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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After all the recent discussion about these motors and their use, it seemed like a good time to try Scalextric's new Ford GT GTE as the only modern GT car in its range to be fitted with the slimline 'FF' motor. So here we go...

The 1:1 Car

The Ford GT GTE shouldn't exist by all the laws that govern modern endurance racing. It's not in production, its homologation papers are thinner than the paint on a 1970s Lancia and reports on how the handful of road cars behave vary between 'foul' and 'abominable'.

Yet there the GT GTE was, sitting on the grid at Le Mans in 2016 to mark 50 years since Detroit opened up a can of whoop-ass on Ferrari at the world's greatest motor race. And they did it again, as Ferrari's turbocharged 488s, Porsche's redoubtable 911s and the shouty V8 bruisers of Aston Martin and Corvette all failed to keep up with a Ford that was more sophisticated than many of the sports-prototypes in the field.

Since then the mighty Ford has been moderated by the Balance of Performance rules that try to level the playing field between diverse cars in endurance racing - it matters little to Ford, however, as the car's legend is already written.

The Slot Car

Scalextric is around a year behind Carrera in bringing out a 1/32 slot car of the Ford GT GTE (and several months behind 3D print enthusiasts The Area 71). This means that already on the market are a well-detailed and well-mannered model for home racers and a rough-hewn version for open competition use. So where does the Scalextric one fit?

On first sight the Scalextric model looks rather less bulky and stumpy than the Carrera offering, and would have made a very strong impression indeed were it not for the fact that, sitting beside it in the box, was a broken radio aerial. It seems that Scalextric has fitted this car with four solid, brittle plastic pylons compared with the crash-resistant rubbery bits that we've become used to.

Car Land vehicle Wheel Tire Vehicle


Pick it up and - whoa! - this is a very light car. Its body and chassis feel gossamer thin and likely to shatter if they are looked at too hard. A quick trip to the scales reveals that straight from the box with a magnet inside the Ford weighs a mere 78 grams... the chassis alone of Scaley's old Aston DBR9 weighed more than that!

Leaving aside the questionable motor choice made in Margate (and the rather daft argument that Scalextric cars work perfectly well on proprietary track with the magnets in place), there seems to be considerable potential in a lightweight car like this. So let's put it on the track...

The Track

Green Race track Urban design Asphalt Grass


Farnham's permanent 4-lane track is made of Ninco sections using DS power supply and timing equipment. It's twistier than most club tracks and because of its age and the change in elevations, not to mention the fact that it's mounted on milk crates, it's got more than a few lumps and bumps.

As an extra element of randomness, Farnham races with the brakes switched off for all classes except Trucks and FF motor Classic F1 cars, so for this test the brakes would be off.

The final joker in the pack is that the Yellow Lane, which is on the outside for most of the corners, has been given extra 'juice'. Because it is a longer lap and because it traditionally has much less grip, we set the output at 15 volts compared to 12 volts on the three other lanes to try and give drivers a fighting chance of staying on terms with the rest of the pack.

The fastest lap ever recorded around its 110-foot length is 6.811 seconds, set by a Scalextric Renault R26 F1 car with the magnet in place and NSR Ultragrip tyres on (brakes off). In the 'any make' Modern GT class, which is also run with magnets, the fastest lap so far is a 7.608 second lap performed by a Fly Viper, also with no brakes.

The Scalextric Modern GT class is run without magnets or brakes. A fast car in this class would be something like the BMW Z4 running with around 5g of ballast in the chassis to stop it bouncing out of the slot and NSR or Slot.It tyres on. With this setup you would be looking at a lap time of 11 seconds or just under.

And so, how did the Ford get on?

Test 1: Box Standard

In fairness to Scalextric and those who don't tune their cars, I ran the first track test without touching a thing on the car for two 10-lap sessions on Green Lane, which has neither the tightest or the widest of bends to contend with and has 12 volts of power. Most home racers will run on standard curves and these make up virtually all of Green Lane's features.

It was a horrible experience. For one thing the Ford suffers from an old Scalextric bugbear that the front wheels lever the guide out of the slot if there is any kind of bump in the track. This issue was probably compounded by the traction magnet, which in such a light car would seem to be pulling the nose up slightly from the rails.

Fast magnet racing means trusting that you know how much downforce there is and going for it: nailing the throttle as you apex a corner and watching with wonder as the car whips round in defiance of Isaac Newton. Scalextric used to fit great magnets for this purpose but the Ford's slender example is less able to cope.

