Triggers and Tracks: Reminiscing about Slot Cars

Slot cars have been around for quite some time. They have been the source of fun for many generations at many levels. Defined as scale model cars with a pin to guide it on an inlaid track powered by electricity. A handheld controller regulates the voltage that activates the miniature racer. The basic car enthusiast or hard core racer used varying car sizes and tracks to carry out their racing fantasies.

The first technology roughly similar to a slot cars was made by Lionel Model Train Company as early as 1912. Though the toys were trains that sat atop of raised rails, the basic technology is what slot cars would eventually become.  By 1954 the power plant had evolved into a safe and reliable electric system.  To keep from infringing on patent holder’s rights, the Southport Model Engineering Society in the U.K. built the first inlaid, six lane slot car track. In the early 1960’s U.K. companies started making models and tracks to sell and the U.S. shortly followed suit. Aurora, Faller and Tyco toy companies rolled in the big bucks once slot car racing became all the rage. By 1963 1.5 million slot cars were produced and played with.

As technology continued to evolve recreational users started to drop off. It wasn’t as fun to play with cars that went so fast they couldn't stay on the track. The common complaint was slot car racing became too specialized and too technical for just a rainy day activity.

The thing about slot car tracks that made them more intensive than any other racing toy was the flexibility of the hobby. The tracks could be massive, permanent structures or makeshift build-your-own layouts.  It could have features to fulfill the fantasy of zooming through the streets of Monaco or the bare bones of a racing facility set up on the living room coffee table. They were more animated than their other toy car counterparts as they appeared to move on their own. Consuming countless hours of fun, many slot car tracks and cars have survived the test of time. We at the World of Speed have quite the collection of slot car memorabilia well worth your time to ogle at.