Racing toys can be an absolute blast for kids, but picking a bad one means rough setups, poor performance, replacing expensive batteries, and racing cars and tracks that break after only a few uses.
Not so here! Out list of the best race track toys takes the most important basics into consideration.
Is it easy to set up? Does it perform as promised? Will it plow through costly batteries?
Most importantly: will it go the distance (ie: withstand actual play by actual children)?
In this article:
Our picks of the best race track toys for kids
Kids who get a thrill from real racing will love the Far Out Toys NASCAR Crash Circuit Race Track (check price on Amazon), which features more than 14 feet of double-wide race track that snap together to create a high-speed racing circuit all their own. Two cars are included in the original race track set, but this handy bundle stocks up their stock car collection by including an addition two cars for a total of four cars and chargers — great for group play!
Tracks snap together easily, and cars flash-charge in under 10 seconds, making for an exciting play experience with little wait (but do note that 4 AA batteries are required). There’s also fun accessories that add to the atmosphere and imaginative fun, including billboards, crash barrels and cones, and a winner’s circle with NASCAR décor that can really spin, adding even more pizazz to their win.
What we love
- It comes with four cars and four flash chargers, so it's great for a group to play
- Race tracks come together quickly and cars charge in under 10 seconds, so there's not much waiting
- Four AA batteries are needed for operation
- The track pieces can only be arranged in one way, so the play experience is less diverse than other race track toys
Best Hotwheels set
Race tracks that go in circles are fun, sure, but something like the dueling Hot Wheels Super Speed Blastway (check price on Amazon) that shakes up the status quo is sure to be a quick hit with car-collecting kids(and not just because it comes with 10 new Hot Wheels cars for them to enjoy). Both Hot Wheels cars race up one of two side-by-side “blastway” race car tracks using a slam launcher, traveling up a straightaway, completing a loop, and then traveling back down, with a checkered flag popping up at the finish line to signal the winner.
The simple slam launcher means even younger kids can use and enjoy this race track, which assembles fairly quickly and doesn’t take up that much room in use. It’s a fun alternative to traditional race track toys, but be aware that it can be a bit loud, and that the repetitive nature of the play may make the track less interesting to older children.
What we love
- Two side-by-side blastway race car tracks offer a fun alternative to traditional racing, and operation is so simple that younger kids can play easily
- A real checkered flag pops up at the finish line to signal victory
- It comes with 10 (!) Hot Wheels cars, an impressive number for race track toys
- It can be a bit loud during use, and could feel repetitive to older kids
- Only two racing cars can be used at once, so it's not great for a group
Best toddler racing track
Even the littlest racers can stay on track with the Early Learning Centre Wooden Click Clack Track (check price on Amazon), a cute and colorful, age-appropriate toy race track for the toddler set. The tiered track encourages the development of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as young racers use grasping, pinching, and placing movements to put cars at the top of the race track. Seeing the result of their actions bolsters their development of cause and effect logic — though it’s not branded as such, it’s a great Montessori toy for parents hoping to stimulate creativity and intelligence through imaginative and exploratory play.
There’s lots of variance in colors and patterns on this toy, and the race cars make eponymous click-clack sounds during play, offering sensory stimulus to tots. Three cars are included in the playset, which is intended for children over 18 months.
What we love
- It's one of the best race tracks for toddlers, encouraging the use of imagination and exploration through hands-on, unguided play
- The suction cups on the bottom of the race track aren't always effective, and may need to be replaced
Best race track for 3-year-old
If your toddler is a car fan, he or she will love this all-in-one set. More than just a race track, the KidKraft Mega Ramp Racing Set (check price on Amazon) includes two ramps (one straight, one spiral), a car elevator, a garage, a gas station, and a car wash, great for inspiring imaginative play.
Of course, the race track is the main attraction. It includes a launch pad that holds two race cars and releases them on the ramp at the same time to keep races fair, and a traffic light that helps count down to the start. These features help make this our best race track for toddlers.
What we love
- It has plenty of features to encourage imaginative play, like a gas station, car wash, garage, and car elevator
- Wall at the end of the race track is a little low so cars sometimes fly off the track (not that the kids mind!)
Best race track for 4-year-old
If your future racecar driver is also a future paleontologist (hey, the future is wide open), they’ll roar for this cool 273-piece Dinosaur World Race Track Set (check price on Amazon). It’s a perfect gift for a creative kid who loves to build, as the entire track is made up of individual pieces that can be placed together in loads of different track configurations to keep things interesting.
