I've raced with multiple barriers and have not found any that do not damage a car:
Firehose empty - catches wheels.
Firehose filled - catches wheels.
2x4s tied to each other but not attached to ground - flexes at pivot point, can put barrier into car on OTHER side of barrier, hard - can break arms, etc.
2x4's tied to ground - no flex, damages your car only.
wood rails bevelled (see www.socalrc.com
) - don't damage your car, but you can fly into others (or have OTHERS fly into YOU) - fun to watch, bad to race.
PVC - nasty at joints because of abrupt edges, flexible and smooth in middles - only really destructive there.
All have their benefits/detriments.
Something that the original post said is a bit misleading. Tracks are rarely designed IN ORDER TO break parts. That's a very cynical viewpoint. No doubt track and shop owners realize when a layout is causing them to sell more parts - but there's an economic reality here: if people can't race without breaking (even Barry breaks. . .) then they won't break. A shopowner knows that he MUST have people enjoy racing at their facility or they won't survive.
There is a massive element, however, that nobody's really talked about
Tracks are expensive. Look at it - it just SITS there. . .it's not really used that much, comparatively, and doesn't really make money. Tracks are a VERY inefficient use of space, as far as a business model goes. That's just the space - think of how much STUFF could be displayed/sold from there, how many cars they could get parked there to bring in more customers, etc. . .
Tracks are also expensive to MAKE - that's a LOT of PVC, Root Beer (for traction), etc. For something that really doesn't bring in much, if any, real money, purchasing all that wood/pvc/whatever is really expensive. Tracks are going to go with the least expensive barrier they can, at least at the beginning - that's usually PVC.
That's just a fact of life.
Now - what we can do with it is another matter.
PVC is probably the best material for most temporary tracks - but it doesn't make good corners. Some kind of "dot" needs to be placed on the inside of corners. . . every racer tries to tighten lines and "dots" make a LITTLE bit of a warning before a car gets broken. . . Where to find them? Tamiya makes some, you can get them from farmers, etc. I don't see them used very much, but that would solve 80% of problems since it's at CORNERS that most breakages occur (or BECAUSE of corners. . .)
Why do I say that PVC is the best? Because it's the most flexible substance out there, and it doesn't grab like hose.
Anyway, I'll quit now
but don't be so cynical about drivers (we ALL hit things and we ALL GET hit. . .saying "suck it up" doesn't really help) and don't be so cynical about owners (they usually don't have much of a budget with which to build a track. . .)