In many ways it felt like a Carrera car, which gives very little feedback to the driver on when it is on the limit. If the front end wasn't bouncing out of the slot, the rear was trying to overtake it. Not fun. Not fun at all.

So much for the handling, what about the power? It's an FF motor, and that means a distinct lack torque to pull out of corners. When the power kicks in it's with a frenzy and then there is absolutely nothing in the way of braking that comes when you let go of the throttle.

The standard FF driving style is therefore short stabs on the power followed by long periods of coasting down to what you hope is a speed that will get you round the corner. This is categorically not fun.

Eventually a handful of clean laps were completed with a best time of 8.656 seconds. As a magnet racer for the open GT class, therefore, the Scalextric Ford GTE is roughly a second per lap slower than the age-old Fly Viper, and a good seven-tenths of a second slower than the Scalextric Aston DBR9 and TVR T400R that are the Viper's closest competitors.

Just for fun (!) I put the Ford into the Yellow Lane to run it at 15 volts. Interestingly it became a little bit more predictable and the guide remained in the slot considerably more often as the less acute corners went easier on the guide. A fastest lap of 8.755 seconds was the result, with far fewer excursions to the barrier.

Test 2: Slot.It tyres

Wheel Car Tire Vehicle Hood


As a modern Scalextric car, the Ford GTE is fitted with hubs that will accept 'Euro Standard' tyres for 15.8mm front wheels and 16.5mm rears, as used by Slot.It and NSR. I slipped on a set of low profile zero grips up front and some N22 rears designed for Ninco's specific track type and went back for another run in both lanes.

The chassis was now transformed. No more would the tyres lever the guide out of the slot on even the most vigorous of bumps. The magnet remained thoroughly unreliable in terms of how much downforce it was prepared to serve up, but the softer rubber smoothed things out to a point and more consistent laps could be achieved.

The only downside to this was that the accidents, when they happened, were significantly more violent. In one such shunt the Ford flipped onto its roof and skated merrily along, removing the three remaining radio aerials in one fell swoop. The lap times were chopped down by half a second - 8.175 seconds on Green Lane and, rather excitingly, 8.083 seconds on the 15-volt Yellow Lane.

As a magnet racer, the Ford GTE is clearly not a threat to the prehistoric Fly Vipers, which still run rings around any Slot It or NSR GT car with the magnets in. Potentially it can be made to get close to the lap times of Scalextric's old front-motor Aston and TVR but it lacks any of their driver feedback, 'super magnet' grip or the docile handling that can help drivers complete consistent runs at racing speed.

Test 3: Non-magnet

It was with some trepidation that I went over to the bench and removed the magnet (which, unlike other recent Scalextric releases, slides out easily from its pocket without having to surgically remove the retaining tabs). Overall the chassis is pleasantly simple, flat and unfussy, with two screws up front and one at the rear.

In the light of the radio aerial massacre, you might at this stage be wondering about the rear wing. I can say that it sits loosely (very loosely) in two slots cut into the chassis and is designed to break free (but not break) in the event of an impact.

I daresay that it will make a mayfly look durable in the hands of an enthusiastic child, but actually for club racing this shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully there will be plenty of spares available from your preferred stockist, anyway.

I put the car back together with the body screws slack and found a pleasing amount of body rock straight away - unlike Scalextric's McLaren MP4/12C, for example, which requires a fair bit of surgery to separate the body and chassis. There was no point at all in putting Scalextric's own tyres back on without a magnet in so off we went back to Green Lane to see how things went…

Well that was a surprise! The chassis, freed from its rather stifling embrace of the body, performed in the way that any decent flat chassis should. Adding the Slot.It rubber simply made cornering a pleasure.

The problem was getting to the corners. Once again, the only way to drive the FF motor is to blip the throttle and coast, blip and coast, blip and coast… etc.

There was rather too much work to do for me to check lap times whilst driving, so it was only after the run was complete that I was able to check the times and… 11.195 seconds was the best lap. That's not bad at all for a Scalextric Modern GT to our rules, although getting it was the result of living on the edge.

Once again the Ford went onto the Yellow Lane, this time without the magnet, and again there was no opportunity to steal a glimpse at the timing until all 10 laps were complete. The result was a rather slithery 12.14 seconds - a second per lap slower than on Green Lane to all intents and purposes - almost a lap over the course of a 10-lap race.

Conclusions

Land vehicle Car Vehicle Wheel Tire


For an FF motored car, the Scalextric Ford GTE is not that bad. Its feathery lightness and sensible chassis work very well with Slot.It rubber fitted - but it is still hobbled, in standard form, both by its front wheels fouling the guide and by its curiously inconsistent magnet. Some may choose to change the guide for a Sloting Plus or similar, but frankly this is a lot of time, money and effort that customers shouldn't have to make.

