Scalextric was developed in the 1950s by Fred Francis. Through his small company, Minimodels, Francis introduced a line of toy cars called Scalex in 1952. They were metal model racing cars with a unique type of clockwork motor. Understanding the need to develop and create new products, Francis adapted his cars to have electric motors – he named these electric cars Scalextric (Scalex – Electric). Later in 1957 Scalextric caused a sensation at the Harrogate Toy Fair. Now the cars ran on grooves, not rails, and picked up an electric current from beneath the groove with the aid of a ‘gimbal’ wheel.
Demand was so great that Minimodels could not produce the sheer number of sets needed. In 1958 Francis decided to sell out to the Lines Bros company, who operated under the name of Tri-ang. Today, Scalextric is made by Hornby.