I have grown up with Scalextric in my blood…
My dad bought the very first rubber-track and tin-plate set in 1959. He and my older siblings replaced that with the updated plastic track and cars in the 1960s – and I joined the fun in the 70s. Although I took a bit of time out in my early 20s, I still buy and race Scalextric cars and the publication of the new catalogue is a big highlight of every year.
I still treasure my 1981 Scalextric catalogue and remember the impact this unusual and very special edition had on me as a kid. Instead of just being a listing of the year’s products with some nice photographs, the 1981 catalogue contained a full-length comic book story, “SpeedMaster – In the Race of Death”.
The opening chapter features the mystery SpeedMaster – a legendary test driver – in a Williams FW07. Coincidentally, the Williams was the big Scalextric release of the year. The story quickly develops into a car chase, featuring a green Porsche 935 and a cameo from a Rover police car. The Rover was also an important new model for 1981.
The cartoon strip is interspersed with introducing the 1981 Scalextric range, most of the items featuring comments from either SpeedMaster or his nemesis – the evil Zadoc-Bar – who he meets again at the end of chapter one. Chapter two continues with a race challenge – the two rivals riding motorcycle sidecars, identical to those in the TT500 set. Some of the track details and buildings are very familiar too.
The challenges continue for SpeedMaster – a night race featuring a Ford Escort and another Porsche, then some Super Stox mayhem. And yes, you’ll find equivalent Scalextric cars in the catalogue.
SpeedMaster is back in his Williams for the final chapter – up against other cars that look just like the rest of the Scalextric high-detail Formula 1 range. There’s plenty of drama through the Goodwood chicane… I shall avoid any spoilers, so you can enjoy the climax of the story. Needless to say, the ends leaves things ready for a sequel. Sadly, SpeedMaster did not return in 1982. I suspect I was very disappointed.
This twenty-second edition of the catalogue stands out as a high-point, in terms of imagination and style. This was agolden era when Scalextric adverts could be seen on TV and some of the new accessories – Think Tank, Speed Track and Fuel Tank – were well ahead of their time. Those accessories and most of the cars were beyond my pocket-money budget, but it was good to dream.