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· Registered
2,290 Posts
So i've been toying with the idea to build a track for some time now.

Choice of Circuit
For me one thing is a given it has to be a historic track used for Formula One events. Then from that flows the fact that I'm in Italy so it seems logical to choose Monza.

Now I've read threads that suggest that real tracks don't make good slot tracks but I have a theory about that…. It seems to me that is because people choose tracks with many curves that once scaled down to reasonable slot track scale create too many sharp corners, very few decent straights etc.

Consider for example that Barcelona has a straight of about 1.2km. At scale that would be 37.5m long and you start to see where the problems lie!!

So to overcome that as best I can I've taken the Monza track as used for the Grand Prix of 1955-6 and 1960-61. That is the combined track with banking but without any of the 'variante' or the Ascari bends. In that way I have a fast flowing circuit which will scale well. The Parabolica for example becomes essentially a hairpin bend and is the tightest corner on the circuit.

Of course what is fundamentally different about this circuit is the banking. I hope to create this fairly accurately and this was already the subject of a thread some months ago. It seems that a real dish shaped banking has never been built so this will be a first. If I'm wrong and one exists please let me know……

Apart from the banking the circuit will be routed MDF, the base boards are already in construction and look like this:

As you can see the track is in the unused ground floor of my house so it can be BIG. In fact the lane lengths are 29m (90 odd feet).

Its early days yet for the banks but they will be made from polystyrene cut by hot wire and then skinned with resin or fibre glass. The geometry is worked out but I want to get the road section sorted first to test some of my other ideas…..

Basic banking is half down and half up as per the real thing....

The bridge section will look like this......

1. I want a decent track to 'play' on with my collection of old and new F1 cars.
2. We (Graham Lane and I) need, here in Umbria, a wood routed track to design, tune and practice on for UK events like Early Birds, otherwise we are sssooooooo unprepared.
3. I like a challenge…….
4. I have a dream to eventually run a CLASSIC Italian GP event in a few years when the track is fully running and Graham's Mini Monte Carlo Rally has reached its natural conclusion. In fact with this in mind I'm keen to get feedback on my circuit design BEFORE I route it to ensure that if this event does attract interest the track is capable of hosting it.

Given the space, after much design, thinking and restarting I've settled on 4 lanes.

Analogue or Digital
Here too I've thought a lot. I like digital for GP racing. Lane changing, racing line corners, pit stops, fuel load simulation are all part of GP racing and on Graham's track we've had a few great nights 'messing around' with all that.

The problem though is simply that we've had only a FEW nights since most of the time there seems to be some bugs in the system. I've become slightly convinced that if you're running anything more than a smallish box standard track SSD can't really handle it, or at least it gets easily overloaded.

Added to that the competition standard is still analogue so it'd be difficult to run a digital event in the future for '50's, '60's and '70's cars.

Finally I have a collection of some 150+ classic F1's and I simply can't chip them all. I once bought 4 chips to run on Graham's track and learnt that chipping these early GP cars is not so easy due to space etc. so having 'some' chips and moving them from car to car is also not really an option.

It's a great pity as I'd like to do pitstop strategy type racing. Maybe this will get added later in a digital / analogue option track…… But let's keep it simple for now. I've seen a thread or two with analogue pitstop systems with a simple button push 'point' for pit entry. This might be the way to go in due course too.

Race Type
This is where my idea starts to unfold and dictate the track design!
I want to run GP type races. That means one driver one lane 1 hour minimum. For me that's NOT endurance. You should be tired by the end, your finger should hurt, your lap times will change during the course of the race and the car might well need pitstop maintenance.

What this means is that 4 stints of 4 minutes on 4 lanes is very much NOT what I call a Grand Prix. Most so called 'serious' racing (especially that in Italy) seems to work like this but its not for me.

So, we have a big problem then. How do we make the racing even slightly fair? I measured my 4 lanes and they are over 2m different from inside to outside which is obviously a HUGE amount and over an hour where each lap takes say 10s would multiply up to several laps of advantage.

