Power Tool Drag Racing

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The Baltimore Node is organizing power tool drag racing for Betascape. Power tool drag racing is all about taking ordinary electric power tools and turning them into drag racers. Power tool drag racing has been around as long as power tools themselves, ever since the first time someone ziptied the switch on a beltsander and let it scoot across the shop floor. Since then it has grown into a obscure but widespread sport. Races are held all over the world and all kinds of people race, anybody can build a racer in a few hours with a few items from a thrift store.

This year’s race will be held during Artscape/Betascape July 17th and 18th. We are looking for drag racers. Please contact BaltoPTDA@gmail.com to let us know you would like to participate.

Building a Racer Building the racer is most of the challenge and half the fun! The important thing is to not take it too seriously. Some over-engineered racers have been flops, and some simple designs have been real winners. The best way to come up with a racer design is to look at what other people have done and go from there. Watch Bre Pettis’ awesome MAKE: Video Podcast on building a racer! for some examples. Here are some basic guidelines.

Materials: The basic racer recipe calls for:

   * A handheld power tool (typically a grinder, belt sander, or circular saw, and sometimes a blender or vacuum cleaner.)
   * Wheels
   * A chassis

The best place to find a race-worth power tool or appliance is at a junky thrift store, garage sales, or Craigslist. Good working tools can usually be found for $10-$20. Skates can be bought by the cartload an many thrift stores or kiddie-stuff garage sales. For the chassis you can use anything that makes sense, wood, metal, zip ties… Most hardware stores sell perforated angle iron that is easy to cut with a hacksaw and has nicely spaced holes in it, like the metal from an "erector set."

Constraints: There are not many constraints on your design, but there are a few things to keep in mind: Track dimensions & material, power, and safety.

Track Dimensions: The track is made of 2×4s with a plywood base. The 2×4s are stood on edge as guide rails with 12 inches of clearance in between. The track is 75 feet long with an additional 15 feet of runout. *ALL SIDES* of the track rails can be used by the racer, i.e. you can build a "monorail" if you are so inclined.

Power: 120v power (and extension cords) are supplied by the race organizers. Your racer just needs to have a US standard 120v male cord-end (NEMA 5-15) on it, and the trigger should be taped down or otherwise modified to be ‘always on’. Remote, battery operated, rocket, or gas powered chainsaws or cold fusion-powered reactors will not be allowed for this event.

Safety: Over 350,000 people are expected to be at the event. Any racer judged to be dangerous will not be allowed to compete. There are some things to be aware of, especially for novice builders. Grinders and saws spin *VERY* fast, so be careful what you attach to the "wheel." In general, you should only use manufactured wheels that are mounted securely to the arbor, building a wheel from scratch is not recommended as it will come flying apart when spun up to 10,000 RPM. If you have *ANY* concerns about safety its best to consult with an experienced racer, so send us an email. BTW chainsaws race very poorly.

Official Rules: Official Rules

Links: Links to some cool videos of other power tool drag racing events

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