Slot Cars Forever! Rediscovering the Fun of Miniature Racing with Auto World
Depending on your age there are likely any number of things that could have inspired a love of cars during your childhood years. Playing with Hot Wheels on the living room floor. Assembling plastic models on the kitchen table and messing around with radio control vehicles.
Many of us had a combination of all those things turn into a love of cars as adults, but there’s another fun hobby that you might forget about in this age of online gaming and social media: slot car racing.
For many of us who had childhoods in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, playing with slot cars was one the most fun things you could do, whether it was setting up your own track at your house or heading out to a dedicated slot car racing place with your buddies.
While racing miniature, electrified cars around a plastic track probably isn’t something too younger kids are going crazy about today, we are happy to report that the hobby is alive and well.
So Much Fun to Be Had
We recently had the chance to sample some HO scale slot cars from the Auto World catalog and came away feeling like kids again. To put it simply, these little things are as fun as they’ve ever been.
Auto World offers a variety of detailed diecast cars in various scales as well as a very large line of HO scale slot cars, tracks and accessories. Like their diecast lines, all of the slot cars are based on real life enthusiast vehicles, race cars, movie cars and more. In other words, the exact sort of stuff that we love.
Who You Gonna Call?
Grinning like a kid on Christmas morning, we started off with this Ghostbusters Haunted Highway set that includes a uniquely decorated track and accessories, along with replicas of the Ecto-1 and an NYPD patrol car.
Before we started playing with the cars, we were reminded that setting up slot cart sets is actually a good workout for the mind as you piece together the suggested layouts and risers or get creative and make your own.
Once everything was in place, we plugged in and got to racing. We were quickly reminded just how fast these things can be. You can’t just go flat out through the corners and hope to keep your machine on the track.
Just like driving an actual car, you have to know when to punch it and when to slow down. Despite its larger size, Ecto-1 turned out to be quite quick.
Next up, we cleared off a big space in an office floor and got to work setting up this Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR set that comes complete with Jimmie Johnson’s #48 and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Chevys.
With 26 feet of track, the NASCAR set is huge, and just like Pocono, it features a triangle shape with long straight sways and actual banked corners—plenty of room show some serious speed.
You also don’t just have to use the NASCAR replicas. All of the cars are made to run on the same track, and we had a lot of fun trying out the various cars to see which ones did best around the high speed tri-oval. The set even includes a lap counter at the finish line.
NHRA Drag Racing
NASCAR isn’t the only form of racing that Auto World replicates with its slot car sets. NHRA is also on the list with sets like this John Force drag racing set, featuring 13 feet of two lane plastic.
It’s a lot more than just some straight track. It features a fully operational LED Christmas Tree which was extremely fun to play with, and the realistic setup made for a really unique twist on slot car racing.
Just like in real drag racing, it was about nailing the reaction time as much as it was the speed of the cars. Also just like the 1:1 scale stuff, if you leave too early you’ll get a red light.
The end of the track even features sensors to tell you which car crossed the line first, and there were several races where the lights were definitely needed to declare the winner.
Naturally, we had a lot of fun gathering up all the cars and racing them to see which one was the fastest. If you were wondering which car of this particular group was the fastest of the bunch, that honor went to the classic Batmobile. It is turbine powered, after all.
Back to the Future
Last but not least we have this officially licensed Back to the Future set, which features the Delorean time machine, of course, as well as Biff Tannen’s ‘46 Ford, both recreated in very high detail considering they are fully functional slot cars.
The track itself is also super cool, as it includes a loop section and a number of movie-themed scenery pieces, including a carboard replica of the iconic Hill Valley clocktower. The only thing it’s missing is a pile of manure for Biff to crash into.
The BTTF track was the most challenging to drive as you have to slow down for the tight corners and then pick up a big burst of speed to clear the loop before slowing down once again for more corners.
Once we got the rhythm down, there was something almost therapeutic about driving the cars around the course and seeing how many laps we could go before crashing.
While playing with the sets as they come was a lot of fun, everything is interchangeable, so with enough parts and space, you can of create your own crazy combinations for custom tracks. Throw in the incredible variety of cars, and you have the recipe for endless fun.
With so many of us having enjoyed slot cars as kids, it’s great to see them available in so many styles. Where else can you have Dale Earnhardt Jr. race John Force around a loop or see if the Batmobile and can beat the BTTF Delorean in a drag race?
Whether you are a kid at heart or looking for a way to get the kids interested cars, try picking up a slot car set and rediscovering the fun. You can check out these and many other vehicles and sets on the Auto World website.