Journal: Vintage Slot Cars Used To Be The Perfect Friday Night

Vintage Slot Cars Used To Be The Perfect Friday Night

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
March 10, 2016
12 comments

If you’re not familiar with or haven’t had a chance to fling around a set of slot cars—simply called the brand name Scalextric for many—I should warn you: they’re dangerous. Not necessarily in the will-maim-you sense, but dangerous in the, “Oh my, these aren’t that expensive…” sense. A year later there’s a 1:32-scale Circuit de la Sarthe in the middle of your basement.

I had a small set that I endlessly switched up, trying to recreate the curves I saw on grainy pre-HD Formula 1 broadcasts. Then I realized it was possible to alter the elevation. Let’s just say there were two versions of my track, one with an Eau Rouge corner, the other with an Eau Shit corner that sent the cars airborne into a pillow set up a few feet from the track.

More important: I was able to challenge anyone to a race, in the comfort of home. When looking back through these old advertisements and sets, what do you love about slot cars? Do you still have a set or two, or—like me—are you fighting an urge to search eBay tonight?

Image sources: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

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Michael Squeo
Michael Squeo

When I was a young teenager I built a 4′ x 12′ slot car track in our basement complete with elevation changes, with small rocks glued to cardboard to give it some small semblance of reality. It was also lit for night racing but with only two track lights the bulk of the track was like driving at night without your headlights on. I still have all the Revell 1/32 track and assorted bits in storage. Now that I am 60, newly retired and have a 4 year old grandson, it’s time to get it all set up again. Probably… Read more »

Larry Kelley
Larry Kelley

Back in the 1960’s, dozens of commercial tracks existed and only a few home tracks. That trend has reversed itself with fewer hobby shops in general. The sport of slotcars is not dead and still a worldwide activity. The World Championship will return to the Chicago are this Fall of 2016 bringing racers from all continents. Dave Kennedy and I were team-mates on the 24 hrs of Chicago several years ago and that race continues in the Detroit area. My buddy Greg Wells’ site has a directory of local raceways across the USA.

Damien Bourne
Damien Bourne

Slot racing even goes “digital” today, allowing to have several cars in the same line (up to 15) and to overtake by lane changing on demand. Here in France we mainly run digital for 15 years in Endurance races.

What is interesting with Slot cars is that it is a real “Drivers thing”. Many professionnal drivers are also sloters.

Dave Kennedy
Dave Kennedy

I’ll add my comments too that slot cars are not a “past” thing. There are a number of companies including the company I work for (Carrera) that still make slot cars! http://www.carrera-toys.com/us

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Don’t know why the link doesn’t work so do a search, it’s definitely worth your time. Oldslotracer.com.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

There are some of us out here keeping the slot car mania alive. Up here in the North West we’re lucky to have active slot car communities. Here in Portland we’ve got a great group of funsters under the heading N.A.S.T.E (Northwest Ass. of Slot Track Enthusiasts) and further north Alan Smith runs 132 Slot Cars. If you’re like me you might have been under the spell of these tiny marvels as a kid. Many years later I rediscovered them and learned how far they’ve come in the intervening years especially in the looks department. In the early 2000’s the… Read more »

Mark Haskins
Mark Haskins

Love it! Right there with you with my home track.

Wes Flack
Wes Flack

Thanks for taking me back with this article. Hot Wheels tracks were great, and Sizzlers on big fat tracks were wicked, but the AFX G-plus cars were the ultimate cool to this kid. I had one that was a Renault F1 car that had amazing detail for the 1970s… A Tyco set I had was a long twisting, multi-level two lane set that made for excellent racing (with lighted cars), but a four lane AFX track was probably my favorite. The sets back then never lasted long (yes, they were abused by us), even with life-extending penny-scraped rails. The dreaded… Read more »

Greg Wells
Greg Wells

1/24 slot racing is most certainly not dead, guys, though it isn’t as big as it was in the ’60s.

Check out slotblog.net and you’ll see what I mean…

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

One more thing we have in common Mr Banov(sky) . Though my vintage era was the era of 1/24 which was the predominant scale back in the day for serious slot car maniacs of which I was one . It was amazing the level of technology those little cars had back then such as magnesium chassis and wheels , gold/silver composite contact brushes , ultra light composite plastic bodies the lightest of which were the clear composite bodies you painted and decaled from the inside etc . Not to mention the science and engineering a kid had to learn back… Read more »

B Bop
B Bop

A wonderfully nostalgic trip back to my childhood. Great pics as well ! I can almost smell that sweet burning aroma of an overheated motor. For me, Scalextric, Airfix, Cox and Revell were the brands of preference.

Thoroughly enjoyed ! Thanks

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Cox’s 1/24 La Cucaracha was my weapon of choice until every sanctioning body and track outlawed the little monsters [ at which point I started building them from scratch and purchased bodies ] Out of the box they were winners .. apply a bit of science to them and they were unbeatable / Monogram was my brand of choice for accuracy and beauty . They were slow but they were the best as far as authentic looks …. especially their Ferrari prototype and LeMans cars