Indoor RC tracks are a great way to enjoy using your RC Car in any weather conditions. They are especially great in countries that are prone to bad weather conditions, such as rain or snow. In this article I will explain exactly what they are, what to look out for and pros and cons.
What is an indoor RC track? Indoor RC tracks are race tracks that are inside of buildings. These tracks can be permanent or temporary. They come in a range of different sizes depending on the space available. The only negative is Nitro cars are not usually allowed due to their noise and fumes.
Indoor tracks can be an incredible place to race when they’re made well and professionally. It takes a bit of work, but once it’s completed you can control where and when races occur and offer a place for other hobbyists to gather. The following article will help you find a nearby local track or build your own.
How to Find Nearby Tracks
Before you go through the time and effort of building your own track, there are ways to find out if there is a local track nearby. (Though if you want to build your own anyway, go for it! Having your own private race track means that you can always race, even if the local track is closed.)
All race tracks have different rules. Try and check what those are before you show up to race. Some race tracks only allow certain sizes of cars, while others limit what kinds of upgrades can be used in a race. Still others only allow you to join if you are a member of a national organization. Knowing the rules before you show up can save you time and potential embarrassment.
Start looking at your local RC hobby shop, if there is one nearby. Some have an RC track on the premises or, at least, can tell you where the nearest track is located. They can also point you in the direction of RC clubs that sometimes set up tracks for special events or on weekends.
The local hobby shop can also tell you which clubs and tracks require membership to race. Even if there aren’t any local clubs, you can meet others who are also interested in racing and potentially start your own organization.
Going to the website for national organizations can also give you a lot of guidance. For example, Quarter Scale Auto Club (QSAC) has lists of racing events and guidance for drivers. The rules are fairly extensive, but not very complicated.
There are benefits to being part of a national organization, especially if you are more than just a casual hobbyist. In order to be part of an organization, you have to follow the rules, so that you have an idea of what to expect from your competitors. It also gives you a chance to really test your abilities against incredible drivers from all across the United States.
Indoor vs. Outdoor RC Tracks
Some people may be wondering what the difference is between indoor and outdoor tracks, and why someone would even need an indoor track. For some people, an indoor track may not be necessary. Many outdoor tracks are permanent and provide good practice and entertainment for those that use them.
They are usually made with hard packed dirt or clay, and you can race nitro or electric engines on them. Simply because the outdoors have no walls, you can potentially make them much bigger and more complex. You can also add jumps and other trick spots.
One of the main disadvantages of an outdoor track is that you are subject to the weather. Weather can affect the outdoor track and can ruin planned races. Storms can bring rain that can cause the track to get muddy, or can bury them in snow. RC cars (Click here for the best RC Cars reviews) generally do not do well in snow.
Alternatively, indoor RC tracks can be used any time of the year. They also usually have outlets built in where people can charge extra batteries as they’re racing. Indoor tracks can be permanent or temporary, depending on what material you make them out of.
They don’t usually have the same amount of room or capabilities for jumps and trick points, but they can still be very fun and provide an excellent racing platform. Nitro engines are usually not allowed on indoor tracks because of the sound and emissions. So, if you only plan to race with a nitro engine, indoor racing really isn’t for you.
Types of Materials for Indoor Tracks
One of the most common materials for an indoor track is a type of carpet called “gray Ozite.” Ozite provides excellent traction, while still being smooth enough to drive on. If you are interested in sedan racing, Ozite is its official surface, thus providing standard racing conditions no matter where you race.
One of the really nice things about carpet is that it can make your track mobile and temporary. So, if the only place available for racing is a public building, it allows you to still utilize that space without having to make it permanent.
Once you’re finished racing, you can just roll up the carpet, and you’re done. Often racers will cut the carpet into narrower strips so that they fit more easily into vans or other vehicles. If they use a certain venue enough, many of them even cut the carpet to perfectly fit the available space. You can buy eighty feet of Ozite carpet for under twenty dollars.
Other racers actually use cement for an indoor track. This is a far more permanent (and expensive) solution, but if you have a sufficiently large unfinished basement or building that you can use, you can make pretty amazing tracks. Cement is the best surface for drift racing, as it allows the smooth tires to slide around the corners.
Rubber is also utilized by many professional indoor tracks. These tracks have permanent rubber coating their track surfaces, which allows for excellent grip and is very durable. However, it is on the more expensive side.
As an alternative, it is also possible to use rubber flooring rolls, which have a lot of the same advantages as the Ozite carpet: they can be rolled up, and can also be made to match whatever size room you want to utilize. Like the more permanent variety, these rolls are fairly durable and provide excellent grip.
Another, cheaper alternative is to buy foam mats and piece them together for a racing surface. These are not as durable, but can be taken apart and stacked easily.
They can also be placed in any shape, and if you use different colors, you can color code your track. Some of these foam pads are too rough for some cars, and some are cheaply made and don’t hold up well under daily use.
How to Build an Indoor Track
Once you’ve decided that you want to create your own indoor track, you need to find a location. Without a floor large enough, even if you have all the materials, you won’t have anywhere to go.
