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.
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???????