In this post we watch a race from the ‘driver’s point of view’ as our modified slot car participates in a GT heat.
The need for speed
Television plays a major part in motorsport as fans enjoy nothing more than watching a qualifying lap or race from every angle. With the right view, cameras can really showcase the acceleration, corning speed and wheel-to-wheel battles on track – but can you capture these aspects within slot car racing?
Recently, video camera technology has developed allowing small devices such as mobile phones to incorporate high-definition cameras. Compact cameras that are lightweight also allow other devices such as drones to fly whilst filming the area below without impeding handling. So if we are to modify a 1/32 slot car to film the action out on track what are the main considerations?
Slot car limitations
Racers will know that a slot car will need to perform to a high level to compete – after all we want to film the racing at the front and not the blue flags as our car is lapped by the leader. Fundamentally, adding a camera to a conventional slot car only increases its weight and this can be a problem when the centre of gravity is altered. For cameras to get the best angle or view from the ‘driver’s perspective’ they also require a position which is much higher than the chassis baseline.
Then you must consider the type and size of camera. Handheld cameras offer the best video quality but struggle to fit within the confines of the chassis and body. Action cameras, such as a GoPro, whilst offering excellent video quality with added robustness – are still too heavy. That leaves micro cameras. If James Bond was into slot car racing I’m sure Q would equip him with much more than a video camera from a spy pen but with good quality and compactness they provide an ideal starting point.
Preparing to race
Having identified a camera type, stripped it back to its essential parts and fully charged the battery we must mount it to our chosen slot car. Ferrari lovers look away now as we explore a heavily modified Fly Ferrari F40 – most suited for our GT category at the London Scalextric Club.
At a glance, you may notice the ‘convertible treatment’ has been taken to the roof and that the interior is rather sparse. The motor has also been configured to a sidewinder position, with the help of a 3D printed chassis, optimising the angle of the camera. Foam has been positioned to protect the lens and increase image stability.
GT round one
Firstly, let me start by saying this slot car doesn’t meet all the rules. Yes, it’s a GT car and raced at Le Mans in 1996 but that’s about it. There’s a magnet in the chassis too to help compensate for the camera. Let’s just enjoy the race footage shall we – taken from a heat in championship round one.
So what did the driver see? Despite the false start. Well, after two and a half minutes on track and a quiet first minute we captured our man passing a Ninco Porsche 911, lapping a Slot.it Calibra V6 and pursuing a Slot.it Porsche 911 GT1 for the race win. Having reached the top step of the podium it was a hollow victory – but perhaps the footage captured really does show slot car racing at its best.