Track boost for slot car kings

The Formula One circus is set to roll into Britain next - but a team of racing fans in Aylsham is popping the champagne for another reason, after a brand new track opened there.

The Formula One circus is set to roll into Britain next - but a team of racing fans in Aylsham is popping the champagne for another reason, after a brand new track opened there.

While Jenson Button and the jet set burn rubber on the tarmac of Silverstone's wide open spaces, Mike Harvey and his slot car colleagues are whizzing round a new wooden circuit at an old school room in the town.

For the Presto Park model car racing club has switched from its traditional plastic Scalextric track to a purpose-built one fashioned from sheets of wood, with routed grooves and braided electrical contacts instead of short lengths of metal.

The result is a smoother track - but one that is designed to be a tougher test of driving skills for the scaled down racers.


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Former policeman and hobby race engineer Mike opened the 97ft original track in 2006 after three months building it, including scenery, grandstands, pit lane glamour girls and a mini Murray Walker.

But its location in a former school 'mobile' laboratory - which is hot in summer and cold in winter - had taken its toll on the track.

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Blazing sun produced 'hump back bridges' while chills contracted the electrical contacts resulting in losses of power in same lanes, said Mr Harvey.

The new shorter 70ft track gets around all those problems, as well as upping the skill levels for drivers.

'Like all hobbies, people with the most money can buy success. You could buy a hot engine, or a �250 hand controller with pre-set cornering speeds,' he explained. 'But we have mirrored F1 by making changes to try to promote better racing - to help keep it more affordable, especially for the youngsters.'

Drivers range from 10 to 74, with numbers, especially of youngsters being boosted in recent years by the achievements of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

The new track - with more of a modern feel than the former 1960s-70s one - has cost �1500, as well as weeks of work by Mr Harvey, with painstaking attention to detail. 'There is a new duck pond, and a pit lane which I had to buy from Australia.'

And, as in the full scale racing, sponsors' names figure around the track, with Derry's Dip, Green Thumb Corner and Gates to Grates Straight all named after backers.

The old circuit was sold on Ebay - for a heartbreakingly low �26, said Mr Harvey.

For more details of Presto Park call Mike Harvey on 01603 754319 or visit the club website www.prestoparkmmrc.co.uk

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