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1956 - Victory in the Spotlight!

Part 10

Victory's stand at the British Industries Fair in 1956 was their largest to date. The centerpiece was a huge papier-mâché mountain around which Victory's cars sped along a two tier alpine roadway. What really impressed spectators though was the way that the cars magically steered themselves around the course slowing down for the corners and pausing automatically at traffic lights and at junctions. Separate small tables allowed visitors to drive the models around a small oval track controlling their speed via a simple variable resistor. The working roadway was the hit of the show, grabbing the attention of the media and becoming the star of many newsreels, even featuring on the BBC's Panorama programme. It delighted the crowds and was later acknowledged by inventor Fred Francis as one of the main inspirations behind his Scalextric system.

Here we see one of the smaller Roadedge demonstration tracks at the 1956 B.I.F. Victory Chairman Captain Bill Warren (far right with raised hand) gives instructions on the finer points of car control to Lady Eden - wife of the then British Prime Minister. On the far left (with pipe) is Ralf Burgas, who designed tooling for such things as the Velox grill. He went on to do much of the design work on the VIP slot cars that followed on from the Roadedge system. Ralf eventually moved to M.R.R.C. in the early 60's (where he designed the famous 4WD chassis) and then onto Airfix.

The cars at the show were powered by an independent power supply rather than their internal batteries. Current was collected by contacts beneath the car which brushed against the electrified road surface. The current was returned via the antenna that protruded from the front of the car to the insulated metal Roadedge strip alongside the track. On the Alpine roadway, the cars could be controlled independently  or set to run automatically where resistance was built into track sections where the cars needed to slow down and relays would cut the current when traffic lights around the course changed from green to red

The Model Roadway Kit which followed some time after the show was rather more basic than the show displays and offered no independent control of the car, you simply switched your car on and then let it run around and around the track until the battery ran out or your mum told you to tidy up. Additional Roadedge track strips and Pathfinda front axles were available separately so that you could convert your existing models to run on this system.

Slightly overshadowed by the scenic display, Victory also introduced their latest model at the fair. MG's superb new Series MGA

This example is finished in the rather lovely Tyrolite Green, it was also available in red or white

Next its on to - 1957

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