Scalextric's recent adoption of Bluetooth technology in its slot racing systems showed that the home sport still has some technological chops. It also proved that slot racing, which hit its popular peak under family Christmas trees more than a half-century ago, is alive and well.
We present photos depicting the history of slot racing and the gradual technical evolution of its products. From the clunky hobby cars of the early 1900s to the smartphone-enabled toys of today, we offer a brief look at the ultimate basement sport.
Click on the slot cars below to start the slideshow.
A slot car racing system from Scalextric pits a scale model of a 1995 Jaguar XJ220 against a Ferrari F40. (Source: Scalextric)
Chuck, this is a great walk down memory lane. We had a larger scale track in the town I grew up in. I think it was an old bowling alley. It was fun to go and race on a big track.
We had our own HO scale cars and track. We always "hopped up" our slot cars with better tires (there were lots of options in size and composition), motors and pick-ups. Then when we got real cars we felt compelled to do the same thing.
I loved slot car racing too and these pictures put a smile on my face. I remember going to a hobby shop with a slot track where several raced at the same time. The speed these small toys reached was amazing.
I'd nearly forgotten about these! I wasn't the enthusiast some of the others who commented were (and still are--maybe it's a guy thing? ;)) but this certainly jogs the memory and takes me back. Cool slideshow!
I remember those days. I used to rewind my red bomb motor a LOT. I could not afford a Pitman motor. Funny thing is, all these years later, a project I just worked on had a Pitman motor in it! Made me smile. We used to soak the cheap tires in a liquid to give more 'sticky'. I am sure it was bad for us. :) But it was fun. Intersting that my memory of the 60's is of slot cars and antique radio repair.
And I am not sure I ever have gotten out of my first childhood. The jury is still out on that one...
Great article - a stroll down memory lane. For kids in the car-crazy '60s, slot cars were what model trains were to their parents. Today kids are far less enamored of cars, and tend go to on-line gaming and other virtual activities.
I don't worry about the second childhood phenomenon - remember, you have to grow old, but you can always stay immature! :)
Ah, that was good to see. This will be shared this with a couple fellow gearheads at work today.
I remember the HO set I had, and I had A LOT of track! I used to ride my skateboard home after school to set up the new layout I designed during one of the more boring parts of my school day.
I had both Aurora and Tyco cars (and Aurora and Tyco track...and the adapter so I could use both!), and they each had their own strengths and weaknesses. Funny, as small as they were, they were so easy to take apart and put back together, it's like they ENCOURAGED you to experiment with them.
As a child I had a set, I think by Tyco, called "Total Control Racing" (TCR). There were no slots and three conductive rails on a flat track for each of the two lanes. This system allowed you to change lanes on the straightaways.
It had walls on the edge of the track to keep the cars from flinging themselves off. On the corners the cars would move to the outside lane due to centrifugal force.
While researching this article, I asked a couple of people about a company called Strombecker that I remember from my childhood. They built really good slot racing systems with 1:32 (if I recall correctly) scale cars and I think they were located in Chicago. No one seemed to remember them, though. Do any readers recall the Strombecker brand?
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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