I've done the research on equalising lane distances and have found that there are only two ways to do it:
1) exactly symmetrical circuit with flyover (figure of eight type stuff), or,
2) yes you guessed it - crossovers……

Now I know some will say that equalising lane length is not crucial since tight corners v's. wider corners will equalise things anyway but I have another set of ideas:
a) I don't like tight hairpins R1's or anything like that. I think they're really unrealistic, far too tight to have decent racing without flying off and do give a huge disadvantage to that lane.
Realism. I like racing lines. I like the cars to move about on the track. I really can't understand why any routed tracks EVER have radiused corners or 'real' straights. They look odd and are so predictable to drive….. (I'm sure I'll get some responses on that one….). Real cars rarely if ever go all the way down a straight in a straight line. Then, especially if there are other cars around they weave!!
c) I am very much against single track, 'rhythm' type racing where one has his car, one goes into a sort of 'trance' with the controller and the corners without even noticing what is going on around them. For me skill is not in doing the best fast lap over and over its very much about adapting, braking and interacting fully with the other cars. Just like in real racing…… (Again I found a whole thread debating this and I don't really want to go over it all again here. Some like single track 'trance style', others like 'interaction'……)
d) Given the era in which my track is designed and the cars I want to predominantly use on it the 'special feature' I want to integrate is SLIPSTREAMING…. I very much want to integrate a section of the track on the banking where the cars run almost directly behind one another to simulate the slipstreaming effect, before they weave apart and then take different lines into the next bend. It's a 'gimmick' if you like but in slot racing jargon it's a simple 'squeeze'. Again squeezes have been discussed at length elsewhere suffice to say I LIKE the idea both of slip streaming and of deliberately making cars have to take notice of one another before choosing the moment to overtake.

Now, given all of that I also realised that once you've allowed squeeze(s) and the cars CANNOT OVERTAKE for a given period there is no longer any reason why they shouldn't CROSS over as well. In the sense that the skill is needed to brake before the squeeze, and once in you can cross back and forth either for aesthetic 'weaving' or indeed to equalise lane length.

OK, enough chatting this is what I've come up with:

So I've drawn it all out in Autocad. Its virtually all spline curves and although much of the circuit is made up of roughly parallel lanes there is a lot of small divergence and convergence which might or might not be visible in the final result. We'll have to see.

I've measured these lanes and they are all accurate to within 1mm of each other.

I'm thinking of having a staggered grid on 25mm as shown by the cars rectangles (cars). This will allow that as they approach the first squeeze and cross section (the Lesmo curves) if they have all taken off at exactly the same speed (which is of course only theoretical anyway) they can all slip through without crashing. You will see that at this point the cars are 'paired' so that not all the cars cross one another. In fact this corner is designed so that cars 1&2 don't squeeze or cross one another and nor do cars 3&4.

This idea came to me so that if one wanted just to race 2 cars then on this section at least they wouldn't squeeze or cross.

I liked this concept, that the pairs didn't cross, but soon found that it was impossible to make the whole circuit like that as one immediately got back into the whole lane length problem….

So the lines in the corner are supposed to show a sort of 'range' of racing lines so that the cars forced onto the inside of the first part of the corner obviously need to run wide into the next part of the corner and exit…..

So, having arrived to the parabolica one has travelled some 13m from the start line and so the racing should have become slightly at least spaced out. This is the most complex and dangerous part of the track. The rule will be simple. The first to arrive gets right of way just as in real racing. You will need to be very aware of who is around you and how well you are driving compared to them and their line in the corner and exit. It is the slowest corner on the track and there are a range of lines from the tight apex one to the one slithering round on the 'marbles'.

My personal opinion is that as one learns the track it will become obvious that it is not absolutely fundamental to pass BEFORE the corner since on exit from that corner, as the cars begin to accelerate away the lanes make a long squeeze as the cars start to 'slipstream'. So if you missed the pass before you have time to settle in behind your opponent on the same line essentially and then blast out the other end.

Except before 'blasting out' you will weave and cross one last time on the back straight……

From there you will have half that straight, all the last banked curve, the whole start finish line straight and round again to the Lesmo curves. That is about 11.5m of very fast motoring in which you really should be able to overtake!!!!

