Frequently Asked Questions
What is THORL
THORL (The HO Racing League) is a body set up to promote the growth of HO scale racing in the UK at club level, with Andy and Marc having a proven track record in both racing and organising national events and races. We encourage all forms of HO slot racing and will help and advise impartial advice to anyone who asks.
What is the format of the racing?
THORL tracks have four lanes and you will complete a three minute heat in each of these. Your best three heats from the four will count as your 'score' so it is important to race the clock and not the other drivers. Your four scores will be the number of whole laps as determined by race control plus any tenths completed (the circuit is divided into 10, 20, or 100 equal segments, and race control will ask for a 'call' on the tenths/hundredths for each car at the end of all races).
The total of your three best heats will be compared with all the other drivers in your class and your qualifying position thus determined. Starting with the fastest qualifier, each competitor then selects their preferred lane for the finals (also 3 minutes). The finals then commence with the slowest three qualifiers and the winner of that race moves up into the unused lane in the next final until there are four racers in the 'A' final. The driver completing the most laps will be the overall winner of that class.
What is a slot car?
A slot car is an electrically powered model vehicle, usually a representation of a real road or race car. The cars feature a guide 'device' (usually a pin but sometimes a blade) which fits into a slot in the track. There are metal rails either side of this slot, connected to the mains (or sometimes batteries) which ''send'' power to the car. The cars have two pieces of metal on them which pick up this power, hence their name, pickups.
The electricity then goes through a small electric motor with an output shaft, this shaft is fitted with a pinion gear which meshes with a crown gear on the car's rear axle to provide drive. The tyres provide drive and some grip but the majority of HO cars receive their grip from magnets placed in the car directly above the track rails. This is the so-called magna-traction
What are the classes?
A club day will be divided into two halves, open wheel and closed wheel. All the closed wheel classes are mixed together for the heats, so the smart move is to race the clock not those around you. The class participants are then segregated for the finals.
HO scale, what is that then?
Nobody is exactly sure of the timeline, but it is commonly excepted that the HO scale (short for half-O) came about through commercial expediency as an accessory to railways sets in the 1950s. The cars where geared accordingly (as in very slowly) and could be considered 1/87th scale. Eventually racing the cars became a hobby in itself & the cars became much quicker. Nowadays the most common scale quoted is 1/64th scale.
What does it cost to race?
Like most hobbies you can spend as much as you like, unlike most (especially motor-sport based ones) HO slot car racing at club level can be very cheap. You don't need a home track (although you will have more fun if you have one, and more chances to be able to test/tune stuff) and you can use club cars and controllers indefinitely. if you do buy your own cars, expect to pay £10-£30 per car. Once you get into racing you will see in some cases that one car will do a whole season, or several seasons, with maintenance and care. Spares are cheap and plentiful (£1 or so for new pickups for example)
You can, if you wish, own cars for all the various THORL classes, or several of each and controllers can cost anything from £5-£200 but this will not necessarily get you better results, for that you will need skill and some basic tuning abilities.