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Electric Avenue – A history of Scalextric

Electricity is becoming the main power source for new road vehicles, but it also provided the start for many motoring enthusiasts through the power of Scalextric.

Developed in the late 1950s, Scalextric provided the entry to car ownership for many children across the world where it taught the most important skills including throttle control, patience, maintenance and finesse.

Invented by engineer B. Fred Francis using an electric motor installed inside Scalex tin cars, which were in turn produced by Minimodels Ltd. The first Scalextric set was made in 1956 in England and unveiled a year later at the Harrogate Toy Fair, it was targeted at children although adults also were attracted to the product due to the speed, competition and the models initially produced based on Formula 1 cars.

Ownership transferred to Lines Brothers in 1958 before being changing to Rovex and later merging into Hornby Hobbies of which Scalextric continues to be part of its range to this day.

In 1960, plastic bodies replaced the original tinplate examples at a scale of 1/32 and the premise of the product has remained the same throughout.

Cars have become quicker, circuits more reliable and simpler to put together, while just like in real motor racing tyre technology in addition to further set-up options ensure Scalextric remains fresh for future generations.

Pushing the limits of Scalextric, Top Gear host James May for his Toy Stories documentary series built a Scalextric circuit around the original Brooklands layout in 2009. It took 350 volunteers to build and race around the 2.75 mile (4.43km) navigating through various obstacles including offices, drains, housing estates and lakes. This effort broke the previous Guinness World Record for longest Scalextric track.

Of course, Scalextric has recently started recreating some of Australia’s great touring cars including Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan’s 1965 Total Ford Mustang, a variety of Peter Brock’s Holdens and Allan Moffat’s Fords, the 2020 Repco Bathurst 1000 winning Holden ZB Commodore, Bob Jane’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1, Norm Beechey’s Neptune Racing Mustang and many more.

Competitions for Scalextric exist across Australia and travelling sets attend various events including car meets each year.

But most importantly Scalextric continues to introduce motoring to a new generation.