Build Journal: Valley View Dragway

UncleBuster Thursday, 5/6/2021

This track is still under construction and certainly not ready for racing yet, but I'm making good progress nevertheless. This two-lane dragway will be the first of three planned tracks (the others being a downhill course and a rally course), and I thought I'd cut my track-building teeth on the dragway. Valley View Dragway measures twenty four feet in total, with a six foot downhill, fourteen feet of straightaway (making a scale quarter mile), and an additional four feet for deceleration and car capture. The track is semi-permanent and consists of three sections. Each section is supported by legs that can be independently adjusted for levelling.

The downhill can be varied in height from forty inches down to twenty-four inches with the stand below. If I ever want a steeper downhill, I can add a bit more vertical section, and I left space for that:


I'm using the Hot Wheels Drag Strip Timing System from Dragon Racing Systems and the 2 Lane Start Gate from Slanman Customs. I'll also be installing miniature pole lights on both sides of the straightaway for night racing. The 5" wide boards don't really leave a lot of room for scenery, so I'll probably just stick to scale gravel and weeds on the sides of the track.

While I'm no professional carpenter, I'm still pretty pleased with my work so far and I've really been enjoying the design and building process. I finished priming today and hope to start finish painting tomorrow. I'm still waiting for my start gate to arrive, so I'm going to hold off on track laying until it does.

Finally, I'm an absolute newcomer, so I'd like to thank EVERYBODY who has previously posted for all the inspiration! I'll post more pics as I make more progress.


Uncle Buster


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CrazyEights 5/6/21

That's sweet right there. I love the adjustable downhill.

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SpyDude 5/6/21

DUDE ..... that is nice. Sign me up.

  • Will do! When I feel like I'm ready to host some racing, you have spot #1 :-) — UncleBuster
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UncleBuster 5/19/21

Finished painting a few days ago and just finished laying track today. Here's a shot from earlier:

I did some test runs on the first two sections to check for any significant problems and the styrofoam box is to catch cars. So far, so good. The last section and the small capture section will be attached tomorrow and the full track will be tested.

Speaking of the capture section (the last two feet) here's a shot before I laid the track that shows my plans for lighting:

In addition to an end bumper and a fence (of some kind), there will be a series of five yellow and then six red lights on either side of the track to warn the drivers that they are approaching the end. I think it'll look pretty cool and a nice contrast to the pole lights that line the rest of the track.

Here's a shot of the wire management scheme under each track section designed to keep the pole light wires under control and route them to the distribution board (1 per track section). Nothing elaborate, but hopefully enough to avoid the type of spaghetti snarls that used to be a hallmark of my stereo equipment:

After testing the entire track tomorrow, I'll start installing the pole lights, Christmas tree, finish line time display, and finally the caution and danger lights on the capture section.

I'm really enjoying this process, but I have to admit I'm having to resist the tempatation to go faster since I want to start racing!

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redlinederby 5/19/21
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Very nice job on that...looks great. Looks solid and reliable. I really like the pegs for adjustable height. I might borrow that when/if I ever get to rebuilding my track.

If you don't mind me asking, what's the ballpark cost for your track? Excluding the orange track itself...just building supplies & hardware. This is a great example of a simple track that is great for anyone looking to start out.

  • Many thanks! It's been an education, and I'm grateful that so many others have been willing to share their experience here and elsewhere. As for cost so far, I'd say that I'm at about $200 for lumber, dowels, and screws, but that could be reduced a bit by using cheaper board. I went with the mdf simply because finding straight, flat boards proved difficult. The mdf also reduced finishing since it came pre-primed. With odds and ends like drill bits I didn't have, start gate, and Christmas tree and timer, and lighting I figure I'm at about $400, but again that can be reduced by forgoing the lighting and using a Hot Wheels starting gate and finish gate. I wanted a project that would be a nice middle-of-the-road dragway in terms of capability and a good prep for building a more elaborate track down the road. By going a little bit more than bare bones, I think I've got a good test track for my mods and enough features that I won't outgrow it for a good while. Cheers! — UncleBuster
  • That's certainly a good test track! That looks great for all racing. Good choice on the MDF too, certainly less of worry when it comes to being straight and flat. — redlinederby

Great looking track. A reliable start and finish gate is all you need. Look forward to joining a race sometime.

A little late now but you might have wanted to have some space between the lanes.

  • Thanks! I'll add your input to my already-started "v.2.0 Dragway Design Guide"! :-) I can definitely see the need for more space between tracks now based on your feedback and from looking at other dragways out there...yours was one of them, btw! Actually, I did leave about 1/8" between the two tracks (which a paint stirrer from Lowes fills perfectly) and I still might add some version of a lower-height divider between the two lanes. We shall see. Thanks again! — UncleBuster
  • Lay the paint stirrer down and butt the track up against it on either side. That should give you enough room between lanes for any lights like the Christmas tree or finish lights. — SpyDude
  • The extra space between tracks will also allow for changes in the track design later down the road. If they choose make walls higher, wider, lower, whatever...and don't forget about good ol' expansion and contraction if this may get outside. — redlinederby
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UncleCrash 6/10/21

Looks great.   I like that you can do to scale strip.     I plan on building a dragstrip this fall myself dont have the length for 1/4 mile scale though.   Im newbie as well so lots to learn.

Ready now? Please show! ;-)

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