Using kids as an excuse to get back on track with Scalextric

6

Author: James PagePublished:

Having children is an expensive business and makes distant memories of lie-ins, two minutes of peace and quiet, and spontaneous nights out.

On the plus side, you have the perfect excuse to revisit toys from your youth. For the kids' sake, obviously.

When I were a lad, there was a room that we all referred to rather grandly as ‘the study’. In truth, it was the basement, and is where my Dad still keeps his enormous collection of Autosport and Motor Sport magazines. Some of the latter are pre-war or even wartime issues.

For a while, though, it was also my Scalextric room.

The sections of track were mostly ones from Dad’s youth, so they were already more than 20-years old. There was a ritual before each game: make sure that the connections at the end of every piece weren’t about to fall off (or hadn’t just done so) and wire-brush the most sorry-looking sections.

And that was just the track. The cars were a little past their best, too, so their wire contacts had to be massaged back into shape to coax a little more life out of them.

Even after all that, there would inevitably be a ‘dead’ section at which the cars would just stop.

The more I played, the more gleaming new sections were added, until I could create passable versions of the great race tracks of old. Not even Brooklands was out of the question, thanks to small green blocks that created banked corners.

My crowning glory, however, was Le Mans – the non-chicane layout, of course. The basement wasn’t all that big, but it was just about long enough to house a scaled-down recreation of the famous eight-mile road circuit.

Sadly, the kitchen adjoined the ‘study’ and the downstairs telephone was in the latter. One evening, Mum went rushing in to answer a call and, in the dark, tripped over the Mulsanne Straight. After that, layouts that took up the entire room were frowned upon.

To begin with, I used whatever old cars I could find in the box of bits. One was a Ferrari P4 – in red, with gold wheels – another was a British Racing Green GT40.

But then I got more serious. On Bristol’s Gloucester Road, there used to be a model shop with the wonderful name of Nobby’s Hobbies. We would pay regular visits to Nobby, mostly so that I could hand over my pocket money. Plus, no doubt, some of Dad’s own hard-earned.

There was a Porsche 961 that was raced at Le Mans by Claude Ballot-Lena and Rene Metge, plus a Lotus 79 (above), but my favourite was a John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956 (below). It featured a ‘lightweight’ body and a rear sprocket that could be changed to give different ‘gear ratios’. You could also adjust the rear track and the wheelbase. All of this was grandly titled the Super Racing System.

Group C cars featured heavily, with a Jaguar XJR-9 in IMSA Castrol colours and a Porsche 962 also doing battle.

I was a bit of a purist with my Scalextric, so there were none of those silly narrow sections or lane-changing crossovers – and certainly no ‘leaps’. If my kids decide they want those, I will argue that they are not very authentic and then sulk. But I’ll probably have to give in. I won’t be letting them win, though…

That’s if I get the chance. When my wife asked what I was writing and I explained that it was a blog about my old Scalextric stuff that’s still at my parents’ house (and which took quite a lot of digging out for the photographs), she immediately said: “It’s not coming here.”

Comments

Pre 80s TVR

About 10 years ago a friend and I found a guy at Beaulieu autojumble selling 3 huge boxes of Scalextric track and controllers, so we bartered him down to a price for all 3 then split it evenly between us. With the result that we both have enough track to keep our kids highly amused for hours. You're never too old for it...

Oliver.

TVR Car Club Pre80s Editor

Dadio

James

Once your kids (and YOU) discover the delights of GranTurismo 5 on the Playstation, the Scalextric set is doomed to gather dust in the loft forevermore!

Dadio

Dadio

James

Once your kids (and YOU) discover the delights of GranTurismo 5 on the Playstation, the Scalextric set is doomed to gather dust in the loft forevermore!

Dadio

Bloggins

Oh the joy of slot cars! I was fortunate to be just the right age to enjoy the slot car boom of the mid-sixties. Scalextric was a bit out of my price range over here in Canada, so I had the cheaper Strombecker set-up. All well and good it was too, but the big time came with the opening of the commercial tracks with circuits of 8 or 10 lanes and lap lengths of 100 feet and more. And the selection of cars! Ford GT, Lotus 30, Chaparral 2D, Cooper Monaco, plus most of the F1 cars of the day were all available from the likes of Cox and Monogram. Learning to built chassis from brass tubing and then grafting on a static shelf model body opened the door to even more choice. I wish the E-type sitting in my garage today could bring me the same unadulterated excitement that those slot cars did back in the day.

Addicted Australian

I have just spent Easter in a 3 bedroom country cottage with four kids under 6. The only thing that got them to put down their DS consoles was when I got out my 1980s Scalextric F1 set.

Real eye hand coordination that doesn't involve virtual inputs.

First time I'd seen them smile with genuine excitement all day!

I know get "can we play again next time we are here".

Scalextric is timeless.

michaelr205

I had a set as a child, E-type, 917, Miura etc. Loved it but it really was a pain too. I sold it when I was 16 and 10 years later my fairly new wife bought me the Le Mans 24 hour set for my birthday, the top set in the range. I think it cost around £25. Again, wonderful but a pain too, always seemed to be more time putting up the track and taking it down. That was 29 years ago and I don't think we've used it for the past 27 years. Keeping it forever though, just in case. :-)

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