The only thing left to do, meanwhile, is put it on the grid alongside Scalextric's other recent GT cars in a racing situation. I'll prep it with a little bit of weight for a run next week alongside sundry Porsches, McLarens, Mercedes and BMWs and we'll see whether or not this could be an FF-motored car that can keep pace with the Mabuchis.

Findings will follow shortly afterwards...
 

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A comprehensive write-up. Much obliged.

But what's all this? Milk crates? No brakes? And more juice to one lane than t'others? Tsch! You townies and your townie ways. Picture me, shaking my head in disbelief.

As a modern Scalextric car, the Ford GTE is fitted with hubs that will accept 'Euro Standard' tyres for 15.8mm front wheels and 16.5mm rears...
"Euro-Standard". Excellent.
clap.gif


In one such shunt the Ford flipped onto its roof and skated merrily along, removing the three remaining radio aerials in one fell swoop. The lap times were chopped down by half a second - 8.175 seconds on Green Lane...
So what you're saying is, we should look to remove our aerials on all our cars to improve lap times? Interesting. Very interesting. And an area of tuning I'd previously not thought of.
thumbsup.gif


The gist seems to be, to me (don't shoot me, I ain't chucking pebbles), that it's two steps forward and one disproportionately large-ish one back? Definitely on the right, if slow, trajectory? That bodes well for the McLaren F1, I think (pray).

Brian, I believe the GTE is massively different to the GT. With perhaps the blue badge being the only thing shared.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Isn't the Ford GT GTE based off the Ford GT which would make it legal for this style of racing. I know the street car looks slightly different without the large rear spoiler but that isn't any different than the Mercedes-AMG GT3 or the Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
I think it's an all-new car rather than the retro-ish pastiche job of the noughties GT. Ford basically took the rule book for GT cars at Le Mans, found every loophole and stuck them together with wheels on (and a GT40-inspired nose). The road car is now almost ready to go on sale, two years after the Le Mans win! Apparently it's lovely on the track but useless absolutely everywhere else.

"Euro-Standard". Excellent.
clap.gif


The gist seems to be, to me (don't shoot me, I ain't chucking pebbles), that it's two steps forward and one disproportionately large-ish one back? Definitely on the right, if slow, trajectory? That bodes well for the McLaren F1, I think (pray).
Thought you'd like that. The frustrating part of it is knowing how good the chassis is and what it would be like with a motor in it that allowed you to drive it into the corners and play with the throttle. Like you can with the Scalextric RS500s and M3s, for example.

That said, it doesn't follow that every Scalextric car with an inline motor and tray interior is suddenly brilliant. We've just done eight weeks and probably 2,000 laps between us with the modern BTCC Civics, BMWs, MGs and Passats. They were dreadful, wobbly, rattly and frail.

... from what I've read the F1 is 'blessed' with the same motor.
You're in the clear - it has a Mabuchi!


I am hoping that the F1 will be the slot car of the year. So very, very much.

Because the GTE could so easily have been.
 

· David H
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what it would be like with a motor in it that allowed you to drive it into the corners and play with the throttle. Like you can with the Scalextric RS500s and M3s, for example.
I think if I were barrelling into corner knowing I had no brakes, the last thing I'd be doing is playing with the throttle...
tongue.png


Nice review though and an interesting perspective, as running without brakes is probably a minority pursuit. I like the idea of running the slowest lane at an increased power. That's something I'd never thought of and a very simple solution if a circuit has individual power supplies per lane.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think if I were barrelling into corner knowing I had no brakes, the last thing I'd be doing is playing with the throttle...
tongue.png
Ah, but if you can find the sweet spot with a responsive motor it's a thing of beauty.
innocent.gif
Chuck it in, then find the point where you can start feeding the power and round you go in a happy, rapid drift... lovely stuff.

As it is with the FF, you have to get off the power 4ft before the corner in the hope that it will turn in at all, and getting back on the power isn't an option until you're going in a straight line again.

The absence of brakes is a hot topic at every AGM... and at every AGM it gets shouted down.
 

· David H
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You're talking about playing with the throttle once you're in the corner. That's an entirely different thing.
smile.png


Reminds me of the first time I drove a 1:1 Ford Sierra Cosworth, one of Ford's original batch of press cars and the first turbocharged car I'd really tried thrashing on a public road. Small capacity, relatively low compression ratio and consequently not much engine braking by the standards of the day. Well known road, well known braking point, all's fine until well known braking point is hit and the bloody car won't slow down. It's only when you don't have much engine braking that you realise how much you take it for granted. I sure as hell wasn't playing with the throttle at that point! The 1:1 equivalent of an FF motor.

