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I have been writing a biography of my father Laurie Simmons the creator of the first commercial slot car center in the UK the MRDC at westcliff.
I am interested in any information on when he built the tracks at Wonderland. And his involvement in Clacton with John & Ralph Sheldrake in the Essoldo cinema in Clacton and later the 101 on the sea front.

Any pictures and memories would be helpful.
Any info on Skegness, Clacton & Pwllheli Butlins in the 70's / 80's

I am working on a web site which I hope to publish, it will bring back many memories.
I also have a large stock of MRD wheels and guides etc. and some Cox, Revell stock form the late 60's which I hope to make available.

Neil Simmons
 

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Hi Neil just a snippet on your dad i was confering with Barrie Wade and mention of your dad came up in an E Barrie mentioned that the first time he had heard of your dad was at an Equire Ecosse meeting at Reg Chapmans house with Gerald Lambourne and ref was made about Laurie thinking about opening a commercial track in Westcliff, the first time he met your dad was at the Hamlet Court track must have been round about the time i did, was there ever a track in an arcade in Southend prior to Westcliff regards Keith.
 

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This may be some information that is relavent here.

I grew up in Toledo, OH. Here are a couple business cards from two local slot car shops.



The Hobby Stop had stoppped slot car racing by the time I was able get there, it was across town and too far to ride there on my bike. For a long time the track was still in the shop, but used as a storage, display table.

I never visited The Slot of Toledo. It was another business by the time I got there.

The local track I did race at up till it closed was The Pit Stop on Star Ave.

Marty
Marysville, OH
 

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Hi,

Peter you would be thinking of Wonderland Raceways, upstairs above the Wonderland amusement arcade. Two tracks, one banked for 1/24th racing and the other coin in slot with club cars or by the 1/4 hour with your own cars. Don't know which opened first as both in business when I got in to slot racing in 69. Bought my first 1/24th car from the westcliff shop but never used the track there. In fact I think that was the only time I went to the Westcliff shop, as after that I was always at Wonderland.
As a foot note we always had to try our 1/32nd cars on the banked track, great fun seeing a Scalextric taking the banking sideways before dropping to the bottom of the track. However my little Parma womp womp with sponge rears well soaked in goop would stick like glue.

Does anyone have any photos of the tracks or racing at Wonderland or Westcliff, would love to see the.
 

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You've got it Beardy that was down near the Kursall along the front there near a cafe we used to go into when at Wonderland, i can remember the house cars and running a team Russkit car there for a shakedown and a 1/24 F1 i think it was a Monograme not sure now long time ago, funny about 25 years later met a chap who lived in a turning just of the Kursall who was selling old kits and slot car stuff he was buying from all over the place, went round to his a few times he had a house full of all the old stuff most of it never used, i wonder what happened to him Keith.
 

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Neil: Tony Condon mentions your Dad opening the track at Westcliff on p. 152 of his 'History of Electric Model Car Racing in Britain'. Tony's i.d. on Slot Forum is 'Superhornets'. He may be able to put you in touch with others.

Those 1960s parts sound good!

Richard
Luton SCC
 

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Remember going to Southend and having a good go on the Wonderland tracks! Can't remember exact dates but 90's at least. Last time My Dad and I went to see if we could have a go the track couldn't be used as someone had stepped on it and put their feet through one of the main straights!!

Very late 90's possibly even 2000 ish really can't remember the track had then moved from Wonderland. Such a shame as a kid growing up with a love of slot cars and hearing from my Dad and our good friend Mr GUNN above *waves* about King tracks and all the great cars I only ever had one go on Wonderland.
 

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Autoavia
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QUOTE (PETER GUNN @ 10 Oct 2012, 17:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>funny about 25 years later met a chap who lived in a turning just of the Kursall who was selling old kits and slot car stuff he was buying from all over the place, went round to his a few times he had a house full of all the old stuff most of it never used, I wonder what happened to him Keith.

