1969 Hot Wheels Automatic Lap Counter – quick fix

The 1969 Hot Wheels automatic lap counter is a cool device for…well…counting “lap after lap” action.  It’s a neat design that reminds me of a race track control tower where someone is watching and recording all the events.

Front/side view of Automatic Lap Counter.

Back/side view of Automatic Lap Counter.

Primarily, it came with Super-Charger sets.

Instruction sheet for Lap Counter with Super-Charger layout. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

But it could be used anywhere.  I find them quite useful on orange track Sizzlers sets where they count laps and slow cars down for upcoming hills or curves.

It’s a straight forward device that uses a swingarm to trigger each lap count.  The problem is, most automatic lap counters sold on eBay, Craigslist, and your local garage sale don’t work properly.

Typically, the one’s counter (0 through 9) works fine.  But the ten’s counter usually doesn’t work at all.  I’ve noticed this pattern even on eBay sales where the description says, “this automatic lap counter works!”

The only chance you have of getting a fully functional automatic lap counter is when the one’s column is showing “0”.  If an automatic lap counter has been stored for the past 40 plus years with the one’s column showing “1, 2, 3…or 9” then the little plastic retainer that engages the metal clip against the ten’s column has been stretched out of shape and no longer works properly.

Tweezer pointing at the little plastic retainer (which is T-shaped) that engages the metal clip against the 10’s column.

Fortunately, the fix for this is quick and easy.

You need a small, rubber “O” ring, about the size of your little finger.  These are readily available at hardware and automotive centers.

Slide the “O” ring onto the swing arm of the lap counter.

Push it up the swing arm.

The final position is on the little plastic retainer just below it’s cross piece.

This reinforces the plastic retainer and allows it to now engage the metal clip against the ten’s column when the counter comes round to it.

Final position of the 0-ring on the swing arm.

When storing an automatic lap counter you want the plastic retainer mechanism at full rest and not under pressure.  This is achieved when the one’s column is showing 0.  It doesn’t matter what the ten’s column is showing.

When the one’s column is on the 0, the metal clip that moves the counter numbers is sitting in an open recess on the one’s column side which is white in color.

The recess in the one’s column is white in color. The right side of the metal clip is resting in it between the 2 and 3.

Here’s a look at my YouTube channel which demonstrates the “quick fix”.

There you have it.  The 1969 Hot Wheels Automatic Lap Counter.  It’s easy to fix.  It’s still fun.

Here’s a 1969 Collectors’ Catalogue image:

Here’s an example of an Automatic Lap Counter that is “sold seperately”:

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – bottom. Courtesy eBay.


Box art – top. Courtesy eBay.


Box contents. Courtesy eBay.