Heavy-metal Scalex­tric

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - MATT BROWN

‘‘Stay­ing calm un­der pres­sure is one thing that is com­pa­ra­ble to real race cars,’’ slot car en­thu­si­ast Nigel Boyce said.

‘‘I think any­one would choose a real car over the slot car but you still get an adren­a­line rush from com­pet­ing with driv­ers on a slot car track.’’

Boyce got his first taste of slot car rac­ing more than 20 years ago with ‘‘a friend of a friend’’, Gary Manifold, in his garage on How­ick Road, in Blen­heim.

Boyce’s need for speed wasn’t limited to the minia­ture though, he’s also a reg­u­lar at the speed­way, rac­ing stock cars.

‘‘I started at the speed­way as a flag mar­shal in 1987 and then got in­volved as pit crew,’’ Boyce said.

‘‘I then built a car, a pro­duc­tion car orig­i­nally, that I raced for two sea­sons. I have raced off and on over the last 15 to 20 years.’’

Sadly, Boyce’s rac­ing chops didn’t se­cure him the top spot at the an­nual South Is­land Slot Car Cham­pi­onships, in Blen­heim, last week­end, where brothers Andrew and Adam Bid­well took out the cham­pi­onship tro­phy, com­ing first equal on points.

The Bid­wells bagged three firsts, two sec­onds and a third each to share the tro­phy.

World­wide, slot car rac­ing with metal chas­sis was de­clin­ing.

Marl­bor­ough Slot Car Club mem­ber Neil Bid­well had big plans to in­crease mem­ber­ship.

‘‘We’re try­ing to liven it up a bit and have a bit of change in the pro­gramme,’’ he said.

To at­tract new mem­bers, they were go­ing to in­tro­duce the NSR class, plas­tic chas­sis slot cars, at their club rooms at Blen­heim’s A&P Park in a month.

‘‘We’re go­ing to start run­ning some plas­tic cars, like Scalex­tric, that are a bit more ap­peal­ing to the wider pub­lic. Hope­fully, that will at­tract them to the metal chas­sis as well,’’ Bid­well said.

Boyce said the Blen­heim club had about 10 mem­bers, but warned it could be an ex­pen­sive hobby.

‘‘It just de­pends on how se­ri­ous you are. A ba­sic car costs around $120. Every­one races the same type of car - you can paint the body and add stick­ers and de­cals as you want.

‘‘A con­troller can cost from around $200 up to $1000. When you start com­pet­ing at a na­tional level, you need to have more scope for ad­just­ment which the higher cost con­trollers al­low.

‘‘At a na­tional level, there’s eight dif­fer­ent chas­sis if you wanted to com­pete in ev­ery class.

‘‘We race two dif­fer­ent-sized chas­sis. One is a 1:32 scale, the other is a 1:24 scale. On a race night, we race the 24s only or the 32s only,’’ Boyce said.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple un­der­stand Scalex­tric as slot cars, which are nor­mally plas­tic chas­sis and plas­tic bodyshell and very au­then­tic look­ing cars.

‘‘What we race are a brass chas­sis with a thin Lexan body that looks like a saloon car or a sports car.’’

The na­tional 1:32 scale cham­pi­onship planned for Marl­bor­ough this week­end had been can­celled due to lack of in­ter­est.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, we couldn’t at­tract the peo­ple we wanted from Wellington,’’ Boyce said.

RICKY WIL­SON/STUFF

Hadley Boyce, one of the Marl­bor­ough Slot Car Club’s younger mem­bers.

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