The man you mention would be Bob Dobinson of Carkits who made a very nice living selling old kits and slot car stuff.
Bob still lives in the same road and when I saw him early this year he said he has virtually retired from buying and selling now.
 

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Thanks for the info Autoavia I bought Cox kits and supershells he gave me some bits and pieces motors all the bits and bob's I bought two Riko kits with the clear body stapled to the card with all the bits inside bodies were not much good but the bits were I still have sponge tyres in plastic containers from him orange and blue one's his place was like a treasure trove glad he is still with us has he still got all that sort of gear I wonder.
 

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Autoavia
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QUOTE (PETER GUNN @ 6 Apr 2013, 19:17) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks for the info Autoavia I bought Cox kits and supershells he gave me some bits and pieces motors all the bits and bob's I bought two Riko kits with the clear body stapled to the card with all the bits inside bodies were not much good but the bits were I still have sponge tyres in plastic containers from him orange and blue one's his place was like a treasure trove glad he is still with us has he still got all that sort of gear I wonder.

You never know for certain with Bob but when I saw him January/February he had one room with kits in which he said was his collection (unless he gets the right offer) and he said that was all he had left now. In the 80's Bob told me that he went to some of the big US toy shows and would rent a couple of tables just to have somewhere to put all the stuff he bought while he worked his way around the show. It all got shipped back UPS.
About 8 years ago I visited with my friend Ed Sexton from Revell USA and Bob had got a load of stuff including 1/43 kits (Mikansue, AMR and others) and diecasts from an ex wholesaler in Switzerland. Apparently he ran the business from a massive cellar under his house and when he stopped trading left the remaining stock there. Somehow Bob got to know about it and bought it all.
 

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Martin De Ath
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Hi there Neil..
In the mid to late 60s I was very much into slot car racing and growing up in Harlow in Essex I used to visit the Westcliff track and the Wonderland track in Southend quite a bit.
I also remember visiting the track in the cinema in Clacton a few times, but unfortunately only being in my mid to late teens I had no camera then and no transport, so had to rely on good old dad running me around to all these places,
For some reason I seem to remember there was a track down by the Clacton pier entrance ?. Was there one there at any time.
In my travels I also visited the tracks at Tottenham and Hammersmith in London, plus some others I cant remember where.
Unfortunately I cant seem to remember much regarding names who where there at the time. I never entered any races or joined any clubs, just loved the hobby and done it for fun.
The only club I became involved in was in Harlow, called the Harlow Model Car Racing Club".. It was a 4 lane classic Scalextric track, and was situated in a room above "Ponds" Garage in the Pinnacles Industrial area of Harlow. Perhapse some one remembers it..
I know other clubs around the area used to come to us and we went to their clubs as well. I do remember one being at Enfield, but cant remember the name.. For some reason the name "Fred Warr" keeps popping into my head regarding the slot car club, but I dont know why..

However in the past 4/5 years I have re-discovered Slot Car Racing, and race at my local club "Pendle" here in Lancashire (where I now live) every Tuesday in various classes including 1:24ths Scaleautos (Great Fun).
Also seem some how, to have collected in excess of over 700 RTR cars plus over 100 scratchbuilt cars and conversions..
But amazingly I still have many of my early slot cars and many parts, which I found tucked away in a box in my garage..

I wish I could be more helpfull regarding the Westcliff and Wonderland tracks. Just wish I had a camera back then. Photos would have bought back so many more memories. If you have some photos yourself I am sure we would all like to see them.
It was certanly a very enjoyable part of my growing years..
Its always possible some people may remember my name, as it is very unusual..
All the best.. Martin De'Ath.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have posted some pictures - http://s282.photobucket.com/user/Hurri439/library/slot%20car
Of Westcliff in 66, some pictures from the model engineering exhibition in 67. One picture of wonderland and the Essoldo cinema Clacton.

