Back in the 70s when I was a teenager, I wanted a slot car track. I finally talked my parents into letting me build a track suspended from the ceiling in the garage. I designed a tri-oval layout that featured three banked turns and a road course inside. It all fit on two pieces of 4×8 that were cut and assembled into a triangular layout.
I had big plans for the track, with thoughts of landscaping it to give it a more realistic feel. Unfortunately, the fact that it was in the garage meant that anytime I wanted to play with it I had to talk my parents into parking both cars in the driveway. This didn’t happen very often, and the track never got used as much as I would have liked. I got far more race time going over to friends houses that had more accessible raceways.
Fast forward 35 years and my landlord at the studio, Rick Phillis got me hooked again on slot cars, racing them Tuesday nights at the fairgrounds on several different 6 lane tracks. After about 30 minutes of practice, Rick would start what he called the IROC races. For those unfamiliar with IROC, it stands for International Race of Champions. It was racing series started in 1974 that pitted the best auto racers from the Indy, F1, Nascar, Trans-Am and Can-AM series against each other in identically prepared cars.
At Rick’s slot car track, the IROC races meant that every racer took turns running the car assigned to each of the six lanes. The combined score of all six runs then determined the winner. Since everybody had the same car when running each lane, everything evened out and it really did show who was the best driver. (Never me)
So after racing all winter I got hooked again and figured setting up a track would be a good thing to keep me occupied while I was recovering from the surgery. Once again the track is above the cars in the garage, but this time there is a floor between them so I don’t have to move any cars. We have a small room above the garage that was just being used for storage so it was the perfect place to set up a track.
Due to the layout of the room I had to design the track in a T shape. Since racing on 6 lane tracks was so much fun, I knew I wanted to go more than the normal 2 lane track. For the size of the room, 4 lanes was a good compromise. Along the back wall is an 14′ straightaway that leads into banked turn. Then a couple of tight hairpins before heading up the hill for the overpass. A steep descent then leads into a series of sweeping turns through the tunnel, followed by one more tight hairpin, and then a wide 180 degree turn that leads back to the straight.
While I was working on the track I decided to take the IROC concept a step further. Why not build 4 identically prepared cars? The first year of the IROC series, they used Porsche RSR race cars with the brand new ‘whale tail’. I had two choices of AF/X bodies to use for building my replicas. There is an ’73 RSR body but it doesn’t have the whale tail. There is also a later RSR body (I think it is ’78) that has a double wing tail. While the ’73 is closer to the IROC, I figured it would be easier to modify the later body to get the right wing shape.
When you have a fixed four lane slot car track it is helpful to have the lanes marked with tape so you can identify which lane you go back on after the inevitable crash. The standard colors for a four lane track are red, white, blue, and yellow. There just happened to be cars in those colors in the IROC series, so those were the colors I chose. I did some research on the web to find the list of colors, drivers, and their assigned numbers. (The numbers went with the drivers, even though they switched cars after each race.) Richard Petty was a given (my boyhood hero) and for the other drivers I picked my favorites from each of the racing series. From Indy I have A.J. Foyt in the red number 8 car, from F1 I have Emmerson Fittapaldi in the white number 1 car, from Trans-Am, Mark Donahue in the yellow number 2 car. The King of course gets the blue car, with the number 10.
To build the cars, I first removed the top wing and then slightly reshaped the lower wing adding the lip in the rear. Then each car was painted the appropriate color. I used some ink jet decals for the the markings. These are a great item, and something I wish I had when I was building models as a kid. They are available with both a white background and a clear background. Since inkjet printers don’t include white ink, if the decal you want to make has white in it you need the white background. I needed both types and fortunately they sell a pack that includes a sampling of both.
So now all four cars are ready to go. The next step for the track is to get the lap timer set up.