I took a trip recently to the UK’s largest permanent Scalextric set, the Phoenix Scalextric Track near Studley in Warwickshire. For those not familiar with Scalextric, it is a remote control car racing system that is an institution in the UK. It first appeared at the Harrogate Toy Fair in 1957, and since then, has been a mainstay of the toy collection of many young people in the UK. However, most people – including me – had a few pieces of track that would be put down and played with, then taken apart again, a bit like a faster version of a model railway system.
The Phoenix Scalextric Track, however, is a permanent feature, and a much longer track than anything I would have had at home. It may be familiar from James May’s Toy Stories, when he paid a visit to the track when planning his Scalextric Brooklands racing track. You can book the track for parties, which is what we did, with a lunchtime visit. You need a few hours to really enjoy the trip, and John, who runs the track, does a great job as compere and entertainer as well as announcer and Race Control. We had a number of races, which meant that everyone got six goes on the circuit, representing each of the six lanes on the track. The track has been cleverly – and very technically – designed to mean that each of the lanes is the same length. However, they do feel different as you race around. Those of us who were not racing at any time were “marshalling”, making sure that any cars that came off the track through the more difficult parts of the circuit – like The Bus Stop – were swiftly put back in place.
The times are recorded electronically, with computerised recording, and points being awarded for each race.
The circuit has fantastic detail, with a pit area, various grandstands and other typical racing features around the track, and even a Parc Ferme.
There was even a tyre bridge that reminded me of the old bridge at Donington Park.
We really enjoyed our visit, and it was a very cost effective way to spend a lunchtime. Food was provided by a local chip shop, who delivered food to us. Definitely a highly recommended way to spend some time. I’m sure that I will make a return visit.
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