How Slot Car Racing Works

Slot Car Track Layout

One of the most detailed aspects of slot car racing is often the track layout. While some slot car enthusiasts focus more on the racing aspect of the hobby, modifying their cars for speed and reliability, some take the time to build elaborate tracks complete with landscaping and plenty of other intricate details.

For instance, there are many different types of special track segments that can be added to a track to make racing more competitive. Some track pieces are designed to bring the cars closer together and force a racer to speed up and move ahead of another car or risk being pushed off the track. Other pieces create hairpin turns or steep inclines where the racer has to determine when it's appropriate to speed up or slow down.

Some enthusiasts prefer to take their cues from the cars themselves and model the tracks after real-world NASCAR tracks, rally courses, Formula 1 race circuits or other professional racetracks. There are several books and even computer programs to help racers design and build their own tracks. Some racers, who don't mind getting their cars a little dirty, may even build realistic rally-style tracks. These tracks simulate off-road conditions by adding elements like cocoa powder or flour to give the look and feel off their slot car driving through dirt or snow. Special slot cars are designed for optimum performance on these simulated rally tracks.

On more traditional tracks, some areas may be altered in order to increase the likelihood of crashes. These types of tracks are designed to test a racer's skill. Some sections of the track may have twists and turns built into them to simulate the effects of driving on ice.

A recent advancement in slot car racing has been the introduction of digital tracks. These digital tracks allow racers to switch from lane to lane. Although crossover sections on slot car tracks are nothing new, the digital tracks allow the lane switch to happen at specific points on the track only when the driver chooses to do so. These types of tracks and slot cars that contain microchips allow multiple racers to use the same lane on a slot car track -- something that's not possible on traditional slot car tracks.

Although tracks have a significant impact on how the car performs, slot car controllers affect the vehicle's speed and braking. We'll learn about the controllers next.