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How Important Is Scenery?

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  • How Important Is Scenery?

    How important is scenery? Surely a very personal question. But for those of us who have a home track it is easy to gauge. Simply look at the track. It should be very obvious how much time, effort and money has been expended on creating scenery.

    Of course that has a lot to do with how much skill, time and money one can lavish on creating realistic scenery. Also how much space is available on the track platform.

    I believe it is the rare slotter who cannot be awed when presented with the true artistry of a beautifully scenicked track. Some folks bring so much talent and care to creating their track scenery that when properly photographed it can be confused with the real thing.

    And it is no coincidence that those same artisans create beautiful, realistic slotcars. The talents, skills and aesthetics required are the same. The totality of their miniature worlds can be astonishingly realistic.

    Of course there are far more people who do scenick their tracks, but fall short of artistry. No shame in that. We all have our limits, and real life does insist on getting in the way. Some track buildings, static cars and plastic people will enhance a layout even if they don't add up to a photorealistic diorama.

    Then there are folks who don't add any scenery at all to their tracks. The commercial raceway with scenery is very rare. And many home tracks lack scenery simply because their owners have never bothered, or been able, to create any. They might still own or have created beautiful and realistic cars, and their tracks might be impressive and great to race on, but no scenery.

    As a teenager back in the 1960's I had the time to add scenery to my home track. Not much talent or money, but time. Since then I haven't scenicked any of my tracks. I have, however, also built a model railroad, and did create scenery for that. Somehow I decided that was appropriate and necessary.

    Most of the 1/32nd tracks in the IHSR club I belong to have some scenery. Mine does not primarily because there simply is not enough space on the platform for it. But I do appreciate the tracks that do have scenery. And I am frankly awed by those that exhibit real artistry. (And entertained by that subversive scenery that is comical!)

    Does realistic scenery add to the racing experience? Gosh, that's a tough question to answer. When driving I have no brain cycles available for appreciating scenery -- so I reluctantly say 'no'. But if I am observing a race -- like when marshaling -- yes, I think it does.

    I find scenery can actually be an impediment when driving if it obscures my view of my car. But I won't criticize the track owner for that. At least not out loud.

    I'm sure some folks reading this post have differing opinions on the topic. Go on. Let me have it!

    Some other folks may want to share photos of track scenery they created and are obscenely proud of. Show it!

    Last edited by HO RacePro; February 16, 2022, 08:26 AM.
    Ed Bianchi
    York Pennsylvania USA

  • #2
    I like scenery on a track, it's actually fun to do. My old track which is now in Buffalo, N.Y. had scenery.

    I'm still thinking about adding scenery to my new track. I don't have much space for it and not sure it's going to add much to it.
    Butch Dunaway
    Oxford, Ohio


    • Mitch58
      Mitch58 commented
      Editing a comment
      I've seen tracks "covered" in scenery. I wanted as much track as I could fit onto the table so my scenery appears to be more of an "accent" to the track.

  • #3
    Drive slow to enjoy the scenery.

    Drive fast to be part-of the scenery.

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    Last edited by Silberpfeil; February 16, 2022, 12:54 PM.

    "What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how things should be.”


    • #4
      Scenery has no importance at all, it is just weather you want it or not. As a kid I always wanted to build a train layout but never had the opportunity. We are lucky enough in the Portland area to have several tracks around, some have scenery and some are strictly for club racing.. I use mine for club racing/proxy racing but also wanted scenery.
      First thing when I planned the layout I tried to make it so that it could be run with the fewest marshals, then I planned for the scenery to not block anywhere a marshal may have to reach to retrieve a car. I also squeezed the most track (70') I could fit onto the table making the scenery an accent. My wife on the other hand would have made a huge Farmstead with a bit if track going around it. Click image for larger version

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      • #5
        When you're posting photos of your clubs cars they look better presented with scenery.
        Kevan - Isle of Man
        Life is like a box of Slot cars...πŸš“πŸš—πŸššπŸšœ


        • #6
          My dad was an HO train fanatic when I was growing up, and half our basement was a permanent layout in full scenery, all of it scratch-built by him... So with that in mind, my track that I'm finally getting back to, will be done in full scenery, and fingers crossed I can achieve the look I'm after...

          Here's a little teaser:

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          • #7
            I like scenery. It lends some ambiance. But, I don't have any on my track because I won't keep the track long enough to bother with scenery. I also run silicone tires, and scenery contributes a lot to dust and dirt. I can clean my 60' track in 2 to 10 minutes, depending on how extensive I wanted to be. I couldn't do that with scenery.
            Last edited by Bal r 14; February 16, 2022, 05:44 PM.


            • #8
              My personal preference is a track with scenery. For me it is as important as the tires on a car. You have to remember though that the track needs to be marshalled and driven so you need to be aware of this and not build in visual blocks or obstructions that would effect marshalling.

              Scenery creates a racing atmosphere and adds to the modelling aspect of miniature cars. On my track the scenery adds to the driving experience. I built large pine trees with little foliage except at their crowns. This allows you to see the car and watching it fly past the tree trunks gives the allusion of a distance being travelled.

              A large pit area also is the perfect place to display your new favourite car.

              Finally scenery and dioramas allow you to experience the photographic side of this hobby. Whether it is model railroading or model car racing, scenery opens up the possibilities for you to really enjoy a secondary photography hobby.

              If you have ever seen a Slotmods track, you can’t help but appreciate the scenery

              I want my home track to look like a display piece as it is in my house. I want it to be presentable to anyone . Whether a person is interested in slot cars or not scenery will draw in people to have a look. My wife who does not share my interest in slotcars appreciates the art form a landscaped track offers.

