THE RACE was on at the Oasis Leisure Centre yesterday when hundreds of people visited Swindon’s ninth annual Scalextric Swapmeet.

Scalextric collector Robert Learmouth, of Priory Vale, who organised the event, predicted that more than 400 people would turn up during the day to buy cars and accessories, or race their cars.

As well as 60 stalls from dealers and collectors, offering anything from whole cars to track pieces and controllers, there were also four tracks, including a 50ft-long drag strip, where people could race against the clock and others.

Robert, who has collected Scalextric since he was a child, said: “When I first started, there were numerous Scalextric events around the country but they tended to be geared around the real enthusiasts. I spotted there was a gap for people who had it as a toy for entertainment. Only about 10 per cent of the market is occupied by collectors so there was this big 90 per cent that was going without, so the Swapmeet formed around them.

“We try to make it family-friendly, rather than have people feeling we’re a bunch of serious collectors only.

“We have a good number of children come through – about 25 per cent are kids, which is a very high number for this sort of event.

“Because we’ve been doing it for nine years, some of the kids that came along when they were seven or eight have grown up now and are coming along still.”

Simon Morgan, of Grange Park, was browsing the stalls with his son Toby, eight, a pupil of Lydiard Millicent Primary School, who got his first Scalextric set about a year ago. Simon said: “My son has a Scalextric set so we will probably end up buying him another car. We particularly came along to have a go at the tracks – that’s the main attraction for us.”

Three of the four tracks were provided by Four Lane Black Top, a slot car racing club which meets at Marlborough. Rob Lees, the club’s chairman, said: “A lot of people use the tracks, a lot of people enjoy it. People like racing against each other, they like the randomness of competition.

“The kids have a great time. It’s a real change for them from sitting in front of a PlayStation. And quite often they can manage to beat their dads, if their dads let them.”

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