Famous North American Racing Circuits In Miniature
We are frequently asked for track design ideas. The possibilities with modern sectional track systems are endless, limited only by your imagination, available space, and budget. A great place to begin is with famous full-sized race courses. There are a number of publications by the different track system manufacturers that provide track plans, but we have noticed that they ted to concentrate on circuits in Europe. So, we’ve started our library of track plans with famous road courses in North America. The full-sized drawings of the tracks, which you can see by clicking on the illustrations in the article, have part numbers for the track sections you will need to build them.
All the track plans in this article are for 4-lane layouts, but if you want a 2-lane track you can simply use either the inner or outer two lanes.
This is just the first of several track plan articles exploring the possibilities for designing your dream racing layout. Watch for additional articles and for ongoing updates to this one. As always, if you have questions about layout design or any other aspect of slot car racing you can get answers from our Technical Support department by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on track drawings to see larger images with part numbers.
Located in the scenic countryside of upstate New York, Watkins Glen is one of the most challenging and historic road racing venues in North America. Every major road racing series has appeared there, including CanAm, TransAm, Formula One, and IMSA. In addition, Watkins Glen is one of two road courses on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. It is also the site of major vintage racing events.
Our design for building Watkins Glen in Scalextric Sport track measures 9X15 feet and fits on three 5X9 ping-pong table sheets with cutouts for turn marshaling access. It has an average lane length of about 46 feet.
Portland International Raceway
Located along Interstate 5 just south of the Columbia River, Portland International Raceway sits on the site of a World War II housing project that was swept away by a flood. The land is now a public park and the track is owned by the city of Portland. It has been the venue for CART, TransAm, IMSA, SCCA, and vintage events over the years and is also used for drag racing and even bicycling, which is very popular in the Portland area. The track has never been flooded, though its notoriously rainy weather has occasionally caused race participants and spectators to wonder if that was about to change.
Our 8X16-foot model of PIR has an average lane length of approximately 35 feet and fits on four 4X8 sheets of plywood with cutouts for access. The “Festival Curves” at the end of the main straight can be replaced with straight sections to make a longer straightaway. This design is a good fit for one bay of a 2-car garage. It offers lots of infield space for scenery.
Not far from the town of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin lies the most historic, challenging, and storied road racing circuit in America. Over four miles in length, Road America has every feature a racing driver or spectator could want, all of it surrounded by some of the most beautiful country on the continent. Racing actually began there with a course laid out on the streets of the town, but after a few years safety concerns dictated a move to a permanent facility with proper safety features and crowd control. The Road America circuit was the result, and its classic layout has remained essentially unchanged, though constantly improved, right up to the present.
A track over 4 miles in length with sweeping curves and long straights needs a fair-sized space to capture properly in 1/32 scale, and our model measures 10X16 feet with an average lane length of about 67 feet. There are lots of parallel straightaways in our design, so if you have more or less space available it is easy to expand or shrink to fit. We would really like to see this track expanded to perhaps 12 by 24 feet, but most people don’t have that much space, so 10X16 is probably more reasonable for most of the visitors to our site.
And if you’ve never been to a race at Road America it’s a definite must-add item for your bucket list.
Infineon Raceway (Sears Point)
We’re not too fond of the practice of selling naming rights to race tracks. We like Sears Point much better than Infineon. However, anything to keep the bottom line in the black. By whatever name, this circuit, located north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, has been a mainstay of road racing on the West Coast for several decades. TransAm, Formula 5000, IMSA, and Indy Cars have all been regular features there and, of course, it is home to one of two road races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour. Add to that countless SCCA amateur races and vintage events, and it’s no wonder the history of this track is a very full one. It has a unique personality, putting a premium on handling and acceleration over top speed to an exceptional degree. The typical setup for this track gives a TransAm or GT1 car a top speed of only about 130 to 140 mph, but the car get up to it almost instantly.
Our model has a footprint of 9×20 feet which can be made up from four 5×9 ping-pong table sheets with cutouts. The average lane length is around 61.5 feet. It is a “technical” circuit, challenging to beginner and expert alike.
Willow Springs International Raceway
Willow Springs is a center of grassroots road racing in California. Its location in the high desert east of Los Angeles makes it too remote (not to mention too hot) for spectator events but ideal for year-round club racing, testing, and racing schools. It has a lap length of 2.5 miles.
Our model fits onto two 5×9-foot ping-pong table sheets arranged in an L-shape. Its average lane length is about 38 feet. This track would be ideal for a portable or semi-permanent track that could easily be transported or stored in two sections. Such a track would be excellent for public events or for a club that has to share space with other activities.
Sebring International Raceway
This famous circuit is laid out on the runways and taxiways of a World War II bomber base. The surface is still mostly the original concrete. It is a rough track that pounds cars and drivers more thoroughly in the length of its annual 12-hour endurance race than LeMans does in 24 hours, making it a supreme test of mechanical and human stamina. All the greats of international sports car endurance racing have competed here over the years since the early 1950s, and Sebring remains one of the world’s great classic road courses.
