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Timing and lap counting

A lap counter is essential for competitive racing. All HO track systems offer their own basic mechanical lap counter, allowing you to race over a set number of laps, but usually not that many. The AFX unit only counts ten laps, with Micro Scalextric offering 49 laps.

Tomy AFX have a new digital lap counter (picture, top right) which counts up to 99 laps and has a countdown sequence plus a penalty for a jumped start.

To race against the clock, you can add a kitchen timer to count down from two minutes - and with that you can replicate a WHO race.

Stand-alone lap timers

The next step up is a lap timer. There a few stand-alone options available, including the older Tomy AFX Electronic Control Station (picture, right) which is still available from Australia.

There is also the Slot Dragon system from Thailand, which has good reviews and offers an additional drag strip module.

Computer timing

Being able to link your track to a computer opens up a number of excellent race management software programmes.

Some, like LapTimer 2000 and Ultimate Racer, are free. All you need is sensors to fit in the track. Greg Braun’s excellent HO Slot Car Racing site talks you through how to do this.

What we now use at the club is TrackMate. A full plug & play system is available - or you can use the ‘module’ (picture, right) with your own components. A light bridge and sensors come with the kit.

If you want to use a dead strip system (like we do at the club - see bottom right), you’ll need to build the dead track piece. Instructions are included with TrackMate, or can be found on Greg Braun’s site.

Track Mate has its own software, but you can also use Race Co-ordinator, a very versatile software system that is getting rave reviews from both home racers and clubs.

One thing that most race management software does is to control the track power via a relay. Greg Braun’s site has instructions on using a solid state relay with a computer’s parallel port.

The TrackMate module controls one standard relay. To use one per lane, there are four-relay powered modules widely available.

- Andy Player

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