NASCAR – “Start your Engines” with Dale Earnhardt Snr.

NASCAR – “Start your Engines” with Dale Earnhardt Snr.

1997: Dale Earnhardt’s famous No.3 Goodwrench sponsored car was to be the first NASCAR car to be released by Scalextric. In the 1990s, Dale Earnhardt Snr was the man to beat on the NASCAR oval and circuits. Earnhardt, known as ‘The Intimidator’, was a hard charger and had a huge fan base through winning the NASCAR ‘Winston Cup Series’ championships between 1975 and 1994 a record breaking seven times. Scalextric took the decision to go with a new racing theme and Dale Earnhardt’s car was to be the first one to market.

In 1997, SCALEXTRIC released their first take on North American Stock Car racing with a range of Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Ford Thunderbird cars. It was a ‘toe-in-the-water’ moment for Scalextric as they had not previously released NASCAR model racing cars. There was, rather obviously, a large market potential waiting to be tapped. NASCAR racing has always been a huge spectator sport in the USA but, for the rest of the World, the final decades of the 20th century began to see widely available   broadcasting of NASCAR races. Our awareness of the cars and drivers grew with such manufacturer names as Pontiac, Dodge, Chevrolet, Ford and drivers Earnhardt and Gordon – and, I’m sure for many fans, this list would more-or-less be endless. Drivers and cars were deeply associated with commercial branding such as Dupont, Valvoline, Kellogg’s, etc. so one’s allegiance may be with a driver, car or brand. Would SCALEXTRIC find a fruitful market? The answer was ‘YES’ but it wouldn’t be an easy road for Hornby Hobbies even though the commercial feedback from the USA and European retailers suggested that NASCAR slot cars would be good for 32nd scale racing.

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From 1997 to 1999, SCALEXTRIC released the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Monte Carlo in a one-piece body format and generic chassis with stronger ‘down-force’ magnets. They were not particularly refined or accurate, indeed they used the F1 front hubs and tyres from the ‘Team’ single-seat range, but they did provide a racing theme that had not been available before. The well-known brand names were there; Ford, Chevrolet, Valvoline, Kellogg’s, Kodak, Exide and their drivers. There were already different versions of the same ‘C’ number which caught the interest of the serious collectors with the Kellogg’s chicken ‘looking left’ or ‘right’ on the famous number ‘5’ car of Terry Labonte. With as many as fifty-plus cars on the famous US ovals and road courses, SCALEXTRIC would find it impossible to meet demand so plain black and white versions were also released to allow racing or modelling enthusiasts to decorate their own cars with 1/32nd scale waterslide decals. There were some car liveries that never made it to market including the one that everyone wanted – Dale Earnhardt’s famous No.3 Goodwrench sponsored car! Due to licensing issues the car was never released and the plain black or white issues were eagerly seized to allow fans to decorate their own ‘Intimidator’ car livery. Business-to-business activity had also begun with a ‘BRYAN’ #30 sponsored car which was sold in sets in the USA by the sponsor and team. This red and black liveried SCALEXTRIC car is very hard to find. Other proposed liveries included sponsors such as PEPSI and CARTOON NETWORK amongst others. This first clutch of NASCAR cars were part tampo-printed and came with an additional sticker sheet. This was partly due to keeping the cost of dozens of tampo-print operations down to a minimum so that the car could be recognized with a basic livery and a single sponsor decoration and with an accompanying sticker sheet with the many minor sponsor logos. They were robust and colourful cars though they may not have survived this initial arrival to the slot car market-place if it hadn’t have been for the arrival of a new slot car manufacturer called FLY. This new manufacturer from Spain raised the bar in terms of design, handling and decoration. SCALEXTRIC had to respond. They did, quickly!

