Riverside International SlotCar Raceway
Vintage Aurora ThunderJet 500 Slot Car Track Version
“Arguably it is the most famous of all US racing circuits.”  Mister Coney Member Tony Brown - mgbbrown

The description was enticing...

The Riverside International Raceway in Edgemont, California is a 3.275 mile closed road course. Asphalt paved, 60 feet wide with 14 foot shoulders. It includes a banked turn 60 feet wide. The longest straight is 1.01 miles where speeds of over 170 miles an hour have been reached.

Riverside was also the testing ground and...

Home track for Shelby American and the legendary Cobras.  Ken Miles died there in a freak accident August 17, 1966 while testing the Ford J Car. Earlier A. J. Foyt was pulled from an end-over-end crash caused by brake failure on the long back straight, ending the 1965 Motor Trend NASCAR 500 race.  These accidents and other fatalities labeled the track as relatively dangerous, and track management was forced in 1969 to reconfigure Turn 9 to its later dogleg and wider radius.  Arguably it is the most famous of all US racing circuits, ranking alongside such venues as Daytona and Sebring.  The track was in operation from September 22, 1957 to July 2, 1989. Several famous movies were in part filmed at the track, including THE LOVE BUG and GRAND PRIX. Aurora used the track’s famous Start/Finish pylons from 1957 as the basis for their HO scale version.  The track itself actually consisted of six different courses, with the eventual long course being 3.3 miles in length. Before each event, track crews would add traffic cones to close off sections of the circuit and thus alter the route drivers had to follow.  Races held at Riverside included The Los Angeles Times Grand Prix of Endurance; The USAC Championship Trail; The Rex Mays 300; and The L. A. Times 500.  Numerous IMSA and SCCA races were also held there, and NASCAR opened its season for many years at Riverside.

My HO scale version of...

Riverside International Raceway generally follows the Long Course used from 1969 until the track closed.  BAP GEON has published a nice blueprint of that particular version on the web, along with all of the major historic race tracks in the US.  This is a good starting point should one want to duplicate a particular road course in scale. In the beginning I wanted to utilize the various track types that Aurora had to offer during the Thunder Jet era and ones my brother and I were familiar with, my departure being a wiggle track added at Turn One.  A cobblestone track graces the straight before the start track and lap counter.  A terminal straight track, squeeze track, hump track, straight crisscross track, and a curve crisscross track are all found on the layout.  Many other enthusiasts have tried to persuade the use of only regular slotted track in the name of a faster layout, but this is how many folks, including myself, enjoyed the hobby so they will stay.  The Model DC-2, 20 volt power pack used on the layout was the same one used during my boyhood (held in place with roundhead sheet metal screws), as are the wires connecting the transformer to the track.  One of my steering wheel Speed Controllers with Reverse Switch and Brake was initially used, but the need for better performance led to a set of restored Racing Speed Controllers, again one being my own originally. The size of lead wire used on these is no longer available, but can be also found on the later Russell/Aurora controllers used at the end of the Thunder Jet era.  My ultimate goal was to locate a set of early Russell/Aurora pistol grip 50 ohm controllers similar to the blue ones we used but were hopelessly melted, either from attic heat or by running two cars on the same slot. Knowing my brother and I-probably the latter is the case.  The layout now features these controllers in yellow with their black, split two-wire stranded leads knotted to avoid further separation.
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Article & Images Copyright 2008 MrConey.com | SlotCarDigest.com     July 18, 2008