World Speed Records

How fast is the fastest slot car in a straight line?  This is probably the simplest and most obvious question about slot car world records: it is certainly a question I've been asked many times by the public.    

Full size cars have been specially built to be the fastest in a straight line since the end of the 19th century, quite early in the 20th century these cars became too fast for normal roads, and the later records were set at places like Bonneville salt flats and various deserts. Slot cars have a miniature version of the same problem.  There can be no doubt that given a long enough and smooth enough straight track, slot cars could be made to achieve higher top speeds than is possible on the  circuits and drag strips where slot cars normally race.   The record lap for a Blue King track averages  over 80mph / 130 kph, so there can be no doubt the maximum speed is higher than the average. The fastest slot dragsters are said to have terminal speeds around 135-140mph, the highest claim I’ve seen is 158 mph but more details of the exact speed and how it was measured would be needed to give a precise record.

Back in January 1964 “Car Model” magazine published a claim that a slot dragster had achieved 199.9 mph.  The February 1964 edition of  “Car Model” withdrew the 199 mph and claim to have calculated the maximum speed “in the 70 - 80 mph range”.  Even 70 mph is pretty impressive for 1964, but  there is some room for scepticism about  whatever calculations were done.

Just occasionally somebody sets out a slot racing equivalent of the Bonneville salt flats. This has been done for various categories of hard bodied cars, but their maximums were a little over 50 mph,  well below the averages lap speeds achieved by the fastest circuit racing slot cars.

There is a report of 139.784 km / hr  = 86.858 mph achieved by Hans Kock at Pforzheim, Germany at Christmas 1992.     The track had two 12 meter straights, one upside down (!), with 180 degree loops joining them.   The cars used aerodynamics to keep them in the slot on the upside down straight.
On a conventional track, the King  track world record was raised to over 80 mph average
(see separate story).

There was a claim to have achieved 158.8 mph (255.6 km/hr) in June 2009 in the USA, but the organizers subsequently discovered problems with their measuring equipment and withdrew the claim. It seems their actual speed was in the region of 60 mph.

Exactly what speed does the fastest slot car do?    As far as I can establish nobody really knows.  Slot cars will certainly exceed 86mph, some may have maximum speeds as high as 140 mph.  I'd certainly be very interested to hear from anybody who has measured these speeds.  

In May 2018 a record for Scalextric brand cars of  36.6mph/58.9kph  was shown on British Channel 5 TV. By using a  "scale speed" calculation they claimed a much higher speed.


These are all actual speeds.   Sometimes vastly higher records are claimed by using  "scale speed".  Unfortunately there are several different ways of calculating scale speed, so "scale speed" doesn't mean much unless it is made clear which type of scale speed they are talking about.    I've  stuck  to real speed as this is easily understood and unambiguous.  

Updated May 2021

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