Keeping your track straight
It doesn’t matter if you have a 50-foot roll of track or segmented track, keeping things straight can be a chore. Whether it’s because of hours after hours of racing, or because of your children and pets, your race track won’t stay straight, so what do you do?
When I first started racing I made some track walls. I took 2” blocks of wood and created little pegged walls. I drilled holes into the track boards so each wall was removable, after all, the one goal has always been to keep the track portable and ready for easy storage. However, while the track walls worked, the fact that they were small and removable made them a pain to manage.
The track walls were intended to be a guide for the track. I’ve read in the forum about some racers using Velcro and even strip magnets to keep their track in place, and each method sounds worthy of trying. Early in my track building I even tried using metal washers that the track would slide over. The washers did work but required a lot of finesse to be done well, and alas, I didn’t have that much patience.
The good ideas are usually the simplest
Then over in the forum someone mentioned using thin strips of wood or cardboard to use as a guide. It sounded easy enough, simple, cheap, and could be somewhat permanent. The track would sit on top of the wood strips, fitting within the track grooves on the bottom. The width of the orange track groove is about 3/4” and only 1/16” high, so you need some thin wood. Looking for the easy and cheap way out, I turned to an old stand by: popsicle sticks.
Popsicle sticks turned out to be the perfect size. At 4" long, 1/16” thick and 3/8” wide, two popsicle sticks fit perfectly between the track grooves. I drew guide lines on the track boards and marked off where the track joints were so I didn’t interfere with the track tongues. Then I glued two sticks to the board about every 8-10 inches apart, avoiding the track connectors. The track lays perfectly over the stick guides and the sticks don’t effect the track at all, no bumps, or dips.
Best yet, the stick guides are permanent and still allow the track to fold up. Thanks to a $4 box of popscile sticks and a little wood glue, my track will remain straight race after race, tear down after tear down. This isn’t to say the Velcro, magnets, walls, and washers don’t all work, but the popsicle sticks were easy to work with and required no extra work besides a little measuring. A simple solution to a common problem.
- Track building
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If you have some coroplast laying around, you can also use that to help keep your track straight. Sections five flutes wide will fit snugly into the bottom of orange track, and will fit well enough for no track joiners to be needed (although you will probably still want to use them). Sections of coroplast four flutes wide will still fit into the track, but will act more as a nice cushion for the rest of the track and a consistent level surface.
I used some old political signs, sliced them up in four- and five-flute sections, and glued them down under a short drag track. My drop hill is also a section of coroplast, sliced halfway through every other flute, and fastened down to a nice curved ramp for a smooth transition.
I love this idea! Small investment, no hand tools required, simple and effective. What's not to love?