1999: The on-coming ‘Tide’.
SCALEXTRIC released the FORD TAURUS and PONTIAC GRAND PRIX and, this time, the car was much more detailed with a driver pan and driver, NASCAR wheel hubs and a switch-over to full tampo printing and stronger bar magnets. For the NASCAR fan, and with nearly twenty different liveries issued during the next two years, the favourite cars were on the grid with liveries from McDonalds, Valvoline, Home Depot, DeWalt, Exide, Tide and others. If this wasn’t enough to feed the insatiable appetite for US stock cars then there were a further re-liveries of these cars each year.

2001: Not enough?
The 1999 TAURUS model was replaced with the 2001-shape TAURUS car with a further ten liveries but now with a full driver interior and a side-winder motor configuration. The side-winder chassis layout was another foray in to the unknown as Scalextric were normally ‘in-line’.

For the collector, the Pfizer #6 car is difficult to find. The CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO, released in 1999 spawned an incredible fourteen liveries with STP #43 and LYCOS #10 being particularly hard to find now.
There were multiple versions to collect if following the driver, the sponsor or the car brand. The most prolific liveries are of Tide, Exide and Valvoline. Plain white models were released with the introduction of every model release to offer the option of decorating cars – replicating the real-world liveries or one’s own creations.

2005: ‘Tide’ floods the market.
Other slot-car brands couldn’t let Scalextric have the pie all to themselves and quite predictably slot car manufacturers SCX and Carrera released NASCAR cars over the coming years very successfully at first. It wasn’t too long before the market was saturated with 1/32nd scale slot cars and all three manufacturers were struggling to sell through and bargains were available for slot fans.

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On track, driver Jimmie Johnson was challenging Jeff Gordon for the championships and the Lowes #48 and Dupont #24 became a CHEVROLET staple in the SCALEXTRIC range – and the final pickings in a decreasing market affecting the hobby in general. The 2005-shape TAURUS was released with only a further two liveries.

As with many sports such as F1, there is a ‘silly season’ in NASCAR when drivers, teams, sponsors and manufacturers end and begin new contracts. This presents problems for all merchandisers in the form of licensing with huge corporations involved in NASCAR, legal machinations can over-run. This can have a domino effect reaching down to the comparatively small minnows in the pond. Toy and model manufacturers may have worked on models and decoration over the Winter on the assumption that the teams would continue as per the prior year. Minor sponsor changes can be accommodated but sometimes mid-season changes can scupper plans as happened with the 2005 Chevy Monte Carlo teams of National Guard, Kellogg’s and US Army (C2892 and C2895) which were announced in the catalogue but were not released.

2008: …and now a drought!
Having had such a good run with releasing these cars in recent years the slot car manufacturers were finding it difficult to sell the remaining stocks around the World. Carrera and SCX jumped out of the game. Collectors and racers enjoyed a bonanza for nearly a decade and after a two-year drought of new releases from SCALEXTRIC, demand for the cars was still evident and, surprisingly, a final model was released in 2008 in the form of the CHEVROLET IMPALA.
The model was released in the form of the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ (COT) shape CHEVROLET IMPALA with nine releases. Familiar names, sponsors and car numbers appeared; such as Gordon, Johnson, and brand names Kellogg’s, Lowes, Dupont and National Guard.

2009: Ending the race with Earnhardt Jnr.
Perhaps, the most notable and quite coincidental name to appear in final batch of releases is the famous racing family name of Earnhardt. Son of Dale Earnhardt (Snr), Dale Earnhardt Jnr drove the #88 IMPALA with the National Guard livery. The car of father Dale (Snr) was the first livery proposed for release back in 1997 but was cancelled at the beginning of the bountiful decade of NASCAR releases.

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2011: The final flag:
Amongst the final SCALEXTRIC NASCAR models issued featured as part of the PRO PERFORMANCE kit range. The kit provided a plain white IMPALA body, glass, chassis, driver tub, driver and all the running gear, motor, wiring and guide blade parts to complete the kit with, of course, the option to decorate as required.

