|New Directions, 900 Echols Street SE, Vienna, VA 22180 | 703-319-0840 | Email|
Tips on buying or building a Pinewood track
If you are in the market for a track, here are some track manufacturers who make quality products. We make Judges fit these tracks perfectly.
Considering Making Your Own Track?
Making a track is not that difficult, if you have the tools, time and inclination. Plans are available from the Boy Scouts in Irving TX, although details are not "cast in concrete". Recommended and most popular dimensions are 32 feet long (four 8 foot sections), and 3.50" center-to-center lane spacing. A three lane track seems to be the most popular, and most economical to make because all sections can be cut from a single sheet of plywood. The track deck will be about 11 and 7/8" wide, losing a little bit to sawdust.
A typical track has the start gate about 48 to 55 inches above the finish line. The hallmark of a good track design is that it is easy to set up, easy to take down, and stable when assembled. The feature worth concentrating on is the joints between the track sections: you will want to minimize the "click clack" as the cars go from one section to another.
Some track designs are constant angle all the way down. Others are curved, with the beginning rather steep, and then leveling out so the last section or two is flat on the floor.
There are two methods of holding a car in its lane: The straddle guide, and the curb guide. The straddle guide is a single strip of wood, most often a standard lath strip, available at your lumber store sized 1 and 5/8" wide, and 3/16" thick. The picture on the opening page shows the straddle guide, and most tracks are made like this. In the curb guide track, the cars are trapped between strips of wood which are usually 1/4" or more thick. The curb guide has the advantage of greater ground clearance and weights can be tacked on the bottom of the car.
The most often discussed problem with large tracks is that the wood becomes warped in time, making joints between track sections rough and unreliable. It is difficult to keep the races fair when some of the lanes tend to throw the cars off the track. Pinewood Derby is definitely a case where bigger is not necessarily better. With electronic finish lines, and especially under computerized derby management software, you will be truly amazed at how many races you can run in an hour. But if you have the storage space and the carpentry talents to address the issues mentioned, it is your call. We make start gates and finish lines for any size or dimension tracks up to 8 lanes.
Animated racecar .gif courtesy of Randy Woo.
Contact: New Directions, 900 Echols Street SE, Vienna, VA 22180 | 703-319-0840 | Email