RC racing isn\u2019t what it was about 10 years ago. Then, tracks were popping up in shopping malls, suburban shopping plazas, in the back room of bowling alleys, next door to arcades, and in reclaimed retail space everywhere. But since 2016, the closure of many tracks has rocked the RC racing world. This has left RC car owners with limited options and venues for racing. The answer to this turn of events is that many RC racers are now building their own track.\n\n\n\nHow do I build my own RC track? You build your own RC track using prefabricated kits or using materials you have on hand that you repurpose for the project. The building technique varies by type of the race course - flat, banked, with jumps, symmetrical, asymmetrical, indoor, outdoor, and other types are all possibilities. \n\n\n\nThe primary benefit of building your own RC racing track is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. While there are some steps and essential procedures you need to do in the early going, there will be a point where you can let your imagination be your guide.\n\n\n\nThe Indoor Track\n\n\n\nThe benefit of an indoor RC racing track should be fairly obvious. You\u2019re not controlled by the weather, either in the construction phase or the racing phase. Secondly, you generally have access to power outlets for charging stations, lights, and electric devices pertinent to the track or events held there.\n\n\n\nThe downside to having an indoor track is the size. In many cases, you\u2019ll have to make concessions in the size, depending on the size of the room or area the track is going to be built-in. There are other considerations, like easy access to the room, what are you giving up in order to have that room, and whether the room is comfortable.\n\n\n\nIf you are wanting to make a large indoor track it will normally cost you quite a bit as you will either have to rent a building for the purpose or build\/repurpose a building that you own. \n\n\n\nIndoor Track - Preplanning\n\n\n\nOne of the first decisions you\u2019ll have to make is the type of surface for the cars to race on. The first one listed is gray ozite, the most popular material. The others are listed in no particular order.\n\n\n\nGray Ozite carpeting \tRubber floor mats \tFoam floor mats\n\n\n\nGray ozite carpeting is the surface of choice for most RC race tracks. It\u2019s the carpet you see on automobile floor mats. It provides great traction for the RC cars, yet cleans up easily and doesn\u2019t shred. You can use it for the whole layout or just for the part the cars will travel on. If you don\u2019t use it for the entire layout, you can use green indoor-outdoor carpeting for the non-driving areas.\n\n\n\nFor a portable track, leave the carpet untacked so that you can roll it up when you\u2019re done with it for the day. For a permanent installation, you can glue the carpet to a hard surface. Just remember - it\u2019s easier to do than to undo so make sure you have everything in the right place before gluing. \n\n\n\nRubber is another great surface, providing even better traction than gray ozite. However, it\u2019s quite a bit more expensive. It\u2019s also more durable than gray ozite, but the jury\u2019s still out on whether the extra cost works out to any advantage in the long run.\n\n\n\nFoam mats can be bought as squares, rectangles, or as interlocking squares. They\u2019re inexpensive, durable and provide good traction. The interlocking squares can be taken apart and stacked, but over time the interlocking tabs break off and leave gaps in the surface.\n\n\n\nFind a Location for Your Track\n\n\n\nThe first tip here is, you\u2019re gonna need a bigger space. Almost without fail, the first places you consider for your track will be too small. A space of 20 square feet would be a good starting point, but less than that, your cars are going to be making a lot of laps in a small space, and it will soon get very tedious.\n\n\n\nIt also has to be a place that won\u2019t be needed for anything else, especially if you\u2019re going for the permanent installation option. An unfinished basement that\u2019s likely to remain unfinished would be an excellent place to build your first track.\n\n\n\nIf you want to keep your track portable, you have the option of taking your track to community centers, church recreation centers, school gyms, or you might be able to reserve space in public meeting areas. Business owners might be willing to allow you to set up, especially if there\u2019s something in it for them.\n\n\n\nDesign Your Track\n\n\n\nThis will be a balance of physics and imagination, and tilting the scales too much in one direction can lead to either ho-hum or oh no! If you don\u2019t have a strong concept in mind, look at other tracks and take note of what you like and how you could apply the idea to your design.\n\n\n\nDo you want a flat racing surface or one with banked turns? Think about how you would accomplish that. Make your lanes wide enough to accommodate 1:8 cars, unless you know for certain you won\u2019t ever have that size running on the track. If you can handle 1:8, you can handle anything smaller.\n\n\n\nHow many cars will race at once? Allow space for each car, plus a little extra. A starting point for an indoor RC track would be 24 feet long, by 12 feet wide, with a three-foot-wide racing surface.\n\n\n\nPrepare the Surface\n\n\n\nRoll the carpet or the rubber mats out over the area you\u2019ve selected for your track. If you\u2019re using interlocking foam tiles, put them together over the area. Mark your intended route with easily removable tape (masking tape) or mark it lightly with an erasable marker.\n\n\n\nThere are bound to be some places where that turn you drew out on paper looks too sharp in reality, or the banked section has nowhere to go once the cars come off the embankment. The key is not to fall in love with your design to the extent that you ignore common sense principles of physics.\n\n\n\nInstall Lane Dividers and Side Rails\n\n\n\nIt\u2019s easy to think of the RC track in terms of the old slot car track, where the cars stayed in the slot (or were supposed to). RC cars can go anywhere they (owners) want, and it\u2019s crucial to maintain track decorum with lane dividers.\n\n\n\nThe materials you use for lane dividers can range from PVC pipe or even drain pipe, but remember that the lane dividers have to follow the track, so if you have a complicated double curve, you\u2019re going to have trouble bending the PVC to follow it. Swimming pool noodles or rubber garden hose might be better options.\n\n\n\nThe lane dividers need to be tall enough to prevent \u201cjump-overs,\u201d but you won\u2019t be able to prevent all of them.\n\n\n\nSide rails are easily made from 1x4 boards nailed at a right angle to a 2x4. Lay those along either side of a section of the straightaway. Don\u2019t fasten them down permanently, but do support them with a wedge on the backside that will prevent the side rail from shifting during racing.\n\n\n\nInstall Jumps\n\n\n\nFor a real motocross feel, you need jumps. But as with the lane widths, consider the cars most likely to be running on your track. Some cars aren\u2019t made to go airborne, and the landings can be hard on them. Shorter, simpler jumps might be the best idea if you\u2019re not sure who will be racing and how.\n\n\n\nJumps can be made by using a board with a block or brick under it to provide an upward angle. The board is placed under the carpet, and the carpet smoothed down all around it for consistency.\n\n\n\nRace\n\n\n\nYou can be much more elaborate, with custom paint jobs, scenery, obstacles, and lights, but essentially, you\u2019re ready to race. Take your car for the first track test.\n\n\n\nDriver Platforms\n\n\n\nWhen the big promoters lay out an indoor RC racing track in a big gym or civic center, they probably have elevated driver platforms that allow the drivers to look down on the track. You might not be able to do that with your track, but you do need to think about where the drivers will stand.\n\n\n\nYour drivers area should be set up so that no one has a better view of the track than anyone else. If you can provide an elevated platform that\u2019s safe, that\u2019s great. But remember, these folks will be watching their cars and not their steps, and it would be easy to step off a platform in the heat of a race.\n\n\n\nTake it Outside\n\n\n\nBuilding an outdoors RC track can be the coolest thing you ever did. It doesn\u2019t have to be expensive, and you don\u2019t have to sacrifice your entire backyard to do it. The advantage with an outdoor RC track is that you can make it as big as you want (with a few rational limitations). Building jumps and dips is just a matter of using a shovel, and the racing is raw, dirty and exhilarating.\n\n\n\nPlanning\n\n\n\nThink of the greatest dirt track you\u2019ve ever seen. It could be sanctioned race track, or a temporary course laid out in a stadium or a field behind somebody\u2019s warehouse. You can replicate that course in your backyard RC track. If you have the room, you can make a 1:8 replica of the real-life course. That way, the distances and scale between the track and the cars is roughly the same.\n\n\n\nGlean ideas from other RC tracks you\u2019ve seen, either in person or online. Pinterest has some ideas (and they don\u2019t involve recipes). Obviously you\u2019ll want to check out RC websites or magazines for inspiration.\n\n\n\nOnce you\u2019ve settled on a design, draw it out on paper and put the dimensions on the drawing. Test-walk those dimensions in the backyard and make sure it will work. It\u2019s almost certain that some things will have to be revised.\n\n\n\nFirm Foundation\n\n\n\nThe notion of racing on real dirt sounds like fun. Except that you don\u2019t want real dirt. Real dirt is complicated; it gets wet and stays wet for a long time, washes off into gullies, and blows away in the wind. You should use clay for the track surface. Clay is available in granular form, in bulk or mixed with soil. Clay is very popular with landscapers and ballfield managers for its water-shedding properties, so it should be easy to find at lawn and garden shops or box stores.\n\n\n\nYou could simply dig down 3-4 inches to get down to the compacted soil under the top layer, but you\u2019d then have to do something with the removed topsoil. That is a lot of work, with the main benefit being money savings (probably $75 or less). Most track builders would probably rather spend the money to get bags of clay, which can be spread out in any manner they want.