We have built several slot car track tables for the Hotslots132 showroom.
The basic idea is to start with a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood as the basis for your design. However, some lumber/building supply stores carry other sizes that may work well for you, such as 5' x 5' or 5' x 10', 9' x 5' etc... It's a good idea to check with your local stores to see what sizes they have available before you start your track design.
Once you know the plywood sizes that are available, take a good look at the space you have. Make sure you have room to walk around the table as needed. The time saving way to build a table is to use as much of a full sheet as possible. (For example, if you find a 9 x 5 layout you like, but your sheets are only available in 8 x 4, you have created a lot of work for yourself. Or hopefully you own a ping table or can buy one!)
If you want a fairly large table, take a look at our article below on modular table design. If you are making a small table, and are on a tight budget, Harry Wise's article might be the best fit for you. But let's say, you don't have room for a permanent table, but don't want the hassle of setting it up and taking it down? How about designing one that folds up on a wall or one that you can use a pulley system and lower from a ceiling! Come on, you have some unused ceiling space don't ya? (hm.. maybe not the living room though, we're thinking?... Take a look at the article below written by Ninco, it's written in Spanish and English, but also has pictures that help explain this really well.
Other ideas when considering table dimensions
The main one to consider is the overall area and shape of the table. This, of course, is normally dictated by the space you have available (as well as your budget). One thing you need to keep in mind is the ability to 'track marshal' a table, to rescue cars that have crashed and get them back into the slot. We do sell slot car grabbers to help with this. But even with a grabber, you don't want a 10' foot wide table up against a wall if you can help it. Pay particular attention to corners, this is where most of the track marshaling is needed. Normally straightaways aren't so bad, but crashes occur everywhere on the track! Some larger track layouts have cut-outs in the middle of the table where a track marshal is located to take care of this problem.
What about 4 lane layouts?
The biggest concern with 4 lane layouts besides the space required obviously in either analog or digital is lap counting.
~ 4 lane, (or larger) Analog Layouts, you will need to purchase an
aftermarket lap counting system as none of the track set manufacturers make any analog lap counter for over two lanes. (Now if you could split the lanes apart in your layout enough to set up two lap counters etc.. then you would be in good shape and this is the cheapest solution to 4 lane lap counting.)
~ Digital Layouts Ninco NDigital is the only digital track system designed for 4, 6, or a crazy 8 lane track layout with lap counting for all lanes. Carrera, SCX, and Scalextric will let you have more lanes than two throughout the track, but you have to come down to 2 lanes at the Start/Finish line. So, depending on which brand you have your heart set on, you will need to alter your track design accordingly.
How do I make my layout line up?
You can fix this problem with some half, quarter and fifth straight sections. To make up a small shortfall in length (or if your track is a little long) replace a full straight with a combination of a half,quarter, fifths; whatever the brand has to offer
*For Scalextic, half (C8207), quarter (C8200), fifth's (C8236) are available.
*For Carrera, third (20611), quarter (20612) are your choices; no half straights are available.
*For SCX (universal/digital) half (20020), quarter (20130) or 'closing' (20250) are available.
* And with Ninco, half (10103), quarter (20130) or 'closing' (10114) straights.
On 4-lane layouts, sometimes there will be a gap between the inside and outside track sections. Combinations of fifths and quarters can be used to lengthen the inside sections or shorten the outside sections. You can also use this technique to help line up track. If your track is to the left or right, look back towards a curve, just add a 'closing' straight into your curve, and you could be all set.
How and why do I want separate power supplies for each lane? (analog track, not digital!)
Powering each analog lane separately requires a transformer for each lane. This supplies more amperage needed to run strong-magnet cars, or cars with hop-up motors. Also, where two or more cars are powered by the same source and there is not enough amperage to go around, the cars fight each other to get enough power. When one car de-slots or stops, the other one gets a blast of amperage that can send it off the track if it happens at a critical deceleration point (and it always seems to). Also a good thing to keep in mind: in general, the more amperage a car draws, the lower the desired resistance rating of the controller (measured in ohms) will be. As an example, Scalextric sets come with 70-ohm controllers, which are fine for the cars that come in the sets. With the hotter cars you will need 25 to 45 ohm controllers to achieve maximum control. (See our controller info to learn about choosing the right analog controller.)
