Le Mans 2017 debrief and the McLaren 720S is back!
The Scalextric and Gulf Racing teams at Le Mans 2017
By our count, this edition marks the 30th Test Track we’ve produced (including those particularly exciting ‘Stop Press’ editions) and we can’t quite believe it. It only feels like yesterday we were taking you through the development process, and revealing our perennial favourites, the BMW M3 and Sierra RS500. If you’ve been with us since those first editions, thank you, it’s been a joy to bring you each edition and long may it continue! Of course, if you’re new to Test Track you’re very welcome and we hope you stay with us as we continue adding to our total.
In this month’s edition of Test Track we have lots to show you. Up first, we’ve spoken with our colleagues who put in the hard work to get Scalextric back at Le Mans a couple of weeks ago and have all the details from this fantastic and, quite frankly, legendary event. We’re also checking back in with the McLaren 720S, which we haven’t mentioned since it was revealed in March this year. For fans of the car, you’re in for a real treat as we have the Rapid Prototype, First Shot and some Decoration Samples for you to feast your eyes on.
Before we get stuck in, don’t forget to check out the latest news from the 60th Anniversary Collection too. We revealed another car, for the 1970s, and you can get all the news in last week’s special Test Track.
Now then, time for a hop over the Channel for our Le Mans coverage…
Le Mans 2017
The Scalextric team left the UK on Monday morning. With a long journey ahead of them, and a lot of setting up to do, time was of the essence and leaving on Monday would give the team a couple of days to get everything up and running. After a few hours drive they reached their team accommodation for the week, a gîte (we had to look this up too) around 45 minutes away from the track.
It was an early start for the troops on Tuesday, they headed for Le Mans and collected their passes from the ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest) rep on arrival.
After being shown the dedicated Scalextric area of the Member’s Lounge, the team wasted no time and got the setup process started. With temperatures climbing, the team managed to complete the setup ready for the following afternoon.
Wednesday began in some style as the team enjoyed a Pit Walk at Le Mans before the doors were officially opened. Taking in all the sights and sounds, photos were snapped and cars admired - Le Mans was already buzzing with activity as teams were preparing for the race.
With a long queue in place, the doors were opened at 3.30pm and Le Mans 2017 was officially go! The heat had climbed further up the thermometers, but that wasn’t affecting anyone’s mood. With the Scalextric stand part of a whole plethora of entertainment to take in, it was no wonder the crowd was really starting to get excited.
The Scalextric stand was in a fantastic place as every member of the ACO would walk past it, and with a number of TVs in the Members' Lounge to watch all the action unfold it was a popular destination. As you can imagine, loads of people stopped to take a look at the layout, with many trying their hand at the ARC AIR circuit. The hand controllers seemed to be constantly in use - as soon as someone finished, it would be placed down to be scooped right back up again by the next slot racer. This continued right the way through the day and into the night until the Member’s Lounge closed at midnight.
With an overwhelming majority of ACO members being French, the team were hugely impressed with how au fait they were with Scalextric. Whilst almost a rite of passage for many here in the UK, Scalextric isn’t as well known on the continent ,however so many of the members who got chatting with the Scalextric staff spoke favourably of the brand and what they knew of it. Those who weren’t as familiar with Scalextric in particular were of course familiar with our competitors, so got to see how we stacked up (and in most cases we were pretty happy with what we were hearing!).
The layout consisted of a small circuit, powered by ARC AIR (which went nicely with the C1359 Le Mans set). Much like we had seen at Slot Fest, slot racers took to the system with ease and the idea of having it connect to a Smart device didn't faze younger racers, who probably saw it as a basic feature! The functionality resonated with a lot of attendees, in particular the way these functions interacted with the cars, and changed your strategy as the race progressed.
Qualifying for Le Mans had started during the night-time and one or two of our colleagues were able to pull themselves away to take in some action. There’s something about night-time racing that really captures the imagination. However, taking in the sights couldn’t last for long as it was all hands-on deck right up until the Lounge closed.