However, you really shouldn’t need more than twenty square feet of space. If you find a larger space than that, that’s fantastic. If you start by looking for a smaller area, you are more likely to find a viable location.
If you or a friend happens to have a nice, unfinished basement with a concrete floor, then you’re almost set! However, if you don’t have a room big enough for racers to fit in, there are a lot of other options on locations.
Some people use local school gyms, while others use church gyms. You can also use public buildings with large meeting areas, if the building’s owners are willing.
Some schools and churches are more than happy to allow RC drivers to borrow their buildings, while others may have stricter rules. You could also ask the local 4-H chapter for use of their buildings during the off-season. Often these “barns” will have excellent dirt floors for racing.
The important thing to remember is to be polite and ask everyone you can think of. It never hurts to ask, and you only need one person to say “yes.” Personally, I would start with places that are free or cheap to rent. If you plan on racing a lot, you don’t want to have to pay too much money.
The next step after you’ve chosen a venue is to design your track. This can be done independently or with friends or members of your club. If you need help coming up with ideas, watch some motocross or super-cross events. RC tracks tend to be miniatures of these kinds of tracks.
You can also look up RC indoor car tracks on YouTube and borrow ideas from there. Decide how intricate you want your track to be. If you want burms (banked edges) around the edges of your track, there are a variety of ways that you can use the walls of the building to accomplish that.
Sometimes, just putting a piece of plywood against the wall can create a pretty good burm. Choose what surface type you’ll want or need. Make sure the lanes are wide enough for the size of cars that you will be racing. Decide how many cars you want to be able to race at the same time.
Measure the width of your cars, then multiply that by the number of cars you want to race. Usually, this ends up being somewhere between five to seven feet.
Now that you’ve chosen your materials, it’s time to get to work. Ideally, you won’t be doing this alone. Building a track can be time intensive, and even if it’s a private track for yourself, there are some steps that are a lot easier to accomplish if you have assistance.
First, get your surface ready. If you’ve chosen to use cement on a privately owned property with the owner’s approval, you’ll want to make sure the cement is flat and not too rough or uneven. The nice thing about cement is that it is fairly easy to work with, and pouring more can help to even out anything that is subpar.
Once that dries, you’re ready for the next step. If you’ve chosen carpet, rubber, or foam, roll it out or place it to fill the area that you’ve chosen. You always want to have your surface down flat before you start adding anything else. You can always duct tape the seams of the individual rolls together so there is less bumpiness and so that the rolls won’t slide or move.
Once your surface is placed, you’ll want to mark out your intended route with tape and test it before you make it too permanent. Make sure it is actually functional for the intended vehicles. This is a good place to adjust or correct anything that worked better on paper than in practice.
Once you’ve tested, adapted, and are satisfied with your route, put up the lane dividers. Some people use PVC pipe, but others have argued that this material isn’t flexible enough, and can damage vehicles that crash into it.
I’ve also heard of four-inch drainage or corrugated pipes being used. Even small garden wall dividers will do. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what kind of material you choose, as long as it clearly separates the turns and doesn’t allow racers to jump it too easily.
If you really want to, you can even use swimming noodles or water hoses. Next, you need something to attach your lane dividers and, with an indoor track, that can get tricky. Duct tape can work for the lighter lane dividers, while some of the heavier ones will simply hold their position when they’re attached together.
Once you have your lanes set up, add your jumps or obstacles. Remember the capabilities of your vehicles when you are planning this step. If your car is on the cheaper side or is made for speed and not for acrobatics, you don’t want to plan anything too daring or you may end up with a pile of parts.
However, most mid-grade RC cars can accomplish jumps without being damaged. Some people even like to add overpass jumps where their car can drive up one side, fly over a large gap in the middle, and exit down the other side. You can purchase skateboard ramps and cover them with the carpet or rubber to create other kinds of jumps.
Once everything is completed, the fun really begins. Enjoy your new indoor racetrack and the fact that no matter what the weather is doing outside, you can be inside driving your miniature motorized vehicle like a pro.
How Do I Attract Other Hobbyists to My Track? Let’s say you’ve finished your RC track, but you don’t have anyone to race you. How can you make your indoor track appealing for other hobbyists? Here are a few tips that can make your indoor track the most popular place in town.
- Suitable Pit Stops: If the entire room is filled with just the track, how are people going to repair their vehicles if something goes wrong? Try to have some kind of work bench (or even just a table and chairs) where people can get their vehicle going again and get right back into racing.
The more that people race, the more they enjoy the time that they spend at your track. The sooner they get their vehicle back on the track, the more likely they are to want to come to your track again.
- Outlets for Charging: Some batteries just don’t last as long as we’d like them to, so if you can choose a place with plenty of outlets, people are more likely to stay for a while.
The more outlets the better, as the more chargers that are connected to a single outlet will increase the chances of fuses blowing and putting everyone out of business. Extension cords and surge protectors can help, but try not to plug everyone into the same outlet.
