What's your track philosophy?

SteveAdore Saturday, 1/14/2023

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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
  • And I especially appreciate your approach Chaos Canyon! — Fat_Dad
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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...

It's your track build it for what you want. Personnaly my drag strip is for all speed, my curcuit track is built for speed as well and it's all CR grey track. If half the cars can't finish the race or crawl across the finish line then in my opinion the track is to slow and won't be competitive. If ya build towards the slow cars then you get a slow track, makes for easy videos I guess but seems more like the cars just parade in front of the camera. 

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

     Personally, I don't ever "build for chaos".  Chaos comes on its own usually.  I build my tracks so that ALL cars can make it to the bottom, regardless of where they're dropped on the rack.  Mind you the heavier modified cars will get there much quicker, but I want them ALL to get there nonetheless.  The chaos comes naturally when you put 4 independently minded castings down a thin gravity track. 

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.

     Naturally all track owners want ZERO DNF's every time.  We also quickly realize that's not remotely possible, but that's the goal.  So if while building I see some cars aren't making certain sections, or drifting out of this corner, I'll continually make adjustments and improvements to the track until it runs completely smooth.  Any more than two DNF's in a single race is unacceptable in my book, especially if its consistent.  Fix your track if that happens.  People don't spend hours, and in most cases DAYS to build a casting only to have to watch it DNF numerous times because you can't make adjustments on your track. 

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?

     Back to my answer for question #1.  I tend to build my tracks FOR faster modified cars, however, most stock, right out of the blister, castings can easily make it to the bottom as well.  

I hope that's somewhat helpful in terms of what your were looking to have answered.  Feel free to ask the others your were inquiring about. 


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dr_dodge 4/5/23

While building my first track recently, I first wanted to ensure that some "average kid played" cars ran down it.
Being as I had a "defined footprint" I had to stay in, there was not much I could change in general.  Couldn't even vary height/slope of main run because I was having to build to existing shelfs.

I set to tuning the track, using different faster cars, but also making sure the average  car would still make it most of the way to the end, mainly changing angles of the CT joints, and flatness of the track.

And that tuning is the tedious part, at least 1/2 dozen times the track got worse, not better.  That is why to not change a whole bunch at once, cause you can always go back.  (I suspect keeping notes would help on a very large track.)

Also found tuning at the top and working my way down yielded less "un-improvements"

so now fast, stock and worn stock (within reason) all make it down, even with some being much slower

My priorities:  good racing, plenty of opportunities for passing, and a "sweet spot" for cars (mid weight cars, 60-80g doing best).

I want the pros to want to race on my track, but I also want noobs to feel like they have a chance.

At the end of the day, I just want to provide entertainment, and a little bit of sport, while having fun doing it.

  • You stole my thunder!! I was going to say almost exactly the same thing!! It's all about entertaining and making everyone feel welcome to join in!! And everyone has a chance!! — Comet_Tail_Raceway
  • True, but your track sucks. Some random guy on YouTube said so. :p — SpyDude
  • lol, it does indeed! — IndianaDiecastRacing

My track: Haywood Valley Raceway, is 2 lanes from start to finish with 6 curves ans 2 lane changes. I am really striving to have a track that can accommodate slower cars, but highlights faster cars. I really want next to no chaos like an open track offers. The goal is to have a track where the faster car wins, regardless of what lane it is in, which is still a work in progress.

Like most people have said, I don't want the track to interfere with the race outcomes. After spending tons of time and money on building a fast car and mailing it out to a race, I don't want anyone to feel like the results would've been different if it wasn't for that "one crazy curve" or that "bump that threw the car off the track" or "that slow clunker in front of mine blocked me the whole time" 

I'm kinda envisioning it like a drag track with curves. The fastest, most solid car should win. Hopefully :)

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KiwiMatt 7/17/23

*EDIT* Apparently I have 2 redline derby accounts!? I am answering for my track/channel - WCDC - World Cup of Diecast Cars.

A few of you will know how bad my tracks have been. In the start I built a truly AWFUL track. I raced on it, I filmed on it, I made video's on it. And they are all on YouTube still. My content is one of the worst you will see, despite having a LOT of cars race on it. So why did I do it? Because to me, diecast racing is a journey. A lot of diecast racers spend forever designing the best track they can, so they can put out quality video's off the bat. Nothing wrong with this, but you set the bar high from the start. You have the pressure to improve. Me? I have had 2 years of sheer fun. And because I have fun, I am able to consistantly put out videos, grow my audience, and make small improvements. In other words, long term viewers are rewarded with a journey.

QUESTION #1: What chaos to control balance do you shoot for in designing and testing your tracks? On the old track, I just didnt want everyone to DNF. But if they did, they got bonus points (I did this on a smaller scale on the new track. After all my tracks are long). Now, I just want 2 cars finishing a race if possible. 

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? 
I just try to make small improvements as I see them. Given I am waiting on a friend to help me redo all the supports and then improve and secure the track better, there is no point making big changes for now. So if there is a frequent spot cars come off, I try and move the angle of the track for the next race (its usually because the track has moved and cars flie off the side).

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?

Once the rebuild happens, I will be aiming for more of the faster cars to finish. As it stands now, only the very fastest cars have issues. So the track is too fast, but its not too bad. So as of now, I like to get the average cars being able to get down. Yes that might seem unfair on the faster cars, but at the same time, it means 80 - 90% of cars I buy, can make it down the track, its just that some of them won't make it first go! 

  • Worse content, you say. Lol. I haven't looked. I guess I will have to. I bet I can best you for worst. lol. I can't edit anything. All my content is all just raw footage only using the pause button on the phone. — Garden_Super_Speedway_Park

I see this as an interesting post on track building and I appreciate the info contained here.  As for me I've just been focusing on building the cars but when I get the time and focus I'll start working on track building and will reference back to information like whats contained on posts like this. Much appreciated. 


As another newbee, I'm making the same considerations. 

I don't quite have the space to make the 3 tracks I would like to have semi-permanent, Drag strip, Open road, and "off road" rally. I want my open to be about 20% chaos when I make it, overtakes, drifting, etc makes for a fun race. Drag Strip I feel is the 0-05% chaos with only wall bumping unexpectedly slowing down a car. Off Road should be built for as much chaos as handleable for that "Who will make it" as long as the chaos feel is better than the chaos percentage. Make it feel chaotic while still having a reasonable number of cars finishing.


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