You will see that I've plotted the position of the cars if they are all running as 'pace' cars at the same speed around the circuit and they do not collide at the crossing points.

The only other detail to add is that with the racing lines the cars will of course pass over the top of the 'kerbs' and I'm not sure yet whether these will be just painted on or slightly raised. That might depend whether the inside lanes need any slowing in reality to further 'even up' the racing……

Well that's about it really…… I've said my bit - now tell me what's wrong, what you like and what you don't and more than anything whether you think you'd like to race your old F1's (including scratchbuilds) on it???????

· Registered
596 Posts
Hi Andi,

First off, I have to tell you how jealous I am of the amount of space you have to work in !

Love the ideas you have for the track, sounds like it could be a challange to drive and would serve as a fitting transition from the MMC if and when it ceases.

Now I have to build me some classic GP cars !

· Registered
1,952 Posts

And thats the area you dont use

OK for DIGITAL PAY the money and Get Simple H upgrade its not cheap but well worth the money when coupled with a good 20 amps PSU

As for the rest good luck thats an epic build you got on your hands


· Registered
3,774 Posts
Hi Andi
Wow what an ambitious project and so much to think about.

The basic Monza layout looks like it could work quite well as a slot car track as long as it's easy enough for marshals to duck under the track for access to the interior marshalling positions. Many full size circuits make very poor slot racing circuits, you mention one of the reasons for this, the previous threads on that subject explain all the other problems with them.

Making all the lanes the same length doesn't guarantee they will all be the same speed. However making them all the same length does help even up the lap times. Most club tracks are built with all the lanes the same length, yet it is very unusual not to have some lanes better than others.
The shape of banking you are planning with the outside lanes more steeply banked than the inner means that the outside lanes are potentially much faster. If this is a practical differance depends on the cars used, if they are flat out all the way round the inner lanes then this becomes unimportant. On 1:1 banked tracks like Monza and Brooklands the faster cars simply moved further up the banking to take advantage of the steeper banking. With slot tracks they don't have that option.
To answer one of your questions, no I haven't ever seen a slot car banking built like that. I guess one reason is ease of construction, simply making the banking angle for all the lanes is what you naturally end up with by bending a flat sheet. Another reason, at least amongst the more thoughtful builders, is that they didn't want the lanes at different banking angles for the above reason. Sadly this mitigates against close racing between closely matched cars.

I've not seen a track with so many multiple cross overs and squeezes in corners as this one, its difficult to know exactly how it will work out without trying it.
You say you want realism and racing lines.
What happens in 1:1 racing when cars are overtaking is that cars often go side by side into corners, the ideal racing line is often compromised for one or (more likely) both of the cars. The cars can move off the perfect line to give each other space or stick to their line and produce an avoidable accident (which has left several drivers in recent F1 races having to justify their accidents to the stewards)
Slot tracks don't allow cars to move off line to allow each other room, in that respect they are a totally unrealistic representation of 1:1 racing. The net result of this is that the overtaking car needs to be much faster to get past. Closely matched cars trying to overtake is far more likely to end up in an accident than getting past.
Squeezes in corners work well in slotstocks where contact between the cars in corners is expected, and the cars are built specially robust to cope with this. This represents the 1:1 British stock car ovals with their specially robust cars built to cope with contact.

Cross overs have done much to increase manufacturers' sales over the years because of the amount of crash damage they cause. It would be a shame to have some of the beautifully hand built slot cars I've seen you build smashed up by unnecessary accidents.

· Registered
177 Posts
QUOTE (conti_rowland @ 14 Jun 2011, 12:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Choice of Circuit
Now I've read threads that suggest that real tracks don't make good slot tracks but I have a theory about that&#8230;. It seems to me that is because people choose tracks with many curves that once scaled down to reasonable slot track scale create too many sharp corners, very few decent straights etc.

So to overcome that as best I can I've taken the Monza track as used for the Grand Prix of 1955-6 and 1960-61. That is the combined track with banking but without any of the 'variante' or the Ascari bends. In that way I have a fast flowing circuit which will scale well. The Parabolica for example becomes essentially a hairpin bend and is the tightest corner on the circuit.

