Gravity racer

This is a project for the upcoming Mt Tabor soapbox derby; website here. Two BMX bikes chopped and brazed together comprise each side. Various sizes and lengths of aircraft cromoly tubing were attached (by fillet brazing) to make this 4 wheel vehicle that can be coasted, pushed, or towed. Braking is accomplished by a foot pedal that works the coaster hub brakes in the rear wheels. Click pictures for big.Mary and Tim regard the contraption with justifiable suspicion.

There is a push bar at the rear. During the race, a volunteer will give the piloted vehicle a push to start it going down the hill. The cockpit consists of the plywood planking that you see.

View from the rear. This is a work in progress. Some sort of decorative application is scheduled to adorn the structure to hide its alarming appearance.

Ms Moneypenny put the graphic together. I am sure it put fear in our competitors hearts…

The ball is in Tims court now and the jalopy is taking shape. A surfboard that broke after Tim lost control on a 45 ft wave on a remote rocky shore of Australia was utilized as part of the body.

Further along now. That surfboard does add a jolly look to the seating area. Maybe a cow catcher could be added to the front to safely scoop the spectators out of the way. James Bond may be able to steer around them, but I don’t have his driving skills.

Tim is working out the front end here. The racer should have a vague resemblance to the Austin Martin that Bond was driving in the film

A curved front end is taking shape. Some type of headlamps will be added.

View from the front.

From the back. Surfboard fins are washed out in the picture. Rear end need finishing, and then paint over the whole thing.

Looking inside the seating area. So far, the vehicle weighs less than a hundred pounds I think, and can be lifted with one hand at one end, without too much strain.

Starting to look like a silver austin martin if I may say so myself; having only a general concept of the appearance of the Bond vehicle. Headlamps to come.

Our neighbors dog would really like to relieve herself on that white tire..

If Mr Connery is unable to join us for the launch of the minicar, the author will step into the role.

Race day! We are in the race pit staging area; which doubles as a picnic/party spot. Tommy will give me the initial push down the course that will send me to my fate. Our little car is behind him; next to the hockey rink on wheels called Slap Shot.

Our neighbor to the right with the hillbilly theme going on.

Four guys on a home-made gravity vehicle. A labor of love, rectangular steel tube welded together to the point where it felt sturdy enough, and decorated with everything you need to fan yourself down some remote waterway with a beer in your hand.

This is a vehicle made to look like a piece of lasagna. The pilot and copilot would stick their heads out of the top during the race, looking like olives. This made them an easy target for getting drenched by supersoakers that the spectators were armed with.

Lasagna at the starting line. I’ll have a glass of red with that.

This participant built his car for speed.

A couple of the faster units. This one appears to still be under construction.

Near the starting line. The event felt like a big party.

This care-bear would become animated as soon as the vehicle began to roll…

This beautiful windcheater give me claustrophobia just looking at it. The ultra low clearance would give frequent reminders of road irregularities.

An awesome little 3 wheeler.

bear on wheels? For all I know, it could be an actual grizzly bear skin and head.

Mr Potato head I think…

this looks like it was inspired by the Doggie Diner heads that used to be seen over the San Francisco bay area.

Courageous derby fans relaxing near the vehicle of horror

The fate of some of the less substantial wheels. Using wheels normally seen on farm equipment gives better results.

Giant dachshund rolling toward the starting line. Youngster on the right providing cooling therapy. It was about 95 degrees out.

This fast number was covered with comics

View of the steering mechanism. Many entrants (like me) used bicycle wheels and forks as part of the design. The high spoke count in these would keep them from warping

This competitor is bolted inside his cocoon! It is very close to the ground and the wheels are so small; like maybe 6 inches in diameter. His team would need a phillips screwdriver to get him out of it at the finish line. Unfortunately, he hit a clump of hay, which damaged the vehicle. I hope he wasn’t hurt.

Here they are trying to fix the damaged rocket ship. Duct tape and a broomstick can work miracles. 2 more runs to go at least.

Me at the starting line. My competitors are shaking in their boots….

The push-off!

Here is a video of the first run down the course, made from an iPhone attached to the hood of the car. There is a wait of over a minute before we get to go. We were released in groups of 3. I am passed by a faster and heavier car (there were 3 BIG guys in it). No crashes, but it gives you a feel of what it’s like from the driver seat. My time was 108 seconds on this one and a quarter mile course. The fastest runs were in the 70 something second range. The slowest were over 200 seconds, but those were the ones close to resembling parade floats.

These gents comprise the juggernaut of metal and biomass passing by me on the video. The high skill level of the driver prevented the type of catastrophe all the spectators secretly wished for.

Waiting to start on the next run. I will never have so many cameras pointed at me in my life again. You can hear the occupants of SlapShot, (the rolling ice rink vehicle) slamming their sticks and chomping at the bit.

This run video starts a few seconds into the run. I forgot to turn on the video recorder. I am, of course, passed by another fast soapboxer. Near the end you can see the clump of hay that damaged the front end of the afore mentioned vehicle.

Fine woodworking up on blocks. I assume there was a wheel failure. Better luck next year!



9 thoughts on “Gravity racer

  1. True, the jellyfish were awful but even worse was the sting of the red tide, though the stains left behind complemented my tan quite well. Mahalo -Tim


  2. Wish we were going to be there Drew! It looks like a BLAST. Nice job on the car guys. I hope you carry a powerful squirt gun with you for those who dare to get too close or toss water balloons.



  3. The Bond gig was the idea, any one else do the theme? & anonymous #1 was right; where all the weapons that Q installed on James' hoopties. I mean geez @ least the ole lay'n down oil trick would have done. Don't make me come up there!! Next year a chariot w/ spoke busting accouterments.



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