June 10th – Start your engines

Start your engines

It’s birthday time at the Daily Photo household, where a sports-mad 4 year old has awoken to find this gem. Despite cars and trucks of all sizes in the house, this has taken racing to a whole new level.

Model slot cars first emerged in the early 1950’s. Called Scalex, they were released by a British company Minimodels and featured clockwork powered vehicles. By the late 1950’s an electrical hybrid product was created and named Scalextric, and released at a UK toy fair in 1957.

With metal cars and lengthy production process, Minimodels was unable meet demands. Eventually the product was bought by Rovex, a company that specialised in moulded plastics. This reduced production costs and time, and the popularity of the toy skyrocketed. Eventually Hornby, a name synonymous with model railways, purchased Scalextric.

Scalextric remains a UK based company, though manufacturing has been relocated to China.

My first memory of slot cars was a set my father brought home one evening. It was a basic 3-hairpin design, glow in the dark railing and cars with headlights, but the main challenge was to prevent the cars from catapulting off the track at any of the corners.

This modern slot car ‘system’ has a throttle with adjustable power, which means vehicles can be speed-limited for the younger participant resulting in less carpet-time for the cars.

I wonder how much further investment is required to build Mt Panorama.

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