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Alfie Noakes
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Hi All,
I've been thinking about hiring track for events and/or setting up at school fetes, etc for charity fund raising, and I've followed the forum threads here on this subject with interest.
Last weekend I used my son's 2nd birthday party as a test bed, to see what issues came up., and I thought I'd post a thread about it with some pictures, and a quick description of what I did, and what happened.

There were about 50 people at the party, with at least half were grown-ups, the rest kids from 2-11. Many of the guests know I've got a track in the loft, so I think most probably expected something like this. The adults were cautiously interested to start with... 'so is this your track from the loft?' whereas the kids reacted with lots more 'oh wow!/can we have a go/what's the lap record/what's the fastest car', etc

It was an analogue track set up on a 2.4m x 1.1m table. I kept the circuit nice and tight to try to keep the speed down, and the R1s worked really well, adding a bit of skill/fun. The track was on a high table in a marquee that had open sides, I had 240v power run from the shed with an RCD. I designed the track on Trackpower, then raided the spares boxes in the loft the night before. I also sanded the tyres on all of the cars. I didn't bother with new braids, just made sure they were straight.

The track took 10mins to set up, including barriers. The thing that took ages was finding a selection of cars that I wouldn't get upset about if/when they got broken... I would have been upset about the Alfa though.

I put out 10 cars, to give a bit of choice:porsche 997s, DTM Mercs, Porsche Boxsters, Alfa 155 & Vectra, Mini Clubmans

I didn't man the track, or do any organisation. I purposefully left it to see how it would get used when there was no direction or structure. Any marshalling was on a casual basis, depending on who was watching at the time. The track had an analogue lap timer (10ths/sec) but I left it to others to find out how it worked.

I set a lap time (5.2secs) in a slower car (Alfa) and wrote it on a 'fastest laps board' before everyone arrived (well the track DID need quite a bit of testing...!) This worked really well as the kids kept coming up to me throughout the afternoon to tell me when they beat my time.

Just between you and me, I did a fastest lap time of 4 seconds dead in the fastest Porsche. I tried really hard to get under 4 secs but couldn't. No one beat that time, but a couple of the kids equalled it, which I reckon is pretty good. Dan (grown-up) lied about his 3.9 secs lap time, but we all expected that.

Here's the pictures:







Mummy Marshalls:





Who said men can't multi task, eh...?









Dad versus Dad...



Mum versus Dad...



Old Farts at play...



Fastest Laps Board...



Cars after the event...



Observations:
Track was in use from 2-6pm pretty much constantly
It was used by ages 2-65, and even got some mums on there
Appeared to be best fun for the 5-12 aged kids. And the 25-45 aged kids too
The only maintenance I did all afternoon was to wipe the track with a damp cloth half way through the afternoon, as it was very dusty and the cars were all over the place.
The only damage all afternoon was merc grill (at front on pic 2).
The fastest Laps Board worked really well, it gave something to aim for, whether during racing or just doing laps.
A couple of forum members made an appearance at the track, but their performance was a bit disappointing, for supposed experts.
I heard moaning about dirty tyres & parabolic curves or something...
May have 1 or 2 possible new recruits for the forum as a result of the fun.

name (age) lap time
tom (9) 4.0
max (11) 4.0
richard (grown-up) 4.2
stuart (grown-up) 4.4
jacob (9) 4.5
trevor (grown-up) 4.6
charlie(9) 5.0

Any thoughts, comments, observations, (or requests for left overs from the BBQ) are very welcome.
Cheers,
Richard
 

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Track looks awesome. I myself now 29 yrs old. Had a few slot car tracks as a kid. I just bought my first scalextric digital track here this past Christmas. And wow has it ever brought back some good memories. I forgot how much fun these set-ups can be and how the price for all the fun stuff has changed since then "15-20 yrs ago"

But it is great to see the pictures of everyone getting involved. Mums,kids,dads,grandparents. Seeing all the smiles on the faces and having fun is what makes a great hobby!

 

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Greg Gaub
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16,856 Posts
great little track design, Richard, and great success with the self-sustaining party entertainment.
The leader board is a great idea. just put it up and leave the rest to the guests.

