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After the two successful events in 2010 (as discussed in part 2) Pendle, Scale Models and Roger Barker put their heads together and decided that it would be sensible to combine their knowledge and efforts into staging one huge event the following year combining all the best elements of their predecessors.

First hurdle to overcome was finding suitable premises. The NSCC, Haynes and Brooklands events were too far south to attract people from the whole country while Brooklands and Donington shared a common disadvantage of being too small with much of the event being held in the open air. Fortunately they had all been blessed with fine weather but there was no guarantee this would continue and rain could prove disastrous.

Various options were explored including the Donington Exhibition Centre (centrally located but too expensive) and the NEC in Birmingham (astronomically expensive) before settling on the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, built on the site of a former RAF airfield in South Warwickshire, which was once home to the Rover Group's design, technology and testing ground. Plans were drawn up and construction began in 1991 for the new Heritage Motor Centre. Set in 65 acres of grounds, the centre provides exhibition and storage space for the collection of over 250 British Leyland vehicles and an archive of over 2 million photographs, business records, brochures and drawings. Over the years the collection has expanded to include to include all of the companies that have formed part of Britain's motor manufacturing history.

Personally I find the museum somewhat depressing as what it actually chronicles is the decline and fall of the once thriving British motor industry due to a combination of incompetent management, bolshie unions and government interference. When you look beyond the magnificent display of cars, view the rejected original designs of the genius Alex Issigonis and read how he was eventually sidelined to working in a garden shed it makes you want to weep. However, there is no denying the appeal of the museum as a whole with over 300 classic cars on display at any one time.
Gaydon really ticked all the boxes:
It is centrally located with motorway access from the M40 close by. Obviously a long way from Scotland, the frozen North and the cream tea counties but within reasonable traveling distance of the most densely populated part of the country.

It has a very large exhibition and conference space on the first floor complete with good catering facilities.

There are well organised access points for exhibitors to bring in their equipment.

Massive free parking space.

Plentiful accommodation to suit all budgets in the surrounding area.

The museum is a draw in its own right. Organisers realised right from the early days that there weren't enough truly committed slot car enthusiasts to support a very large show on their own and you had to appeal to families on a day out to swell the numbers. All previous events had utilised the appeal of real motor cars combined with plenty of free to play tracks and other attractions to bring in the crowds.

It was affordable! Visitors are actually paying for entry to the museum itself with the slot car festival as a free bonus. The museum keeps all the entry fees so hire charges are very much reduced.

Many months of work followed as all the various aspects were put in place but finally, after years of experimentation the very first proper UKSF arrived:  
Sunday 22nd May 2011 UK Slot Car Festival, Heritage Motor Centre Gaydon
The quantity and variety of the exhibits was truly mind boggling:

Actual manufacturers present were: - Maurizio Ferrari
Avant Slot - Alberto Ranz & Beatriz Santiago
NSR - Salvatore Noviello & Giovanni Montiglio
Scalextric - Adrian Norman
Ortmann - Michael Ortmann
Classic Slot - John Heywood
GT Models - George Turner
Slot Track Scenics - David Jessett
Tarn Model Foundry - Lawrence Attrill
Tru-Speed - Steve Hills

Other manufacturers were represented by their distributors with samples / test tracks & literature available:
DS Racing
D-Slot 43
Sloting Plus
Speed ISS
Team Slot

There was a huge swapmeet with at least 30 traders tables.

The major slot car clubs had a significant presence with information and free to play tracks:
NSCC (National Scalextric Collectors Club)
SLN (Dutch Collectors Club)
BRSCA (British Slot Car Racing Association)
EAHORC (English Association of HO racing clubs)

Publications present at the event:
Slot Car Magazine
Slot Racer Magazine
Car on Line (Germany)
Racer Magazine

Presentations by:
David Jessett - Slot Track Scenics
Dave Chang - Car Set Up & Basic Tuning
Riko Rocket - Digital

A slot car auction was held by Astons.

