Build Journal: Zamak Speed Park

Zamak_Speed_Shop Sunday, 2/18/2024

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I decided to dig out my old track and see what I could build with it.  Ended up making a 16' long two lane drag strip with return tracks.  After a temporary set up on the floor, I decided to build it up higher for easier use.  Some unused model railroad benchwork modules I had laying around worked out perfect.  I have the basic layout mocked up and I'm ready to start putting it all down for good.

It'll be a basic track to start with, but will get constant improvements like better starting line, a finish timer, scenery etc.    And I plan to start racing through my 1500 car collection to see which one is the  fastest.  I'll post progress as things progress. 

My end goal is to start building mail-in race cars and start competing with you guys.  I may even end up hosting on my track. Time will tell.    

These photos show the birth of Zamac Speed Park.  I went from the floor layout to benchwork mock up in less than 3 hours.

UPDATE: 2/20/24

I was able to finish the track last night to a testing state and started running a mock tournament to debug the track.  

Round 1 was 52 cars from my duplicates box, mostly Hot Wheels with a hand full of matchbox thrown in.    After completing Round 1 I'm down to 26 cars.  I'll be continuing tonight.   

After running the first round, I found the biggest pain point to be the cheap starting gate.  Replacing this will be a top priority!  I also realize a will need a way to indicate the winner. I have a few pair that were so close every race that I could not tell who won. 


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redlinederby 2/19/24
Site manager

Thanks for sharing the photos. Great start and that bench support system looks awesome, kinda jealous. Looks like a nice space to play in. Can't wait to see the progress!

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Numbskull 2/19/24

Nice work.

  • Thank you! I look forward to the chance to race you one day. I’ve seen your name out there on YouTube ???? — Zamak_Speed_Shop

Update 2-26-24 

I'm a little behind on update posts but I'll work on getting you caught up this week.   

First off, the results of the test tournament.  Without a finish gate, it got real tough to determine a winner in some of the final rounds. As it got narrowed down to the fastest cars, a lot of races were so close I couldn't tell from 10 ft away.  Another problem that arose was cars flying off the curves and hitting the floor.  Solutions in a following post.  

Here is your final 4 lineup. 

And the winner!  And it's a Matchbox!  Dang. 7 Matchbox sprinkled in a field of 52 and this one wins it all!

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dr_dodge 2/26/24

looks good so far!

Home brewed finish line lights...

I had a stash of Arduino stuff I hadn't used in a few years so I whipped together this simple finish line.   I bought a few pieces of Dollar Tree track and mounted photo resistors in the existing hole for the blue joiners. I drilled a hole thru the button on the joiner and a piece of electrical tape holds it all in nicely.  The photoresistors trigger an LED light to show which lane won  

So far this is working really good.  I re-ran the 52 car tournament and this time I had no problem knowing who won.    And as it turns out, Power Pipes, who was runner up last time, ended up as the new King of the Hill.  Bye bye Matchbox. 

I also added some foam board back boards to catch cars that fly off the curve and a cardboard catch box at the end of the run off.   Adding  some small screws to hold down the curves keeps em from moving the track around when cars fly around the corner.  Some small but nice improvements.   Now to build a finish tower to hide the electronics and mount the LEDs.  

Photo resistors mounted in track and Arduino Nano on a breadboard setup  LEDs mounted on the larger breadboard for better visibility  

more photos in a following post...

Compact setup fits under the track and allows it to lay flat on the table.



A couple quickie demo videos...

ZAMAK SPEED PARK - Phase 2 Improvements Underway!

I hit the jackpot today.  Found these high banked curves at Goodwill for $4.00.  They come from the Hot Wheels Augomoto Augmented Reality set from 2018.   They seem to be a modern version of Fat Track.

I will replace the existing return road curves with one of these high banks and the section of open track.

The old starting line is also being replaced.  I haven't finalized the design yet, but it will be electronic. Probably servo actuated by an Arduino.  This will allow for elapsed time and speed readings.

And finally,  crews are busy installing a video camera at the finish line to capture all the action!

As I started installing the new fat track curve, my project took a complete 180...  Literally!   

I ended up completely dismantling the setup and turning it around 180 degrees in the room. Including all the bench work.  I didn't like the way the 36" wide sections were partially blocking the way into the next room.  The new setup has the 18" wide starting ramp next to the door without intruding on the walkway.  Much better!  And I was able to add another 30" in length.  Bench length is now 18-1/2 feet with the track being 15' long the to finish line. It then feeds into the fat track shut down lane.   

Back to building a starting gate....again. lol


Been working on my finish line, slowly in my spare time. This video shows the latest "tested" version.  Added chasing LEDs to show the winning lane.   

I just finished up the Arduino code to display the lanes times on the display.  I'll post that once I get it set up.  Then I really, really need to build that starting gate. lol


I finally got a chance to write the Arduino code for timing in each lane.  So the revised set up is a digital display that shows ET for each lane and chasing blue LEDs on the winning lane.  These are triggered by photo resistors in the track at the finish line. 

The poor lighting in the room forced me add a light right above the track for the photosensors. This is only a temporary solution for testing.  When I get time, I'll try adding adding potentiometers to fine tune the sensitivity on the fly (without having to reprogram the arduino) or switch to InfraRed LEDs instead of photo resistors.   Either way, I need to improve the room lighting.

- Chris

Looking good. Some great creativity and skill going into this. Definitely keep us up to date on your progress.

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