How to Build an RC Track in My Backyard

If you’re an RC car enthusiast, what could be better than having an exciting RC track in your own backyard? Although the process is simple, you’ll want to follow the instructions carefully to avoid any obstacles that could have you starting your project over. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to consider beforehand, how to build an RC track in your backyard, and then how to maintain it.

What to Consider Before Designing Your Track

Although learning to build an RC track in your backyard seems simple enough, and for the most part, it is, you will get the best results if you think methodically about how you’ll design it. Keep these things in mind prior to mapping out your plan and working on the construction of your track.

Consider How Everything Will Flow Together

During the entire planning process, you’ll want to think about how an RC car moves during jumps, sharp turns, etc. There will be parts of your track where you’ll need to slow down or speed up your car, and this is what will make it more fun and exciting! To do this properly, understanding the flow of how everything moves together is imperative for a well-constructed track.

For example, after a large jump, you don’t want a bank right in front of it that the car could slam into or miss. Instead, you’ll want to have a bit of a wider path, so the car has plenty of room to land and then turn if needed. If a turn is coming after a jump, you may need to make the bank a bit higher to keep it from gliding over.

Step One: Plan Your Track

Before you build an RC track in your backyard, you’ll want to make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of the design. If you’ve seen or used other RC racetracks in the past, consider which parts you disliked and how you’d like yours to be different. This will help you to have a better idea of not only what you don’t want, but what you want for your track.

Creating Your Plan

To build an RC track in your backyard, you will want to have a detailed plan. If you want a good track, the last thing you should do is wing it as you build. Having a detailed plan can prevent any issues from coming up and keep you from having to start back from scratch. This doesn’t mean you can’t make minor adjustments when you feel inspired, but overall you should know what you’re planning to build.

The first thing to consider is the type of racing you will be using your RC racetrack for. How big will the cars you’re racing be? This is going to change the overall size needed to create a suitable track.

Determining the Best Lane Width

When determining the width of your lanes, there are a few factors to consider. The great thing about designing your own racetrack is that you make the rules. You can have wide lanes, lots of twists and turns, and as many jumps as you desire. Determining the width of your lanes will mainly depend on your yard size and personal preference.

You will also want to consider how many cars you’ll be racing at once. The width should be at least a couple of feet to give you plenty of room to whip around turns without jumping off the banks.

Planning Around Obstacles

If you have a large backyard with plenty of space, you may not run into any obstacles. However, if you have any uneven ground, rocky areas, or large trees, you may have to remove the barriers before you begin building.

While building your racetrack around trees can seem like a fun obstacle to add, one wrong turn during your race could end up in a broken racecar. One option is to add a hefty dirt ramp around the tree to give your car a little cushion in case of an accident. Removing trees or bushes is an option if you want an entirely cleared area, but providing some cushion with dirt should be enough to avoid an accident. 

Consider trimming down any low hanging branches that may dangle in your way. Not only could it get in the way of your vision when racing, but it could cause an issue if there are any jumps or turns you want to add in the area. 

When creating your plan, it can help to have another RC racing enthusiast to look over everything and help you to create the final vision.

Map It Out

Once you have an idea of how big you want the racetrack to be as well as considering any details you want your racetrack to have, it’s a good idea to visually map things out.

First, choose the best location for your track. The size completely depends on your preferences and what type of racing you’ll be doing in your backyard.

You can use cones or grass paint/chalk to create the outline of your course. During this time, look for any obstacles that may get in the way of your construction. Doing this will give you an idea of how much supplies you’ll need during construction.

Tools You’ll Need

Depending on what you’ll need to adjust in your backyard, you may or may not need all of the tools listed below. Keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to finish this in one day.

Here are some of the basic tools you may need during the construction process:

  • Regular shovel
  • Flat nose shovel
  • Garden rake
  • Water 
  • Saw or ax (optional for tree removal)
  • Metal support stakes
  • Corrugated pipe

Removing Turf

If you have any turf, you’ll want to remove this in order to start with a good foundation. You could use a shovel to remove grass by hand, though it may take a little time to completely remove it all. Be careful not to remove too much dirt underneath the grass because you’ll want the lanes themselves to be deeper than the surrounding land.

Another option would be to rent a sod cutter from your local hardware store. Make sure to save some of the turf you dig up, as it can help build up your jumps later in the process.

Choosing the best foundation

Although you can use topsoil as your foundation, it isn’t recommended. This is because topsoil can be hard to maintain, and bad weather can damage your racetrack.

Using clay is recommended because it is firmer and easier to pack. Clay will give you a solid foundation for your racecars.

Alternatively, you can use a shovel to dig about 3-4 inches until you get to solid ground. If you go this route, make sure that the ground is packed nicely so that the cars do not lose traction or possibly get stuck. The easiest way to get nicely packed dirt is to use a lawn roller. 

If you do not have a lawn roller and don’t want to invest in one, using a flat shovel is also an option. This may take a little more time, but it’s worth it in order to have a nice smooth ground for your cars to glide by on.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to do this process every so often to maintain the integrity of your track.

Step Two: Construction

When building your track, you’ll want to ensure that it has proper drainage. This will protect you from flooding and needing to repair later down the line. Do not dig more than 3-4 inches. Digging too deep can also affect drainage and cause more issues in the future.

Building your track

Start by digging your foundation first. As you dig, use the dirt you’re removing to help form the edges. You may want to have some extra dirt handy in case there isn’t enough to form the walls. Do your best not to make them too large or too angled.

Adding in Jumps

After you build the bank turns, you can start adding in jumps that you have in your design plan. As you build, test the jumps to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This way, you can adjust and perfect as you go rather than having to come back and make adjustments later.

For larger jumps, you can use the turf you dug up in the earlier in the process as a foundation, and then top with dirt or clay. Just make sure that the turf underneath is well covered with dirt.

Start by piling up the turf on the bottom and add dirt with the shovel. Once you have the jump about as big as you would like it (keep in mind, it will be slightly smaller once compacted), begin gently shaving it with a rake. You should have a pile of dirt that’s relatively even on both sides and gently slopes downward. Lastly, compact your jump with a flat shovel.

Lining Your Lanes

Once you have the track dug out and banks perfected, you can start lining your lanes. Layout your corrugated pipe to create your lanes and secure with a 12-inch metal steak. 

Create a Sign

Just like any racetrack, you want to make it official with a name and a sign. 

After you come up for the perfect name for your racetrack, print out the text in the font you want on a piece of paper. Depending on how big you want the sign, this may take a few sheets of paper. Cut out each letter and trace it onto your sign. You could use corroboard for a cheap and easy homemade sign.

Alternatively, you could purchase some letter stencils for the outline. This method is probably an easier option but leaves less room for font customization.

Once you have your name traced out on the sign, fill in the letters with a sharpie. Attach your sign to PVC pipe and zip ties. 

Step Four: Maintaining Your Track

Now you have a finished racetrack you can call your own, but you aren’t completely finished just yet. Keeping your track at its best requires some maintenance. It shouldn’t take up too much of your time, but doing these few little things will ensure that your track is always ready to race.

Removing and Preventing Weeds

As with anywhere in your backyard, your racetrack may get a few weeds here and there. You can periodically go through and pick them to keep the track clean and free of these tiny obstacles. Another option would be to purchase some grass and weed killer, especially if you tend to get a lot popping up.

Raking and Compacting the Dirt

With time and weather, the foundation of your track may change here and there. Start by going through the track and raking through the dirt to even it out. Once everything looks nice and even, you can use either the lawn roller or shovel to compact the dirt.

Handling Drainage

Once you get good rainfall, you’ll start to notice where puddles of water tend to pile up. To combat this, create small trenches off to the side where the water can flow off into. Although it would be great to plan this step ahead of time, you really won’t know where the drainage issues lie until after it rains.

In Conclusion

Learning how to build an RC track in your backyard is a fun and exciting project because there is so much room for personalization. You’ll want to make sure you plan out your track ahead of time to avoid any mishaps along the way. The building process may not happen overnight, but having a few RC car enthusiasts over to help you will lessen the workload and give you someone to bounce ideas off of. As long as you have your end goal in mind, you can get started building your own fun and exciting RC racetrack.