After nowhere near as much sleep as they would have liked, the team were back up the next day sneakily getting in some work before Le Mans beckoned them back. Thursday saw the arrival of Karen from Hornby France who had just recently joined the company and was being thrown in at the deep end with Scalextric, ARC and Le Mans.
The heat in the tent reached its peak at a whopping 35 degrees - throughout the day the team kept reminding Darrell, one of the Scalextric event organisers, of his prophetic words prior to the trip “it always rains at Le Mans!”. With another packed day of Scalextric racing, the team soon found it was time to head back to the gîte.
Friday began much like the other days, but Le Mans itself, and the Member’s Lounge, was going to be significantly quieter. Friday is the day for the Driver’s Parade in the city and most fans joined them away from the circuit. However, the Pit Walk was now open to everyone so many attendees took the opportunity to see the cars and teams hard at work.
The Scalextric stand still saw a number of visitors, with a couple of English gentleman trying their hand on the layout. Their enjoyment was infectious and the whole team loved seeing them race and enjoy themselves so much. We also had a father and son take to the 1.32 scale track, which paints a fantastic picture for Scalextric and slot racing as a whole.
Early on in the afternoon, the Gulf Racing team visited our stand and had their own race too - Mike, Nick and Ben were all fantastic ambassadors and it was a real treat when they paid us a visit. You may have seen that we were able to record a small video of the Gulf trio, which we hope brings home what a fun atmosphere we had. If you haven’t seen it be sure to pop over to our 24h Le Mans page to check it out. The team also signed the layout for us and seemed particularly enamoured by some of the cars we had around the stand.
With a few ACO members lingering to have a chat with the Gulf drivers, they spoke to everyone they could and were extremely humble and down to earth. Of course, they couldn’t spend as long as any of us would have liked on the stand but it was great to see them. We’d like to offer our thanks to Mike, Nick, Ben and the Gulf Racing Team for coming to see us and we hope you had as much fun as we did!
After a relatively relaxed Friday, Saturday began and with it, the busiest day of Le Mans. With the Lounge opening at 9am, rather than in the afternoon as it had been that week, the team had to be back much sooner than the previous days. They also welcomed Jean-Marc from our Hornby France office on to the stand, bolstering the ranks. The Scalextric stand was massively busy all day, with the layout seeing continuous use and our Scalextric team constantly engaged with the ACO members.
As the start of the race approached the stand was offered some respite, with a few members of the team also getting away to see the race get underway. With a flyover from the Patrouille Acrobatique de France setting the tone, the roar of the engines firing up soon overtook everyone nearby. Aurelie, another Scalextric Le Mans organiser, was able to capture these moments which we’ve put into a video for your enjoyment. We hope the anticipation comes through the video, and the sheer noise that greets you when this legendary race kicks off (WARNING: headphone users might want to turn the volume down!).
However, the race couldn’t be watched for too long as Scalextric’s own competition was about to start too. About 15 minutes after Le Mans, Scalextric invited attendees to try and set the fastest time during the Le Mans race. Contestants were offered a quick warm up and then had to complete ten laps, with the fastest of those laps being recorded for the competition. At the end of Le Mans, the top three lap times would top the podium and win some Scalextric goodies.
The Scalextric stand was buzzing with the competition and a queue of racers, of all ages, began setting their times, trying to take home the prize. With the cars outside on the track roaring round, communication became a challenge on the stand. If enough cars were nearby, it was almost impossible to talk to someone standing right next to you. If there was a small lull in the noise, you still had to shout to make yourself heard. Rather than cause any annoyance, the noise was a constant reminder that the team, and Scalextric, were at the heart of a special motorsport event.
The Member’s Lounge shut at 2am on Saturday (well technically Sunday morning) and the team headed back for another night of low single digit hours of sleep.
