Scalextric may have weathered the course of time as the most popular slot car racing system, but back in the eighties there were several challengers to the model car racing crown, the most successful of which was Total Control Racing, or TCR for short.
Unlike Scalextric which had pegs on the bottom of the cars which sat in slots on the track, Total Control Racing had little brass contacts on the cars which connected with metal wires that were embedded in the track. Â This allowed the TCR system to be a little more flexible in the features it offered, as well as making putting the cars back on the track when they spun off much simpler.
First and foremost, the big advantage TCR had over Scalextric was that the cars were not limited to driving in one lane. Â A button on the trigger controllers allowed you to make your car hop across to the other lane, which if done at the right time could knock an opponents car off the track. Â It also allowed for what became known as a “Jam Car”, which was a third car that moved around the track automatically but at a slow pace, meaning the players had to swerve round it.
The model cars in the TCR system were smaller than their Scalextric counterparts, and most had working headlights, which was a nice touch. Â There were a great many kits created, including some licenced ones including a Knight Rider set and a Dukes of Hazzard one too, which of course featured jumps, another feature that was not really feasible with Scalextric!
There were a number of similar products to TCR, including a system manufactured by Matchbox and the Aurora AFX system. Â Personally I had a slotless racing system called Power Passers, which was bought from a Sunday Market and which I had never seen for sale before or afterwards. Â It was still good fun, although getting the cars to change lanes was a bit of a pain, as it involved letting off the power from your controller then rapidly applying it again, which didn’t always seem to work.