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UK Slot Car Festival Part 1 - Genesis.
#1

The UK Slot Car Festival held at Gaydon since 2011 is now a well established annual event but people may not know how it all started so I think it worthwhile to document its origins and history which date back to 2005 when the NSCC put on the UK's first ever large scale show devoted entirely to slot cars at the Toyota HQ in Epsom, Surrey.
Part 1 - In the Beginning

21st/22nd May 2005 - NSCC 25th Anniversary Event
The National Scalextric Collectors Club has been running small scale swapmeets ever since its formation in 1981 but in 2004 it was decided to try and run an ambitious large scale event showcasing all forms of slot cars to celebrate the 25th anniversary which was coming up the following year.

At the time Gareth Jex was in charge of promotions for the club and he was a director of a worldwide exhibitions organiser based in Surrey. He therefore had the experience, resources and contacts to bring the project to fruition. Finding suitable premises at a price the club could afford initially proved difficult but Scott Brownlee (PR executive for Toyota GB) happened to race at the same slot club as Gareth and a conversation between them led to the offer of Toyota's Headquarters in Epsom for two days totally free of charge with the  full support of their in-house staff. Without their invaluable support it is unlikely that the show would have gone ahead.

This was a massive undertaking for a small enthusiasts club and it was a major challenge to transform the building into an event space. Nothing could happen till Toyota closed at 5PM on the Friday and the work had to be completed ready to open the following day. The committee and a small band of helpers under Gareth's direction were working till 2AM Saturday to get it done.

Publicising the show was not easy at that time, even with the help of Toyota's PR department, as t'internet was not as all powerful as it is today. Facebook was restricted to a few college students and the slot forums were still in their infancy. Local press and radio were the main mediums for promotion with Radio 2's Johnny Walker providing a welcome boost. Nevertheless the event was very successful with over 1600 paying visitors and it contained many aspects of the the later events at Gaydon:

  • Exhibition displays from the Slot Car manufacturers including:Scalextric, SCX, Ninco, Carrera, Vanquish MG, MRRC, Slot It.        
  • Slot swapmeet on both days with NSCC members and traders tables
           
  • Finals of the NSCC International Race Championship on 5 massive tracks    
    Overall winner Mike Thompson from the Rockingham club    
  • Free to play/race slot car tracks    
  • NSCC Rally track fastest lap competition    
  • Real Toyota F1, Rally, GT and Le Mans cars on display    
           
  • Toyota Sit in F1 Race simulator    
  • Limited edition event cars    
  • Excellent facilities with cafe, restaurant    
  • Preserved double decker bus running between local train station and event    

Also included were:
  • NSCC Exhibition display of some of the rarest slot cars
  • Scratch build and kit conversion competition display and racing
  • The latest Digital tracks displayed in one area
  • Technical tuning and advice areas


23rd/24th September 2006 NSCC Slot Rally GB event
Although the 2005 show was intended to be a one off Gareth was a glutton for punishment and decided to do it again the following year. This time it had a Slot Rally theme and Toyota generously allowed the NSCC to use their headquarters again. Most of the elements were similar to the previous year but, instead of a race competition, a Slot Rally championship was organised with 100 competitors taking part. All told there were 20 rally tracks, 3 public race circuits, 62 trade/charity tables and 3 large manufacturers exhibits.

Overall attendance was slightly down on the previous year but it was another successful show and spawned the National Slot Rally GB Championship which ran at various clubs throughout the UK in subsequent years.
  • Rally cars lined up outside the Toyota HQ    
  • Scale Models giant stand at the swapmeet    
  • The late, much missed, Derek Cooper shows off his wares    
  • Display of rally slot cars    
  • The Giant hillclimb which was originally built for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The full story of its construction can be found HERE.
           
  • A slot drag-strip was a new addition    
  • The first public appearance in the UK of the Ninco Digital system    
  • A selection of the rally tracks available          
       
  • One track even contained a real water splash        
  • Some familiar faces among the many prize winners                    
The NSCC never organised a similar event after these two although they have had a significant presence at all later ones. A further show was briefly discussed in 2007/8 with Gaydon mentioned as a possible venue but Gareth, quite rightly, felt that he had "done his bit for the club" and a suitable replacement could not be found within the ranks so there was nobody with the relevant skills to take the idea forward.There was therefore a complete absence of a major show between 2006 and 2009 but the seed had been sown and I will look at the next phase in part 2 of this thread.


Further information on these first two events can be found in the June 2005 and October 2006 back issues of the NSCC Journal.They were both run on a 'non profit' basis with surplus funds being donated to Toyota's chosen charity, The Children's Trust.  All photos above kindly provided by Gareth who retains the copyright.

Part 2 HERE with a look at subsequent events held at Brooklands and Donington Park.
[+] 13 members Like CMOTD's post
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#2

Outstanding Brian - thanks so much!!!
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#3

Cheers Brian, 
The first event at Toyota premises was definitely a huge moment in the UK slot-car history. It certainly deserves to be chronicled along with the Gaydon events.

Leo

Forum Precepts:  Don't hijack or divert topics - create a new one.   Don't feed the Troll.    http://www.scuderiaturini.com
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#4

Great to see here, Brian. Thanks for sharing.

I know it was in my neck of the woods, but it is amazing how many faces I recognise. 

Brings back some great memories, but I can't think who I am talking to by the Toyota Corolla WRC car.
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#5

Thanks Jim. These events all took place before t'internet really took off so they are in danger of being forgotten if we don't record them now.
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#6

They certainly were great events and very fond memories brought back. Thanks for reminding us of them Brian.  Thumbup
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#7

Great memories of brilliant events. Thanks for pulling this together Brian.

Also I'd not realise how young I looked back in those days.

Matt
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