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STANDARDS (or lack of them)

3187 Views 23 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  VOA
I actually wrote this some considerable time ago
As the situation doesn't appear to have changed any over the passing years, I decided it was time to give it another public outing.

STANDARDS (or lack of them)

The lack of universally agreed standards is, and always has been, one major reason for the failure of slot racing to fully establish itself and to maintain its popularity.

Postings querying track voltages and the wide variations in scale illustrate this perfectly.

There is no standard for any 1/32 slot car dimensions.
There is no standard for car weight.
There is no standard for any aspect of motors.
There is no standard for track dimensions.
There is no standard for slot dimensions.
There is no standard for guide flags.
There is no standard for traction magnets.
There is no standard for electrical supplies.
In fact there are no standards for anything!

Sure, there is an infinite number of manufacturers, organisations, clubs and individuals who manfully try to set out their own rules. But the fact remains that there are no universally recognised standards at all. While this situation persists, there will NEVER be any coherence within this wonderful hobby. Anyone want to take a guess at how many different sets of rules exist just for 1/32 scale alone?

Some will, rightly, say that standards stifle inventiveness and ingenuity.
This is inarguably true, and so there will always have to be an 'open' class of racing that allows for innovation and development of ideas. We really do need that to run in parallel.

Nevertheless, universal standards are essential to the health of slot racing.
Standards are not immutable - they can and MUST evolve, but slowly, to reflect the new developments that are devised by the cutting edge inventors and adventurers.

No matter how much anyone may criticise the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone, there is no doubt that Formula 1 motor racing would never have become so
planet-wide popular without their determination to impose universal standards on that particular sport.

How healthy do you think the market for consumer electrical goods would be if every state and city were allowed to produce mains electricity at any damn voltage and frequency they wanted? You wouldn't be able to move house without changing your TV, freezer and every other electrical appliance you owned!

What about standards for gas/diesel for cars and trucks? You couldn't drive one for more than a few hours unless you could rely on regular re-fills of fuel that would run your vehicle without wrecking its engine. Did you ever try running a gas/petrol engine using diesel as its fuel, or vice-versa?

Think about it - you know it makes sense.
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You clearly feel srongly about this, so I'm trying to tread carefully, but...

Surely the only standard that matters is that 4-16 of you can all race cars against each other and that's possible, even with Carrera guides and other such variances.

In the space of two nights we lucky few who go to Liphook and Farnham race old Hornby, new hornby, Carrera, Fly, Ninco, SCX, Vanquish and even Pink Kar on both Ninco track and wood. As long as the voltage is between 12-20 and the guide goes in the slot, does it matter?

QUOTE does it matter?

Well, it might if someone fitted a Mura Group 20 and air dams to their Scaley GT40

Where do you draw the line - if at all?
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Box standard with some, specific exceptions in the cause of competitiveness, but nothing more than changing guides and very occasionally motors (e.g. for another box standard one from another maker. Weight is allowed if it is invisible. If one or more box standard cars are too quick for a category, then they get a new category of their own.

The aim is to allow a bunch of blokes with toy cars to have a bit of fun and run the many and various cars they have. Since none of us is a manufacturer nor are we sponsored by a manufacturer, there is no need to prove our technology or reliability, only our ability (or not) to go faster than the other half dozen or so fellas who happen to be there over ten laps. Simple and cheapest is best.

I think this whole idea - no doubt Tropi will correct me if I'm wrong - is part of this notion and apparent worry we have about "growing the hobby". Unless we have a commercial interest, i.e. a shop, then we shouldn't give a damn about the growth or otherwise. There are already more slot cars than I can or care to buy. Since the makers seem hell bent on producing the same cars as each other it is difficult to argue that more of them will mean a broader choice. Put another way, if all there was available was either Hornby or TechniToys would we not already be offered a wide a varied choice? Would we not have more than enough cars to have a good nights racing with? I think so.

We are lucky that most of the cars are compatible as much as they are. I wonder if action figure collectors bemoan the fact that Star Wars figures are not the same scale as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings figures?

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You do have to be very careful in applying the right standards to our hobby, and not too many. If you're not it will lead to a similar situation to that which saw the last great downfall in Slotcar racing in the seventies.

The then governing body (ECRA) had very strict rules covering car construction.
This lead to the almost universal adoption of one type of car body per class and ultimately lead to the winged wonders we see today.

In the Southwest area of the ECRA the saloon class was dominated by the Dodge Daytona as it had a wheelbase of 9'-9" and a super streamlined body. This almost eliminated overnight the Mustangs and Astons etc. that people were running before its introduction.

The situation in Sports/GT was even worse because the car that came to dominate was the Dodge Daytona Drop top!....a car that never existed.

