Scalextric have served up some terrific treats for Classic F1 and Formula E fans…

There’s new Classic F1 tooling with two Ayrton Senna Lotuses, a delightful return of James Hunt and Niki Lauda to the Scalextric catalogue and an exciting global partnership with Formula E. Plus superb new liveries on the Lotus 25 and the Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler.

You can browse and pre-order all the 2021 Scalextric products here:

In my first 2021 catalogue blog post, I took a quick look at some of the highlights – now I’m going to dig much deeper through each of the categories and including some background from the Scalextric team. A big thank you to Martyn and Simon for taking time out to talk to me.

Ayrton Senna at Lotus

Who saw this coming? Scalextric have two brand new Ayrton Senna Lotus F1 cars in the 2021 catalogue – the black JPS 97T Renault he drove to his first win at the 1985 Portuguese GP and the 1987 Camel-sponsored 99T Honda from Senna’s first Monaco win. To have both cars released in the same year is a real treat – these two cars are imprinted in our memories, both with Senna at the wheel and as classic Scalextric cars back in the day.

Although Senna had a sensational debut season with Toleman in 1984 – I will never forget that drive in the rain at Monaco – he really broke through in 1985 at Lotus with the 97T. This was the era of brutal 800 horsepower turbo engines, but Senna showed his magical touch in his second Lotus outing by winning in extremely wet conditions. Not only did he win, he’d lapped the entire field – apart from the second place Ferrari, who he led by over a minute. Here was a very special driver.

Senna would win the Monaco Grand Prix a record six times – and in just ten attempts. He had to wait until 1987 to notch up his first victory in the principality – it was his first win of the season, the first for the 99T and its active suspension, plus the first win for Lotus with Honda engines and Camel sponsorship. Senna had inherited the lead from pole-sitter Nigel Mansell, but then dominated the race, even having time for pit stop to change tyres before finishing thirty-three seconds ahead of Nelson Piquet in second.

The Scalextric design team are giving these two models plenty of love and attention. The 97T is scheduled for a summer / early autumn release and the 99T is in the final quarter. At the moment we just have a 3D artist impression of the 97T and a photograph of the 99T. Both will have the F1 slim-can motor and magnatraction – the established set-up for Scalextric single-seaters. I am really looking forward to following the updates for these two cars. You can pre-order the JPS 97T here and the Camel-sponsored 99T here.

1976 British Grand Prix Podium Pack

A release that will thrill most Scalextric enthusiasts is the 1976 British Grand Prix triple pack, which contains all three cars that finished on the podium – James Hunt’s McLaren, Niki Lauda’s 312T2 and Jody Scheckter’s six-wheeler Tyrrell. That wasn’t the official result, but it does make a fabulous collectors’ edition, with two much sought-after re-releases – the M23 and the 312T2 – that will set you back much more second-hand than this triple pack costs brand new. The 312T2 mould was produced under license from Ferrari back in 2007. That license lapsed, but it looks like Scalextric can still use the original tooling if they drop the manufactures name. They have done the same with the “412P” in recent years.

The story of the 1976 British Grand Prix and the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda is given the Hollywood treatment in the movie Rush – but it was a pretty dramatic day at Brands Hatch in any case… Hunt was taken out in a big first corner pile-up and the race was red-flagged. Somehow the McLaren team repaired the M23 for the restart and – under huge pressure from the crowd – officials allowed Hunt to take his place on the grid. Hunt’s Marlboro-sponsored car benefited from some mechanical issues on Lauda’s Ferrari to take a famous first home Grand Prix win – Scheckter joining them on the podium.

Then the fun started, with Hunt being disqualified because he hadn’t completed the first lap. McLaren appealed and the result was decided in the courts – Lauda awarded the win, Scheckter up to second and John Watson third in the Penske. Lauda’s near fatal crash in the next race in Germany – and his absence from two more rounds – led to the dramatic climax of the season at Fuji. If you haven’t seen Rush, I won’t spoil the ending for you.

This is simply a wonderful Classic F1 triple pack – three iconic cars, three F1 world champions and all the drama of the race and of the 1976 season. It’s the only limited edition pack in the catalogue – only 1,500 units are available – and is scheduled for a first quarter release, so make sure you get your pre-order here.

Tyrrell P34 and Lotus 25 Re-liveries

These two are cracking liveries on two very popular cars. Jim Clark dominated the 1962 British Grand Prix in this little Lotus 25. He took pole position, fastest lap and very comfortable second Grand Prix win. It would be the last British Grand Prix at Aintree, near Liverpool. When you get your Scalextric model, don’t be surprised that it has an odd yellow front right wheel – the pictures of the race showing the yellow wheel have been confirmed by Classic Team Lotus. This is another first quarter release and can be pre-ordered here.

