1971 Hot Wheels Big Belter/Matchmaker Drag Set

In each of the first 4 years of Hot Wheels production there was a new way of launching vehicles.  For 1968 we had the start gate, 1969 was the Super-Charger, 1970 had the Rod Runner and for 1971 the new kid on the block was the Big Belter.

BBM1

The Big Belter is a rubber band powered, sling shot style starter.  It is designed for Hot Wheels cars and Rrrumbler motorcycles but does not work with those Heavyweights that have a cab and articulating trailer.

The Match Maker replicates the function of real “Christmas Trees” used at drag strips to stage the launch of race cars.

A real drag strip Christmas Tree.

The “Christmas Tree” at Irwindale Race Track.

tree2

Staging is controlled by two infrared lights that are 2 inches above the track surface.  The Pre-Stage light goes on when the front tire breaks the first infrared light beam.  Next, the Stage light goes on when the car moves 7 inches forward and crosses the second sensor. Then 3 amber lights march down in preparation for the green light that means “GO!”.  If you get on the gas and leave too early; the red light flashes and you are disqualified.

With Mattel’s Matchmaker you lift up the center piece which allows the internal workings to reset and cascade down marking out 3 amber lights followed by a green light.  If you jump the gun, a red light shows up in place of the green light signifying a false start and you are eliminated.  Amazingly, this is an all mechanical device that uses no electricity or batteries.

Here are the instructions.  Click on any pic to see a larger image.

Instructions - Front page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – Front page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - Safe Driving Rules. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – Safe Driving Rules. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - step 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – Step 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - Steps 2 & 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – Steps 2 & 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions - Steps 4 & 5. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – Steps 4 & 5. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Today I am running a drag set that starts with the Big Belter & Matchmaker.  It has 32 feet of orange track, 14 joiners and 1 finish gate.

track

Here is today’s 4 car set for racing.  These are original redlines.

l to r: 1971 Six Shooter, 1970 Swingin' Wing, 1970 Mighty Maverick and 1969 Twinmill.

l to r: 1971 Six Shooter, 1970 Swingin’ Wing, 1970 Mighty Maverick and 1969 Twinmill.

Here’s a blast down the track.

Swingin' Wing in Lane 1 and Six Shooter in Lane 2.

Swingin’ Wing in Lane 1 and Six Shooter in Lane 2.

Waiting for the green light.

Waiting for the green light.

GOOOooo!  Screaming down the track.

GOOOooo! Screaming down the track.

ZOOOooommm!

ZOOOooommm!

Stretching to the finish.

Stretching to the finish.

Across the line.

Across the line.

How did the cars do on the drag strip?  Check out my YouTube video.

So there you have it.  The 1971 Hot Wheels Big Belter and Matchmaker drag set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Box art - end.

Box art – end.

Close up box art - front.

Close up box art – front.

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5 thoughts on “1971 Hot Wheels Big Belter/Matchmaker Drag Set

  1. Nice post and video, John! Now I know which parts I’m missing for my Big Belter. I’ll have to see if I can track down a Matchmaker and a finish gate on eBay.

  2. I’m trying to fix a broken Matchmaker. I’m fairly sure all that’s missing is the marble or ball that rolls down the internal cam and maze. It’s an amazing piece of engineering in there! The drop handle, a squarish/ovalish plastic cam with the light colors, the wire that lets the cam fall a little bit further to show the red light if you foul, and a zig-zag channel molded into the housing. It looks like the marble/s fits between a circular cup in the cam and zigzag channel.

    You wouldn’t happen to have ever opened one up to see how it works have you? Any tips will help–I can’t find anything online about this.

    Love the posts, keep ’em coming!

    • The Matchmakers that I have work beautifully so I have never had cause to open one up and take a look inside. You know more about the internal workings than I do. You could make a YouTube video of what you have seen and ask for comments on how to fix it. Someone with engineering or mechanical know-how might post a suggestion. Good luck.

  3. I opened my broken Match Maker. It is a flat oval shaped disc inside with a tiny little peg of plastic that protrudes from the back that makes it tick-tock back and forth inside the matchmaker.
    It’s suprprising that any of these have surprised intact. I’ll post pictures soon of the break down. I had to cut the Matchmaker open, it’s glued on the sides.

    The Big Belter and Matchmaker are truely an amazing piece of engineering.

    • Nice, please do! I still have this on my list! I’ve recently been thinking about 3D printing for some of the more difficult restoration needs (I’m looking at you, Tune-up Tower!) I especially like drag racing hot wheels and I still like this thing better than anything that has come out since!

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