2012: Return to the garage:
From the first NASCAR releases, credit has to go to SCALEXTRIC USA who were principally involved, naturally, in recognising the demand for decorated and plain white cars. Since NASCAR grids in the real world were huge, not every fan was going to be catered for even though SCALEXTRIC released over 50 liveries plus many variations during the period. Plain white cars were popular for replicating cars by modelling with spray painting and water slide decals. Many NASCAR liveries (real world) were one-off decorations. In fact, it is common, not only in NASCAR, but from F1 downwards, cars will often have sponsor and decoration changes from one race to the next whether they are minor sponsor amendments or complete livery changes. Using the plain white-bodied releases, slot-racing fans can decorate a car body in a very specific livery such as STAR WARS, SUPERMAN, SCOOBY-DOO or from an incredibly wide selection of alternative water-slide decals available around the World.
For now, with no slot car manufacturers producing NASCAR car, fans will have to be satisfied with creating water-slide creations, collectors can finally complete their collection and racers & clubs will have to be satisfied with the diminishing availability of models and liveries. Racing NASCAR slot cars is great fun as they are generally very robust models whilst collecting the models gives a very colourful presentation to display of the famous drivers, cars and brands. Sadly, though, not Earnhardt #3!

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“Scalextric – The Ultimate Guide 8th Edition” book, with over 700 pages, is available from the Internet. Search online!

BENTLEY 4.5 Litre – ‘Well I’ll be blowed, a RED one?!’

BENTLEY 4.5 Litre – ‘Well I’ll be blowed, a RED one?!’

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Let’s do the history first! We all know, don’t we, that any Bentley is a high value prestigious vehicle aimed at high society. Well, they were but that didn’t excuse them from being (ab)used on the race track. Bentley had a 3 litre model and a 6.5 litre model. The 6.5 litre model had the potential to win but needed something extra. W.O. Bentley didn’t approve of forced induction systems but, nonetheless, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin made five blower Bentley’s for the Le Mans race. Two cylinders were removed from the 6.5 litre engine reducing it to 4.5 litres (or thereabouts) and a supercharger, otherwise known as a ‘blower’, was fitted to the front. Fifty-five copies were made by Bentley to comply with Le Mans homologation rules. Tim Birkin was one of a small group of racing enthusiasts, to later be known as the ‘Bentley Boys’, who would go on to help the team see the Bentley 4.5L ‘blower’ cars to victory at Le Mans over a winning streak from 1927 to 1931. The rest is history, including the sale of Bentley Motors to Rolls-Royce during the 1930’s financial recession post Wall Street. The racing successes made this car a famous British icon carried in the hearts and minds of a growing public awareness of motor sport.

When collecting Scalextric cars one will undoubtedly come across the between-the-Wars Bentley or the current Continental GT3 cars. Both handsome beasts and certainly both are monsters on the race track. Not to everyone’s taste but they can’t be ignored as Scalextric models as there are standard issues and some very, very rare pre-production   models as well as very, very rare fully decorated models.

Bentley 4.5 Litre

In 1962, catalogue 3 displayed the new Scalextric 1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre race car complete with a blower in front of the famous radiator grill. Referenced as C64, it was available in black or green. There are some quite delicate parts to the design of the model. The headlamp stalks, the four mudguards and the fan-tail exhaust would very likely be the first components to break or go missing. Pretty much the same as the real race car! Today, a second-hand in a far worse state than this can be found but the fun is in the chase for a nice boxed and unspoilt model. They can be found, at a price usually, but they were produced in goodness knows how many thousands in green but the black Bentley is the hardest to find. The black version was only released once, hence the rarity of this livery.
A Scalextric Set was the place to begin one’s fascination with electric model car racing and Scalextric were quick to also release a Bentley set. Referenced ‘V3’ and named ‘Vintage Motor Racing’, the set contained both black and green Bentleys.