              Different strokes for different folks. Important thing is to find what interests you and enjoy that to its fullest.

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              Last edited by Barc 1; February 16, 2022, 03:13 PM.

              G.P Alberta


              • #9
                I don't have scenery yet, but will have in the future, as Santa brought a lot of Woodland Scenics stuff for me to play with. It won't be fabulous, as the track is meant to resemble a course in the Italian countryside, so not a lot of trees or buildings (no space), but certainly some hills and grass.
                Stan S.
                Newberg, OR
                Autodromo Rossa Colline (Red Hills Raceway)
                Member NASTE (Northwest Association of Slot Track Enthusiasts)


                • #10
                  Speaking of Slot Mods...


                  • #11
                    That sold for over 60k. Mind boggling. Who would have thought there was a market for this kind of thing

                    G.P Alberta


                    • Bal r 14
                      Bal r 14 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      That track on Slot Mods is what got me interested in slot cars again after 50 years.

                    • Barc 1
                      Barc 1 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yes those Slotmod tracks are inspiring. My own track was inspired by Slotmod. I really like the way those tracks present themselves.

                  • #12
                    Scenery is another of the many facets of the slot car hobby. Some guys are into scenery as much or more than car building or racing. Much the same with the model RR hobby. The choice really depends on the goals of the hobbyist and track builder. Commercial style tracks usually have no scenery as those guys are more into racing and car building. A table top track really lends itself to scenery, if the track isn't packed too tight on the table. I have a commercial style track for 1/24 cars. I've posted before about how I'd like to do a smaller track with scenery, maybe even a Monogram plastic track from the 60's. I guess I like all aspects of our hobby, except the speed crazed morons that are part of the 1/24 scene!!

                    I like model railroading, too, but could never approach the great scenery those guys do. I am in the process of building a table to setup some track and run my old Lionel. I will carpet the table and set out some old Lionel accessories, but won't try detailed scenery.

                    A famous quote by a lot of guitar players about reading music and learning theory, " I don't know enough to have it get in the way of playing". I guess that's how I feel about scenery. I do appreciate what some guys do, though.
                    Matt B
                    So. In


                    • Mitch58
                      Mitch58 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You know, the elevations made with foam and such seemed intimidating at first, but once I started it turned out to be a piece of cake.

                    • Pappy
                      Pappy commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Matt, doing scenery is not hard. Woodland sells a book. They also sell molds and dyes to make rocks. They sell a resin to make lakes. Making rocks, rock walls, brush, lakes, elevations and trees is real easy. I used some old plaster cast material to cover the foam for my elevations, worked great. It's actually fun to do.

                  • #13
                    I think alittle scenery in a home track is a good thing. It adds to the experience and highlights the speed of the cars.
                    But I think too much scenery detracts from the racing experience. No track owner wants to have the inexperienced racer take out hours of scenery work when cars crash into trees, buildings, fencing, or people. And although nice scenery may slow down the racing action by those in the know, in my mind it defeats the purpose of "racing'.
                    I used to model railroads, but found the scenery too time consuming and tedious, and the action wasn't thrilling to me after awhile.
                    I think that scenery depends a lot on whether you have some friends to race against, which makes for more highly tuned cars and increased speed, hence less scenery, or whether you race alone and then tuning and laptimes aren't as important, but looks are.
                    When I was into fantasy board gaming, a lot of scenery was on mobile bases so it could be moved to recreate different landscapes guickly. This is what I do for aliitle scenery on my track now. Then if the racing gets heated I have the option of removing it before it "gets removed". You can see an example of this in the members layouts under my Winterun track postings.
                    Scott C.
                    Amherst, WI
                    Just "a simple kind of man".


                    • Barc 1
                      Barc 1 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      My track has seen many crashes. The Grand kids drive on it. The scenery is tough as nails. Never has a car caused any damage. Not sure what scenery has to do with defeating the purpose of racing. The laptimes did not start dropping as the scenery progressed.πŸ˜€

                      However I get your point. Different strokes for different folks. We all have a slightly different perspective to what this hobby means to us, and therefor approach it differently.

                  • #14
                    I've done scenery, just not to the artistic/realistic level the talented guys do. I always did the scenery to allow racing and wrecking. If the type of scenery and placement are well thought out, the scenery won't get taken out and will add to the appreciation of the track.

                    Definitely foam boards make it much easier to add elevation and not just run on a flat table. I remember doing model railroading scenery with foam in a spray can. I guess foam spray can insulation is about the same thing,

                    One of my favorite sites to visit every now and then is the Thunder Mesa Mining RR. The creator is an artist by trade and his work is fantastic. Worth googling or youtube to see his rr.
                    Just a lot of different parts of the slot hobby that give each guy a different satisfaction. All good!
                    Matt B
                    So. In


                    • #15
                      If scenery matters or not can depend on if the track is a generic layout or a re-creation of an actual track. My routed oval was meant to be a replica of a dirt track back in NY, so adding stadium lights, walls, grass, billboards, a restroom building , concession stand, and victory lane were always part of the plan. On the other hand, my routed road course is a fantasy track which I never had a real mental image of what it should look like. I've only ever been to one road course, Watkins Glen for a NASCAR race, and don't remember much at all about the background.

                      My still to be assembled new routed oval is meant to be like Eldora (never been there) but when I find space to get it setup it will get typical oval track scenery such as a tall wire fence to keep cars on the track and many sponsor billboards.