(Andy Player)

Registration Date: 12th-Apr-19
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Johnson motors in a care home? 21
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Johnson motors in a care home? 1:32 Scale
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Back in the summer, a local care home contacted the WHO Racing email address to ask if we could bring a Scalextric track and put on an afternoon session for some of the residents. It is quite a fancy care home, so a donation to club funds was on offer... I said yes - particularly as the home is a very short stone's throw from where I live.

It took a while to find a suitable space in our schedules, but the visit eventually happened yesterday...


Being a paid event, I'd been planning the show carefully for some time. The residents are all old and frail, but I'd been told they like to try new activities and also listen to talks. Beyond that I didn't know what to expect, so I took along various bits and bobs to cover most eventualities - but the focus of the session was a modern Sport track with ARC Air and some late-70s F1 cars...


I wanted to use those cars as they'd been an important part of my Scalextric story as a kid. The Ligier and Tyrrell 008 are original, the Renault and Ferrari picked up at swapmeets over the past 10 years or so. There's a March six-wheeler and a Williams FW07 too, but they stayed home this time. All have new grippy rear tyres and new braids, but still have those glorious Johnson motors - after a few races, that glorious ozone smell took me right back to the 1980s and my childhood...


In terns of reminiscence, it was just me. Any gentlemen residents had chosen not to attend my session, so the group in the lounge was ten ladies, a visiting daughter and a young careworker. Only one of the residents yelped with recognition when she first saw the track set up, but when asked for a show of hands of who had raced Scalextric, only my hand went up... "Oh, I wasn't allowed to race!" said the only lady from a Scalextric family...

However, after a slow and quiet start, we all had a whale of a time! A few residents just watched, but most got stuck in - no-one having to leave their seats thanks to the wireless ARC controllers. I set up 10 lap races in the ARC app - the first 10 laps practice and then a proper race - offering everyone their choice of the four cars. The red Ferrari saw the most action! I'd limited power to 50% in the app - standard practice for our ARC Air roadshows - but the standard of driving was really rather good... more on the slow and careful side of the spectrum. I had told them these were were my treasured childhood cars...


To give those 40-year-old motors a break, I interspersed the racing with brief episodes from my Scalextric story, which sort of parallels the history of Scalextric as a brand. Starting with my dad and older siblings getting a rubber track set in 1959, adding buildings (the same ones that were in action yesterday), plastic track and plenty of cars. Then I came along - and family legend has it that my dad, brother and sister were holding the traditional August bank holiday meet on the day I was born. I was handed the Scalextric baton when I was around 8 or 9 and started to add what I could save up for or get for my birthday or Christmas. Despite not sharing a Scalextric past, those recollections of the 60s, 70s and 80s triggered memories for the residents that they shared and we all enjoyed. And then I brought my story up to date with WHO Racing...


Although my knees just about lasted the allotted 45 minutes, many of the residents insisted on more races! So we kept going until those knees could stand it no more... The feedback I received today was that the talk at dinner last night and breakfast this morning was all about Scalextric - so it looks like there will be more sessions in the New Year. I hope too that other care homes might do similar things. Scalextric shared the care home's post on their Facebook page today and it got a great response. Afterall, that could be us one day!

Many thanks to Martha and the Greystoke Manor residents for sending me the photos and encouraging me to share them.