How to Build Your Own Slot Car Race Track

By Aaron Kopf

Slot cars are a child's toy to some and a serious hobby for others. Maneuvering these speedy vehicles around the electrically charged track requires precise hand-eye coordination, a deep understanding of slot car limitations and physics, and a carefully memorized track. One of the primary appeals of slot car racing is the almost limitless customization options available for those who wish to design and create their own raceways.

Select your table. A good starting place would be a table measuring 5 feet by 9 feet. Tables wider than 6 feet make it difficult to re-slot cars that leave the track, and tables longer that 15 or 16 feet make it difficult to follow the action on either end of the table. You may need to build your table if you cannot find one that is a suitable size.

Place your table in a large room with at least two feet of space around all sides of the surface. If your track is pressed against a wall, you will have a hard time re-slotting cars that leave the track near it. Basements, garages and game rooms are excellent options for your track's place of residence.

Decide between a two-lane track or a four-lane track. While four-lane tracks obviously require more track sections to create, two-lane tracks often allow the racer on the outside of railed turned to force the car against the rails without sacrificing speed. A pair of racers can position their cars on the two middle slots of a four-lane track to guarantee fairness.

Decide whether your track will be flat or overlapped. Flat tracks do not require any support features (other than optional bank supports for sharp turns), but overlapped tracks allow for greater creativity and efficiency of space. A basic flat track might be a long oval, while a basic overlapped track might be a figure 8 with a raised section crossing a lower section in the middle.

Lay out your track pieces in your desired configuration. For a good dose of variety, ensure that your track includes long straight portions, wide and sharp curves, and plenty of directional changes. Check out the link in the Resources section for examples of track designs.

Add landscaping, track railings or banking supports, if desired. Landscaping might be a simple green sheet placed beneath the track or sophisticated trees, hills and small lakes from modeling kits. Track railings and banking supports are recommended for sharp curves, especially those that the end of straight portions, but are not necessary.

Place a slot car on the track and race around your creation. If there are certain sections that constantly throw your car from the track, add railings or widen the curve. If your track seems too boring and easy to master, add chicanes or esses to your design to force racers to slow down and adapt to subtle track changes. Both chicanes and esses are S-shaped curves of varying degrees that require careful braking before entering the curve and well-timed acceleration afterward.

Things You Will Need

  • Large table
  • Straight track sections
  • Curved track sections
  • Railings
  • Track supports (optional)

Tip

Always double-check your track connections before placing a car on your speedway to prevent accidental damage to the slot pin.

Model your track after your favorite real-life racing speedway to get a taste of what real racers experience.

Warning

Always exercise the proper safety precautions when working with the electrical components of your track.

About the Author

Aaron Kopf graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with honors in 2009, holding a Bachelor of Arts in communication. While enjoying his time at college, Kopf was published in The Echo and Vortex magazine.