Slot racing became boring for many people and they left the hobby, myself included.

My point is that too much standardisation will lead to uniformity and a lot of people don't like uniformity.

I agree that perhaps the slot car Companies should have a "gentlemen's agreement" on parameters that should be followed by all, such as Guide depth etc, but surely we don't want to go down the route of number of splacement of magnets?

If you want standards in racing then you need look no further than the series being run by ABslotsport for TSRF chassied cars.

You've raised a great topic here Tropi and I hope other join in to voice their opinions.


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I'm with Scott on this one.

Perhaps were he and I differ from others is that we race RTR cars, not hand built crisp pack specials. There is a whole other side to our hobby with slot car racers building machines that don't look like cars?

Surely one of the very reasons the hobby is so appealing is the variety.

Each club has there own rules just like each motor sport organization in the 1:1 world.

Even at our club the rules are vague and always open to interpretation, it normally doesn't matter it's only for fun.

If there were national and international competitions (which there might well be in the near future) they would have their own set of rules and I'm sure these would change depending on the manufacture sponsoring the event.

I don't want standard I want different.

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(Apologies to Jamie in advance)

*Runs away, screaming, and buries head in sand*

No to dictatorship!!

Down with rules!!

This may explain the strange question that Adrian asked me on Sunday. Sent me straight to Blanklooksville. Something like -how do I see the future of slot car racing in general?. I think my only answer could be- I don't really contemplate it, I'm just enjoying the ride!

Mr.M (in a funny mood, cos he's not feeling very well and didn't sleep much last night)
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Ohhh!! How DO you drive this damn thing?

I wanted to put in those little letters like Jamie does!


Mr.M(not getting any better)
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QUOTE the last great downfall in Slotcar racing in the seventies.
Can some-one do a column on this? People keep mentioning it and I don't know much about it. Is this a downfall of the clubs, or did it have a huge impact on sales and manufacturers too? Was it UK, or worldwide?

Yours curiously,

Looking at the fuel analogy is a clear pointer to our 'fuel' - electricity.

One of the most fundamental standards to establish would be the manufacturers' recommended voltage for both power supplies and motors. A standardized figure of (say) 14 volts +/- (say) 1 volt, would enable significantly meaningful comparisons to be made between the multitude of motors on the market. As it is, the manufacturers' PSU voltages are all over the damn place and that not only confuses the crap out of a lot of people, but creates enormous misunderstandings and confounded expectations. I don't advocate a 'law' that forbids the running of your car on any voltage you like, but I most STRONGLY advocate agreement upon a base-line standard, so that purchases can know what to expect.

I would also very much like simple data to be provided with ALL PSUs and motors CLEARLY stating the amperage provided and required. Nice clear numbers that people can actually understand and compare. I know it can get complicated if taken to extremes, but that is absolutely no excuse for not providing important, useful, basic data in a standardized format.
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I think some of the earlier posts indicate a little misunderstanding of the areas I have in mind.

I reproduce below an excerpt from the News Letter just received from ABSlotsport.
The context is the JK Falcon 2 motor.
QUOTE after testing a batch with our digital rev counter, it looks like the new version revs around 8,000 revs quicker than the original at 12 volt
The significance, within this topic, is the "at 12 volt", clearly used as a STANDARD reference so that readers can make meaningful comparisons between similar items. Without that clarification, just saying that the Mk 2 revs 8,000 rpm faster, would be a very grey area.
it doesn't matter much WHAT voltage is used as the standard reference, although obviously it should be within the range of voltages used in practice. The principle is to establish a STANDARD FIGURE for comparative puposes. Once established, it would then make a lot of sense for slot organizations to adopt that STANDARD figure as their standard too.

Meco suggest a 14 volt standard, presumably on the basis that it falls nicely within the 12-16 (sometimes 18) volt range normally used by slot cars. On that basis, 14 volts is a sensible figure, although I would suggest that 12 volts has traditionally been used for many many years. Again, the exact number doesn't matter as long as everyone uses it as a STANDARD.
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We don't need no steeenking standards Tropi . Or we will wind up with the dang metric system again.

All you need in slot racing is a track, bought or made.
A guide shoe to ride the slots, as many slots as you want.
Some braid or wipers to pick up electrical power. 6-18 volts + enough amps.
Four wheels/axles mostly.
Some type of electrical motor. Sort of goes with the volts and amps thing.
Some rotational conversion devices. gears, belts, friction rollers.
Some type device called a frame to hold it all together, at least for a while.
A body of your choice. Bought or made and painted as you like, hopefully
A controller, bought, made or just two wires you tap together to run the cars with.
Simple eh?

