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Hot Wheels Track

On Friday, January 28, 2011, we provided a quote to Chicago Scenic Studios for bending aluminum plate into a very complex shape. General Motors wanted Chicago Scenic Studios to create a twenty-foot tall, twisting, turning, orange, hot-wheels track eight feet wide for the world premier of the all-new Chevrolet Camaro at the Chicago Auto Show. The convertible was to be parked at the bottom of the track. The date for the final installation,Feb.8th, was just nine short days away (including weekends).

This challenging hot-wheel job immediately become a very hot job in both our shops.

Bending aluminum plate for the Chicago Auto Show


Chicago Metal Rolled Products was given a 3D model in AutoCAD without dimensions.  Engineer Dan Wendt developed the 3D dimensions in order to build our fixture to fabricate and partially erect the required, off-axis, helical, multi-radius curves. He then developed the flat, 2D, patterns to be plasma cut, curved, twisted, and then welded with 60 gusset plates to the plasma-cut sides of the track. Like the toy, hot-wheels track, its sides have a 10 degree flare. Dan spent 20 hours detailing the project. We couldn't purchase the material until we developed  the final layout

Our initial quote incorporated  15 stock sheets of aluminum 48 x 120 for the 8+ ft. wide track.  With the flat patterns in hand, project manager Joe Wendt searched for material and found extra large sheets 96 x 240 that are sometimes used to line truck beds.  He was able to create the whole length of the track with just three huge plates. Instead of 14 connections, Chicago Scenic had just two splices to make.   

The material arrived on Tuesday, February 1, but so did the third worst storm in Chicago history, dropping 20 inches of snow in one horrendous blizzard.  There was no question that our shop would be closed on Wednesday. 

On Thursday after the plate was plasma cut, we went to work over two shifts of plate rolling to create the complex shapes, to fastened the sides of the track with 60 gussets, and to partially erect the structure to ensure everything would fit up at Chicago Scenic.

On Friday, one week after we quoted this job, we shipped the curved material to Chicago Scenic. Working 24 hours each day over the weekend, Chicago Scenic Studios fit-up, welded, painted, transported, and erected the display Monday morning, February 7. Hanging from the ceiling on cables, the track was erected and ready to be presented to the media on Wednesday, February 9.

The GM hot-wheels track also incorporated large monitors to engage attendees in an elaborate contest to win a new Camaro-not the hot-wheel toys the sales force was handing out, but the real thing.  Visitors competed to create the best stop-action, 3D jumping competition to be judged through voting on social media. You can see us leaping to win the prize at this link.

Joe attended the opening night charity ball with his sister and their spouses. In addition to seeing the final display, they enjoyed the music of KC and the Sunshine Band.  When KC sang "That's the way, Uh, Huh, Uh, Huh. I like it" no doubt he was singing about this cool display.

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