- Organize a Racing Schedule: Having a standard time when people are welcome or when the races will be held will help more people come to your track. People want to come when they know other people will be there, so if you can get the word out and be consistent, people will start coming.
Also, try to have a few practice days where people can just come to mess around and make friends. As much as anything, RC car racing is a social event where like-minded people can meet and form connections. The more opportunities that they have to become friends, the more likely they are to return and reconnect.
- Lane Size: This is why it’s so important to accurately measure how big you want your lanes to be. If the track is too small, people will have to wait long periods between racing and they might get bored and leave.
If you need to standardize what kinds of cars will be allowed, you can, but you may also drive off potential racers. If you have a portable track, you can also have specific days for specific sizes of cars, and just move the lane dividers to fit.
- Track Appearance: Try to make things look professional. If people are too busy wondering if the building is haunted to pay attention to their driving, you might have a problem. People want to come where they can be comfortable and feel welcome.
Try and find a place that reflects that. You also want the track itself to be inviting. Know your racers. If they are more advanced, put more advanced features in. If they are beginners, keep it more simple, or put in obstacles that can be solved in different ways, depending on their experience levels.
What kinds of cars will be driving your track? If there are more off-road vehicles, include more jumps. If they are all street cars, have fewer jumps, but more challenging turns and places where they can really increase their speed. If you have drift cars coming, make sure your surface is appropriate and spend more time making sure the turns are going to allow for drifting.
How do I build an outdoor track?
Outdoor tracks are usually more permanent than indoor ones. They can be made created using a variety of surface types, and which kind you choose depends on what kind of remote control car you’re going to be racing. There are really three kinds of outdoor tracks that you can create.
- On-road track: This track is usually flat and smooth. You can make the surface of this track out of dirt, concrete, asphalt, or tightly-packed dirt. Clay is also a viable option and, though a bit more expensive than dirt, hardens much better and is less susceptible to the weather.
Any kind of car can drive on an on-road track, though street cars and buggies (RC cars that look like street cars with extra-long suspension and small on-road sized wheels) will be far faster on this kind of surface.
This is an excellent way to prepare for competitions or to hold your own races. Like the indoor track, carefully design your track and make sure it is wide enough for the amount of cars that you want to be able to race on it.
You can use the same kind of lane dividers as I suggested you use for an indoor track, but you can actually hammer spikes through the dividers into the ground to keep them more permanently attached to your circuit.
You’ll want your track to be easily accessible from your home and to be near outlets if you are using electric RC cars. Don’t dig down to make your track, instead build up on what is already available.
Digging down can cause water to build up on your track surface and make it impossible to race. Test your track as much as possible before finalizing it. You want to make sure you’re happy with your design before you pour cement or spend hours packing down clay.
- Drift Car Track: These tracks are usually made out of cement or asphalt. You can use tightly packed dirt or clay, but weather can ruin these kinds of surfaces and you need a really smooth surface to have ideal drifting conditions. These kinds of tracks will rarely have jumps or obstacles, but you’ll want a lot of turns and long stretches.
- Off-road Track: Some people would argue that this is most creative kind of track. It can be made out of any surface type and you can include as many jumps and obstacles as you desire.
Truggies (cars that look like on-road cars with extra-long suspension and off-road sized wheels) and off-road RC cars (a car with large spiked-tires) really shine on these kinds of tracks. Building jumps can be difficult and include a lot of trial and error.
You can either use skateboard ramps or just build jumps using the same material as the rest of the track. For an estimate, try to have the length of the jump be at least one and a half times as big as the length of your largest vehicle. You can then try it a little further apart if your vehicle is easily making that jump.
If you want to speed up the process, rent a bobcat or similar vehicle. That will save you a lot of time and work. You can also invite club members or other RC hobbyists to help, especially if you’re planning on letting them drive with you.
You may want to have a water source nearby to clean off the vehicles, provide water for the drivers, and to wet down the track (depending on the surface type). Nearby electricity will also keep the fun going longer.
Nitro RC cars are wonderful for outdoor RC tracks, especially if they’re further out of town and they don’t require electricity, but they may need the occasional maintenance, so it helps to not be too far away from civilization. Finally, remember to have bathrooms nearby. Your racers will thank you.
How do I start a club? If you’re interested in starting a club, go for it! Clubs come in a lot of different varieties and often charge members a small yearly or monthly fee. A lot of the this money goes into maintaining the track, and so members get to drive for free while other guests might pay a little each time they come.
Some people advise having insurance for your club or making sure that all members sign a waiver so if someone gets hurt you won’t have to shell out tons of money. Setting up a non-profit organization can be fairly easy (and is tax-exempt).
This also allows you to have a bank account for your club where the dues can be placed until needed. Establish a racing and event schedule for club members and make sure you have a proper location for racing. Then, when you’ve established this schedule, stick to it. Reliability is more important than accommodation. Contact your local RC hobby store about promoting your club and, if you want, options for being recognized by some of the national RC racing organizations.