Things You'll Need
- Toy race cars
- Paper tubes
- Scrap Styrofoam
- Table or rigid base
- White glue
Racing toy cars can be a lot of fun as they zoom down a track, up ramps and through tunnels and jumps. Sometimes your car is faster than your friends, sometimes not, either way you have fun. When you get tired of the track that came with your cars, you can spend an afternoon making your own. Here’s how.
Pick a place to build your racetrack. Because paper is very flexible, you will need a semi-permanent rigid surface on which to build. An old card table or a scrap piece of plywood is a great start.
Collect scrap pieces of Styrofoam from old packages until you have enough to make a big pile. The Styrofoam will act as a support for your race car track
Pile your Styrofoam at random on your tabletop and let it serve as inspiration for the shape of your race track. You will need a tall ramp to get the cars started. Envision how you want the cars to flow down, over and around your table.
Some features you might want to design into your track: tunnels made out of cardboard tubes (like the kind inside a roll of paper towels); ramps that wave up and down; jumps where there is a gap between two ramps; loops where your car races up and around a vertical curve of track.
Next begin to cut your track out of cardboard . Thin, flexible cardboard works best, like the kind of cardboard a cereal box is made of. You can also use poster board available from office supply stores.
Piece your track together temporarily with tape and use some white glue to begin gluing down the scrap Styrofoam as supports. Until the glue dries, you can move the pieces around to get everything just the way you want it. Work on one section at a time and make adjustments as you go.
Install edge railings to keep your cars on track. These are also made of thin cardboard, about ½ inch high, and should be taped smoothly to the edges. (This might be the hardest part of making your track—be patient). You can race two cars together side by side, or you can install a railing in the center of your track to keep the two cars separate.
Enjoy your race car track. Have races to see whose car is the fastest, whose car stays on the track best and who can make the best race car noises.
Adjust the width of your track so that two cars can easily race down at the same time. A good width for many cars is 4 to 6 inches. Decorate your track with advertising billboards you cut from magazines. Don’t forget the finish line.
This might be a difficult project if you’ve never done it before. Consider asking an adult for help. Start with a small, simple race car track and work your way up to bigger and more elaborate tracks as you gain experience.
If you use a loop, put it close to the end of the acceleration ramp so the cars will have enough speed to go up and over the loop. Test the loop before finalizing it and adjust its size and position if necessary.
David Pepper is a Los Angeles-based writer, teacher and filmmaker. He has been writing since 1990. His publication credits include articles for the "Los Angeles" and "New York Times," fiction for journals like "Ends Meet" and "Zyzzyva," and a computer book for Prentice Hall. Pepper holds a Master of Arts in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh.