Figure Eight Train Racing

By Deane Barker on March 26, 2005

I stumbled across something on SpeedTV today that has to be seen to be believed: figure-eight train racing. Not real trains — three cars lashed together to act like a train.

The first car is the only powered car. Usually something big, old, and American — mid seventies Monte Carlos seemed quite popular. The driver of this car steers and works the throttle. The car has no brakes.

Attached to the back of the first car by chains and a tow bar is the middle car, which has nothing. No engine, no brakes, no driver. Just an empty shell.

Attached to the back of that by chains is the caboose. No engine, no steering, but it has brakes and a driver. God help him.

Now, take eight of these perversions of automotive theory and put them on a figure eight track. Seriously. Then race them for 10 laps.

The race I watched ended with no hits in the crossover, which surprised me. What’s amazing is watching the caboose get whipped around like a rag doll. The rear driver is supposed to be able to put some tension on the train by using the brake, but I couldn’t see any difference. Any quick steering movement up front got wildly exaggerated by the time it rippled back to the rear and that guy was just along for the ride.

I wish I had a picture to show you, but a few minutes of Googling turned up nothing. Half of me thinks the whole thing was just a nightmare.



  1. Yep, that looks like it. (Although the true train wreck is that Web site you linked to. They couldn’t have broken more rules of Web design if they tried. Ouch.)

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