Carved in stone, interview with Bathurst Diecast Racing

redlinederby Monday, 6/5/2023
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We've seen all sorts of track builds over the years. We've seen tracks made of cardboard, wood, styrofoam, trash, and just about everything in between. And most of the time, tracks are using the usual Mattel orange track or Crash Racers tracks, yet I can't recall the last time I saw a track carved out of concrete.

But that's just what Lee has done for his Bathurst Diecast Racing club and channel based out of Queensland, Australia. The track is 18-feet long in total and sits outside in his backyard. It's a beast of a track with quite the footprint. Thing is, the concrete IS the track...the cars just race on the surface. No plastic track needed.

Lee & BDR are still relatively new to the hobby but he's off to a great start with a unique track that is certain to inspire a lot of folks. I know I started stroking my chin when I saw his build, wondering if I could get away with something like it in my backyard that could hold up against random Midwestern weather...but probably not.

Be sure to check out the Bathurst Diecast Racing channel on YouTube to see the latest action out of Australia and give Lee support as he falls down the rabbit hole that is diecast racing.

Interview with Lee from Bathurst Diecast Racing

Redline Derby Racing: You're living half a globe away from me in what I assume is Bathurst, Austrailia, but can you just give a quick look into who you are and what makes up your part of the world?

Lee: I actually live in south east Queensland whereas Bathurst is in New South Wales. I lived in NSW for about 18 years and moved back to Queensland, where I was born, about 30 years ago. I have a wonderful supporter in my wife and 2 boys who keep me on my toes.

RLD: You must have certainly played with Hot Wheels or other toy cars when you were little, although I don't know how that differs growing up in Australia. What are some of your favorite childhood memories of playing with cars? 

Lee: Saving my pocket money to buy Matchbox cars brings back fond memories. Playing cars with my best mate was just the best.

RLD: Your Bathurst Diecast Racing channel on YouTube is still pretty new, only a few months old, so what made you decide to jump into the diecast racing arena to the point of producing videos and sharing your action with the world?

Lee: I was trying to find a family friendly channel for my kids to watch and stumbled across 3DBotmaker. I then proceeded to binge watch and was thoroughly entertained. The thought came to me, "I want to do this," but the only track I would consider would be Bathurst. I am a big fan of V8 Supercars and it is like Christmas every year for me and a lot of other Australians.

RLD: Your track is massive and also outdoors. I'm assuming you didn't have the space inside anywhere to support your vision but then how did you come the conclusion to build outside rather than reduce your plans to fit available indoor space?

Lee: Space was the big factor. To do the track properly I needed a lot of space so outdoors was the obvious way to go.

RLD: So your plans lead to the backyard which means you'll need something that can hold up to the elements. Did your mind immediately jump to "hey, I'll use concrete," or did you try more traditional materials first like wood, plastic, or metal? And then how did you land on using the hebel bricks?

Lee: A mate of mine was carving statues out of hebel and I remember him saying how easy it was to carve due to its make up, so it became the only material I considered.

RLD: Here in the Midwest States, you'll experience every possible form of weather in a single week making an outdoor track an iffy propisition. Is the weather where you are consistent enough that you'll be able to race year-round, or will there be an off-season?

Lee: The only time I can't race is when it's raining, but in saying that the cameras I use have waterproof cases so I can even do that if desperate. We occasionally get rain depressions that can last for a couple of weeks, but that's the only thing that will stop all year racing. The track has not missed a beat and is looking great. I have to wipe it down before racing, but that's the only maintenance required.

RLD: I'm sure I'm not the only one that saw your track and started getting ideas about building a track in their backyard. But I know for me, I'd get a few raised eyebrows from my wife (although my kid would love it). What did your family think about the whole project and how were they involved?

Lee: My wife is a champion of support. She loves the end result. Whenever I hit a brick wall, she always said, "you'll work it out." The whole family gets out back and has a lot of fun racing. I am a lucky man.

RLD: You posted a video giving a tour of the track and insight as to how you built it - which everyone should go watch - and you said it took about 3 months to build. How many interations did you go through before you landed on the track you have now? Is there a pile of trashed bricks that failed to meet your demands? Just seems like the concrete is far less forgiving than just about any other material!

Lee: I started from the last corner and worked up. I over complicated the chase section and found I could not get the cars to flow. So I trashed that section and simplified it to the current design. There was also a very technical part from the end of mountain straight through what's called The Cutting that was way too twisty for the cars to flow, so I straightened it out a little and it worked perfectly. I honestly didn't know until it was all painted if it would work. Fortunately, it worked just as I had hoped.

RLD: And I'm guessing that if you need to make a change on your track or you need to adjust some corners or whatever, the thought is that you can just replace individual bricks and carve them again? I was always adjusting my track to try and make it better/faster/easier...I don't think I could commit to something that's literally carved into stone!

Lee: I spent a great deal of time getting the angles and barriers right.  It took a lot of grinding, sanding and testing. Then more grinding sanding and testing until I got the desired results. I am happy with the track as-is so changes are unnecessary. I enjoy the randomness of the lines the cars take.

RLD: Watching your races, the track seems very fast with some decent clanging & banging. It's a lot of fun but how happy have you been with it? Is it meeting your expectations?

Lee: I am happy with every part of the track, even when they spin backwards. My only regret is probably that I couldn't make the twisty bits work...and I should have made it bigger lol! But I suppose that 6m (18 feet) is long enough.

RLD: I know you're still early in your diecast racing career but how has your experience been thus far? What's been the most fun and what are some challenges you've maybe run into?

Lee: I am amazed at the community I have been welcomed into. I was not expecting that. It was a wonderful surprise. The only challenges I have is that I don't see any of the racing until I go to edit the videos. As I use 13 cameras, there is no where to witness the action without getting in the shot. So I just have to listen from the shed to know when the race ends. The editing is very time consuming (4-6 hours per video) and as I use the genuine sound of the vehicles I'm racing, finding the audio track that works can be a little challenging.

RLD: Have you or do you have any plans to build cars for race events on other channels? Does modding cars sound fun to you?

Lee: I've modded the V8 Supercars I use as they were pretty light in the chassis department and have dabbled with a few other cars. Probably the only consistent modding will be using graphite to make the slower cars keep up with the winners. If I can get a car that I have modded really well, I would like to race at other tracks.

RLD: Any chance you're already thinking about additions or changes to your track? Maybe even a second track!? Or is that all done for now and your focus is really going to be producing race videos?

Lee: I would love to build another full track, but I think that is down the road some ways, if at all. It would be Phillip Island if I was to commit to another track. I am almost done with a drag strip which should be fun.

RLD: I see through comments that folks are already asking when they can send you some cars to throw at your track. At some point would you consider allowing folks to send you cars to race in an event? We all get pretty excited about new tracks to conquer, especially one as unique as hours.

Lee: It would be an honour to receive cars from other enthusiasts.

RLD: Any other stories, shoutouts, or words of wisdom you care to share with the diecast racing community?

Lee:  I would just like to thank the warm welcome from everyone and you for giving me this opportunity to share my journey.

Big thanks to Lee for lending his time and sharing more of his story with us. Follow his channel on YouTube to be in the loop for upcoming race events, and it looks like good old fashioned drag racing is also on the horizon.

And h/t to CutRock_R_Marc_D for telling us about Bathurst Diecast Racing in the first place

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