The second Scalextric factory, located in Calais, France was also producing the entire Scalextric range as fast as it could to meet the incredibly high market demand during the 1960s. Tooling moulds were often shared between the UK and French factories. In France, the Bentley was issued in the green livery as well as a lower number of black versions. These can be identified by the light brown tonneau covers (grey for the UK) over the rear seats and red spoked wheels (black for the UK). The underpan may be embossed, using an interchangeable insert inside the steel mould, as ‘Made in England’, ‘Made in France’ or simply a blank space where the ‘Origin’ stamp wasn’t available ((or forgotten!).

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The more common green variant was also released in 1982 (C305) as part of the ‘Vintage Collection’ series, a little know release in 1986 (C839 but identical to 1982 C305) and then again in 1992 as part of a ‘Power & Glory’ collectable range following a TV programme called ‘The Power and the Glory’’.
A dark blue version was released in 1995 (C242), and in Spain as H242 under Scalextric’s Superslot brand created for the Spanish and Mexican markets, as part of another collectable range called ‘Racing Classics’. Why blue? As far as I know, it didn’t reflect any of the full-size race cars but at least it was something other than ‘another green one’! The guide blade, motor and entire underpan evolved as the decades rolled past. A complete specification of each model is in the ‘Ultimate Guide’ book.
Note: On a black Bentley, beware of replacement mudguards or head lamp stalks painted black!

For something different turn to the pre-production and other factory prepared models such as the chromed Bentleys giving to guests to the factory, to race competition winners or for other special occasions. It had always been quite normal for Scalextric to use the technique of chrome-plating components such as bumpers and lights to provide a rather unusual prize or gift of a car completely chromed and, usually, mounted on a wooden plinth with a plaque marking the occasion. Chromed Bentley’s are interesting items especially if the provenance of the plaque or story from the recipient accompanies the model.
Pre-production models are very rare but they do turn up. Models in white, blue and red have been seen and are photographed in the ‘Scalextric – Ultimate Guide, 8th Edition’ (see page 398). There are only two recorded models of the red car. One of these and had been painted green when it was produced at the factory and decorated as a display example for its forthcoming release in to the Scalextric range and had remained undiscovered for thirty years before it was realised.

These Bentley models were presented in a variety of boxes from the original card light blue with black & white chequer, the French version of this has a striking pink to one end of the box. The Power & Glory, Vintage and Classic collectable ranges have raised backing cards with attractive graphics.

Bentley Continental GT3

Coming up to date, 2012 saw the introduction of the Bentley Continental GT3 to the race tracks of the world – a welcome return for the famous Le Mans winning brand name. The 4 litre, V8, twin-turbo, 550bhp GT3 race cars are still being developed for racing after 120 podiums and 45 race wins. Pretty impressive.

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Scalextric began with the fully detailed white and green Works liveried car (C3514) and the ‘super-resistant’ ‘Generation Bentley’ team car (C3515) in 2012. All GT3 Bentleys are fitted with a DPR chassis. Since 2012 the white/black M-Sport (C3595), a green No85 (C3713), white ALD No84 (C3714), a white 60th Anniversary celebration (C3813A), a red/black ALD No84 and a blue ‘ONLYWATCH’ No84 cars have been released. Perhaps a few more will follow these.

A Bentley race Set was released with ‘road’ versions of the car. The Set, C1349 Bentley GT3 Racers, contained a black/red car and a black/white car. Both cars had no other decoration and might, perhaps, be typical of ‘play things’ the rich and famous might commission direct from the Bentley factory!

Once again, an anomaly has been thrown up with a particular model. C3515, the Generation Bentley car, should have a white body with blue, silver and grey Union Jack flag on the roof and flanks. A few incorrectly decorated pre-production samples were released by Scalextric to the collector’s market via various fund-raising and marketing events in the UK. These variants have a silver body instead of white.
More variants include GT3 Bentleys used for testing decoration techniques. About ten bodies were sprayed and painted in several techniques to create some interesting designs at the Margate factory. A number of these samples were issued as prizes or samples for feedback. There are only two known body types, one of which was only part of the engineering process when it was discovered that early pre-production samples have two air-jack connectors on the rear boot valance instead of the eventual (and correct) single connector. Tooling differences can be interesting to collectors.
Finally, just as there was a very rare plain red 1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre there is also a very rare plain red Bentley Continental GT3 out there somewhere.
The GT3 cars come in three packaging styles; blue base, grey base and card boxes.