Thanks for all the great pics, too!
 

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Richard, great idea and set up for party track.

I've met someone who routinely does this at Corporate Events, Charity Events, social events and sometimes at schools. He seems to be making enough extra money at it that he is working on building a mobile traylor with a permanant track housed inside for events. That way he doesn't have to take the track apart and put it together each event.

Here's what he's designed on a computer program for his traylor plans.







And this is one of my favorite Slot Car Event Pictures, from another individual who does some special events racing.
 

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Nice idea Richard,

Good simple layout and good choice of cars.

Interesting to note your observations of the most interested parties being 5-12 years. I've run tracks at my daughter's primary school and it is very successful for this age group. Less so at secondary school level. I've been involved in running tracks at slot events and recently helped out at a public event over Easter which again attracted a similar age group but also managed to pull in 'more mature' racers!

My experience has shown that the choice of cars is one of the most important considerations; nothing too expensive or too powerful. The Scalextric impact resistant or Ninco-1 range are perfect for such events. Alternatively older cars are quite robust and cheap to buy at swap-meets.
If you are able to power the circuit with an adjustable transformer, do so. (Another option would be to use lower power motors). It makes a huge difference when the power is restricted especially when the less experienced racers are on the track.
In addition, have plenty of spares; spare track sections, power supplies, timing devices and of course, cars.

Just a note if you are considering taking it outside of the family environment. A school event will require the track to be manned at all times and it will need a risk assessment. It can be tough going when the track is busy especially for one person - I suggest you enlist a bit of help, at least one other. For public events, you will need public liability insurance and meet health & safety requirements - a consideration to make anyway when there are little hands about and faces at the same level where cars can come flying off the track! Invest in some high crash barriers or screens for to catch the cars before they leave the table.

I'm glad it was a success - always good to see the hobby's profile being raised outside the regular enthusiasts.

Happy racing!
 

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Great stuff well done. Interesting experiment letting the event run itself, glad it worked out.

Have run quite a few public tracks for FLBT now at slot racing events, our open days and even a street festival and it's always such a buzz seeing people enjoy a decent go at slot racing rather than the 'set' experience.

Deffo the 5 to 12 year olds that enjoy it most, always amazes me how hard it is to get the adults having a go though, even at a swap meet.

It is also in this situation that the Scaley product makes sense, we run Impact resistent Audi TT's and you cant fault them, magnets left in and 13.6 volts, perfect.

Shameless plug, i'll be helping to run an HO public track at Gaydon, come and have a go, fastest Adult and Junior times win a fully funded drive for the national event in the afternoon!!!
 

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Horlicks Hero
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QUOTE (greenjo2 @ 4 May 2011, 22:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>And this is one of my favorite Slot Car Event Pictures, from another individual who does some special events racing.

Nascar Nuns ! Epic.

I'm glad to see other people trying this sort of thing out. I've been dragging the track out to my kids' school for the past couple of years. The first time was pretty basic, but these things evolve. I now have a good supply of spare parts for anything that might fail, and have built up a solid stable of cheap 'Super Resistant' cars that have similar performance characteristics.

Here's how it looked in 2008...


And in 2009...


And the latest additions to the stable that were featured in the 2010 event...



I find that those high Ninco fences do a great job of stopping the cars from leaving the table. They don't work 100% of the time, because there's always one little oik...

Stuart.
 

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QUOTE (richardtheforth @ 4 May 2011, 18:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi All,
I've been thinking about hiring track for events and/or setting up at school fetes, etc for charity fund raising, and I've followed the forum threads here on this subject with interest...Any thoughts, comments, observations, (or requests for left overs from the BBQ) are very welcome.

It is a wonderful idea. One of the very best ways to get folks interested in slot cars is to put a controller in their hand or at least have them see a track in action, up close.

I began building wood routed tracks specifically for use at fairs, festival, car shows etc in 1995. I learned a great deal from taking it to the public. And we're not the first. I've heard stories about open air markets in France where you could race a slot car in the '60's.

I hit the road hard from about '96-99 and backed off to run a few raceways...have done upwards of 500 events. Love it


Here's a link to my FB page that I'm working on loading some event pics into. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1...153616178008282 .

