Back during the Rookie Rally in January, Mattman talked about how one his cars wavered when it hit "the whump" at the transition of my track. I loved that term, The Whump. It describes that transition perfectly. I always had a dislike for The Whump but once it got a name, I started to like it. I started to like that it made my track a little unique. Just like real world tracks, every one has their quirks and The Whump was mine.
This is the story of The Whump
In my opinion, downhill transitions are one of the most difficult parts of the track to get right...or at least get fair. Unless you're using a Drag Track system or something that has a prefab support structure, you were on your own to get that transition right. And "right" meaning it was sturdy and fair.
I had used all sorts of engineering solutions, from Velcro, to tape, to bungie cords, to a hook & latch rig. It was always a mess and I was never happy with anything I came up with (no surprise there). Nothing ever stopped me from racing but I always new the track could be better.
Then in 2015, long-time RLD member Smitty, who had been a fabricator for GM back in the day (or maybe Ford, not sure), reached out and gave me a hand. Using his veteran metalworking skills, he made what he called The Sloppy Transfer (all his stuff got a "sloppy" moniker). It was 4-lane a steel track connector. He sent it to me and I took the flat metal and angled it as I needed. It was then screwed down to the base boards and the orange track slid over top like any other connector.
It was awesome! It was sturdy and held my downhill down as well. I thought all my problems were solved...and they were, largely speaking. But that metal underneath the track is what turned my track into The Whump. And the fact that the angle of my downhill was pretty steep (about 40 degrees, I think). So a car going down got good speed, hit that solid metal at the transition and could get whumped if their weight was in the wrong spot.
Smitty left the limelight of Redline Derby several years ago. I haven't communicated with him since but I hope he's doing okay. He was retired and gave a lot to diecast racing and to Redline Derby in the early days. And without Smitty, there would be no Whump. Thanks, Smitty, wherever you are.
I'm not sure if The Whump will return when I rebuild my home track. I'm thinking I'll try a different technique this time, just to change things up. But The Whump will be sitting proudly on my shelf, as a tribute to Smitty and what really was my first competitive race track.