Our Scalextric Sport layout has a footprint of `16X16 feet. It captures the character of this famous old racing venue with a variety of challenging turns and straightaways over an average lane length of approximately 77 feet Parallel straights allow for easy expansion or downsizing.
Another of America’s classic road courses. Road Atlanta was for many years the home of the SCCA National Runoffs. In more recent years it has been the site of the Petit LeMans, the season finale of the American LeMans Series.
Our Road Atlanta layout measures 9×20 feet and has an average lane length of about 52 feet.
Riverside International Raceway operated from 1957 until 1989 and was the epicenter of road racing in Southern California. In those 32 years it hosted the CanAm series, TransAm, Formula 5000, and NASCAR’s Riverside 500, won five times by the legendary Dan Gurney. It also was the home track of the California Sports Car Club (later a region of the SCCA) and was the site of the SCCA’s first National Runoffs. The property is now covered with housing and shopping developments.
Our layout is a full 25 feet long by 9 feet wide to capture the flavor of this famous circuit with its mile-long back straight and high-speed turns, but parallel straights make it easy to shorten to fit your available space. The average lane length is 74 feet.
Pacific Raceways is located southeast of Seattle near the town of Kent, Washington. It has a long straight with flat-out turns leading in and out of it, tight hairpin turns, and spectacular elevation changes, all wrapped in paddock, parking lots, and spectator viewing areas shaded by stately evergreen trees. It is one of the least changed road courses in the United States, still retaining much of its 1960s charm and character, although a multi-year upgrade program is gradually transforming it into a state-of-the-art motorsports facility. It is a great place to watch vintage racing and is a popular club racing venue. It’s one of a relatively small number of non-roval road courses that run counterclockwise.
Our model, at 9×20 feet, rests nicely on four 5×9 ping-pong table sheets. The average lane length is 55 feet, and parallel straights allow for expansion or downsizing.
The Bridgehampton circuit was located on Long Island in New York. It offered spectators not only great rece watching but also a grand view of Long Island Sound. In the 50s and 60s it was a major venue in American road racing, hosting SCCA amateur events and USRRC and CanAm races. It is probably best known as the site of Ford’s only CanAm victory, by Dan Gurney in 1967. The former track property is now a golf course.
Our layout, at a compact 7×15 feet, should fit nicely into many recreation rooms and will also go into one side of a two-car garage with room to spare. The average lane length is approximately 38.5 feet.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was built in 1962 an has had two major renovations in its lifetime. It has been part of every major American professional road racing series as well as a venue for amateur and vintage events. In 2010 it hosted events of the GrandAm Rolex Series, the American LeMans Series, IndyCar, AMA motorcycle racing and and SVRA vintage racing.
Our 1/32 scale Mid-Ohio has an average lane length of approximately 55.5 feet and measures 11 by 20 feet. It can readily be shrunk to 10×19 or even less. In fact, you could take the entire “finger” off it to make a much smaller-sized layout, though it wouldn’t look much like Mid-Ohio afterward.
Grand Prix of Cleveland
For 25 years, from 1982 to 2007 the city of Cleveland, Ohio closed down its Burke Lakefront Airport for a week and turned the runways and taxiways into a course for one of the most exciting events of the CART/ChampCar series. The long runways and wide turns, sized for aircraft, provided a racing circuit that allowed the powerful open-wheel cars lots of room for side-by-side racing, sometimes three and four wide, and spectators an unobstructed view of the entire course. The result was some of the best racing in America and a tremendous fan experience. Winners of the event read like a list of racing royalty, including Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittip[aldi, Mario Andretti, Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve, Gil deFerran, Alex Zanardi, Juan Montoya, Dario Franchitti, and Sebastien Bourdais. The 2008 shotgun merger of Champ Car and the IRL caused the end of the Grand Prix, but efforts to return this extremely popular event to the racing calendar continue.
Our miniature airport course would be ideal for a slot car hobbyist with a long, narrow space in which to build a layout. It’s only 5 feet wide, and as shown the length is 18 feet, but it could be shrunk or expanded to any length desired just by adding or subtracting straight sections. Average lane length as shown is just under 40 feet. It also wouldn’t need much in the way of scenery building.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Laguna Seca is another track that is a must-add to your bucket list. Its 2.38 miles includes an amazing amount of elevation change including the Corkscrew, the most famous turn in all of racing. You come blasting up an uphill straight, make a hard left, then instantly a hard right… and the bottom drops out. You feel for an instant like you’re going straight down and sideways at the same time. it is one of the most renowned photo opportunities and spectator viewpoints to be found at any track in the world. The whole circuit is a masterpiece of design, using the natural terrain to create a road course as challenging as any in the world.
Our 16×16-foot layout has an average lane length of 62 feet. This would be a great layout for a permanent club or home track with the structure for the elevation changes built into the table design.