Where do I need walls or guard rails?
You will want to put a wall around the entire perimeter of your table to keep de-slotted cars from leaving the table and heading for the floor. About 2 inches normally does a good job, except at the end of a long straight where full-throttle crashes may send cars flying much higher. We use 4-inch wide 1/16" clear sheet Lexan for the walls on our table, extending 2" above the table top all around except for a piece extending about 10" above the table and 2 feet long right at the end of our longest straight as insurance against a flying car going hurting one of our racers, or destroying a hot car! With walls on the edges of the table and borders in all the necessary places on the track, you can dispense with guardrails at the border edges, except where a de-slotting car might land on another part of the track.
What are the track borders for and where do I need to use them?
The borders allow the car on the outside lane to slide out on the turns as much as the cars on the other lanes do without running up against the guard rail or putting a wheel off the track edge; either of these things will usually cause the car to de-slot. You should use borders on the outside of all curved track sections, on the straights before and after each turn for at least two full straight track sections, and on the inside of any turn immediately following a turn in the opposite direction. If you plan to run your track in both directions, make sure you have placed the borders in the appropriate places for both directions of travel. The straight and inside borders allow the cars to get straightened out after a curve without dropping a wheel off the edge of the track.
For track layout ideas , click on your brand link below. Keep in mind, Carrera is the widest track, Ninco is in the middle, and SCX and Scalextric are basically identical. So, most SCX and Scalextric layouts would work for either brand. It is also very easy to modify a digital layout to an analog one and vice versa in general. However, if you have your heart set on Carrera, please know that this track just takes more room. It is surprising how much at times. Take a good look at some of our existing layouts in our catalog pages.
Carrera Track Planning Ideas
Scalextric Track Planning Ideas
Scx Track Planning Ideas
Ninco Track Planning Ideas
What height should my table be?
A good height is about 33 inches from the floor. This height seems to provide a good view of the track for all but the smallest children. The height works well for turn marshaling around the layout. People can reach all parts of the track without having to bend over too far.
What if my layout will be used mostly by young children?
A track that will be used primarily by young children will be easier for them to work with if it's about 24" from the floor. This is a little low for comfort for most adults, but not excessively so. You and your kids can still enjoy racing together comfortably.
TIPS BY BRAND:
What is the best way to fasten Scalextric track to a table?
To fasten Scalextric track to a table you can use C8232 track clips. These slip into the edges of Sport track and allow you to use a wire brad to fasten your track down. On the older Classic track you can carefully drill, using a 1/16" drill, a hole from the underside, through the center of the nub that the connector from the next piece of track fits on. This will allow you to use a 3/4" wire brad (not included) through the hole to fasten your track down. You can use black paint or a felt tipped marker to touch up the nail heads so they do not show as much.
What is the best way to fasten Carrera track to a table?
You can easily fasten a Carrera track to a wooden table using 85209 track table-top fasteners. Simply insert the fastener into a pocket on the edge of the track, and fasten the clip to the table with a wood screw (not included).
What is the best way to fasten Ninco track to a table?
Ninco doesn't manufacture a track fastener like Scalextric and Carrera do. According to Ninco the best way to attach their track to a table is to attach a small finishing nail 2mm from track edge. Refer to figure 6 in this PDF.
What is the best way to fasten SCX track to a table?
Again, SCX didn't make provisions for this either, so our best advise is to follow Ninco's lead above. by attaching a nail 2mm from track edge. Refer to figure 6 in this PDF.
NOTE: If you choose to mount your track to a table without official mounting clips, remember to leave room near the screws for the track plastic to expand and contract.
Articles About Track Tables:
Building a Modular 4x8 Slot Car Track Table
Building a 4x8 Plywood Table (by Harry Wise)
Hanging a Table from the ceiling or Having a Table Fold up to a Wall to Save Space (English on top right hand section of page)