All this plus more slot car tracks and demonstrations than you could shake a stick at! It was virtually impossible to get round everything in one day.

Of course, being a new venture, there were some teething problems, primarily due to a lack of signage and the museums inability to process the entry in a timely fashion which led to queues of more than hour to get in. The swapmeet was also extremely crowded but overall the event was a huge success and the small niggles were easily sorted out in successive years.

By 2014 the festival had expanded into a two day event and the rest, as they say, is history. It has been refined each year with different aspects added and is now the premier slot car event in Europe with average attendance around the 5000 mark. It was sadly missed in this virus blighted year but should be back next year bigger and better. Sean and his fellow organisers are to be congratulated for their foresight and dedication to the cause. Way back in 2005 Gareth Jex and the NSCC committee had no idea what would eventually emerge from that first tentative venture. Truly, from little acorns.................

The events from 2012 onwards have been adequately covered elsewhere so I don't need to give a full run down on them. There are plenty of YouTube videos available, the NSCC Journal always carries a report and there is a dedicated section on SFI about each one LINK. Unfortunately the continued disintegration of the SFI software combined with the incompetence of its commercial owners has led to the disappearance of large parts of the photo content but there is still plenty to read.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane and perhaps I shall see you at the 2021 UKSF. To finish, here is a photo montage of the 2011 show provided by the NSCC. How many faces do you recognise? 

Many thanks for this history lesson. I tend to forget what happened in which year, so it's always good to be reminded!

Racers/collectors might not be aware, but the FREE Guides that were given away on the door are still available, in PDF format. These were produced in 2012/2013/2014. Sean contacted me and Ric Woods and asked us to put something together that looked expensive but cost not a lot. Virtually impossible, BUT we, plus quite a few contributors, added stories and pictures and came up with something half-decent, I think. Also, crazy as it sounds, the cheapest place to get them printed was in East Germany and then delivered by lorry to a small lock up in Bedfordshire before being moved on to Gaydon itself.
Real drama with the first issue, as you won't believe the utter shock I had when the TNT driver lost control of his fork-lift and all the boxes ended up in the middle of the road... fortunately only about 50 were damaged, but the embarrassed chap did receive a few choice (and very blue) words from the lady that was helping me organise things (nice one Carol).
It's sad that we no longer produce that brochure, but the work involved was immense (probably over 100 hours just from me and Ric, let alone the others) and we also seemed to be waiting for an advert from the same three manufacturers each year, even though they'd had a couple of months notice each time. I guess though that the money saved from these was put to better use elsewhere.

The links to download each of the three GUIDES are as follows...

2012 GUIDE

2013 GUIDE

2014 GUIDE

If you've never used LULU before, you'll need to register and then add the content to your basket. Once you commit to the FREE purchase you will receive an email acknowledging your "purchase". About 10-15 minutes later you'll get another email with the download links.

Two of the guides (2013 and 2014) can still be bought from Pendle Slot in their original paper format. If you're interested, go to the following link (they're at the bottom of the page)...


Marc Abbott
I've updated the Slot Car Magazine website so that the PDFs can be downloaded direct, rather than going through Lulu. 

Go to our site:




Thanks so much for your engagement and support Marc!!
The 2011 event was the first to feature the HO Zone. In addition to a small demo track and some displays, we built a huge layout to host the 'HO Grand Prix'. Here's a video I made of the day...

It was certainly a very hectic day - although I did find a couple of minutes to get out of the HO room and meet Marc and Ric for the first time. The HO Grand Prix was never repeated. The HO Zone has evolved into a fabulously interactive area over the years - thanks to the hard work and dedication of Andy Whorton - and shows off modern AFX, Auto World and Micro Scalextric racing systems as well as the old-school Minic, Model Motoring, Matchbox Powertrack, plus the Brad Bowman routed track and some fabulous 1/64 scale scenic creations.

A particularly vintage year in the HO Zone was 2014, which Top Down has remembered here: