If you belong to an RC club, race RC cars with your kids, or you are just a weekend hobbyist, you want to have a track to run your RC car on. Racing across the neighbors’ lawns or just up and down the street will get boring really quickly, and it isn’t good practice for racing if you are in an RC club. In this article, you will find detailed instructions on how to build an RC track in your backyard, from design to the finish line.

Design Your Track

You can design your track using any medium you like. If you draw by hand or use a computer program, the key is to be as absolutely detailed as possible when doing so. You want to ensure that you actually take measurements. You don’t want to assume that you have room for eight-foot lanes in your yard, you’ll need to physically check to be sure.

Also, if you have trees in your yard, you will more than likely want to remove them instead of trying to design a track around them. Although it is possible to run the track around the trees, one slip up and you can have a very expensive repair on your hands. If the trees aren’t very large, it’s going to be easier to get rid of them.

how to build an rc track in your backyard

It is a good idea to keep the vegetation growth down by spraying the track with a weed killer. This will prevent the growth of new vegetation by killing everything at the root level and keep you from weeding by hand every time you see a dandelion spring up in your track.

Be sure to design your track as far away from the windows of your home, and any tanks should have a good amount of clearance also. That goes for propane tanks, oil tanks, anything that could possibly be hit and damaged by a car, or damage your car if it comes off the track and hits the object.

In addition, don’t forget to leave room in your track for the track marshalls to operate. Anything that may block the line of sight for marshals or drivers should be removed instead of built into the design. Have a look at the local BMX track or any tracks that are near you to get an idea of the builds that other people near you are creating.

If you are part of a club or organization and plan to frequently hold races or organized events, you may want to consider purchasing tarps to cover your track when rain is anticipated in your area. Otherwise, you may find yourself reforming parts of your track that have washed out, or been damaged from water pooling. Tarps are not expensive and can save you a lot of reworking the track.

Lastly, if you belong to a club or are building a track to hold organized events, you will need to ensure that you build your track according to the rules and regulations of your club or organization. If you don’t build according to the regulations, you’ll end up either needing to rebuild your track, or running on your track solely for practice.

Begin Gathering Your Materials

For building a backyard track, you’ll need the following tools at a minimum:

  • Shovel
  • Flat Nosed Shovel
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Hammers
  • Buckets for hauling soil and water back and forth
  • Water
  • Saw, for removing smaller trees
  • Ax, for removing tree and bush roots
  • Metal Support Stakes
  • PVC Pipe, enough for lane divisions and drainage of the track

Start Clearing and Digging Your Track Base

This is incredibly important to do thoroughly and to do well. If you don’t do a good job of clearing out roots and vegetation, you are going to end up with new growth popping up that will need to be cleared every time you try to use the track. This means you’ll end up gardening in your off time instead of actually running your RC car. In addition, if you don’t remove the roots, it will only result in new growth.

Once the vegetation is cleared away and the roots dug and cut out of the ground, you’re ready to start digging your base. You should dig out around 3″ to 4″ deep, the entire outline of your track. Keep the dirt that you dig out because you’ll want to wet and pack it when you are forming your jumps. Again, measure multiple times while you are doing the base preparation. You want to ensure that you stay on course with your initial measurements and drawing.

It is a good idea to keep the vegetation growth down by spraying the track with a weed killer. This will prevent the growth of new vegetation by killing everything at the root level and keep you from weeding by hand every time you see a dandelion spring up in your track.

Build In Your Drainage And Jumps

Once your track outline is completed, you can start forming your berms, or curbs. In order to ensure that your entire track has proper drainage, you want to build every part of your track, even your straightaways, with a slight slant so that water will not pool on any part of your track.

If you want to build your jumps from wood first as a practice run for your design, you can do so. However, if you’re sure of your design and ready to build your jumps in, the best thing to use is clay or a sand/soil mix. Using solely topsoil will allow much more washout than you really want to allow to happen.

Also, if you have trees in your yard, you will more than likely want to remove them instead of trying to design a track around them. Although it is possible to run the track around the trees, one slip up and you can have a very expensive repair on your hands. If the trees aren’t very large, it’s going to be easier to get rid of them.

It is also important to remember your goal of making the track interesting. You don’t want to get bored after two runs around the track. Put in jumps that are challenging, lots of tight turns if possible, and anything else that you feel will make the run a challenge. Also, you want to have a defined finish line, not one that just blends in with the other jumps on your track.

It is important to use a lot of water, heavily rake the soil mix, and to tightly form the mix so that your berms and jumps hold. Your metal support stakes will work like rebar in concrete. They’re going to hold the weight of that tightly packed mix and keep the form of the jumps from washing away with the first heavy rain that you experience.

Heavily Rake And Wet Your Track

Once everything is fully shaped, your drainage pipes and line dividers are installed, your jumps are formed, and your tightly packed, the slanted track is fully formed, wet it all down. Rake all the way around the track. This is because when you rake the wet soil together, it’s going to smooth your track and it’s going to bind the dirt for a more formed, lasting hold.

Take a good look at your track. Are your jumps challenging? Are your straights long enough to gather good speed for your jumps? Be honest with yourself. Is this track something you want to race for more than a lap or two? If not, this is the time to fix whatever issues you have with your track, aesthetically speaking.

If you are pleased with the outcome of your track, now is the time to give a practice run with your RC car.

A Few Other Tips

Although a good, quality clay is a more expensive option than topsoil, it is going to have more staying power and retain your track shape much better than the alternatives. If this is a long term project for you, you probably want to go ahead and invest in the clay option versus the sand/soil mix or strictly topsoil. Clay is also going to prevent dust-ups during racing that could be problematic for a number of reasons

Jumps are not an exact science. They usually require a few trial and error attempts before they are built in a way that allows you to avoid damaging your RC car. Try studying skateboard or bike ramps for some motivation when you’re building your jumps. You can just as easily try building some temporary jumps from wood prior to staking and building up the formations on your jumps in the soil.

Try to make the length of the jump one and a half times the length of the largest RC car that is going to be racing on the track. This allows for big air and exciting jumps to occur. Lastly, it really is a good idea to keep some extra clay or sand/soil mix on hand, just in case of washouts that occur, or other unseen issues that may arise.