I always liked this game but it comes in cheap plastic. A wood one is available, but it is really expensive. I decided a coffee table version was very build-able for about $20 including finishing.
Step 1: Bill of Material, the BOM
I also wanted my game to be able to be stored in a box; a shortcoming of the plastic version. A large cigar box was perfect.
1) Cigar box: should be very close to square, mine was short of square by a half an inch and I padded it out using paintsticks
2) donor cars: not so much the cars, but the wheels. they weren't that expensive at the craft store, but you need a lot so that made them expensive. I ended up going on ebay or aliexpress.com and ordering for $10 two wooden toy train sets that had 12 cars each (it was a number train, the digits 0-9, caboose and engine) I tore it apart so I could get at the wheels and axles.
3) lots and lots of paintsticks: both the 1 gallon and 5 gallon versions these are free at home depot (lowes has the 5 gallon ones, but the 1 gallon ones at lowes aren't any good) if you ask nice.
band saw, drill press, belt sander, dremel. lots of clamps.
wood glue, stains, finish, sand paper, red food coloring.
Step 2: Building the Cars.
so you need at a minimum 12 cars and 4 trucks. don't be in a rush to make them. I started my laminating a bunch of the paintsticks into two-ply and 3-ply thicknesses for stock. just put glue between the layers, and clamp for a few hours with titlebond wood glue. Also I adjusted the thickness as needed with the belt sander. I needed a 1/4" spacer at one point in the project, so I took a two-ply 1 gallon paintstick stock, and sanded it down to exactly 1/4" thick.
The size of the vehicles is very important. WITH THE WHEELS the cars have to be EXACTLY 1x2 units in size. In my build, the wheels determined the size. from the outside the wheels measured exactly 1 3/8 inches. That made the cars 2 3/4 inches long, and the trucks 4 1/8 inches. From these measurements I also determined the size of the board/cigar box I needed. I need to fit 3 cars or 2 trucks back to back inside the frame of the board so for my build the board has to be 8 1/4 big. if your box is too small you'll have to cut a board from wood and glue it on top. In my case as my box was 8 x 8.25 I just took the side that was 8" and added a 1/4 inch spacer.
As you can see in the pictures, I mostly made the car bodies fit in between the wheels but for some of them I made a top that covered the wheels (specifically the "red" car) while it looks much bigger, its footprint is still the 1x2.
Take your time with the cars, sand and round the edges. glue and clamp them, so they are strong. this is the fun part. Be creative and experiment, make a corvette, and a taxi, a pickup truck, whatever.
Step 3: Adding the Frame.
I glued the side on first, with a lip of about 1/2 and inch. actually my lip size was determined by the lid of the cigar box. I wanted it to be even with it and the rest stuck up. When It came time to glue the front and back, I had to notch out parts for the hinges.
Step 4: Making the Board.
this is another part of the build that has to to be done precisely. you want to make 36 squares that are smaller in the sides than the inside measurement of the two wheels on an axle. they should also be rounded on the sides and flat enough to fit under the cars or at least close enough so they bump the cars (and the front and back of the cars are tapered up so slide over the squares.) I made a guide for my band saw to be able to cut the paintsticks precisely. first I ripped the 1 gallon paintsticks, and then I cross cut to make the squares.
the spacing on the board is 1 wheel thickness in on the outside edges, and 2 wheel thickness' on the inside spacing. If you measured everything right, then exactly 6 squares will fit nice and even on the board. I made two blocks of wood to use as spacers to align the squares.
Oh yeah, test fit the squares first, and then glue them down.
Step 5: Finishing Touches.
well first off, on the second row, you need to notch out the exit on the right
For the red car, I just made up a solution of red food coloring and water and soaked/ painted it in. I have in my workshop various color stains. I used 3 different ones and then ending up mixing a bit of two of them to give me some 4 color variations on the cars. I coat of poly-urathane is all it needs now.