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Jeff Stillwell's 'Clay Oval'

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  • Jeff Stillwell's 'Clay Oval'

    One of my bucket list items is to scan all of my old photographs into JPEG's. Right now they are all print negatives, so not in a format that you can page through. I've got well over a hundred packs of negatives to scan, but I've been pecking away at them, a few at a time.

    While rummaging among my various hidy-holes, I found some photos of the track I built for Jeff Stillwell, taken in 2001 when I visited him at his home in Marietta Georgia USA. That was a very pleasant surprise, because I had often wished I had some photos of that track.

    I did! Just well hidden...

    Jeff's track was custom-built to his specifications, to wit:

    - a 5' x 16', 6 lane oval
    - painted 'Georgia Clay' -- a color I had custom mixed for him
    - low-banked corners -- about 10 in the center of each turn
    - one corner with the lanes 'chicaned' at the middle of the turn

    That mid-turn chicane was a bit of a trick to build. I used a routing template made of ABS plastic -- not MDF like I normally use -- and I rigged it so I could flex the radius of one corner, using a jacking-screw system.

    The lane spacing tightened from 1-3/4 inches (44.5 mm) down to 1 inch (25.4mm) -- too tight for two cars side-by-side. A side effect of how the template flexed was that the outer lanes spread out a bit going into and out of the curve -- visible in the next photo if you look close.

    Jeff did me proud by how he set up the track and added scenery to it. Plus the lighting for night racing.

    I've lost track of Jeff. And I'm pretty sure he no longer owns this track. I'd love to hear about both.

    Ed Bianchi

    PS -

    PPS - I am scanning my negatives using a Plustek OpticFilm 7600i scanner and VueScan software. The Plustek can scan both print negatives and slides. Though pricy, the Plustek is a superb scanner with some very useful high-end features. On the other hand, the VueScan software is quite reasonable, but extremely versatile and wonderfully easy to learn and use. (Much better than the SilverFast software that I paid too much for and found impossible to learn!)
    Last edited by HO RacePro; 07-04-2017, 01:42 PM.

  • #2
    Too cool!


    • #3
      Yep...creative artwork at it's finest!!! Very nice!!!


      • #4
        I've had the pleasure of running on that track!!! You do need to pick your spots to pass!!! RM


        • #5
          I raced on this track a couple of times at Homer 500 events. I ran a SG+ with a Slide Guide, installed by Homer, and dirt late model body made from styrene with a lexan nose. It was a fun and challenging track to race!


          • #6
            hi Ed,
            thanks for showing us the track, and especially for me the template! very innovative.

            I love my 1" 'squeezes' on our 32nd road courses (as they seem to call chicanes up here).
            once I saw an oval where the bottom lanes were tight at one end, and the outer lanes were the same at the other. think that it was a big 8-lane, and they used trammel points with different centers to rout it.
            did you rout this one flat and then bend it in (like some commercial track guys do, which I hadn't realized til recently), or cut the slots in final config?

            I've been scanning all ours in as well. I use a Canon CanoScan 5600F, which will nicely scan sets of slides, negs and prints. so far I've done maybe a dozen big boxes full.
            "soft copies" at high resolution are such a good solution, except for the hundred-year-old-plus stuff of course. I can blow up an old slide so that you can see the driver's eyes, without even using three magnifying glasses and a powerful bench light! lol



            • #7
              I rout all of my tracks 'on the flat'. That is necessary to assure the braid reliefs are of uniform depth. The router has to sit flat to keep that depth within tolerance.

              Curves that are going to be banked get special treatment. A banked curve that will be a 180 turn is routed, on the flat, with a slightly smaller 'included angle'. Relying on memory here -- most of my 180 banked curves are only 176 when flat. Pulling the ends of the curve together turns it into a 180, and also causes it to pull up into a bank of about 20 in the center of the curve.

              (I think I have those numbers right. If you want to be sure, make a scale model of the curve out of poster board and see what banking you get.)

              On my banked ovals I rout each curve with about 2 feet of straight on either end, making it look like a 'U'. With that 176 angle it is actually a 'U' with the sides splayed out a tad. The straight sections give me leverage when pulling the flat curve into a bank. They also provide smooth transitions between the flat sections of the track and the banks.

              You can adjust the banking by changing the 'included angle' of the turns. A smaller included angle creates a sharper bank. The closer you get to 180 the shallower the bank. Again, a model is your most reliable indicator of what you'll get for a specific 'included angle'.

              I don't recommend extreme banks. But it's your call.

              Ed Bianchi


              • #8
                Beautiful track! Thanks for sharing Ed.


                • #9
                  which you do first

                  thank you sir!
                  that's what Steve O. said that he did too, rout 'em flat & bend 'em later. he had some math which came pretty close, and somewhere I do too.
                  long before that, way back in the 60's I made a bank for my extensive test track, curved it right up, put it all together and then tried to rout it. oops. I ended up having to make a convex bottom plate for 'my' router, rather than take it all apart again. my Dad helped. it worked.
                  just wanted to make sure.
                  thanks again,


                  • #10
                    I provided Jeff with one of the scale signboards for the perimeter of the track. It promoted HO RacePro Slide Guides, natch.

                    It also listed the address of HORP as the "Federal States of America". I wonder how many people picked up on that?

                    Back then I came up with the idea for a "General Sherman" car -- just to get up the nose of the locals. Gave a lot of thought to the graphics, but never followed through.

                    Not yet.

                    Ed Bianchi


                    • #11
                      Seeing that very track online inspired me to build the smaller Leadfoot Speedway.


                      • #12
                        I've run many races on this track. I would not be surprised it the white car in this photo is mine.

                        Originally posted by HO RacePro View Post
                        IF it's mine, it's a SG+ with sponge silicone tires, and, of course, a slide guide. The traction was so good that you had to back off the throttle at the start to keep from wheelying out of the slot.


                        • #13
                          I raced on Jeff's 'clay' oval a couple times too. IROC events (Homer-supplied cars) during his 'Winter Nats' events. That was great fun. The 'pinched' lanes certainly afforded more driving 'tactics' - passing & Bristol-like opportunities to "move someone out of the way"'. "Rubbin' is racing", right?

                          Homer's events were well worth the trip from Kansas.
                          Last edited by theroad87; 01-25-2018, 09:32 AM. Reason: corrected typo