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Comparing Track Makes

There are several sites comparing each of these tracks, the advantages, and short comings of each.  Here's an overview of what I've learned personally and reading opinions through the years.

New AFX (Tomy) Racemasters 

(AutoWorld track is fully compatible with AFX)

My previous home layout was made using Tomy track.

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Advantages
-By far, the most selection of turns from any manufacturer.
-The zig zag spring rail at each end keeps good continuity through the track rails.
-Deep slot allows all kinds of HO slot cars to be run on it.
-Higher resale value than other comparable brands of track.
-Great starter layouts available. (4-way split, Super International)
-The favorite choice among most home build tracks for these reasons.

Short falls
-Uneven rail heights and warped track sections make this a pain to layout 4 or more lanes.
-Track really needs to be modified before install by grinding the lock tabs off of each track.
Why? Because the track moves so much that the locking tabs become undone, 
creating a bump at the track joints.
-Those zig zag rail ends are great for continuity, but, if not flush, can catch a sliding
cars shoe in the turn and stop it cold, or flip it. This makes those 6" 1/8 turns hard to
deal with if you are driving a tjet or HP7.
-Track design has alot of slots and holes at each joint.

 

I read somewhere that Racemasters(Tomy) was about to retool the track sections,so most of these problems will hopefully go away.

 

Old AFX (by Aurora)

We used this years ago to build a track, and have enough to build another, maybe soon.

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Advantages
-It's cheap, and there's a lot of it out there.
-It seems to have been built more precisely.
-Once those slide joints are locked, this track joint isn't going anywhere.
-Great selection of turns, and some neat trick tracks, especially for two lane layouts.
-Deep slot allows all kinds of HO slot cars.
-Track joints can be easily soldered for permanent layouts.
-Rail height seems to be very consistent.

Short falls
-Once that slide lock breaks, there's almost no saving it.
-If track maintenance is needed, it's very hard to get a section apart without damaging other track.
-This track is dated and mostly used, so cracked or brittle sections are not uncommon.

On both AFX and Tomy, you have a narrow lane spacing that was originally designed for Tjets.
This lane spacing may cause problems with some kinds of slot cars.

My current, all Aurora AFX "Mushroom" track on a 4x8 table...

Tyco, and now Mattel
It is important to mention the differences between Tyco and Mattel track.
These tracks are compatible with each other. Tyco track has a straight rail joint on each end, and has a thumb pressed lock which requires additional slots in the track at the joints.  The Mattel track is much improved over the Tyco. It has a spring loaded rail joint for much better continuity, and the track lock is unlocked from under the track, leaving no holes or slots on the track surface at the joints, much like the old AFX track.  Mattel does label there tracks with a raised letter, which is annoying.

Through the years, we have built several Tyco tracks, including Larry's Magnum track...

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and my recent Thunderbird Speedway...

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Advantages
-It's Tyco, the best name in slot car racing. (ooo that sounds biased)
-By far, the smoothest track joints, right out of the box.
-Wider lane spacing, this track was designed for 64th scale cars.
-It's straight. Short sentence, but it means alot.
-It's cheap, and there's alot of it out there.
-available in different colors, for different race settings.
-some neat trick tracks and race accessories available.
-6, 9, 12, and 15 turns to choose from.


Short falls
-Has a shallow slot, so some modifications or swapping of guide pins may be needed for some cars.
-The straight rails at the joint provide the most rail contact in theory, but need a lot of
tweaking to keep continuity throughout the layout. Unless you're using all Mattel track.
-Small selection of turns limit layout designs, although NOS track is still available.

LifeLike (Rokar, Darda, Cox)

Cox got into the HO scene in the late 70s and early 80s.  It went through several name changes and ended up as Rokar.  Their track system was similar to the old AFX with a clip in the middle, and Tyco lane spacing for 64th scale cars.  When the train maker LifeLike bought them in the early 90s, they went into mass markets.  LifeLike sold many sets in the 90s and 2000s, most of which were figure 8s.  Only 9 and 12 inch banked turns available so not many options, but you can make a killer bullring oval with it!

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Marchon (Mini Scalextric?)
Another track worth mentioning is Marchon.  They use a spring loaded rail with a track joint that looks like a combo of Tomy and Carrera GO. I have some I intend to use for a two lane layout.

(only 9" turns available in Marchon)

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