I notice in the background of your photo what looks like a Truspeed controller with variable sensitivity. Doesn't that help with mid-corner power application? I have a Truspeed MT1 and it's made all my FF motored cars pretty benign. It doesn't make them lovely, by any means, but they're certainly drivable mid-corner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The Truspeed probably helps a bit. I just turn the power knob all the way to the left and the brake knob all the way to the right and hope to find a happy medium. Admittedly the brake settings are somewhat academic, but hope springs eternal.

The incentive for buying that controller was the FF motored Mini, in my desperate search for something that might make it behave. They were so pretty, those Minis... sigh.
 

· Bob Chapman
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Thanks for the write up and testing. Time much appreciated.
I wonder if there would be any noticable difference running on wood
All other things being the same.
I recall Carrera doing the same thing with the Can Am cars, some with
S can and others with ff motors, all for the same class it really spoiled things.
It would be nice if the companies could at least keep the motors in a series of cars the same similar to the Sideways Grp 5 or Slot it Grp C
Again, great write up and thanks
Bob
 

· Premium Member
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Thanks for the write up and testing. Time much appreciated.
I wonder if there would be any noticable difference running on wood
All other things being the same.
I recall Carrera doing the same thing with the Can Am cars, some with
S can and others with ff motors, all for the same class it really spoiled things.
It would be nice if the companies could at least keep the motors in a series of cars the same similar to the Sideways Grp 5 or Slot it Grp C
Again, great write up and thanks
Bob
Hi Bob,

Thanks for that. Seemed a good idea at the time! Homeracingworld did a review on wood and it went very well, especially in a group test with a tuned Mercedes and a standard BMW. Pretty much even on their little test track, but that isn't much of a benchmark for the surface of our old Ninco layout or, I suspect, a well used and abused home set!

Nice write up....maybe some pictures with the body off and could you elaborate on..

No brakes on a Ninco track is enjoyable? at 15 volts? eek!
Thanks John. Yes I'll do a body off pic when racing it next week.

The wheels aren't fouling the guide in the sense of interfering with its travel, but just levering far enough out of the slot if there is a bump (usually where two sections connect and usually in a corner) to send the car skating nose-first towards the wall. I'll try and think of a way to illustrate that but basically it's something that cars with a degree of vertical travel in the front axle never, ever suffer from.

So if I were to put the jazzy new Ford GT GTE in a head-to-head race with a manky old Scalextric Ford Focus I know which car would win, because the Focus was designed better for running on different surfaces.

No brakes at 15 volts isn't fun. Most non-magnet cars light up the tyres and squander their advantage anyway - but it can make NC1s rather perky!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quick update, then. Here's the chassis with the body off. Yes, the sills are built up a little bit but hardly a clamshell and the whole thing rocks nicely.

Circuit component Electrical wiring Automotive tire Toy Gas


Here's what I mean about fouling. Look where the stock front tyres are relative to the chassis and the guide...

Sports equipment Automotive tire Automotive design Racing Bicycle part


And contrast to how it sits with membrane-thin zero grips on...

Automotive design Toy Automotive exterior Auto part Thumb


Back in the olden days (!) of course, there would be lots of lovely vertical travel to cope with it. today's front axles are clamped in with moulded perma-bushings.

And finally I took the track map to show just how much time you spend as a passenger with the FF motor compared with an S-can or long can motor. The red lines mark where I'm on the throttle to any extent with the FF motor and the blue line is where my marks are for almost any other car (excepting a long can Ninco - they haven't got any natural retardation at all either). The stars mark the joins on which the Ford refused to play ball at anything like racing speed with its stock rubber on.

Urban design Race track Leisure Recreation Landscape


Blimey, telemetry and everything!
 

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I have one of these, and with slot it tyres fiited , around the Pendle course its quick, much quicker than the other scalextric cars around there, that's with the magnet left in place , I haven't tried it without the magnet yet but intend to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just took a quick look at the Sloting Plus guides on a well-known Lancashire-based purveyor of guides and was left wondering which works best with Scalextic. Anyone care to share?
Once again, Homeracingworld is your friend: Scalextric Guides

I have one of these, and with slot it tyres fiited , around the Pendle course its quick, much quicker than the other scalextric cars around there, that's with the magnet left in place , I haven't tried it without the magnet yet but intend to do so.
I suspect that the brakes are on too! Ah, such luxuries...
 
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