Beginner's track building guide

redlinederby Saturday, 4/28/2018
Site manager

You need two things to race...cars and a track. Buying cars is easy, but getting a full track requires some choices and a little more effort.

Building your own race track can be as simple as buying a playset and some track off the shelf, or you can go hog wild and construct your own with custom parts. It all boils down to budget, time, and physical space.

Here we'll give you an overview of some options when it comes to building a basic track. Which method you choose is up to your taste, but regardless, you should have fun designing and building your track. I can say from experience that it's very rewarding seeing your track in action after spending a few weekend putting it together.

Just make sure you register your track in our Race Track Directory when your track is open for business.

The basics

No matter which type of track you decide to build, you need few common features.

  • At least 2 lanes
  • Starting gate
  • Finish line
  • A downhill section

You'll also need to consider how much space you have available for the length of your track. How long your track is doesn't really matter as both longer and shorter tracks bring their own excitement to racing. On average home tracks tend to range from 12'-15' long. Short tracks are under 12' and long tracks is anything over 15 feet.

Track materials

When people think of Hot Wheels track they usually picture the long, orange pieces of track they had when they were a kid, but there are a few other options available.

Hot Wheels orange track is the most abundant since you can find it in packs at almost any big box retailer like Walmart and Target. It's also some of the most affordable. There are a few different styles of orange track over the past several years so it's about finding what you like and finding a lot of it.

Blutrack is a seamless alternative to the segmented track like the Hot Wheels track. Blutrack comes in a roll and has 2 lanes molded right into it. It's lanes are also a little wider so it can support a wider range of cars. It can be a bit unwieldy but certainly fits the bill otherwise.

Max Traxxx is another and somewhat newer brand of flexible plastic track that is very similar to the Hot Wheels orange track. It has some nice features and is also very compatible with orange track, unlike some others. You'll be pressed to find it in stores but can easily be ordered online.

Sizzlers Fat Track is wide track without any lanes. It was made my Mattel in the 1970s and was intended for special Sizzler cars that had their motors. While Sizzlers are still a lot of fun, if you can find the track, you can try making an "open road" course. These types of track are a little more chaotic but can often be a lot more fun.

Of course, the ultimate alternative to any retail track is coming up with your own. Explore your local stores to see what materials they have that might be used. I've seen people use aluminum, wood, MDF...all sorts of things can be used. Just keep in mind that you'll need to keep things fair and fun, other than that, be creative!

Playsets and all-in-one systems

Buying retail playsets and combining them is the most accessible option when building a track. You can find almost everything you need on Amazon or at Target, Walmart and other big box stores.

Getting something like the old Hot Wheels 6-Lane Raceway is certainly close to an all-in-one solution but it does have a higher price point at around $100. Some smaller, less expensive playsets come with starting mechanisms and finish lines but you might have to search a little more to find all you need. My first track used a finish line from the V-Drop playset and it lasted years.

The nice thing about Hot Wheels playsets is they will all work with whatever existing orange track you might have (and can get more). So they're easily expandable and relatively cheaply to do so.

The Drag Track system is another all-in-one solution that can be rearranged into a very nice setup. It also has a higher price point like the 6-lane playset but is a good product if you're looking to get racing without a lot of extra effort. But we've also seen many take the Drag Track system and customize it a bit to fit their needs. However, Drag Track isn't very compatible with other types of tracks, so keep that in mind if you ever think you might want to expand.

Not only do these playsets come with the accessories you need, like starting gates and finish lines, they also come with downhill sections built-in. The playsets usually need some extra track lengths to make racing a bit more exciting but otherwise they're ready to race without much extra investment.

Building your own

If you're more of the handy type that likes to design and build, then getting a bunch of parts and making your own track setup is a fun project. You just need the essential accessories and something to create a downhill stretch.

Before you start: Always have your camera handy and take lots of photos while you're building your track. Not only is it fun to see those photos later, you can share them in a post to show off your ideas and hard work with other racers.

My first track was made from 3 boards and some door hinges...not very impressive. But I could fold it up when I was done and it stored pretty easily. I made my own starting gate out of some extra wood and cardboard, and used a playset finish line. It worked great for years when I had limited space in my house.

When I moved into a new house, I suddenly had a finished basement so I took that opportunity to build a more permanent track that sat on a long shelf. Once again it was a few simple boards and just used shelving brackets and some hinges. It was a weekend project and while the track is always available, it can come down easily and all that's left is a shelf.

And there's nothing to say you can't take a all-in-one retail solution, take it apart and build your own track around those parts. Buying a system will take care of all functional requirements and then you just need to build the support system. It depends how much knowledge, learning and effort you want to put into each step. Pick your strengths and go for it.

Browse the Track Directory to get ideas for building your own home track.

Finding accessories

Of course, you'll need more than just some boards and space to get a track up and running. You'll need to find some basic accessories to complete the project, specifically a starting gate, a good finish line. It's also a good idea to have some sort of catch box or something to stop the cars at the end of your track.

Like everything else, you can go super fancy or keep it simple...it's up to you and your budget. Regardless, you can find articles and reviews for all the accessories you need.

Enjoy the build

Designing, buying and building your own home track is a great project. You can do it on the cheap or go all-in and get elaborate. It's up to you, your budget and how serious you want to take your racing. Just enjoy the journey and you'll have a play area to be proud of.

Check out photos from these track projects. Get inspired and share your experience.



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