This is a question that often presents itself when a new slot car club first starts out, or at a time when the track is to be replaced. It is also a consideration to some home racers too – what are the two options and what are the pros and cons?
Two of the many commercially available Slot car sets on the market today. Once obtained, most people usually stick with that track brand.
Most of us start off in this hobby with a commercially available starter set and understandably we tend to be loyal to that system, adding track pieces to the basic set. But what if you were in a situation where you could start again? If you look at all of the commercially available systems you will notice that they are not interchangeable with each other, so you must hang your hat on one and stick with that brand.
Scalextric is the UK brand leader and of course the easiest to obtain both new and second-hand track, but there are others, which include SCX from Spain, Policar from Italy, and Carrera from Germany. The former two are completely available from Gaugemaster and our stockists in the UK. Scalextric and SCX are the narrowest, while the high grip surface of Policar’s track is slightly wider with Carrera’s, being wide enough to take 1/24th scale model too.
You can use plastic track on a permanent scenic track like this one that I built in my garage many years ago. Although, many like to change the circuit layout if it’s not stuck down.
The big advantage of using sectional track systems is that even if you have a permanent space for a track, for example in a boarded loft area, you can change the track circuit when it suits you to create a new layout whenever you wish. However, the more you do this the weaker the electrical joint becomes, and I think we all have experienced this and the frustration of a car coming to an impromptu halt while racing due to loss of power. Setting the track down permanently should help, but if you are going to do that you may want to consider making your own track.
Traditionally, you would construct your new track is use a router on something like 12mm thick MDF, but there are other options. Once you have your slots, however you create them, the track surface is painted and self-adhesive copper tape is laid either side of the slot. Others have good results using thick foamboard and while a router can be used, simply cutting out the slot could be achieved through various techniques, so it is best to find the one that works for you.
The traditional routed track is usually made from a board like MDF. This is a section of our club in East Worthing. Note the painted surface where you can incorporate thing like the pit exit line. The Ferrari at the top right is a 1/24th scale car.
If you don’t have space for a permanent routed track they can be built in sections, which can be then placed on trestles and stored away when not in use. Perhaps the best thing about building your own track is that it can be just a single lane test track, sprint or rally stage, right up to a multi-lane track of as many lanes as space permits. You are not limited to set pieces so you can even create more gradual bends, or custom configurations reflecting your favourite circuits. One configuration that makes an ideal home layout is the three-lane set up, a great compromise allowing an extra racer to take part but still in a manageable space.
This three-lane routed track was built on foamboard by Roger Feest. It is sectional, made from foamboard and is easily transportable. It regularly attends our slot weekend at Gaugemaster in October.
If you want to research into the routed track idea the internet is full useful information on how to do it and look out for a feature on the subject in a future issue of Racing Lines. I understand it won’t be for everyone, so hanging on to your plastic set track is just fine - just keep racing!