Introduction: Building a Slot Car Track - Part One, a Good Foundation

Slot car racing has been in my blood for nearly sixty years. It's great fun, inexpensive and safe. It also has the carbon footprint of a gnat. Any age can race, so it's great for fathers and sons to do something together and learn a wide range of skills instead of sitting in front of a computer screen. In fact my father, me, my son, and grandson have all raced on my track! I'm the oldest in our club, at 65, and I'm fifty years older than the youngest member, who is 14. However most of our members are in their thirties and forties.

In the video you see my son driving his Jaguar XK120 around the complete circuit.

I have built several tracks over the years and this one was by far the most challenging. In fact it's dual purpose - a two-lane 20m digital race track for up to six cars at a time, but cars can leave this section and tour the 30m single lane section which we use for rallies making 50m in all. You may not wish to be as adventurous as me but the techniques and methods I have used can be applied to any size track. Pick and choose as you like.

Step 1: The Design

First of all you need to determine where your track is going to go and the space available. I built mine in the old stables of our villa and had a huge space but you might be limited to a garage, spare room or loft.

I built the green section first from Scalextric Sport Digital track. Then I added the blue section and finally the red section. I simply got carried away!

Spend time on this step as it will save you time and frustration later. You'll never get it exactly right as ideas will pop into your head and friends will suggest things that you hadn't thought of, so be flexible. Sketch a pictorial view of the track first then work this into a plan. You can even draw on the baseboards to get a better idea of the design if you like.

One thing to remember is that, unless you go digital or have a single lane, you need a figure of eight so that the lane lengths are the same. You can bend and twist the circuit as much as you like but so long as you have that one bridge it will be OK.

Step 2: The Baseboards

It is very important to build on a good, strong, solid base. I used 12mm chipboard on a simple wooden frame, butt-jointed, screwed and glued. Each section is 1m x 2m and sits on a pair of wooden trestles. You never know when you might move house or get chucked out of that spare room so this size is ideal. It also fits into the back of a small van or estate car.

The sections are bolted together but you can used spring-loaded clamps for really quick assembly. This method also enables you to create different layouts or expand the track.

Step 3: The Elevations

This is the exciting part, actually putting the track pieces together and seeing how it looks. I had to lengthen the end of the main straight as the bridge obscured the corner. Not a good idea!

First you need to find some cardboard boxes and such-like to raise the track and achieve the height you need. Once that's done you can measure from the baseboard to the underside of the track and sketch out the pieces of plywood ready for cutting. Even angles for banking can be built-in at this stage.

As you can see, I used 10mm plywood on edge to support the track, which also sits on 10mm ply. Buy big sheets of cheap marine plywood for this as it will all be covered up later and is just as strong.

I used a cheap bandsaw to cut the pieces and it's worth investing in one as they're so useful.

I hope you enjoyed this. Watch out for Part Two - The Scenery.