Not only does driving an RC car on a track make the hobby more enjoyable, but it also provides an opportunity to hone your skills. And since driving on plain grass might not deliver the punch required, you might have to consider building a track in your backyard. So how can you build an RC track?
- Pick an ideal area for your track.
- Map the track out.
- Determine the type of track design you want.
- Gather the items you’ll need to build your track.
- Mark out the temporary lanes with several strings.
- Install the lane walls.
- Remove grass and weeds from the track.
- Level the soil and add a foundation.
- Add jumps and berms.
- Spruce up your track with signs and designs.
If you want to learn about building a custom RC track in your backyard (or anywhere), then you’ll find this article useful. Read on for an in depth guide on how to build an RC track. Let’s get started!
How do you Build an RC Track in 10 Easy Steps
We outlined 10 easy steps for building an RC track that will guide you through the entire process.
1. Pick an Ideal Area for Your Track
Although this step might appear straightforward, it’s crucial to your success when building an RC track. Ideally, you should choose an area in your backyard that’s large and modifiable enough to suit your RC car racing needs.
A large space will give you more options when it comes to creativity. However, you might have to think outside the box if you’re planning to build a track on an extra small piece of land. Either way, you’ll need to choose a spot that’s fairly clear and flat.
This is a great time to think about your preferred track width. While you can choose to create a narrow track, a fairly large one might be the better option if your plan is to have several cars race simultaneously.
2. Map the Track Out
On a large enough piece of paper, draw a realistic outline of the track in your preferred place. This is where you get creative and play around with the different designs you’d want to implement on the track.
Your visual representation should indicate how you’ll navigate past obstacles in the track. A good blueprint should also help you determine the number of tools you’ll need throughout the process.
3. Determine the Type of Track Design You Want
Depending on the size of your designated space, you can choose from a variety of track designs, including:
- Oval-shaped track: A traditional oval-shaped track can work in both tight and large spaces. You will, however, need to determine how many straightaways you’ll have and the length of each.
- Hybrid track: You can also combine different designs, integrating a long straightaway on one side and complex s-curves on the other side if you want a challenging design.
4. Gather the Items You’ll Need To Build Your Track
Before starting out with the RC track-building process, it’s crucial to have your tools and resources nearby. Some of the items you’ll need throughout the RC track construction process include:
- Pen and paper
- Corrugated pipe
- Galvanized nails
- Clay (optional)
- Topsoil (optional)
5. Mark Out the Temporary Lanes With Several Strings
Although some people might skip this step as it isn’t mandatory, implementing it will significantly reduce the chances of error when you start with the actual construction.
To mark out the temporary lanes, you’ll need to stick long nails or twigs at regular intervals before wrapping the strings around. The mock lane will help you determine the necessary tweaks that should be made to the track. Once you have the strings in place, take one of your RC cars and race it down the track.
PRO TIP: Take note of how the car navigates past obstacles and whether the track is interesting or fun enough for your taste.
Without this mock or trial phase, it would be difficult to implement any changes to your track once you start the construction. Therefore, consider taking this step, especially if it’s your first time building an RC track from scratch.
6. Install the Lane Walls
If satisfied with the design of the mock track, you can now replace the strings with a corrugated pipe of your preferred length.
- Place the corrugated pipe outside the stick and complete the process by removing the sticks (or nails) you’d placed earlier on. A simple corrugated pipe like the Advanced Drainage Systems Singlewall Pipe should work well on race tracks.
- Take galvanized nails (large enough) and drive them through the pipe and into the ground at regular intervals. The corrugated pipe should give you a clear picture of how your RC track will look like.
NOTE: Some people prefer installing the corrugated pipe after working on the track, but installing it right after removing the string will ensure you stick to the initial design on your blueprint.
7. Remove Grass and Weeds From the Track
If the designated land is weed-infested and full of grass, then it’s best to prepare it by using an environmentally safe weed killer. Spray it and wait for a couple of days for the weed and grass to die off. However, you won’t need to do this step if the designated area is race track-friendly.
To remove the dead grass and weeds, you’ll need to hack them away using a pickaxe (flat side), as doing so will help remove the soil underneath.
PRO TIP: When using a pickaxe, it's highly advisable to avoid digging deep into the track as it might lead to drainage problems. Your goal should be to remove vegetation and grass from the surface to create a clear, well-balanced track.
8. Level the Soil and Add a Foundation
After digging out the grass and weeds, the next step is to level the soil. A rake should help you even out the track.
Some expert RC track builders recommend using another soil as a foundation as opposed to the fairly loose topsoil. Adding a good amount of clay (and packing it well) on the ground will help create a more solid foundation for your track.
A lawn roller can help you pack the topsoil or clay, making the track smooth and easy to navigate. You can also use a tamper to pack down the soil and make the surface more compact.
NOTE: Ultimately, the decision to add a foundation should depend on the type of soil you're working with. You won't need to place a foundation if your topsoil is compact and smooth enough for your RC cars to glide on.
9. Add Jumps and Berms
Before you add jumps and berms, it’s crucial to examine the slope of the land. As a rule of thumb, berms or jumps shouldn’t be placed in areas where they’ll block the flow of water on the track.
Place Slanted Berms on Sharp Corners
Berms are great additions to RC tracks as they eliminate the need to slow down when navigating sharp corners. The number of berms you build should depend on your track design and corners.
To build a berm on your track, take a shovel and dump topsoil (that you’d removed earlier) up to the corrugated pipe’s level. Pack the topsoil using the shovel’s backside, ensuring you shape it to resemble a bank that allows your RC cars to navigate corners without slowing down.
Make Jumps on Straightaways
Although you can build an RC track without a jump, including bumps to your track design will add a bit of thrill to the racing experience, making it more fun and challenging. However, when building bumps, be careful not to make them excessively large as they can make landing difficult (and even damage your car).
Start with small jumps, say 6-inch (15.24-cm) bumps, and test them with your RC cars to see if they can handle the elevation. If your cars can handle the elevation, then you can increase the height further to suit your preferences.
Try as much as possible to make the jumps creative. For instance, you can create a mandatory bump that spans across the entire track such that all racers have to drive through it.
Alternatively, you can also make an optional jump somewhere along the track where drivers can choose whether or not to drive past it.
NOTE: When making bumps for your track, it's important to leave enough landing space. Large RC cars will need larger landing spaces, so keep that in mind when creating the bumps on your RC track. You might have to add water to the topsoil when compacting it to form a gentle, RC car-friendly bump.
10. Spruce Up Your Track With Signs and Decorations
Now that you’ve done the dirty work, it’s only fair to reward yourself by naming and decorating your track. The good thing is you won’t need expensive signboards to name your track.
Feel free to place as many signs or decorations as long as they don’t interfere with the track.
How To Maintain an RC Track
Once done with the heavy lifting and your RC track is ready, the next mission is to maintain the track and keep it in pristine condition. Below are some ways to maintain an RC track.
- Rake and compact the dirt regularly. An RC track needs regular maintenance if it’s to remain race-ready even during bad weather. Ensure you regularly monitor the track, adding topsoil and compacting every now and then to keep everything from berms to jumps in order.
- Keep out the grass and weeds. It’s normal for grass and weeds to grow here and there, especially when it rains. Try picking them out one by one if they don’t grow easily on the track. However, using grass and weed killers like the ready-to-use Green Gobbler Weed and Grass Killer should help keep the track race-friendly.