Which to collect, then? Both super-cars of their days, the Bentley range of Scalextric cars is a definitive and achievable collection if sticking to the mass produced standard range and enough to fill a very presentable and modest display cabinet. On the other hand, where thee fun is in the chase, seeking the rarer 4.5 litres or GT3 cars will be an enormous challenge. The cars described here are NOT a definitive list. There are at least twelve 1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre variations and twenty-four GT3 variants! Whichever the preference, they are probably a ‘must have’ in most collections.

References: Ultimate Guide, 8th Edition,
Bentley 4.5litre: pages 82, 393, 398, 411.
Bentley Continental GT3: Page 82.

If you believe you have a yet unrecorded variant and seek confirmation of its authenticity, please contact me at slotcarportal.com.

“Scalextric – The Ultimate Guide 8th Edition” book, with over 700 pages, is available from the Internet. Search online!

C0139 Brabham BT49 pre-production.

Always interesting to see a Scalextric car before the livery is applied. Collecting plain coloured cars is a popular theme for collectors. Here’s C0139 before the dark blue Parmalat decoration was applied. It was not released as a plain white car. The trend for plain white cars has been quite common in the 21st century but very unusual before then, making this Brabham an interesting item.

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Margate Scalextric Swap Meet 16/7/17

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‘MARGATE SCALEXTRIC OPEN-DAY AND SWAPMEET’
Venue: Bay Point Sports Club, Ramsgate Road, Sandwich, Kent CT13 9L.
Date: Sunday 16th July 2017
Time 10am to 4pm for the public. (2:30pm for traders)

Tables: 3m @ £25, 1.8m @ £20

Contact: Adrian 07464 992000

* The event celebrates the 60th Anniversary of SCALEXTRIC, is aimed at attracting local people as well as collectors and racers. With a rich history of Scalextric in the area we hope that many ex-Scalextric employees will visit.

* Track layouts for the public to try out.

* Trade and enthusiasts stalls for swapping, selling, buying.

* Club and Magazine stands.

* Advertised on local radio, papers and social media.

* Ample parking, easy loading access and a large sports field with table/bench areas. Access for the disabled.

* Full amenities with all-day breakfast, cooked lunch, coffee, tea, a bar, a restaurant, rest rooms and ‘break-out’ rest areas.

* Film show of the history of Scalextric in cinema room.

* The venue, with easy access via Calais-Dover, is geographically central to Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam, Aachen, Manchester, Swansea, Plymouth and Hull.

* The venue is 15 miles from Dover, 5 miles from the Hornby/Scalextric Visitor Centre and old factory.

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Any questions, please ask.

IFSCC – International Federation of Slot Car Clubs

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/625331374313276/

INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF SLOT CAR CLUBS            

The International Federation of Slot Car Clubs (IFSCC) has been created by the NSCC (UK) and the SLN (Dutch) clubs out of a desire to bring together slot car clubs and enthusiasts from across the world.

The International Federation of Slot Car Clubs is an international body that brings slot car clubs together in order to co operate and collectively represent the interests of the member clubs, be they clubs focused primarily on collecting slot cars or on racing slot cars.

The International Federation of Slot Car Clubs exists as an independent organisation in order to represent the member clubs in the spirit of fraternity and as a conduit for information and influence.

The Federation is a partnership that brings a collective voice to the manufacturers on behalf of member clubs. It will promote the hobby across the world acting as a conduit for information between member clubs, manufacturers, dealers and other stakeholders.

What are the goals of the IFSCC?