Whilst still incredibly busy, Sunday was a step down from Saturday with the initial buzz and excitement making way for a more relaxed atmosphere. There were still ACO members queueing up to set their time in our competition and plenty of people to chat to Scalextric about. It wasn’t long before 3pm rolled round and Le Mans came to a close. The Scalextric competition was closed and with the members all heading for the exit, the stand could be broken down and packed up.
After some time, everything was packed away and all there was left to do was head for home. With all the necessary people thanked and final checks completed, the team headed back for the Eurotunnel and their own beds. Le Mans had been an exhausting event, but one that was without equal. The positive exposure to a new audience was fantastic, and it was great to hear so many good things about Scalextric from attendees at the event.
Talking to slot racers and hearing what they have to say about what this hobby means to them is a real shot in the arm for everyone involved in bringing you these models.
Everyone on the Test Track team would like to thank Aurelie, Darrell, Dave, Alistair, Karen and Jean-Marc for their hard work across the week. Scalextric would also like to say a special thank you to the ACO, Gulf Racing and everyone at Le Mans who made this event one to remember. We hope you all had a great time with Le Mans too, whether attending in person, or watching on TV or on the various online streams, it was a special one!
Scalextric & Le Mans
Don’t forget that all the Scalextric Le Mans info can be seen over on the Le Mans category. Showing you a host of highlights from the event, you can look at loads of images and videos from the Scalextric stand. You can also grab a piece of Le Mans with Scalextric, including the ARC AIR set we had on the stand (C1359) and the Legends Le Mans Triple Pack (C3892A) which is proving incredibly popular with collectors.
Well that’s an incredibly tough act to follow but we think we have just the thing to do it. The McLaren 720S was revealed both to the world and to slot racers earlier this year, when a few days into the Geneva International Motor Show, McLaren announced the 720S, with Scalextric announcing a slot car version too. Having kept the car under wraps for some time it felt so good to finally be able to tell you all about it.
The McLaren 720S Rapid Prototype and First Shot in the back, with the two Decoration Samples on track
It feels just as good to be able to now show you the first few stages the McLaren 720S has gone through as it makes its way to slot car collections all around the world. Having only had some hand decorated prototypes ready for the announcement in March, we can now show you the Rapid Prototype, First Shot from the tooling and the Decoration Samples (which we’ve only just received).
McLaren 720S Rapid Prototype
McLaren 720S First Shot
As always, we must state that these stages of development are still quite early and what you see here isn't the finished article. Of course, they give you an idea of what to expect, but if you have any concerns or reservations about the model, it’s best to get in touch. The advantage of showing you models this early is to gauge how well we’re doing and invite anyone who has something to add, the opportunity to get in touch.
McLaren 720S Decoration Samples
We’re pretty happy with the car overall and are plugging away to make the December release date. All being well we should have the Signed Sample to show you before release at a later date here in Test Track.
Don’t forget that if you want to pre-order the Glacier White (C3982) version or the Azores Orange (C3895) version now you can do so online or with your Scalextric retailer. As we’ve seen recently with other special releases, pre-ordering avoids any potential disappointment and locks your model in when it's released.
The McLaren 720S Line Up, from left to right: Rapid Prototype, First Shot, Glacier White Deco Sample and Azores Orange Deco Sample
That just about does it for this edition of Test Track. Le Mans was a real treat and we hope you all enjoyed Scalextric’s return to this unique motorsport event. As we’re just over halfway through the year, it won’t be too long before we can start revealing some new items you can expect next year. We won’t be making any promises but be sure to check back with Test Track each month to catch up on all things Scalextric.
We’ll be keeping up with our Stop Press editions too as we have another two cars to reveal with the 60th Anniversary Collection. A number of these cars have been selling out on the website so be sure to have a look as you might miss out entirely!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the first 30 Test Tracks, and here’s to 30 more…
The Test Track Team
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