The space is important but, the good race is joining the surface track, design and length, I think. Some track can build this excellent space, but I think that you should choice by the type of surface, quality, spare, etc, or build yourself. Think about future, digital tracks..
I have both sorts of track, my preferance for surface and design is scalextric sport - I prefer the higher grip, less brittle plastic and higher magnetism of the rails. It isn't 'better' than Carrera, just suits me more. Carrera's insulated rails is definately a good feature of their tracks too.
Size as said above is a big factor though. If you want to race 1:24 ever, scalextric may be a little small.
The other thing to consider is the rest of the system. The scalextric banked curves will probably become more available worldwide soon - it is a new product. It is very subtle banking, it isn't Carreras wall of death though, so the style of track and banking may determine the system.
Also there are fairly fundamental differences in the digital systems available (new products - so the accesries of each may expand). Scalextric is the more compatable and easy to adapt other cars system, at the moment it SEEMS to be the best thought out of all the systems, but it is a new product, and it should be said that all the digital systems provide a lot of fun and work very well.
(Carrera digital - and i think SCX too - offers a working pit lane. This is great, and whilst Scalextric say they are going to develope one too, who knows when, or if they will go through with those plans)
Scalextric is also supposed to be bringing out 'World' system shortly, which will add internet racing, programable pace cars and telemetry of your driving plus loads of other features, so if that lights your fire, theres another incentive for that direction.
Hope I don't sound like a scalextric rep - but I do like the stuff!
If space were not an issue, Carrera would be my only choice, even taking into account all of the above because at the end of the day smooth running is what you want from a track and Carrera is best in that regard.
However, space - for almost everyone - is a factor. I'd suggest buying a cheap-ish Carrera set to try it for yourself. It might make the decision harder, but at least you'll know what you are missing.
With out a doubt carrera , when its laid down properly its almost as good as a routed track.plus you have the advantage of the stainless steel rails being resistant to corrosion so you can even lay it outside if you wish
This seems like a difficult choice but don't worry- you can not make a bad decision! Both Carrera and Sport will make most people very happy.
With unlimited space most people suggest Carrera. The same is also true if you want to race 1/24th scale cars, but you can almost put a four lane Sport track in the same space as a two lane Carrera, then you can still race two 1/24th cars by having an empty lane between these big slot cars.
I prefer track with stainless steel power rails, such as Carrera and Artin, because my tracks are in humid basement.
Let us know what you decide and how happy you are with your purchase.
Space is always an issue, since most of us do not live in a hangar. If you want a permanent track, and scenery to go with it; then I think you should choose scalextric. The size of there track is a perfect compromise, and as a result you will have enough space left to work with. I use the classic track my self. What made me go for it from the start was based on the fact that I already had a lot of track, second reason being emotional values. The tracks more realistic surface and grip came as a bonus.( personal preference only). If you on the other hand, like an even smoother surface but still want room for scenery, then sport would do just fine. The carrera track is even a little bit smoother then the sport track, but not by much, and it do take up more space. But then again…if space is not an issue for you, and you prefer the smoothest track surface possible, then carrera should do the trick.
Given your available space, carrera without a doubt. I would choose to drive on carrera track over all but the BEST routed tracks. It is a smooth and fluid experience. In contrast, driving on scalectric is a quick, darty, on/off experience. If you are running without magnets then carrera is the only choice. (If you like high magnetism track, I think ninco is the best)
The major strength and major weakness of scalectric is its size. Its small enough to build a decent layout on a 4x8, but the lane spacing is too narrow to run open wheeled and larger cars without mishaps.
Given you are in the USA, carrera is easier and cheaper to obtain as well. Additionally, the carrera Pro-X digital system is working quite well and allows multiple cars with passing on two lanes.
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