My motivation to build a 1:64 scale track came from two friends who introduced me to the 3dbotmaker YouTube channel. Pacific Rim Speedway will be a step away from the conventional raceway diorama. Cars will be racing through a city being attacked by Kaiju all the while Jaeger are defending the city. The city will be a full diorama of details to explore when it is all finished.
A total of 6 action cameras will be used, to include 4 fixed positions, 1 finish line, and 1 motion stabalized camera. The track will also have street lights to allow for low light/night racing as well. The footprint of the track is contained on a 4-ft x 8-ft platform. The start gate is located 6-ft above the floor, and the finish line is located 3-ft above the floor. So the full length of the track is a total of 34.75-ft, which is contained in a 8-ft W x 3-ft H x 4-ft D cubic area. The framing and supports are all made from lumber that I measured and cut, and the track itself is made up of Hot Wheels flat tracks, Crash Racers straightaway and banks, and miscellaneous custom 3D printed parts from Slanman Customs, including a start gate with timer, 45° dual lane curves, track connectors, track anchors, and trusses.
A few unique landscape additions to the track will be a 5.5-ft long grid iron bridge that will span the length between the start gate and the first 90° turn, sewer pipes providing support to a carved out cave that the cars race through, live power station, and television station. All with accent LEDs to add to the affects.
First up was building the base. I used 1.5" x 2.5" studs, 4' x 8' x 1/2" sheet of particle board, and 2" hex bolt wood screws.
I am not a carpenter by any means, so this all has been a learning experience. The supports were a bit wobbly and swayed a small bit in every direction. So I added cross bar support in every direction to remove it and provide more support.
Next up, I laid out the track in a 2-dimensional configuration to ensure my foot print that I had sketched out actually fits the physical foot print.
So far so good, right? Next, I started building the platforms to support each turn. I started with the bottom and worked my way up. Each platform would be at 6" increments meaning that each subsequent platform would be 6" above the next. This was a start point for sure. I used 2" x 2" x 96" lumber and 24" x 48" x 1/4" sheets of MDF. I used the MDF for the platforms holsing up the turns as well as supports for the straightaways.
The next platform would be straight forward, but I didn't want lumber blocking the view of the final turn to the finish. So I decided that this last turn to the finish line would be inside of a cave like cut-out. At first I thought to leave the 2" x 2" wooden support and cover it with expanding foam to carve it in order for it to look like a stalactite/stalagmite. But after a test, I felt it too wide/big. Then I had the idea of using PVC disguised as sewer pipes. This actually turned well out to my surprise.
I will have some hanging vines/vegetation from the overflow openeings at the top, and from the broken section of one of the pipes.
Next up was testing. I precut some 2" x 1" x 1/2" blocks from extra fencing pickets I had from a fencing project to use as shims/lifts to help provide angle to the turns in order to maintain momentum. I then discovered that the MDF supports for the straightaways were bowed/warped. So I ended up replacing all the MDF straightaways with 5" x 6' x 1/2" pickets cut to length. There was no sagging at all and I was also able to remove all the extra supports that were required to hold up the MDF straightaways.
These first test runs went okay for the most part. The heavier cars had no problems running the track at an okay speed, but the lighter and higher cars had a lot of difficulty. For example, the tiny City Civics would fall off at turn 3, or Quattros would fall off in the last turn.
So I invited two of my friends over that are also just getting into diecast racing. We share commonalities in costuming, Star Wars, and boardgaming. So our "craftiness" together could help improve my track. So they came over and ran their cars down the track. They came to the same conclusion that the track was a good start, but needed more speed in places. So we did some modifications.
We started with turn 5 and lowed the platform 2" to increase the angle going into the last turn before the finish line. So this platform height was now at 4" instead of its original 6". But even further we dropped one corner to 3" to help the exit of the turn be power than the entry. This also flattened the small hump that became noticeable where the curve connected to the straightaway.
Turn 5 also hamp a hump in its exit where the turn connected to the straightaway. So we lowered that corner from 12" to 11" so the exit would be lower than the entry of the curve.
Then there were some minor tweeks. If you hadn't notice on the full track shot above, a lot of the pickets I used for the straightaways were mounted on top of the door hinges. So I switched them to underneath the hinges or underneath the subsequent platform.
Then I raised the start gate by 2" to increase the angle of the first straightaway. This may or may not go higher based on testing. I should add that I did add another wooden shim behind the start gate to make it angle more downward.
So after a few test runs, I saw a consistent "hopping" of cars as they exited turn one. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the black track I was using was narrower than the 3D printed 45-degree dual lane curves. So as cars were exiting the curve, they would hop when they hit the outer wall of the flat track. Now most just hopped and continued down the straightaway, but others would hop track and stop, or fall off the track completely.
So I used an old tabletop miniatures trick by holding the end of the track under scalding hot water to soften the plastic then pushing the track flat onto a cold surface in order to widen the outer walls. It actually held pretty well.
Even though it fixed most of the hopping cars, it did not fix all. Some were still hopping across or off the track. So I reached out to Erik from Slanman Customs and he noticed I was using black track. He said that the black track is narrower than some orange track. I was very surprised since I "assumed" all Hot Wheels flat tracks were the same. He was correct. So I replaced this section of black track with orange track that had higher sidewalls, and it worked!
So far so good. The cars were definately picking up speed now, and cars weren't hopping track. Especially the lighter and higher cars, which were able to now make it to the finish line. However, one of my friends didn't like how my track just came to an end abruptly. I responded that the track would end into a cave. His reasoning was, "it takes away from the illusion that it is a real race, and bangs up the cars more at the end." So he suggested inserting the cross intersection from the Crash Racers and adding a loop. It worked out very nicely. I did have to custom cut one of the straightaways to about 4" to make it work because I have a finish line connector that already accomodates the IR sensors for the finish line so I wouldn't have to drill holes into the cross intersection for the sensors as seen in 3dbotmaker's KOM track.
I will be taking a couple of the 5" pickets I have to create an extended shelf to support this last bit of track coming off the table. Once that is done, I'll post another update. And by the way, did I mention MAIL CALL!
40 street lights showed up today. So I will need to drill the holes for these around the track as well. I also ordered the grid iron bridge from the UK, which has shipped but will probably take a couple weeks to arrive. I decided to make that first straightaway a bridge. Otherwise, I would have to create an overhanging cliff since the first straightaway is almost directly over the straightaway coming out of turn 3.
So thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy following my build progress. Until the next update, stay safe and keep your wheels on the road!