Arriving at the end of the year is the Tyrrell P34 that Ronnie Peterson raced to third place at the 1977 Belgian GP in Zolder. The blue and white First National City livery is one of my favourites on a Tyrrell. The tooling of the Scalextric car is the 1976 P34, not the 1977 P34B with the bulbous engine cover. However, this is authentic. The P34B proved a ponderous car – not helped by a lack of front tyre development by Goodyear. Tyrrell swapped back to try the older P34 mid-season and Peterson scored the team’s best result of the year – the only time two Swedes have appeared together on a Grand Prix podium. Gunnar Nilsson won the race in a Lotus. You can pre-order the Tyrrell here.

Formula E World Championship

It’s time to jump straight back to 2021 and some big news: Scalextric have signed a global deal to produce Formula E cars and sets. It is certainly a match made in electric car heaven. Both brands are family-orientated and it’s easy to see why Scalextric would be attracted by Formula E’s fun and innovative format, especially all the interactive, arcade-like elements. Using a racing-oriented evolution of the Spark Plug app, Scalextric are attempting to emulate the atmosphere and borrow some of the features of Formula E with an exciting new set.

First there’s the cars. These are robust replicas of the 2019-20 and 2021 Formula E Spark Gen2 electric racers that fans will instantly recognise. The set has a gold DS Techeetah and a blue and black Jaguar – an eye-catching pair. Available separately will be DS Techeetah of 2019-20 champion António Félix da Costa, plus the 2021 Mahindra of Alexander Sims. All four are standard Scalextric analogue cars, fitted with the F1 slim-can motor and magnatraction. They are also Digital Plug Ready (DPR), taking the smaller C8516 F1 Digital Plug.

The Formula E World Championship Set is a standard Scalextric analogue set, but has two Spark Plug dongles rather than traditional hand controllers. Each dongle connects by Bluetooth to a compatible smart device (phone or tablet), which acts as a wireless controller via the Spark Plug app. So far everything is the same as the 2020 Batman vs Joker DC Comics Spark Plug set – or an analogue set upgraded with two Spark Plugs. The hardware is the same and the Formula E cars can be driven with traditional controllers, but that would be missing out on the new Formula E Spark Plug app gameplay.

The big Spark Plug evolution for 2021 is that a second app will be released with all the Formula E features. This can be used with any Spark Plug dongles on any track and with any cars. The new app allows two teams – of up to six people each – to participate in the race via the app. Each team has a driver, who chooses the driver option in the app to drive their car. Team members choose the team option and have their own collective and individual tasks to perform in the race – pit stops, strategy, fan boost and attack mode.

An average race lasts eight to nine minutes and is controlled by the app. Spark Plug knows how much throttle each driver uses and if the car is on the track or not. From this data, the app calculates ‘distance’ travelled, which is displayed in the form of ‘checkpoint progress’ on everyone’s app screen. Drivers rely on their team to tell them the race situation and instruct them on strategy. Each team can have between 1 and 5 non-driving team mates, each with their own phone or tablet and with their own tasks…

  • Pit stops – at least two per race. The pit crew carry out a tyre change and battery recharge. The app gives a warning and then stops the car on the track. An in-app ‘mini-game’ appears in pit crew’s app. Speed is of the essence to jack up the car, change wheels, recharge the battery etc. Each team member can work on a different task. Once completed, the car is released back to the driver.
  • If a driver crashes more than a set number of times, an extra pit stop is triggered. The pit crew get a view of car to diagnose and fix any damage as quickly as they can.
  • Fan boost – one per race, controlled by pit crew.
  • Attack mode – the opponent’s car gets an unexpected boost that might cause a crash.
  • Speed restrict – intermittent power on the opponent’s car to give a ‘kangaroo’ effect.

Fans of Formula E will see how some familiar features have been changed or tweaked to add to the Scalextric gameplay. Also, pit stops aren’t routine in a Formula E race any more, but in the Scalextric app, they play an exciting, collaborative part of the action.

I am a fan of the current Spark Plug app and am utterly delighted to see an alternative motorsport-themed version. I love how Spark Plug adds in arcade-style features to analogue racing – in a different and more interactive way than the ARC app and ARC Air. I can’t wait to try it!

The Formula E set and individual cars are expected in the summer / early autumn and you can pre-order them here.

Don’t forget you can browse and pre-order all the 2021 Scalextric products here:

By Andy Player

Andy has been a big Scalextric fan from a very early age. He now runs the Worthing HO Racing club, is on the editorial team of SlotRacer Online and is a regular contributor to Slot Car Magazine.

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