Little Juiced Coupes: Tricked-Out Toy Race Cars

By Matthew Kronsberg

Feb. 28, 2014 10:48 a.m

Tricked-Out Toy Race Cars

SINCE 1912, when the model-train manufacturer Lionel adapted the system that powered its locomotives to create a pair of dueling Stutz Bearcats, the slot car has been a staple of the great American toy box. Like their predecessors, these cars drew power from the electrified track and had a small pin on the bottom to keep them on course. By 1965, slot cars were a half-billion-dollar industry in the U.S., and there were an estimated 3,000 slot-car parlors where fans gathered to race.

While you can still buy race-car sets that are functionally identical to the classic models, technology has kept these toys from being a one-way trip down memory lane. Two of the biggest slot-car manufacturers are developing smartphone apps that will allow drivers to monitor their cars’ performance in real time and to fine-tune the races. Meanwhile, upstart toy makers are reinventing the track, bringing video-game-style play into the third dimension. These four models run the gamut from old-school to cutting edge, but are all great ways to relive (or introduce a child to) the joy of sprawling out on the floor to watch tiny cars whiz by.

Full article here: Little Juiced Coupes: Tricked-Out Toy Race Cars