‘The Young Man in the Red M3’
Hello Test Track readers! We’re back with some updates straight from the Scalextric Development team, plus something a little different. Up until this point I don’t think we’ve had any guest writers for Test Track and so this edition marks our first one (hopefully, the first of many!).
Simon Owen, the Lead Researcher here, was able to find some time to share a personal and very touching story about a model that has only recently been released. The C3739 BTCC BMW E30 M3 as driven by Roland Ratzenberger who, as I’m sure many of you know, was involved in a fatal crash on the same weekend as Ayrton Senna. Unfortunately, the tragedy of Roland’s death was somewhat overshadowed by Senna’s own tragedy, but Simon remembers him fondly from his youth.
Once we’ve grabbed the “mic” back from Simon, we have a couple of Development Updates for you, plus more from Collector’s Corner. Lastly, we’ve got some New Arrivals, although we may have to rename the section ‘Coming Soon’ as our blogs never seem to quite sync up with our releases!
Anyway, over to Simon…
The Story Behind the Model
The 1988 British Touring Car Championship ran to a very different format to the one that exists today. Rather than all the cars being in one single class, racing each other over what is effectively a level playing field, the series ran to a number of different classes, seeing cars as miss-matched as 500BHP Sierra RS500s sharing the track with 1600cc Toyota Corollas. This meant that for many years the Group A, more powerful cars, would often win races but not the overall crown. In 1988 this situation occurred, with Andy Rouse winning many of the races overall in his Sierra, but was beaten to the title by Frank Sytner in his BMW E30 M3. Sytner dominated Class B, winning all the rounds bar one. The fifth round of the season took place at Thruxton and was won instead by a young Austrian, Roland Ratzenberger. Roland was already reasonably well-known in the UK, having come second in the 1985 Formula Ford Festival and winning it the following year, moving up to Formula 3 the year after that.
Image courtesy of Demon Tweeks
At Scalextric we take great care in choosing particular liveries, occasionally we choose them purely because of the results surrounding the car, other times it is due to the driver and his or her history and sometimes we choose a livery purely because it looks fantastic. The Demon Tweeks livery on this BMW E30 M3 is a rare one. It was chosen because it fulfils all of the above criteria, and for this researcher it fulfils an emotional reason as well.
As a child growing up I wasn’t that fussed about Formula One. Yes, I wanted our Nige to win, but it wasn’t really what I enjoyed. I much preferred sitting down on a Sunday afternoon to watch the British Touring Car Championship. Me and my father would watch it together and I enjoyed it so much I was even gifted VHS (remember those?) tapes of the previous seasons. And it was through this tape that I was made aware of this brilliant bright red BMW M3, being slid around the final part of the season by this Austrian chap with a (to a child) fantastic name. The Soper and Rouse battles of that year caught my eye, but Ratzenberger and the Demon Tweeks M3 was my favourite car. And the E30 M3 probably still is.
Image courtesy of Demon Tweeks
Now I caught up with this action some years after it took place, during the early 1990s and so I was very aware by the 1994 F1 season that the same Roland Ratzenberger was now driving for Simtek. The events of the 30th April and 1st of May 1994 at Imola have been covered in detail in many places across the web and so don’t warrant much more comment here, but they had a profound effect on me as a young fan. The idea of motorsport being dangerous hadn’t really occurred to me that much, but to hear that the young man in the red M3 was no longer with us was a shock. His accident in Qualifying on Saturday was a shock throughout the F1 paddock and beyond, as was of course the events of the following day. Not unexpectedly in the years since, Senna’s passing has grabbed most of the attention, but few are aware that during that race for those few short laps Senna carried an Austrian flag in the car. A tribute to the young man lost the day before.
So this is our tribute at Scalextric to a talent cruelly taken away just as he finally reached his goal to drive in F1. We hope you like it and we hope you enjoy driving it around your layout as much as Roland enjoyed throwing the real car around Brands Hatch in 1988.
