One of the all-time greatest Christmas presents for boys has to be Scalextric. A gift which appeals to all ages, Scalextric first went on sale 50 years ago.
Created by Fred Francis, the ground-breaking concept was a tinplate toy with an electric engine, steered by a gimball wheel and driven by a simple on/off switch. There was no throttle modulation, so power delivery tended to be a little abrupt, but that crude beginning spawned an industry that expanded phenomenally over the next two decades.
Scalextric’s heyday was in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Back then it was the top of Christmas present lists every year. However, in the early 1980’s Atari introduced the first video games and knocked Scalextric from its perch. The 1980’s and 1990’s were also difficult times.
With manufacturing now switched to China the business is blossoming again thanks to the desirability of the finished product and largely to the advent of digital technology that enables up to six cars to race simultaneously while swapping between two lanes.
Scalextric Racing – Pit Stop Cafe
The Pit Stop Cafe near Spalding boasts five circuits: Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Catalunya, Edinburgh and Donnington Park. Each circuit has four lanes and races are endurance style, mangaed by computer.
Serious racers can also turn up on Thursday’s “club” night, where the crash and burn rule comes into effect, under which a spin means elimination. Straight lap racing is also popular and there is also “rally” style that involves taking the fastest laps from five in each lane.
Further information is available at Scalextric Racing.