This 1.95-mile, 7-turn road course, located in Illinois, has been a popular site for club racing of all kinds, from SCCA, NASA, and vintage to motorcycles and karts, since 1967. The track property includes an airstrip, making it possible to put on a unique annual event combining vintage car racing with antique aircraft displays.
Our Scalextric Sport layout has an average lane length of 46.5 feet and occupies a compact 10×12-foot space. It can easily be shrunk down to as small as 8×12 feet, making it a potential fit for a spare bedroom.
At only 1.53 miles in length Lime Rock Park’s road course is the shortest permanent road racing circuit used by major professional race series in America. Its schedule includes GrandAm, ALMS, and NASCAR events, as well as many kinds of amateur and historic racing. Lime rock was the “home” track of the late Paul Newman and is much loved by road racing drivers in the eastern US. Because of the close proximity of a church to the track there is no racing on Sundays, so racing events tend to be held on 3-day weekends with all participants enjoying Sunday off to relax and party or, in some cases, to rebuild their race cars. Some of them even go to the church services.
ED’s design for Lime Rock in 1/32 scale has a footprint of 12×16 feet and an average lane length of about 46 feet.
Belle Isle (Detroit)
The Belle Isle race circuit is just exactly what it sounds like, a temporary street circuit laid out in a city park on an island in the Detroit river. For many years it was the site of an annual CART/Champ Car race. The circuit is now inactive, but visitors to the park can easily see where it was located.
Our 9×20-foot Scalextric Sport layout has an average lane length of 50 feet.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has become the premier street race in North America. The course is laid out on the streets of downtown Long Beach, and it has varied in design over the years. Over the decades of its existence the race has been run for Formula One, Formula 5000, and for many years the CART/Champ Car series. It is now a venue for the current Indy Car Series (formerly the Indy Racing League). The program has always featured supporting events that have included Formula Atlantic, TransAm, the Speed World Challenge, and, of course, the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Demolition Derby…er, race.
Our track design is based upon the Long Beach course as it was run from 1992 to 1998. It measures 9×20 feet and has an average lane length of 45 feet.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal
Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is another course laid out in a park on an island in a river. At present it is used for just two events per year, the Canadian Grand Prix and a NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Our miniature version has a footprint of 8×20 feet and an average lane length of about 43.5 feet.
The Daytona International Speedway has gained worldwide fame both as a high-speed oval track, home to NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500, and as the home of one of road racing’s top endurance events, the Rolex Daytona 24 Hours. It is also used for vintage events, motorcycle racing, and a full calendar of testing and promotional events. Its 33-degree banked turns make it one of two NASCAR tracks on which restrictor plates are required to keep the speed of the cars within a range dictated by safety concerns and insurance requirements.
Our miniature Daytona measures 10×18 feet. The road circuit has an average lane length of about 59.5 feet. The oval configuration’s average lane length isabout 39 feet. The circuit can be converted rapidly from oval to “roval” just by swapping a few sections of track in the trioval section of the layout. The yellow lines on our drawings mark the sections to be changed. We designedour Daytona layout in the Carrera track system. We prefer Carrera for building banked ovals because Carrera’s banked turn sections are steeply enough banked to allow the kind of high speed typically expected of a track like Daytona and also because Carrera offers borders for its banked turns. We caution our readers not to use Carrera’s radius1 banked turns, however, because they are so tight that any car with a long, low nose will hit the track surface with the body’s leading edge, lifting the guide out of the slot and causing a crash, frequently catastrophic. We are aware, by the way, that Daytona does not have little straight chutes at each end, but using straight sections halfway through the turns was the most practical way to widen out the layout enough to make room for the infield loop of the road course without substantially increasing the length of the track’s footprint. Of course, if you have more room this design is easy to expand. Also, if you are building any permanent banked oval layout in any track system we strongly recommend replacing the manufacturer’s plastic banked turn supports with a much more substantial structure built into the table.
The Paramount Ranch circuit was used for only a few years in the mid-1950s. During that time it was the venue for five major races and a number of minor events. Its principal claim to fame is as a prototype for slot car tracks. This came about when slot car racing pioneer Robert Schleicher published a series of how-to articles on building the track in miniature in a 60s slot car magazine. What makes Paramount Ranch so popular as a slot car track design is its overpass, one of only a very few to have been incorporated into a race track. An overpass serves to equalize the lane lengths at the cost of some degree of sight line problems and turn marshaling access. The site, used for many years as a location for filming western movies, is now a park. Most of the roads that made up the course can still be seen.
Our 9×21.5-foot version of the circuit does indeed have equal lane lengths at 54.42 feet. If you are going to build it we strongly recommend that you build the support structure for the overpass and the necessary elevation changes into the table.
Our 1/32 scale Mosport road course has an average lane length of 47 feet and fits into a 9×19-foot space.
Watch for more track plans to be added to this article.
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