What's your track philosophy?

SteveAdore Saturday, 1/14/2023

I am on my 7th track (1st track was a single lane orange HW track over cushions and couches!). I have learned so much from this community and watching your races and how the different tracks and cars interact, and have had a TON of fun! So thank you! I can now add diecast racing to my young-at-heart hobbies (along with magic and strategy board gaming).

I am curious about a lot of things, but would like to start with this - track philosophy.

We all have our tastes for what is fun for us in this hobby. I enjoy watching races on all different types of tracks and racing, but to keep this focused I would like to talk about designing open track racetracks.

I prefer a balance of chaos and control. In gaming, Chess is 100% control and 0 chaos (randomness). Monopoly is the opposite. Catan is just right). I want my races to be somewhat realistic, but enjoy the chaos that little cars going downhill brings.

SO - I have come to the conclusion that a good meaure of chaos to control is the average number of DNFs per cars starting. I usually do the 4X4 thing (4 cars in 4 races switching positions) and I like to average about 1 DNF per race (1 for every 4 cars strating the race.) Fewer than that doesn't feel as exciting, but more than that feels like the track is at fault. That's just me.

By the way - I only race my own cars so I am not worried about other people wanting to see their cars finish.

QUESTION #1: What chaos to control balance do you shoot for in designing and testing your tracks?

QUESTION #2: When designing a track, what do you do to make sure there are not too many or too few DNFs for your preferred style? For example, I add a walll using gaffer's tape to the top edges of curves if too many cars are getting hung up there. Changing the slope can increase or decrease it.

I have about 200 "race-able" cars. Slower cars will usually have more DNFs and the very fastest sometimes do as well as they hit those curves and track junctions at high speeds. (I hate for "too fast" to be the reason a car loses a race). The mid-to-high speed cars seem to have the fewest. Which brings me to ...

QUESTION #3: Do you build your tracks for best performance for very fast cars, average cars, or to make sure all cars can have a good chance to finish?

I have so many more questions, but I will leave it at that for now. I would love to hear from some of you more experienced track builders.


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Chaos_Canyon 1/14/23

#1 - Being Chaos Canyon, we tend to aim for more Chaos than most tracks. I like it when things happen on track rather than all the cars just running to the finish every time

#2 - The tracks we make are generally designed so that any single car can make it all the way if run by itself, and try to get at least a 70-80% finish rate for multi car races, but one car that isn't running well can take out all the others depending on its start position, and that's part of the randomness of downhill racing, especially on our handmade tracks. It does bug me when there are lots of four car DNFs but I'm ok with crashes as long as one car finishes. 

#3 - We aim for a track that suits average to quick cars. Slow cars cause too many issues for us and if the track works for them, we found that fast cars crash out way too much, which feels wrong.

Like in our latest Outlaws race, I love that at any point, the leader can get taken out if they take the wrong line into a corner because it means it's not a foregone conclusion if one car gets into the lead, so it's a nail biter all the way to the finish. But I know some people don't like that, and that's ok, it's personal preference. 

  • Chaos Canyon. I just watched the Outlaws on the new track. I see what you mean about the unpredictability - each turn has a chance of being the end for a car. How long is the new track? — SteveAdore
  • I haven't specifically measured it, but it would be about 50' or 15m start to finish. Of course, when a car decides to zig zag down, then it's more like 80' ;) — Chaos_Canyon
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redlinederby 1/14/23
Site manager

Very good questions and outline for discussion. My track is currently offline but also it was just a straight drag strip, so far less to worry about with this stuff, but I did always have to try to calibrate things so cars don't go too fast...which meant the length and angle of the downhill drop.

A part of me always said, "make it steeper so they go faster," but not all cars can handle that much energy going into the straight - especially when they're custom builds. But also, when they're too fast they don't show up well on camera for video, which is now a requirement for all this. Sooo, it's finding that balance between performance and presentation.

  • Great points. If you have 240 fps cameras (which I don't) you can play back at 50% like 3D and it looks great. My goal is to be fun to watch live so I need to keep the speed down or it's like, "what just happened?" Right now, my track is great for the upper-mid level cars, but a bit too fast for the fastest. If I ran mods I think it would be a disaster. They would all fly off the track on turn 1! I do lube my slower cars with graphite/alcohol, but that sometimes moves them all the way up to the top tier where things get dicey. — SteveAdore
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WorpeX 1/14/23

My philosophy is modularity! Sometimes I like to mix things up so the way I have my track currently configured is a downhill on a piece of wood attached to the wall which goes directly to the ground. From the ground I can do pretty much what I want. The default is just a straight line drag to save space but my son and I have experimented with a ton of different track configurations. Some with more chaos than others! Two turns, one turn, loops, jumps and even open track segments. He enjoys decorating the track and thinking of some creative things to add into it.

Here are a few pictures:

  • I envy you and your ability to enjoy the hobby with your son - being creative and creating great memories. I have 2 daughters who don't share my enthusiasm for racing toy cars. They are 22 and 24, LOL. — SteveAdore
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NRRacing 1/22/23

For drag racing, I look out for best performance out of my track with 0 chaos factor. Since I don't have option for permanent set ups due to lack of space, I try to make sure that track is same on every assembly.

Curved track is slightly different story. I only race orange track so no wide track mayhem, but things do happen on orange as well. I have banked turns more than those vintage 180s offer stock so that wipeouts are minimal but sometimes those happen, or lane changes. In my latest video there's very rare occurence where car pushes another car off track and continues on wrong lane to finish. So it's bit more random track in that sense, most of the time races are clean but you never know...

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