Image courtesy of Demon Tweeks
Just like many of you, the team here have personal connections with the cars we make and it’s great to reveal those with you here in Test Track. As time goes on, we may look to feature more of these stories and talk to other members of the Scalextric Development team and find out some of their connections to our models.
The Test Track team would like to thank Simon for sharing this story with us and also give a special thank you to the wonderful people at Demon Tweeks. It’s been a pleasure for Simon, and Scalextric as a whole, to work with Demon Tweeks on both the model and this piece for Test Track – thanks guys, we hope you enjoy the model!
Those eagle-eyed among you may notice a difference in the headlights between the M3 in the images we've shared and the model. Don't fret though, as Roland's BMW definitely had the yellow lights at Brands Hatch in 1988.
Now if only we modelled the Mr. Bean car so I could share my story…
We have a couple of updates for you this month, one of which you may be very keen to see. The C3769 Ford Daytona Prototype was originally planned for a 2016 release, but with a few of our models being moved around, it’ll now be coming out next year (March/April). However, that shouldn’t stop us from showing you the Signed Sample we just recently received!
Suddenly seeing this car may come as a bit of a shock (a good surprise?) but with the Signed Sample just sitting there and us really not being too far away from release we all thought you’d like to see it. Feedback appreciated, through the normal channels please!
It’s probably quite a tough act to follow the Daytona Prototype, but the other Signed Sample we have for you is the C3694A BTCC Champions Twin Pack, containing Colin Turkington’s 2014 BMW, which I know a fair few of you are keen to get your hands on!
You may notice that the green is slightly darker from the previous images we showed you in Test Track, as we feel this is truer to the car itself. Plus, we also realised you haven’t seen the cars in the presentation box itself – enjoy!
Even more fantastic images have been added to our Facebook page over the last month and we’ve pulled off some of our favourites. We have two photos from Rick Skinner, showing what many would consider to be a slot car paradise, but get more blue boxes in that collection Rick!
Lee Thorndike shared this monstrous layout, which a few of us in the office wouldn’t mind having a go on! Although, I don’t think “slot club crashing” is an acceptable practice…
Stephen Oldham added this photo, showing off the ‘Bacon Straight’ on his layout (and we’re stealing that term by the way!).
Last up, we’re always a fan of a good Digital layout and Richard Marris’ layout is just the thing. Good to see the trusty Advanced Six Car Powerbase front and centre too!
Please keep adding your photographs to Facebook and/or the Forum for a chance to be featured in next month’s Test Track. It’s always great to see people’s layouts and it keeps the Developers happy to see their hard work in people’s homes and being enjoyed, as they’re meant to!
As we mentioned at the start, not all of these models have quite arrived just yet but there shouldn’t be too much longer to wait. It’s certainly time to start getting excited for them though!
The C3735 BMW 125 is the latest release from our popular range of BTCC cars and shows Sam Tordoff’s car as he raced at Croft Circuit last year, where he bagged one of his two victories from the 2015 season.
Following these two, probably next week, we have three more releases for you. The C3724 Chevrolet Camaro which Chad Raynal used to compete in the 1966 – 1971 Historic Trans-Am Cars race.
If bright colours aren’t your thing, then you might want to look away now! The BMW Z4 has been hugely popular with collectors and this release, the C3720 BMW Z4 from the 2015 Daytona 24hr, will likely follow the previous releases’ example of showing ‘Out of Stock’ soon.
The last soon-to-be-in-stock model is the C3779 Monster Truck, which I’m sure you’ll remember from previous Test Tracks. What we’ve referred to before as the “brother” of the C3711 ‘Rattler’, these two make full use of our water-labelling process and will undoubtedly be competing on layouts around the world soon.
It felt good to have some Development Updates back in the blog this month and I have a feeling we’re going to have something really interesting for you next time so we’ll see you back here next month.
Let us know if you enjoyed hearing from Simon and we’ll look to include these kind of interesting stories behind the models in future editions. Another thank you to both Simon and Demon Tweeks is in order too, and I think I’m speaking for everybody when I say, thank you so much for sharing both the story and images with us!
The Test Track Team
© Hornby Hobbies Ltd. All rights reserved.