\n\n\n\nDrainage, Drainage, Drainage\n\n\n\nThe biggest mistake backyard DIYers make is ignoring the principles of drainage. Too much digging creates new low places for the water to run to. Too little, and water will continue to follow the same path it always has, which may or may not be what you want.\n\n\n\nYou can dig drainage ditches around the course or put a bed of gravel below the course itself to allow the water to filter down. How much time and effort you put into drainage will determine how elaborate your drainage is. Simply making the course higher than the surrounding areas will ensure your course stays dry the majority of the time. \n\n\n\nThere is no one-plan-fits-all solution to achieving the desired drainage. Observe what the water does during rain storms, and do whatever it takes to redirect it if needed. Also remember that with water drainage, NO solution is permanent. Water will do what it wants to do, despite your efforts to tame it. The key is to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.\n\n\n\nOutline the Course\n\n\n\nDig the outline of your race course, remembering not to gouge out a low place that will trap water. Soil that is removed can be used for banking for curves or as a berm to divert water coming from uphill.\n\n\n\nWhile you can make your course as difficult as you like, don\u2019t forget that the track is a racetrack, not an obstacle course. Make your turns challenging but skip the \u201cdead man\u2019s curve\u201d hazards. The curves and other challenging portions of the track should be difficult enough to cause wipeouts by inattentive drivers, but manageable for those who are locked in on their driving.\n\n\n\nThis is also the time to create jumps, in this case, ramps of banked-up dirt. You can gain inspiration by watching motocross events on TV or in person, but when building your track and trying to emulate the ramps and jumps you\u2019ve seen, remember that moderation is the key. Your jumps should be no longer than 1.5 times the length of the cars.\n\n\n\nLanes\n\n\n\nLanes should be the width of the cars times the number of cars you want racing at once (four should be the maximum). Go slightly wider than this final number, but don\u2019t give them too much room. The spirit of competition amps up when the cars are in close proximity.\n\n\n\nThe best material to use for lane dividers is PVC pipe, schedule 40 (white). Lay the pipe out evenly, with the sections parallel to each other. Secure the pipe to the ground with 12-inch metal stakes, driven all the way into the soil.\n\n\n\nSoil Compaction\n\n\n\nIt may seem counterproductive, but as you work, occasionally wet the soil down with a garden hose. The reason for this is that while you move about, kneel, walk, etc. in the area; you are tamping the soil down to a solid base.\n\n\n\nWe can\u2019t stress the importance of drainage enough. As you spray the race track area with water, pay close attention to where it runs. If it cuts a hasty path through the middle of your course, you will have problems after a heavy rainstorm. If it pools up in one section, it will become a spot that will remain wet when everything else is dry.\n\n\n\nSmooth out problem areas and add water again to make sure you fixed the problem. And keep in mind the old rule of thumb for landscapers - if it was a problem area once, it will be a problem area again.\n\n\n\nDrivers Area\n\n\n\nYou\u2019ve made a place for the cars. Now you need a place for the drivers. The best way to determine where that place needs to be is to test it out yourself. It needs to be a place that offers a line of sight between the driver and car at all times.\n\n\n\nIf there are places where the car disappears - even for a second - you should fix them. Either move the driver area to a better vantage point or make changes to the trouble spot. This is not a time for blind curves.\n\n\n\nTrack Maintenance\n\n\n\nIf your track gets used a lot, you can expect a lot of disruption to its layout. Drivers can wallow out an area in the soil where they stand; cars can create holes and dips in the soil as they spin their wheels gaining traction or land after mounting a jump. Rainstorms can wash away jumps or embankments. Areas that aren\u2019t supposed to get stepped on can get stepped on.\n\n\n\nDuring the fall, you\u2019ll have to contend with leaves. And anytime during the year, branches and debris can collect on the track.\n\n\n\nIf the track is going to be dormant for a couple of weeks or longer, you could cover it with tarps or plastic ground cover.\n\n\n\nLearn More\n\n\n\nWant to learn more and see how it is done? Check out the video below. \n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=X6xC0suCFdQ\n\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nUltimately how you build your new track is in your hands. I would recommend building a track that can be added to in the future so you could make a mega-track if you choose! One way to ensure you have plenty of room for changes in the future is to not build the track in tight to walls (if indoors) or close to buildings or obstacles (if outdoors). \n\n\n\nHaving the freedom to change the track whenever you get the urge will not only help you keep the track fresh but will also keep the other racers wanting to come back for more!