Updated: Oct 14, 2016
Slot Car Set Reviews:
- What are electric slot car racing sets?
- Benefits of 1/32 vs 1/24 scale racing
- How much do slot car race sets cost? Scalextric vs Carrera?
Slot car racing has been around for decades and back in the 1970's and early 80's when I was growing up my brothers and I would create huge tracks and race our cars for what seemed like hours. Our slot car set was huge - it probably took up an entire 10 x 10 room with bridges, turns, and long straightaways. The cars weren't very durable and seemed like they were constantly breaking as we repaired tires, body parts, and more.
Slot cars are made with tiny electric motors that run on electric tracks powered by one main box. The track has a groove in it (each lane does) where the slot car is placed and the electricity is transmitted through the track (from the power supply) to your slot car. It's a fun pasttime and kids especially enjoy learning how to setup and race the cars. My son just turned 8 so we are getting him a new track for Christmas and I decided to write up this article to help other parents in the same situation.
The video below shows an AFX slot car track so you know what to expect:
Slot Car Racing Buying Guide
To start with, most slot car tracks are rated by their scale (much like model trains are). The most common scales are 1/64, 1/32, and 1/24. The 1/64 scale slot cars are the smallest available and tend to be less expensive than the other larger scale cars. I found that the 1/32 scale slot cars are the easiest to find in stores and hobby shops. The 1/32 slot car tracks are very common and allow you to really setup some nice configurations for whatever space you have in your home. The bigger 1/24 scale cars require larger tracks which means less space compared to the 1/64 scale tracks. The benefit of buying a 1/24 scale car and track is that the cars themselves are customizable and so hobbyists will enjoy these variety best.
The top brands are Carrera, Ninco, Scalextric, Monogram, Fly, Artin, SCX and Johnny Lightning. Artin slot cars and tracks are great for beginners while the Carrera and Ninco are better suited for intermediate to advanced racers. The Scalextric tracks are top rated on many websites like Hotslots123.com and Hoslotcarracing.com. There are lots of websites dedicated to slot cars and you can find the vintage slots cars from Monogram on sites like Ebay. Most sets come with track, cars, controllers, and a power supply. The only sets we found that don't offer cars with them are the Ninco Master Track Sets.
Most experts in this hobby say you should buy more track than you think you originally need as it's easy to get carried away and build extravagent configurations if you have the room for it. Also, the more expensive slot car track sets come with extras like guardrails, borders, lap counters, etc. I always found with the older tracks that one power supply often had trouble reaching all sections of the track and often the cars would die out if they were in the far reaches of the track where power was less prominent. Buying a second power supply to put on a larger track is not a bad idea.
You will find that the 1/32 track manufacturers do things slightly different when it comes to slot depth, surface texture, track width, plastic used, and assembly. Carrera tracks tend to be "brittle" but their 1/24 scale cars are incredible. The Ninco tracks are made with softer plastic so they can take a little "rougher" treatment and still be ok. Great for younger kids who don't always respect their toys like adults do.
Digital slot cars and race track sets are certainly new to this hobby, but most users have adopted this new setup. You can now race up to 8 cars on these mult-lane tracks and have more than 2 drivers at a time working the racetrack. RECOMMENDED - We found some nice slot car sets on Amazon.com and several had in depth reviews posted by ACTUAL owners. Sure you can read what hobby websites have to say, but getting unbiased feedback and comments from users that bought the sets is invaluable. You can view the top selling slot car track sets online here.
Best Slot Car Racing Set:
RECOMMENDED - If you are just getting started with a new slot car set then consider the TOP SELLING track on Amazon - the 4-Lane International Super Challenge. Produced by AFX, you get 27 running feet of 4 lane track. The 4 Super G+ Indy style cars included are a great bonus and they really zip around this track. The 2 UL wall power packs supply plenty of "juice" to keep all sections of the track flowing along. The guardrails, grandstand building, and pit building are nice bonuses. It's a great starter set for older hobbyists or younger slot car racing enthusiasts.
The track can be configured into 16 different layouts so there is always variety to try and master. It's the track I plan on getting once my 8 year old gets a little more experience on his smaller track. Most owner reviews are totally positive on this AFX slot car track - comments include "fun slot car racing action" and "great entertainment for the whole family".
To check out how to setup and use a slot car racing track set - click the image below to go to video.
Top Rated Slot Car Set:
RECOMMENDED - If you are looking for the biggest, baddest track on the market, look at the Life Like Pro Action 500 Slot Car Race Set - NASCAR. With head to head racing action between #24 Jeff Gordon and #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. this set is sure to give you hours of enjoyment. Built for the NASCAR fans of the world but also great for those that want an incredible track layout that features a 360 degree loop, cyclone curve, lange change track, dual lap counter, and a bi-level course.
Your slot cars will stick to the track better with heavy duty traction magnets so there will be less "de slotting". This is a HO scale electric race set which comes with a UL listed power pack, seven 15" straight tracks, two 9" printed crossover tracks, one 9" lap counter, twenty five 9" radius curve tracks, two 9" straight tracks, twelve loop tracks, 26 guardrails, brides, piers, and a tune up kit. The trigger action controllers are responsive and easy to manage.
Owners say that almost everyone in the family enjoys track of this size. Parents mention that you can have smaller track configurations with younger kids to keep things simpler for them. Almost 80% of reviewers give it 5 out of 5 stars since this is a first rate track. The only drawback is the price, but given all the hours of fun you'll have, consider it a good investment for years to come.
1/32 Scale Scalextric Racing Set:
Scalextric has a solid reputation in the industry and owners say the tracks make perfect gifts for younger kids since they are less breakable than other tracks from Carrera (see below). Scalextric has become the choice for many 1/32 home track builders out there and after reading reviews on their products we can see why. Owners say their tracks are "smooth", "forgiving to abuse", and "versatile".
The Scalextric Continental Sports Cars Set (1:32 Scale) sells for under $180 and provides a quality slot car track that features the Mark Donahue Penske Sunoco '69 Camaro & Parnelli Jones Boss 302 Mustang slots cars. The T2 Track Set includes the power base, hand controllers, half straight, straight, transformer, short straight, radius curve pieces, and more. Excellent slot car track with cars which makes a great family gift on birthdays or Christmas.
Carrera Slot Car Set:
Carrera slot car sets are available in 1/24 scale (currently the only producer of this type). The larger plastic tracks make for great racing action but hobby shop owners say the tracks can be a little fragile if put together and broken down too often. Carrera tracks are best suited for those that aren't going to move the track or put it away too often. If you have space (or a room) dedicated to your Carrera slot car set you should be fine. Just make sure you put the tracks together gently.
In exchange for a track that is wide and made of smooth styrene plastic, you'll get a tight fitting and smooth track that races pure. The Carrera Evolution Sweet Dreams Set is a good starter set with two cars (an Audi R 8 and a 2008 Porsche 911), 8 curved pieces of track, 7 straights, 2 speed controllers, guardrails, transformer, and connection section.
More videos and resources are here on our Slot Car Racing Resource Page.
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