lane foldout mobile set with electric timers and opperator for kids birthday a couple of years ago massive hit with all the kids and they all picked it up real quick 4hours of fun

  16. #16
    Show us some of youre work with the slot cars please Bry

  17. #17
    Semi-Pro Racer pallmall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Auckland. New Zealand
    With the second coming of a slot car fad in the past 10 odd years there have been some fantastic slot cars produced even by the mainstream companies. I will admit to accumulating quite a large collection of interesting 60s and 70s cars which I doubt will ever see a track. The Lola T70 spyders and McLaren M6As from Monogram are great value at around NZ$70 and really do make great display models.

  18. #18
    World Champion
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

  19. #19
    Tracks I remember; a huge complex in Rotorua with an amazing banked track, you had to be real fast to keep the back wheels as high as the slot, or it all jammed up and stopped. Other layouts too. One track had a lap record of over 18 secs. Eyesight needed to be pretty good to see it all!
    Hunters Corner
    Takapuna had a great one.
    One down town Aucks on Fanshawe st, upstairs?
    A club at Matamata, a farm owner had built a new house so the old one became the clubhouse. took down walls and made a HUGE track. The main straight was a scale mile!
    Ah the smell of hot hand controllers.
    The older I get, the faster I was!
    Last edited by Oldfart; 09-25-2011 at 05:51 AM. Reason: Keyboard does not like vowels, worn out?

  20. #20
    Although living in Perth, I have a buddy in Melbourne who built a slot track a couple of years back, so I bought this natty pair and parked them at his joint, now whenever I go to Victoria for racing or fun I'm able to drop by and give them a gallop. And they go well !

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