Yep, you are right. Everyone who has tried it likes the flow of this track.

· Premium Member
5,599 Posts
Holy [email protected], how much space, I am so jealous

I will certainly keep an eye on how this turns out, good luck.

· One petunia in a field of onions
6,433 Posts
Finally Mr Lane can stop dancing around with his fist in his mouth to stop him from blurting out the plan.

And on that plan.... WOW! I like the plan. I love the thinking behind it. I'd seriously love to see it work. And again WOW!


· Registered
220 Posts
Great project, beautiful track choice, excellent philosophy!

Have you investigated BLST? What about waiting for Oxigen? I think those crossovers could be deadly unless you have a very well practiced crew that race together regularly on that layout.

fantastic start, looking forward to seeing how she goes!

· Premium Member
2,714 Posts
Great project! I will watch closely.

As a rule of thumb I have often found outside lanes as fast if not faster than inside lanes. While the car in the outside lane travels a great distance it can carry more speed.

· Premium Member
2,145 Posts
Hi Andi

Wow - that's a great idea! I think you'll have to live with inequality between lanes, though. As 300SLR says, it's impossible in practice to predict track performance from a plan. Also, the differences will depend on the cars - and some lanes may 'swop over' in difficulty when you change cars. You can deal with this by accepting it and running a series of 4 long races on different days, so everybody runs in all lanes and you always have long races.


· Registered
3,636 Posts
Do what you think is right, disregard everyone elses opinion, whatever you do some people will love it, some will hate and most will be somewhere in between, so do what you want, don't compromise, and you'll be happy, sometimes things need designing by one person and not by "commitee".

· Registered
2,290 Posts
Presumably then some of you can see the plans??? I can't on my PC in the office but can on my iPhone which is very odd. I've asked Doug to edit the photos so hopefully then everyone can see them...... It seems to happen sometimes when I transfer data from Autocad into photobucket - not sure why yet.

I add the plan here again to see if that helps for those that can't see it yet:

Anyway thanks to everyone for the positive feedback so far although most seems to be about the space not the track!!!!!

I think in general the advice so far has been softly softly suggesting that exact lane length is less important than making a workable track which i'm going to try to take on board a little but without losing my starting point too much.

It seems to me from my experience of racing / running cars that one needs sufficient space to 'think' in order to accelerate / brake / miss other cars. I think this is often why squeezes and crossovers fail. 1. because they are too close or too often for one to actually line the car up to make a pass and 2. they are in positions where the cars are flat out so that the driver simply cannot think ahead that quickly.

My first plan then attempted to space the two zones out enough whilst still having two areas of cross over.

I think i'm going to try to eliminate the first squeeze and cross over in the Lesmo curves in order that from the start one has a real long way to go before the parabolica and on subsequent laps lots of space from the exit of the first bank all round to the parabolica to line up for a pass.

I will lose the racing line effect in the lesmo curves but actually think now relooking at my plan that between the Lesmo curves and the parabolica there is insufficient space to do any passing and the Lesmo cross over will indeed cause crashes a lot coming after the long fast section.

This will also mean that I might need to adjust the lines in the parabolica and the first banked corner in order to get better lane length balance but maybe without mm perfect equality.

I also agree with others that indeed how each lane is effects how fast it is more than just the length. However I think this is often due to the presence of far too tight hairpin bends. I haven't got anything like a R1 inner or outer on this track as I think they are simply unworkeable for any slot cars after about 1980.....

Finally the track is 1/32 and lane widths are a fairly slim 75mm (scaley are 78mm). The thinking on this is that my widest car is 70mm ('70's F1's) and with open wheel cars if they touch you're off so extra width doesn't really help......

Once i've got the alternative arrangement without the Lesmo crossover i'll post it.



· Rich Dumas
4,637 Posts
You can fine tune your track so the same car will turn identical lap times on each lane by adjusting the track voltage. Each lane would need its own voltage regulator to make very fine adjustments. Increments of 0.7 volts can be had by using diodes to drop the voltage. Some of our tracks have a finish with more grip applied in selected spots.
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