Slot car track based on Brussels

Racing in the European Capital

My first idea was to include as many bridges and tunnels as possible. Brussels has long seen these as a solutions to traffic issues, so there's plenty to go around.
Then of course there were the most recognisible buildings. This led to some sketching, more sketching, and even more sketching. But in the end I had to admit defeat: though Brussels is full of great racing opportunities, they're more suited for a video game. A physical layout would take up far too much space- and too many square corners would make it a very difficult track

The tourist route.

My next idea was to use google maps to try and get a layout. I included my two favourite slopes; mont des arts that curves around a grand staircase, and sablon that races down a cobblestone square, into a narrow canyon and under a bridge.
The most compact layout I could cut, while keeping the curves, in a realistic scale would be 7 by 7 meters in HO scale.
Obviously the scale needs to be 'adjusted' for this to work. In my biggest room I could fit about 2 by 2 meters- unless I got rid of the couch. Since I'm planning to store it on 1 square meter modules, that makes 4 modules. What will be important is to keep the slopes intact so it looks like the 'real thing'.
There are some really nice buildings alongside the track; medievil houses along sablon, art nouveau musical instruments museum, the art deco royal library, the neoclassicist art museum, and the hypermodern mont des arts congress center (although I'd love to get the fifties style slot racing vibe) It'd be nice to have cardboard/plexi versions of this. I pass most spots often enough to get photos.
The least interesting bit, unfortunately, is the curve around that takes us over the bridge. There's a highrise there that really is uninspirational- and will be blocking the view- it'll have to go along with some other buildings. All in all it'll be a while to fit everything in.

On the grid.

The good news planning wise is that I have a friend with a router- although I'll have to go there myself to do the routing as he's very very busy indeed.
At ho slot care racing I found articles describing how to design a slot layout. I also found some general information on track types. I set out to design my track making sure all turns are at least 10 cm wide at the inner lane. The track itself would be about 10 cm wide. This is different from the HO plastic tracks that are 3" wide and have curves in 3" increments. But it allows me to plan neatly on grid paper.
The first attempt was very squareish, by nature of the design process. But it soon became obvious to me that if I squashed the square into a parrallelogram, the racetrack could be made to fit 2 one meter square boards.


A few attemps at drawing the circuit this way gave me a better idea of both the curves I needed and the deformation that would remain acceptable- at least for the circuit!
From there, however, there was still some ways to go to find a proper fit without too much deformation. I drew and drew but in the end always wound up with too tight center part. This, where the Albertina library and the Kunstberg stairs are locatd, would be the nicest bit of the track! I could abandon any sense of scale, but that would defy the object.
So the only logical conclusion was to add a bit to the side of the track. A few drawings decided that the best was to have a single one meter square piece and two half a meter by a meter pieces, fit into a heart shape.

Loving it when a plan comes together.

Then I started cutting and pasting and realised that there was an even better plan. By not using the little loop around the charming Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés, I could use the Boulevard de l'empereur bridge without needing more depth. This would allow for the entire layout to be side by side about two meters long.
The cars would start on the Blvd de'l Empereur in front of the scenic Mont des Arts stairs. Heading left onto the Cantersteen, they'd have to break for a sharp turn right and up. A wide right curve would take them up past the Shell building on the Ravenstein street, then a steep left up Koudenberg would deliver them on the Place Royale. A sharp right dodges the statue of the villainous Godfried of Bouillon. A straight downslope along the rue Royale until the Petit Sablon. Here there's a lot of options, but my track now takes a tight right down a very steep descent on the cobblestone Ruysbroekstraat. Halfway there's a slight turn, and then the cars dive into a tight gallery- only one at a time!
They emerge on the flag-pole covered place de la Justice underneath the Bld de Emperateur. Tight left and up the LEbeaustraat in a fast s curve that brings them to the Sablon. Up the cobblestoned Sablon, a right curve in frong of the church, and back down on the other side. A steep descent down the Rollebeek emits them on the Bld de Emp with a sharp right at the fifties style gas station/bowling alley. And on to the finish line!

Pit stop.

At this point two things happened about simultaneously. I fell out of love with the slot car idea (temporarily entertaining some ideas about mounting miniature cameras etc. to rekindle the fizzling passion) and my biggest boy got several handfuls of Matchbox cars for Sinterklaas.
So I decided to carry the work done so far over to a matchbox cars track instead.
For now it was the end of the slot car project


more is coming... when I get round to doing it!