Rodley Autodrome (A brief guide)

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Creating A Slot Car Layout

Many of you have been kind enough to compliment my layout. Admittedly I am lucky enough to have a barn (save for the occasionally furry visitor) and therefore have somewhere for a permanent track I can fiddle with and tweak. First and foremost I made 8 sturdy tables at a height that made working on the layout and racing comfortable. Slot car tracks tend to be around 5mm deep so, if you want the scenery to be flush then 5mm foam board is ideal and easy to cut to create a snug track join.
Pit Straight - Scalextric pit with rally track cut to fit
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Pit Straight - Scalextric pit with rally track cut to fit
Designing your layout should be fun. Try to avoid too many twisty, tight turns because, although you may get greater lap distance, some slot cars will struggle to make the bends particularly Scalextric Radius 1 hairpins and guests get frustrated de-slotting all the time.  Try to create a long straight somewhere so that you can get some real speed up and tradition has it that a long straight finishes with a challenging braking zone. Be sure to create barriers to prevent cars leaving the table - plastic barriers/fencing are available from most manufacturers. My track is based on an earlier period so I use trees, homebuilt banking and fencing. A couple of tips if your track pieces are creating dead spots. I slip a tiny piece of kitchen foil into the female end connector to aid the flow of the current which works a treat. Also force the clips in underneath the track with pliers to make the joins as firm as you can - I've even turned the track face up and gently tapped at the ends with a hammer over a block of wood to ensure the end plates are tight.
Back straight, raised with Goodwood Chicane
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Back straight, raised with Goodwood Chicane

Scenery And Buildings

1/32 scale isn't served too well for ready made accessories. However there are Race Track buildings/bridges available from the mainstream manufacturers and a few scratch builders sell their wares on Ebay. A good idea is to decide which era you're most likely to want to cover as that will dictate a lot - armco or grass verge, separated pit lane with pit wall or not, style of Grandstand and pit garage. Mine is 1955 to 1970 primarily. Other sources for accessories - Britain's Farming range can supply useful fencing, people, trucks or even a barn/scrutineering shed. Airfix military buildings and dioramas can be adapted and various models are available for you to build cars for your paddock/spectator arena. Rises and dips to different levels add a bit of reality, create a challenge  and look fantastic. I use 4X2 wooden blocks angled to size and at incremental heights to create the slope and then place 5mm thick foam board over it. Then add track and finally cut another layer of 5mm foam board around the track to create a flush finish. It's supportive enough while still allowing access underneath if you need it.

My long pit-lane is a favourite part of the layout for guest racers as it allows for a realistic scale Le Mans style lane and a chance to change drivers or service cars (clean braids, add tyre conditioner) in endurance races. The Scalextric pit lane set is very short so additional straights from chicane sets were trimmed to size with a Dremel.
"Chelsea Street" from Britians
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"Chelsea Street" from Britians

Detail

You'll get a lot of pleasure seeing your beautifully detailed cars fizzing past realistic scenery. It is worth taking the time to add paint, figures, quirky accessories to retail products to personalise them and even print your own signs to localise them too. The picture to the left is Britains Circus Parade diorama called "Chelsea Street". I bought 2 and made alterations to each by painting different curtains and shop signs. Then I added the bread delivery boy, Citroen 2c.v. fencing and hedgerows and a smattering of busy folk going about their day. It has no slot car relevance except to add detail to the layout and it gets a lot of comments. In the distance you can see the track rising over the old Scalextric "Grand Bridge" which I have painted just to make mine different. I occasionally dust the scenic items but allowing them to age adds realism.
Distant Airfix bombed building makes for Hotel ruin
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Distant Airfix bombed building makes for Hotel ruin

Challenge

If you can, aim to have corners with different radii - in Scalextric terms you can get Radius 1 a hairpin to Radius 4 the gentlest curve. In the pic to the right we have a long sweeping bend of radius 4 track. The challenge is a good one as this leads into a  kink and then a final radius 3 bend to the Finish. Many come a cropper trying too hard here. Varying the radius of turns will create a lap rhythm which, once mastered, is a good feeling.
Gotta love the old Junkers
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Gotta love the old Junkers

PATIENCE

Once you have your layout designed and laid out - wait. To my cost impatience has ruined a couple of promising starts to layouts. Wait and run on it for a few days because I guarantee you it is unlikely to be ideal first time. The last thing you need is to be unsticking foam board, 4X2 and scatter mats to alter a corner.
Is the track a challenge? Will you get bored of it? Will your mates find it fun to race on. Have you left room for some groovy scenic bits...a woodland, a lake etc. One obvious thing - make sure you can reach all points of the track to re-slot errant cars. Once you're happy  with the layout you can start to "dress the set" with scatter mats, trees and grandstands etc - even a plane!! Mine was 3 months in the making but over 12 years collecting bits. Do bear in mind that loose scatter will collect in wheel arches, on braids and in nooks and crevices if you have an off. Enjoy!
Devils Drop to Shell Hairpin. Great fun!
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Devils Drop to Shell Hairpin. Great fun!
Atmospheric
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Atmospheric

As Darkness Falls...

With many slot cars now having lights it seems a shame not to create a night race. Light kits are readily available and are a bit fiddly....it's taken me ages to get this far as I have done my own wiring.....less than a third of the track covered but everyone comments on it and it still makes me grin everytime I see it. I'll get there eventually. Well you've seen the track in bits - below is the whole thing. I'm told it is a scale lap of 6.7 miles! A good lap in a non-magnet car is around 12.4 seconds. (New note: since mentioning the lap time I have received a couple of offers from folk suggesting they'd like a crack at beating it. May have to set up a tea and cake stand and  coach park).
The Whole Thing - a scale lap of 6.7 miles
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The Whole Thing - a scale lap of 6.7 miles
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