Yes there was some tracks by the pier in Clacton, more of a cafe with small tracks, owned by Ralph and John Sheldreke. They called it the, 101. I don't know if it was the cafe 101 or something similar. I guess it was opened after the Essoldo cinema closed.
 

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Autoavia
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QUOTE (Neil_S @ 7 Apr 2013, 08:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have posted some pictures - http://s282.photobucket.com/user/Hurri439/library/slot%20car
Of Westcliff in 66, some pictures from the model engineering exhibition in 67. One picture of wonderland and the Essoldo cinema Clacton.

Yes there was some tracks by the pier in Clacton, more of a cafe with small tracks, owned by Ralph and John Sheldreke. They called it the, 101. I don't know if it was the cafe 101 or something similar. I guess it was opened after the Essoldo cinema closed.

The tracks by Clacton Pier were still there in 1988/89 but I was told that they were definitely not for sale. I heard they disappeared a few years later and had definitely gone by about 1996 when I next went to Clacton.
Thanks for posting the pictures of Westcliff. The track seems far more complicated then I remember and the small track in one photo looks like the one that used to be in the Continental Cars showroom in London Road for a while.
The Blue and Yellow tracks (pre Tottenham King) at Wonderland seem more crammed in than I remember but it was a very long time ago.
Anyone got a tardis so we can go back again?
 

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Martin I may know you I was team captain for Hornchurch mrc when we raced at your place in Ponds for and won the Agip trophy in the 60's as regards the tracks at Clacton Pier we used that sometimes for testing our cars on, on a Saturday morning mates rates also coffee sandwiches there as well many years ago I actually repaired some of the track cars there on a few occasions they were in a state I think 1/24 th sidewinders spring to mind but not sure now
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The cars were AMF Mako Shark chassis & body, With a MRD derived guide, our own manufactured gears, wheels and bearings, 11/64 AMF axel, an adapter plate for a 16D. And tires - wait for it - the best tires for a house car, when using watered down Sandtex for a track surface, Mini sub frame top bushes from Unipart. Perfect size and fit (very hard)
 

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3 Generations
There was also a commercial raceways in Colchester, about 16 miles away from Clacton, apart from racing also organised trips to full size race meets, and as a 13 year old went to the 67 BOAC 500 at Brands. When the venue closed, and if I could get a lift from my father would visit the track at the cinema mentioned.
Many Years later and now with 3 sons of my own we were on a day trip to Clacton, on the beach by the pier, anyway it was time to get something to eat so up some steps to a cafe and lo and behold the old cinema tracks. Sons must have been impressed 2 of them often come to the forum, and the grand children have a home set.
 

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QUOTE (Neil_S @ 7 Apr 2013, 08:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have posted some pictures - http://s282.photobucket.com/user/Hurri439/library/slot%20car
Of Westcliff in 66, some pictures from the model engineering exhibition in 67. One picture of wonderland and the Essoldo cinema Clacton.

Thanks so much for the link to your extremely nostalgic photographs. I haven't seen any pictures of the Drag Centre before and they brought a tear to my eye remembering the many, many hours I spent there in the 1960s. It is exactly as I remember it. By the way the fourth picture on the first page seems to have been flipped into a mirror image.

I drive past the premises a few times a week and always look at it and remember the fun I had there.

QUOTE (Autoavia @ 7 Apr 2013, 12:50) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The Blue and Yellow tracks (pre Tottenham King) at Wonderland seem more crammed in than I remember but it was a very long time ago.
Anyone got a tardis so we can go back again?

I thought the same, there seemed more room there back then.

David
 

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Dear Neil,
On Saturday I received a call from Fred Gallone of colchester club, seems the local model shop had come by a box or two of bits of "old Scalextric cars" so popped down there and bought them all. I believe they may be the AMF cars described as, wait for it, there's a box of mini subframe bushes, with it all ( I thought they were door stops! )
If you PM me I can arrange for you to see them and I'll try and post some pics.
All the best,
Vic
 
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