28 May 2012
David Boxall takes a trip down memory lane and examines the popular hobby of slot car racing. ...
Slot car racing
Scalextric by Tri-ang
While Scalextric racing and collecting is still popular today with many devoted fans, the Scalextric heyday was probably back in the 1960s and 1970s. Clubs regularly gathered together for race meetings and competitions on multi-track courses. There were often prizes for the individual winners, team events and inter-club competitions, with league tables, cups, fame and glory.
Racing was relatively easy unless you were determined to be reckless and drive at full speed throughout the race – including the corners. The skill was to drive as fast as possible but to use your hand-control with great sensitivity. As with the hare and the tortoise, the steady hand often won, as the time replacing the car back on the track took up vital seconds during the race.
Many of the most famous cars of the 1960s were available for the race circuit, and those pictured include the Vanwall, Mercedes 190SL, Austin Healey 3000, together with the Lotus and Cooper.
The Vanwall pictured in deep green, racing here as number 16 was released as model No MM / C55 in 1960. The light blue Mercedes 190 SL racing as number 7, with left-hand drive was released as model No C75 in 1964. In the same year, the Austin Healey 3000 also shown here in deep green with right-hand drive was released as model No C74. The green Lotus racing as number 3 was released as model No C82 in 1966. Also released in 1966, is the red Cooper racing as number 5, which was released as model No C81.
Serious devotees could adapt their cars for greater speed or even build their own. A great many kits together with lists of spares were available, usually through mail-order via specialist magazines.
Racing sets came in different sizes and with appropriate cars. As today, there were a great many track accessories to be collected. The real atmosphere of the race track could be captured with the addition of buildings, track-side personnel, mechanics, bridges, barriers, and of course, the all-important crowds of spectators. As the scales for many of the manufacturers were very similar, accessories could be used side by side together.
Though we have perhaps become accustomed to referring to slot cars generally as ‘Scalextric’ cars or sets, there have always been a number of manufacturers. As an example and for comparison, images of the Airfix cars, sets and accessories have been included here.