At Timaru we race 1/32 and 1/24 scale slot cars governed by BSCRA specifications.
Whilst these may have a passing resemblance to Scalextric cars they are in fact very different. There are four main components to a slot car- the chassis, motor, tyres and body. These are explained below.
- The Chassis
Traditionally made from brass and piano wire these are now more commonly made from laser cut stainless steel.
The car’s chassis, although very light, has carefully developed flexible and hinged parts to achieve high cornering speeds.
- The Motor
Slot car motors vary depending on the class of car being raced. These can cost between a few pounds and a few hundred pounds.
- The Tyres
Made from rubber these provide the all important traction and grip that allows these cars to race at the speeds they do. Each tyre has to be fitted to ‘hubs’ and then turned down to the desired size required depending on what chassis it will be fitted to. Before each race the driver applies a sticky substance (known as ‘gloop’) to the tyres to also aid grip.
- The Body
These are lightweight and designed to have a passing resemblance to real cars although lack any real detail. The main job of the body is to make the car as aerodynamic as possible by providing downforce, just like in real racing cars. These are very lightweight and are typically vacuum formed form Lexan.
Unlike the plastic home tracks most people are familiar with (although the principle is the same) the cars race on a wooden track with a slot routed into the surface. Two copper conductors per lane supply the power to the cars and is picked up via the brushes either side of the guide blade on the bottom of the car. The conductors can be copper tape or more usually coated copper braid.
Each lane is colour coded and during a race each driver will race in all lanes.
Club tracks are normally built from MDF with 4 lanes with a lap length of around 100 feet. Tracks used for national and international events generally have 8 lanes and a much longer lap of around 180 feet.
The cars are controlled by a hand held controller. In it’s simplest form this consists of a variable resistor operated by a finger or thumb operated trigger. Modern controllers have controls to vary the amount of total power, the rate the power is applied and the amount of braking applied to the car when the trigger is released.
Some controllers have changeable resister boards (chips) that can also vary the sensitivity of the controller, this is important as the motors in the different types of cars have different characteristics.
Correct setup of the controller can make a big difference to the way the car handles on track and so precise controller setup is essential.