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When you think about it, what with all of the interesting "new things" that have come from various slot car companies, how much has actually changed?

We have seen many a novelty come and go, but the essence of slot car racing is the same as it was when it was invented. It's still usually a car with an inline motor driving a back axel. The motor is powered from two rails, enters the car through the guide, and is controlled by a variable resistor in the shape of a controller.

The only real differences are: sidewinders, four wheel drive cars, and 'finger' controllers that used to be 'thumb' controllers. What else has changed and stayed that way? When you look at it, you have to wonder if digital will go the same way as "You Steer" or front-wheel-drive Mini's...

What do you think? Not just about digital but of all the other innovations that have been lost in the mists of time?

Lotus
 

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The cars might have not changed much as far as their drive train but what has changed is the experience of visiting all of the commercial tracks that used to exist.
 

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This may seem a very minor point, but as a happy scratchbuilder, Fly have changed the rules somewhat with their full interiors. In the 60's, a piece of cardboard with a head-and-shoulders tacked on was par fo the course. Now it just don't look right unless the little manny has not just feet but pedals, too.
All part of a general and pleasing progress towards more realistic looking cars in every way.
 

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It might surprise some of us, but magnetraction has been around for
Over Thirty Years
I don't like it, but it has a function - for learner drivers.
Other than car detail, little, has changed in that 30 odd years, which is hardly surprising given the basic simplicity of slot racing.
That innate simplicity is the essence of its popularity.
While there will always be calls for gizmos and gimmickry, they come from relatively small but vociferous groups of people and the track record shows that these 'developments' are quickly consigned to the trash can of history.

However, the gimmicks do have a useful spin-off function - they stimulate discussion, often heated, which actually does regenerate interest in slot racing as a whole. So it will continue to happen and we'll continue to talk about it and, in the mean time, good old-fashioned slot racing will continue to survive with its periodic peaks and troughs.
 

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Back in the mid-sixties Riko (UK) marketed a series of cars with open frame motor and brass half-chassis to the front:



Notice how the chassis screw slots are not machined parallel to the chassis line. The net effect of this is to drop the magnet closer to the track and you can certainly feel a slight magnetic pull on Scalextric track (although by no means as strong as a modern magnet car).

At the time I had a non-magnetic Airfix track so never gave this any thought at all assuming it was simply a machining error. But Now I wonder. Certainly model railway enthusiasts knew about this effect very early on - I remember my Triang OO Princess from the early '60s had magnetraction and cornered really well
 

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Let's see, what's changed? Less hair, larger waistline... oh, you mean slot cars...

John, that's not a Riko but an Atlas, and there's a bunch of stuff on this in other current threads, especially on the origins of Magentraction on SCI... Atlas motor/chassis combos have been the champion at recent Bordeaux vintage meets because of this all very legal magnetraction effect - and it's pretty fast too.

Don't know about you guys, but I don't remember thinking about/using this at all in the 60, mostly because we were so focused on wooden tracks, but not sure if I would have noticed anyway...

Does anybody beside Professor Fate remember consciously using this effect before 1970?

Big changes, most mentioned already: anglewinders (not sidewinders), still the ne plus ultra in performance, the systematic full detailing, magnets, and the almost total disappearance of kits! Everything these days is RTR.

Before we get all upset about how kids these days don't build anything anymore, remember that we at least had kits: the previous generation had to scratch-build pretty much everything, starting with a hand-carved body, scavenged friction car gears, etc.

From a commercial standpoint, slot cars had much less competition for after-school activity in the 60s - ie, no game boys, no video/DVD, no premarital sex (well, not too much in high school, anyway).
Don
 

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QUOTE John, that's not a Riko but an Atlas

Hi Don

Actually, it IS a Riko and it IS an Atlas! It just depends on which side of the pond you grew up on!

The "Atlas" motor pictured in the 904 chassis was marketed as the "Rikobomb" in the UK.

As a matter of interest, it seems these models may have all been made by Marusan and just marketed under different brands according to territory: SCI Atlas thread
 

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Alan Tadd
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When I first started slot racing the only real way to do it was build your own.

Inline chassis were just on their way out and anglwinders had just come in. Everybody in my local club built them and they all really only used Group 20 motors. Standard bodies were Lexan and these were always cut down to give minimum frontal area.

Group 7 was only really used in 1/24th cars which still looked like cars in those days!.

Tyres were always the orange sponges and were always covered in one sort of racing treatment or another, awful stuff.

Chassis kits were not available where I lived and it was not until the seventies that the "Bog" chassis became available, these were angle winders, but by then people were starting to use sidewinders, not easy with the big can motors in use at the time.