Fun decorative accessories like bridges, gates, a crossroad, trees, and, of course, dinosaurs add extra ways to inspire imagination when using this playset. There’s even a “boulder” that can roll down the race track toward their car for action-movie level pretend play drama!
Two toy cars are included in the dinosaur track toy set, but parents, take note: BOTH cars need an AA battery, so keep some on hand to avoid disappointment.
What we love
- One of the best race car tracks for imaginative play, as it features lots of decorative accents and track configurations
- There's two cars, and each needs a single AA battery to operate, so you'll need to keep them on hand
Best race track for 5-year-old
Incoming with a sizeable and speedy race track. Using problem-solving skills, your little racer will go through speed boosters, sharp turns, and a major crash zone to up the competition with the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set (check price at Sears.com) — a great logic boost.
It’s a fun change of pace from a typical racing track set like a circuit or straight track, and like most Hot Wheels tracks, it’s compatible with any Hot Wheels car, so it’s great for collectors. Parents will love the multiple parking spaces to keep little toy cars organized, which doubles as an extra way to help the younger set practice their fine motor skills.
What we love
- They'll work on their problem solving skills while having fun racing Hot Wheel cars at the same time
- They'll have fun crashing cars in the crash zone, a unique feature of this stunt track
- If set up properly, the cars will go through the loops for so long even us parents get adrenaline pumping
- The size and volume level of this race track set might make it more of a playroom only attraction
- Follow the instructions when setting this toy up, otherwise the cars will fall off track
Best for girly girls
The Liberty Imports speedway (check price on Amazon) will have your girl head-over-heels for racing. This pink and white flexible speedway enables your budding highway planner to design her own racing track layout and decorate it with playful accessories, including a bridge, road signs, and palm trees (because we’re all California dreaming). When she’s done, she can test out her design by letting the battery-operated pink car (with flashing yellow headlights) run the course. My kids enjoyed using the examples on the box to reconfigure the raceway.
What we love
- Made from non-toxic ABS plastic
- Funky pink and white color scheme
- All of the accessories make it one of the best race car sets for creative play
- The track pieces are flimsy
Best slot cars for beginners
Older kids ready to make the transition to real slot cars with a set that’s legitimate yet beginner-friendly are the perfect fit for the Carrera Evolution Slot Car Race Track (check price on Amazon), which features two real 1:32 slot cars and a track that’s over 17 feet long.
Everything they’ll need to get started with analog slot car racing is included in the box, and as they progress their interest, both the cars and the track can be upgraded to digital versions for even more speed and fun. They’re also not limited to the constraints of the kit, as the cars and track are compatible with numerous expansion packs and other vehicles sold by Carrera; in fact, it just might be the start of a well-loved collection.
This set is recommended for kids over eight years old, but be aware that the setup is a bit more complex than the average snap-together track set, so help from a parent will likely be required.
What we love
- It's a real slot car race track, with 17+ feet of track which can be expanded and converted to digital versions if desired
- Setup takes a bit of time, focus, and skill, and may be too much for younger users
Best for multi-track combos
Twists, turns and loops are part of what makes slot cars so much fun, which is why we love the Remoking Rail Race RC Track (check price on Amazon). It’s a three-dimensional “Super Track” which features over 338 inches of track pieces that kids can assemble in their own unique combinations to create a new track every time. A car feeder ramp adds even more fun, launching the two included cars onto the translucent green and yellow track. Easy grip-style remote controls are also included, which require 2 AAA batteries to play.
What we love
- 336″+ of track means that kids can build nearly unlimited racing track combos with this set
- The enclosed connectors can be used to connect this set to other compatible slot car tracks for an even more extreme course
- The car-feeder ramp is lots of fun
- The controllers require 2 AAA batteries to operate, which aren’t included
- There’s choking hazards present, so it’s not safe for kids under 3
Best for Disney Cars fans
It’s hard to imagine a better race track toy for a little Disney’s Cars fan than the Disney and Pixar Cars Rust-Eze Speedway (check price at Target.com), which lets them drift, crash, and race with their favorite character, Lightning McQueen. The 20 piece set is fairly easy to assemble, and kids can easily graduate from doing practice laps on the toy’s lower track to letting loose on the upper track, where 360 drifts and competitive racing are on the docket.
Parents should note that while this set is compatible with other Disney Pixar 1:55 race cars, it only includes one car, so it’s not ideal for sharing right out of the box. The set also needs four D batteries to operate, so you’ll want to keep some on hand.