All this can be bought, made or stolen, hopefully not from me.

Standards like RULES can be a stranglehold weapon some one can use to impose upon another's activities, while they are trying to have fun.

Why many only race at home.

Some rules may be needed to get them in the same book, but which page they read is up to them.

Some basic standard dimensions are needed to achieve expansion of the hobby called slot racing beyond pure chaos. But like rules they can be used as a hammer to enforce one's will on another.

Long live, do it your way, or his way if you like it.

Having fun should be the one and only major standard we need.
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no, we dont need standards, it's much more fun to race on 17 or 18V compared to a miserly 15 it makes all the difference.

Whats the point in standardizing everything? you can laugh when people put their cars on and they go backwards.. laugh when they dont realise the power! thats part of the fun..

we want a choice of what we buy! why not let us it's a free world supposedly!

I agree with Larry.... and Tropi!

No , I don't want to see the sort of rules and standards that Larry refers to, where all cars and track become homogenized and tightly regulated - variation is not only interesting, it is imperative.

On the other hand, Tropi makes a good point - SOME level of standardization WOULD be useful. For example, the voltage at which manufacturers make their stated performance claims. If I see "Maker A" has a "22,000 RPM" motor, and "Maker B" has a "28,000 RPM" motor, how do I know it isn't the same motor at different voltages?

Tropi mentioned:

QUOTE There is no standard for any 1/32 slot car dimensions

Well, Tropi, you lost me on THAT one.
Despite some blatant "poetic licence" taken by a few, isn't "1/32" already the standard?

I don't think a great number of these things CAN be standardized, and I don't see the great need to. Should we say, for example, that Carrera shouldn't use 1/24 track in their 1/32 sets? It has proven to be a great selling feature for them and many like the versatility it provides.

There may be SOME standards that could be established without stifling manufacturer creativity. Guide and slot depth and width, rail spacing, etc. In reality, these haven't changed much over the years but there are some small discrepancies.

But beyond some very basic parameters, I agree with Larry - let's not try to impose a lot of standards. Beyond those I mentioned, I don't see any that would contribute much to the hobby, and some could be detrimental.

But I'm just a "Tea Boy", so....
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I guess it largely depends where you race. If you race at home with a small group of friends, [email protected] easy to self regulate if needed.

I can see the advantage of agreed standards for club racing, not so much for voltage etc. but to agree limits for the compromise between performance and scale appearance.


Some of the manufacturers just don't get it and some perhaps never will until the both they AND the users clearly appreciate the usefulness of reliable, standardized basic parameters. I am astounded at the short-sighted resistance shown to really useful potential improvements. Simple stuff, not hard to follow at all.

For instance:
How much horrible frustration would be TOTALLY removed simply by agreement to both a standardized slot profile and guide blade profile where you KNEW that every single car would run on ANY manufacturers track OR on routed tracks without worrying about slot depth or width? Similarly the width of the pick-up rails and their separation from the slot. Get those standardized and there is total compatibility between cars and tracks! At a stroke, it no longer matters whether you are home racer, a club racer or a commercial racer - all cars would have the ability to negotiate all tracks. Suitable tires and all the rest of it would still be free choice but the BASIC impediment that often exists would be gone - and good riddance!

I cannot believe that anyone would consider this simple step to be disadvantageous in any way.
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Mr Material UK,
I only saw this now and nearly swallowed my denture !
What, Adrian (I presume Norman) asks you how you see the future of slot racing and you do not get him drunk, call up the most expensive escort service or ship him to Gitmo untill he sings ?
The guy KNOWS the Big Scalextric Secret and you missed your chance at perpetual fame
I'll never forgive you
See, Beppe understands the significance of standards!

Clearly lays out the STANDARDIZED method of making a Scalexecutive sing!
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Hey! Whats been going on?

Just went back to read my original post to see what was loosening Beppe's teeth and it seems to have been adjusted somewhat. The effects I was failing, dismally, to achieve have miraculously manifested themselves.

And I guess this gives some sort of pointer to my hopeless inability to master new fangled stuff. I like to race my toy cars with other blokes who race their toy cars, and I don't really read anything deep and meaningful into it.

I like racing the latest goodies as much as the next man, but no more than I like to see 4 old pin guide D-types leaping and lurching round the track. Motorised ballet to me!

Perpetual fame is something that seems to get attached to serial killers and cruel dictators so I'll count myself lucky I missed my chance

I would like to take this chance to apologise to Tropi for diverting the thread away from his intended direction. I saw it, as others did, as some sort of attempt to standardise racing rules not as a plea to the manufacturers for standardisation in their particular area.

Cheers, Mr.M (feeling a lot better now, thank you for asking)
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