What has changed most?....well certainly not the speed, these old cars really used to fly.....and not the body choice, Mustangs were a very popular choice even then...
..Tyres, yes the use of rubber rears was unheard of. Guide technology?.....Not at all my entry for this years world proxy race will still use a Parma Jet Flag just as my 70s car did!......The answer is the ready to run market as the cars are just so much better in all respects.

Put it this way, if you turned up at your local Club with a RTR in the 60's everyone would think you were insane, that wouldn't happen today.

Regards

Alan
 

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Not quite RTR, the Monogram Ferrar F1 was a kit, with which it gave me great pleasure to beat all the home made monsters at Pontefract in the 60s!
 

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Computers!

1960 - room sized vacuum tube behemoths
2004 - fingernail sized micro chip

applied to slots:

- timing software/hardware to the 1/1000th of a second
- computerized race management
- track design software
- computer controlled tampo printing
- auto cad design and computer contolled machining/injection molding
- internet GLOBAL resource sharing
- And now DIGITAL slot racing

The essence is the same, just the bells and whistles are getting fancier, easier and more accessible.

Ken R
 

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Brian Ferguson
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Venue!

1960s - commercial centers drove the hobby with a smattering of club circuits and a small number of home set racers.

2004 - home set racers predominate, with a strong club scene, while commercial centers are few and far between.

The venue change has altered the face of slot racing, and manufacturers (those who survived and many new ones) have responded. The move to scale-oriented racing is no accident - consumers don't want "thingies" on their home and club tracks. While I miss having the easy access to the thousands of parts that local commercial centers offered, it is the move to scale appearing cars that has led me back to 1/32.

In some ways, the near death of the hobby in the early 70s has resulted in the health of the hobby that we enjoy today. The Phoenix rising from the ashes. (Jonny will love that one!
)
 

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You know, I have this same feeling too, having gone to a lot of commercial centers in the 60s (and even 70s), but I wonder if it really reflects reality.

There may have been some 3,000 commercial raceways in the US (and what, 50 or so in Europe?), and a million Manta Rays sold, but all the while, Aurora was selling many million T-Jets, Strombecker and Eldon probably the same.. and there was a lot of club activity we never heard about. The commerical raceways were just more visible, and stuck in our memory, since we're still involved... Home racing was huge, just not organized or in the media.

I've never been able to find any reliable (or other...) figures on the revenues for commercial vs home slot racing in the 60s, but I have a feeling the home sets were far more than half the total, even at the peak in 65-66... Even assuming the 3,000 figure is correct, there were a lot of areas uncovered by commercial racing for any long period, whereas everybody could get a set on Christmas morning.

Any industry guys from the 60s have some figures?
Don
 

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Good points being made.

Communications weren't just as good back then and we mostly will tend to remember what WE individually happened to be most involved with. In my case this was just a few small clubs in England and I had absolutely zero exposure to commercial raceways - not that we had very many to be exposed to!

It would be extremely hard to make much meaningful sense of what home racers were up to then OR now because, even though there will probably be some gigantic sales figures floating around, I strongly suspect that maybe 9/10 or more of RTR sets spent most of their time not being used by anyone after the first week or two. No real proof of course, but lots of anecdotal evidence. Almost everyone I know or ever have known in my entire life has been exposed to slot racing, but almost no one I know actually indulges in it - outside of my own club group of course.
 

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I hear you Fergy and many a true word spoken in jest mate
It must have been awesome with all those commercial tracks. If you believe things come around then maybe we may see a rise in them again?
 

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Russell Sheldon
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"Group 7 was only really used in 1/24th cars which still looked like cars in those days!. Tyres were always the orange sponges and were always covered in one sort of racing treatment or another, awful stuff."

Here are some pictures of a 1/24th scale car built in late 1969 or early 1970 by famous Pro slot racer Bob Emott. Bob Emott was probably the top chassis builder at the time.

The chassis is an evolution of the one that Emott used to devastating effect when he humbled the top British racers at the Tottenham Open in September 1969. The most significant difference is that uses a "BEE" (Brady & Emott Enterprises) spring-steel main-rail section, whereas Emott's Tottenham car used piano-wire main-rails.

The motor is a Mura set-up with a Bob Kean hand-wound and balanced 24 gauge single armature. Associated front and rear wheels, original Jet Flag and a Cox 34 tooth gear.

The body is a Dynamic Lola T-160 with Pete Von Ahrens air-control devices, painted by Philippe De Lespinay to resemble the style of Dave Bloom.







Kind regards,

Russell
 

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Superb workmanship AND pics, both!
One wonders just how many pics Russell has at his disposal - it seems to be a never-ending suppy of the most amazing slot history!
And I love it!
 
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