► Lockdown racing fun
► Nostalgic slot-car racers
► Things have moved on a lot
How do you get your driving fix when you’re not allowed to drive? We’ve already covered the best racing games, as well as the best car shows to watch on Netflix – but what about some less high-tech, nostalgic fun?
Scalextric still exists, but it’s not the mess of wires that it used to be – and it won’t produce that exciting ‘eau de transformer’ smell it used to, either. Scalextric can still give you some simple analogue fun, but now packs in some serious tech – giving you everything from brakes that work to the ability to change lanes and even record laptimes.
Further lockdown activities
Here you’ll find a list of our favourite current Scalextric sets, from the bog-standard ones that bear a passing resemblance to sets you may remember, to others which sit somewhere between racing games and train sets. Keep reading to find out how you can upgrade your existing gear.
ARC Air World GT: Ford GT GTE vs Mercedes AMG-GT3
A mid-range taste of what Scalextric means in 2020, ARC Air World GT offers everything you’d want from a modern slot-car racing set. ARC stands for App Racing Control. The hand controllers are wireless and even rumble nowadays, and it supports two racers on track at one time. There’s even a braking button, so you can let loose on the straight and still stay on the black stuff when the corners turn up. The cars aren’t bad either: both the Ford GT and Mercedes AMG GT3 are endurance racing modern classics.
Stock Car Challenge
Stock Car Challenge is one of the most low-tech sets here – but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. The controllers have wires, and in true stock car style, the racing equipment is pretty basic, too. Still, you do get a good amount of track, and it’s also possible to put it together in four different layouts. A good starting point if you’re just after some quick fun – it can always be upgraded later.
ARC Pro 24hr Le Mans set
This is pretty much the pinnacle of Scalextric in 2020. You’ll need to download an app, but this Le Mans sets gives you 532cm of track, and everything from fuel usage, brakes and KERS to the ability to lane change. Yup, that means you can literally choose your line into corners, and try to outwit your opponent. The strategy continues with tyre wear and pit stops, too.
Micro Scalextric: Wacky Races
Well, we had to, didn’t we? This is a simpler, Micro Scalextric set for younger racers – and that means it’s cheaper but also has much more durable cars. The track is a little different too, and features a loop for some extra action. At 408cm, it gives you a good amount of track – and most importantly also includes Dick Dastardly and Mutley – essentially the Ferrari F1 team but without the help of the FIA.
ARC Pro: Sunset Speedway
Welcome to the future – well, the future of slot car racing. Sunset Speedway uses Scalextric’s range-topping ARC Pro system, and it puts players in a weird space between gaming and physical, slot-car racing. You’ll need to download an app to manage the races, but it’s worth it.
Sunset Speedway gives you multi-car racing with up to six cars, lane-changing, pit stops, tyre wear, fuel usage and even post-race statistics. There are only three cars included: a McLaren 720S, Jaguar CX75 and Lamborghini Centenario – not much for 681cm of track. Thankfully, the set can support another three cars.
It’s pricey, but there’s not much else to do right now, is there?
How to convert your existing track
Got a dusty Scalextric set in the loft? It turns out you can make it work with the new kit we’ve written about above – but you will need to fork out for a few bits and pieces.
First, your cars will need digital chips to bring your existing cars into the 2020 era. These add-ons bring the tech behind the ability to use KERS and change lanes. You can get them here.
Next, you’ll need to get bits of track that support the new functionality, and you can get that direct from Scalextric here.
Lastly, an ARC Pro powerbase will be the new brain behind the latest set-up – and you’ll need to buy some new, wireless hand controllers with the ability to brake and boost.