What we love
- It's a fun track for Cars fans, especially because they'll race with a Lightning McQueen car
- Assembly is easy, and kids can alternate between easy practice laps and more competitive, higher-speed action by switching between the lower and upper tracks
- It comes with just one car, and four D batteries are required
Best light-up race track toy
What could be cooler than a regular race track? Ontel Magic Race Track (check price on Amazon) glows, and comes with a light-up car!
This track is sure to catch and keep kids’ attention thanks to colorful, shining track, and the LED lights which gleam from each of five racecars as they circle the track. Of course, it’s not just nice to look at — cleanup is a breeze with this race track toy, as pieces roll right up to be conveniently stored for next time.
What we love
- Everything related to cars in one place
- The bright and engaging LED lights make for a fun glow in the dark experience
- The pieces of the track do not light up themselves, only the race cars have LED lights
- The cars are not the best construction, so keep them away from younger hands
Hot Wheels are fun, but there’s an entire world of race track toys just waiting to be played with. As a mom of three boys, sending a miniature car around a never-ending loop-de-loop sounded about as fun as rereading Goodnight Moon for the 400th time, but I digress.
My 7- and 10-year-olds were like moths to a flame when it came to the Far Out Toys NASCAR Race Track playset (check price on Amazon). The spinning winner’s circle and fast-charging cars made the best race track toy in our family’s estimation. On top of that, I give it two mom-thumbs-up for its easy assembly and shareability.
How we chose these race track toys
We are real parents with real kids – always a helpful start when reviewing children’s toys! We also have an in-house research and review process that we’re really proud of. It goes like this:
- Speak with our team of families and the wider social network community. The aim is to interview parents who have owned products for more than a year. (They are the best people to honestly dish the dirt.)
- Next we hit specialist hobby forums (eg Slot Forum) and chat to some of the parents there
- Next, with a (very) skeptical eye, we read all the top review articles recommended by Google
- Finally, we spend hours reading real customer reviews. (Yep, we know that many reviews are unreliable, but we have a tried and tested approach for unearthing real family feedback while avoiding the fake stuff.)
That’s it. Simple, but it takes time and dedication to do properly!
Can race tracks be expanded?
When 10-feet of single loop race track doesn’t cut it, an extension pack may be the answer. If you’re expanding a slot racing kit, such as Carrera, analog cars and track systems are the way to go. Just be sure to double-check the scale before crossing the finish line — read: hitting the “buy” button (Slot Car Wiki).
Major race track toy manufacturers, including Hot Wheels and Magic Tracks, also feature several expansion opportunities. With masses of track, multiple cars, and specialty accessories, expandable race tracks offer hours of indoor entertainment.
Does size matter?
Take size into account when you’re choosing a race track playset. Those 18-foot race car sets take up a good chunk of your living room. Not to mention, if your kid is anything like mine, you’ll have better success playing darts with spaghetti than getting them to take apart their creation.
What to look for in a kids racing track toy
Most race tracks are geared toward children between the ages of 3 and 8. Tracks for younger children should have large chunky pieces that snap together with ease. Preschoolers benefit from pretend play and building games, so be on the lookout for construction-geared race track kits when shopping for little ones.
With that said, an electric or remote-controlled race track toy should be reserved for mature children. In fact, kids should be eight or older before they give slot racing cars a try. If you’re willing to teach your child how to drive a remote-controlled car, these are a great option too. However, overcomplicated steering and speed controls may prevent young racers from fully enjoying a toy.
Sibling rivalry can be a real drag. Make sure you’ve got enough remote controls to satisfy all of your offspring. If your kid is serious about their racing stats, you may want to also look for a playset with multiple lane counters.
Bumpers, slopes, bridges, lifts, loops, signs, and roadblocks help trigger the imagination while allowing children to personalize their racing experience. What’s more, accessories bridge the gap between racing and pretend play (which is essential to children’s development).
There are two types of parents in this world: those that remember the batteries and those that don’t! Don’t get bogged down with battery-heavy toys! Forgotten batteries can emit corrosive chemicals or get swallowed by unknowing toddlers. Not to mention, a lack of battery power can put a serious damper on fun. Take note of how many batteries (if any) are needed to power up your child’s race track toy. Set aside a spare set or two to keep things moving when your batteries’ voltage falls flat.
Pay close attention to the length and terms of a race track toy’s warranty. Oftentimes, race track pieces and motorized vehicles will boast separate guarantees. You can expect a warranty that’s congruous with the price you pay. Don’t expect a 2-year return window on a plastic course.