Hot Wheels Lap Counters

There was a strong emphasis on racing in the early years of Hot Wheels. To make it happen Mattel gave you the equipment for real competition. This includes 3 different lap counters from the first 4 years of Hot Wheels production.

It all starts off in 1969 with the single-lane Automatic Lap Counter.  You get 99 laps out of it and the return to “00” signifies lap 100.

Lap Counter 1

Lap Counter 4

Close up of activity in the observation tower.

Close up of activity in the observation tower.

For proper storage the one’s column must be on 0.

LC1

It doesn’t matter what the ten’s column is showing. If you have a lap counter that has been sitting for the past 40+ years on a number in the one’s column that isn’t zero, then you find that the ten’s column malfunctions.

Fortunately there’s a quick fix for this:

For 1970 the dual-lane Lap Counter came out. You get 20 laps counted in 2 lanes.

Box art - front.

Box art – front.

Box art - back.

Box art – back.

For proper storage the counters should both be showing “20”.

Stored with counters on the 20s.

Stored with counters on the 20s.

Anything less (and zero is the worst) means the spring mechanisms have been under tension for the past 4+ decades and will have stretched out. Then you’ll probably find that it works fine up to lap 16 or so, but the last 3 or 4 laps just won’t register.

Fixing this is problematic because you have to break into the glue-sealed case without causing major damage.

Finally, in 1971, we get the Sizzlers Lap Computer.

Box art- front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art- front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

This slick device works on Fat Track and counts 100 laps for 4 cars.  It is done by tunnelling the Sizzlers cars into a single lane where antennas on the back of each car tick off every lap for a given lane.  The triggers for counting laps are located in the ceiling of the Lap Computer tunnel. After lap 99 comes the checkered flag.

For proper storage, all lanes should be showing checkered flags.

Stored with all 4 lanes showing checkered flags.

Stored with all 4 lanes showing checkered flags.

This is much like the dual-lane lap counter because the rewind springs are in the least tension when the checkered flags are visible.  If you buy one of these that has the zeros showing, then 40+ years of storage will have stretched the springs and you will get decent counting up to lap 90 or so, but the last 10 (and certainly the last 2 or 3) laps will not register.  It’s tough to be leading a 100 lap race only to get stuck on lap 97.

Repairing these is also very difficult because you have to break into the heavily glued sides of the lap computer.

So there you have it.  Lap counters from 1969 to 1971. Let the racing begin.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Here are the instructions for each lap counter.

IMG_1250

Dual-lane Lap Counter instructions - Step 1.

Dual-lane Lap Counter instructions – Step 1.

Steps 2 & 3.

Steps 2 & 3.

Back of Dual-lane Lap Counter instructions.

Back of Dual-lane Lap Counter instructions.

Lap Computer - front.

Lap Computer – front.

12

Step 1.

Step 1.

Steps 2 & 3.

Steps 2 & 3.

Steps 4 & 5.

Steps 4 & 5.

Last page.

Last page.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Hot Wheels Lap Counters

  1. Do you have any write ups about tracks from the early to mid 70s where there was a lever to push down which would move an arm and sling the cars around the track for another lap. I’m trying to find some of those for my kid. These new wall tracks are lame – there’s no racing involved. It’s just putting the car in the same spot and watching it go to the bottom. Thanks

    • Hi Mark, Sounds like you are talking about the 1970/1971 Rod Runner. The Rod Runner is my personal favourite means of running Hot Wheels in a drag race or on an oval track. I have numerous write ups of Rod Runner sets on this blog. Just scroll through the category listings on the right hand side of the front page of my blog and click on “Rod Runner”. Similarly, you can see working examples of these Rod Runner tracks on my YouTube site “Smackeral Cafe”. I have a playlist entitled “Rod Runner Sets”. Mattel never reissued this launcher so I have gone to eBay to get mine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s