Building a Slot Car

Motors - This is another area where the new customer can be quickly confused and sometimes overwhelmed with the number of available choices. Motors can range in price anywhere from around $10 to over $300!  It is possible to have just as much fun - especially in the beginning - with a motor that is very inexpensive as it is with the ultra-sophisticated models. Again, you simply trust your professional track owner to sell you something that is within your budget and learning curve.

Chassis - Let me see…do I buy a "stamped steel" or a "laser-cut" EDM or a "brass-wire" combination…or what? Again, there are numerous styles available, depending upon what class or style of car you want to buy and race. My recommendation? Buy a good "starter kit" at the raceway which has a car already built and "ready-to-drive" - usually has a steel chassis which has been "formed" and all the parts are lovingly assembled for you at the factory. The kit also has the "hand control" you’ll need to "drive" the car around the race tracks. Some of these kits also have a few basic tools and extra parts. These kits cost anywhere from around $50 to $100 and definitely the only way to go for someone just getting started in this fascinating hobby.

Bodies...Bodies...And More Bodies! - Slot car bodies are as varied as people, and when you look on the wall at the slot car raceway, you’ll be convinced. They are in all sizes and shapes for all scales and styles of racing. What you will see more of will be vacuum-molded of very durable "Lexan" plastic which resists tearing and damage. You can buy them "clear" and paint your own, or there are hundreds available that are already painted and detailed by a wide variety of companies.

Whatever body style you choose, when it comes time to actually "race" it in competition, you’ll need to add a driver interior, three numbers and appropriate decals. After all…this is "scale racing"…merely smaller versions of actual race cars. For years many enthusiasts built plastic model kits, then mounted them onto slot car chassis and raced them. This very popular style of racing is coming back strong and is called "hard-body" racing. For some there is nothing like the thrill of fender-banging a competitor and knocking parts off in crashes.

Tires - If you were amazed at the number of available motors, chassis, and bodies, just take a gander at the racing tires they have in stock!  They are manufactured in almost every color of the rainbow, but black has become the most popular in the past year or so. Prices vary according to the type of rubber used and the hub material. Some hubs are machined from aluminum - others from lightweight magnesium. Many styles of rear tires now have "white" lettering on the sidewalls, such as "Goodyear Eagle" and such.

Some newer slot car tires are made of what can best be described as "fish" rubber…very smelly so keep away from your nose! You never have to worry about slot car tires being "round" today like we did in the 60’s and 70’s. The manufacturing processes used today are extremely exact and they come right out of the package, ready to install and go racing. There are also different types of "front" wheels/tires which are used for non-scale racing. These are smaller, narrower, lighter, and are only on the cars because the rules state they must be there.

Tools And Other Parts - You’ll walk around many raceways open mouthed, looking at regular customers and their large "slot boxes" crammed full of all sorts of tools and electronic gadgetry. Who knows…if you get into this like many of us have, you’ll end up with something very similar. Don’t worry about it at first…add what you need as the need arises.