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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is today’s 4 car set for racing. These are original redlines.
Here’s a blast down the track.
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.