Check out this story from Jan 01 when I used to try and write some :0 http://gofastest.com/toa/Jan01.htm .

Keep up the enthusiasm and contact me if you feel the need.

QUOTE (greenjo2 @ 4 May 2011, 21:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...I've met someone who routinely does this at Corporate Events, Charity Events, social events and sometimes at schools...he is working on building a mobile traylor with a permanant track housed inside for events...

That is a great way to go, nice and tight.
 

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Alfie Noakes
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everyone for the comments. I can't believe how well this worked.
I really did expect to have broken (like, trodden on) cars, constant electrical connection problems, guide blades coming off, fights over controllers, etc, but it was so trouble free.
I realise that the general public are going to behave differently to family & friends, especially if they're paying, but as a 'dipping the toe in the water' exercise it's filled me with enthusiasm.

Some good point made above, thanks chaps!
I especially appreciate the nascar nuns pic from Greenjo and the great tips from Slothead... If you don't mind I'll PM you for more info.
Cheers,
Richard
 

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Premium Member
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702 Posts
I'll be running my main track at Moulton (Northants) Village Festival on Saturday 21st May if you're interested in seeing a large digital set up at a public event.

Just click on the link in my signature to see a picture of it.

I'll be running my fleet of boxsters including the reliveries by Colin (Wraith) and other cars.
 

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Alfie Noakes
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just in case it's not obvious from the photos, here's the track plan:



Cheers,
Richard
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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6,455 Posts
Absolutely fantabulous to see folks having so much fun with the track. And congratulations to you for providing it.

But this has to go down in history as my all time favourite slotty photo


Embs
 

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1 hp Trabant is not my real car
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I know slot cars can become compulsive...but those ladies really do have the habit
 

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WRP World Champ 2015/2016
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4,368 Posts
Rich, what a great event - well done. I like the circuit, nice and simple but with a good bit of variation for the drivers. Looks like the sun shone for the birthday party too. Particularly liked the laptime challenge, might use that when I get a houseful of rellies this coming Friday.

Stoo, that's a great setup - but boy, do you need some marshalling! What timing software is that you have on the LCD?
 

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Richard, I've thought of a couple of changes you could make for your next event.

This past event you tracked and posted fastest laps, which is very similar to 'qualifying' or 'time trials'. At your next event you could expand on the race theme. Have each person drive for 'x' minutes in each lane and record the number of laps completed by each driver on the board. Most laps completed will get your name at the top of the board. This gives your guests an additional slot car experience by requiring consistent quick lap times.

If you have a laptop and software you could easily track the race results on your computer screen.

Race Rewards - several people who do these events with kids often hand out rewards.

Simple certificates created on Word, Power Point, etc. can be given out, ribbons, small trophies or something similar can enhance the experience for the kids.

You could also give prizes to adults - a couple Pints of your finest - who wouldn't want to race for that?


John
 

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Horlicks Hero
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QUOTE (snurfen @ 7 May 2011, 17:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Stoo, that's a great setup - but boy, do you need some marshalling! What timing software is that you have on the LCD?
Yeah, I've got a variable PSU on the way so I can turn the juice down a bit next time.

The software is Yascart plugged into Scalextric RMS pieces. It's simple, it works, and it has big numbers that are easy for everyone to see. You can even colour code each line to a particular car. I keep the laptop out of the way for the Clerk of the Course to use, and the competitors/spectators can see their times on the Jumbotron
 

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Greg Gaub
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Yes, race rewards. When I did my recent school bash, I printed out half sheet "flyers". They were both essentially business flyers/ads, but while one was generic, the other had a giant gold trophy with "1st PLACE!" on it, and big red "YOU WON!" lettering at the top. The race winners LOVED getting those, and one kid wanted a new one for every race he won. Color copies aren't cheap, but they were cheaper than medals or whatnot, and the kids still loved them.
 

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Hi they - great post - I do these parties for friends from time to time.

I should take the advice here - because I use it as an excuse to try and build the biggest track I can - which I know isnt sensible but I cant help myself!!


www.flickr.com/photos/lemanstour69/5698925084/in/photostream
 
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