  • To create an international partnership of slot car clubs that represents the interests of the members clubs when dealing with other stakeholders in the slot car world.
  • To provide a collect voice when dealing with manufacturers, retailers, traders and the local, national and international media on behalf of the member clubs.
  • To work together in order to share information and knowledge on slot cars both amongst member clubs, manufacturers and other stake holders.
  • To act as a conduit for information to member clubs and also as resource for related information both to and from other stake holders.
  • To raise awareness amongst manufacturers and retailers of the needs of members clubs both individually and collectively.
  • To provide a collective voice when advising manufactures on all their products.
  • To provide a collective voice for requesting and negotiating the production of specific products and limited editions from the various slot car manufactures on behalf of member clubs.
  • To promote the hobby as widely as possible particularly with a view to encouraging young people to become involved in slot cars either as collectors or racers.

What will the IFSCC not do?

It will not exist to provide rules or governance for slot car racing nor will it in any way effect the independence of member clubs.

How can Clubs join the IFSCC?

Established slot car clubs will be able to join for the sum of £15 UK pounds or the equivalent sum in euros or other international currency. This will cover administration, web site and other costs.

Membership will be administered on behalf of the IFSCC by the NSCC and the SLN.

Who has the federation been created for?

Membership is available to properly constituted clubs. No individual membership is allowed. Any slot car club would be eligible for membership whether it is primarily focused on collecting slot cars or on racing slot cars.

For further information contact: Martin Baines on 01274 510245/07798 518035

email: chairman@nscc.co.uk  or Thera Brok (SLN)  email: twbrok@kpnplanet.nl.

Update on National Holidays Rover 3500 & Coach!

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In October this year, the National Holidays Coach was auctioned. The story of the coach and the previously reported Rover 3500 becomes clearer with the following auction description for the coach;
Description: Scalextric Plaxton Paramount P3500 Coach – produced by Scalextric for National Holidays Travel Company, this coach was produced by Scalextric along with a Rover 3500 both in white with “National Holidays” branding, the crude finish on this coach is down to the production being out sourced by Scalextric and not up to the usual high production standards by Scalextric, this set would have been contained in what would have been a plain brown lift off lid box with track, transformer and other related items, this set was produced to be distributed throughout the National Holidays offices and high street travel agents within the UK for advertising purposes to appear in shop windows etc and various conventions, with various provenance from minutes of a National Holidays management meeting dated October 1982 stating there would be 50 Scalextric layouts for points of sale distributed around the UK and also noted that we have concluded discussions with Scalextric who are providing us with an exhibition stand for the ABTA Convention at Canne, we have also accepted their offer to produce at an extremely reasonable cost – a moving point of sale display for travel agency windows, also our point of sale material developed in conjunction with Scalextric is now nearly ready for supplying to travel agents – there will be a total of 50 sets and they will moved around agencies on a regular basis, this example uses the Leyland Roadtrain modified truck chassis with track guide and motor with rear axle assembly, finished in white with metallic grey windows and black painted window outlines, front and rear painted lights with “National Holidays” branding to sides and rear, construction is resin moulded body with plasticard style chassis and underside construction – rare and unusual item, requires some cleaning and displays really well. Also within this lot comes the Minutes relating to the Scalextric Coach from the National Holidays management meeting dated Thursday 14th October 1982. Overall condition is Good Plus to Excellent.

Ford Sierra XR4i version not released

Catalogue 25 showed C333 and C334 as new releases for 1984, but these two cars in blue and yellow liveries were never released. The 2-door Sierra had the early separating pillar on the rear side-windows of the full-size car but, in the real world, the all-conquering Ford XR4i used in Touring car races around the world had the later full length rear side wondow. Perhaps this is the reason Ford didn’t give permission for this model to be launched in favour of the alternative SCALEXTRIC Ford Sierra we are now familiar with.

Below: A factory hand-made early Ford Sierra XR4i with the extra side-window pillar.

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