Coming to the 10th Annual Bay Area Maker Faire is the 7th season of Power Wheels racing. The Power Racing Series is a vaguely popular nerd “sport” that mods simple toy store ride-on plastic cars and converts them into $500 25mph electric racing machines. The series’ main take home is the “enforcement” of a tiny budget with sort of “borrowed” parts, questionable engineering prowess, and a delightful cast of characters ranging from MiT department heads to your semi-bored local high school teenager. Races are coast to coast and the series is inexplicably entering its 6th year.

The Show So Far

Hackerspaces were the first to crack the crazy egg with championships from perennial entrants such as i3 Detroit, Sector 67, and Hack Pittsburgh. No less than three dozen spaces have put down their Arduino projects to partake in the most amateur of racing, but times have changed. The diversity of the maker spirit has left the series cluttered with teams from farms, random cosplay groups, automotive paint shops, prop makers, and a surprisingly high number of high school students who wanted something to do in between FIRST-related panic attacks. This simply means more makers from more diverse backgrounds with even sillier ideas than before.

With the first race of the season starting in just over a month, here’s a round up of what teams have been cooking up in the off season and together we can lament their questionable life choices.

Twisted Metal’s “Sweet Tooth” and The #03 “Must Go Faster” Jurassic Park Tour Vehicle

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Collin & Robby Royster have been incredibly busy during the off season. Using plans from Volpin’s Marriott Charriot (featured below), they’ve built two 1000 watt entrants that should prove to be very popular. This is the first time I’ve seen a video game-specific mod, and the work done to mimic one of my favorite PlayStation titles is downright impressive. While the Jurassic Park entry isn’t the first we’ve seen in the league (we had a Jeep in 2012), this is the first variant of the tourist Ford Explorer that we saw in the first film. Let’s hope a T-rex doesn’t take a huge chunk out of the car in Maker Faire Atlanta this year.

Volpin Props’ Marriott Charriot

If you attended DragonCon last year you had a not-so-sneak peak at prop master Harrison Krix’s 2015 campaign. This machine is a play on the infamous Marriott carpet pattern that DragonCon attendees have grown to love. The Chariot perfectly blends in with the army fatigues he made in previous con appearances. Harrison has been gracious in showing a detailed build on his website and has already begun taking this up to 11 with a Mustang version.

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ROFL WAFFLE – The Arustocrats

These seasoned cosplayers seem to enjoy getting their costumes dirty. Debuting in Detroit last season with a Tim Burton-era Batman theme, the Arustocrats seemed poised to be even more absurd for 2015. It’s a waffle. It’s tiny. It’s built off of a children’s kettcar. Pretty much everything you don’t want to do, they set out to do. Perhaps that’s what’s brilliant about them. In 2014 they managed to compete with 3d Printed hubs. They went through 7 of them in the span of a season but it happened and it (sort of) worked. Part of the fun in Power Racing is seeing what people attempt to do when they simply don’t want to know any better. All the more reason to root for these guys in Detroit & New York this year.

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MIT’s Department of Silly Go-Karts Chibi-MikuVan & The Charles Guan Experience

Charles Guan is well known in the combat bot scene for his hard charging builds. He’s also well known for his self proclaimed “derpy” engineering methods. The Chibi-Mikuvan is a master class in this clever-but-last minute philosophy and, by proxy, all that is good in Power Racing. It uses Ford Fusion batteries that are driven by a Marine Hobby motor through a Harbor Freight grinder giving it a 20.5:1 reduction and a top speed of 25mph. While we don’t have complete updates yet on what Charles will bring to Power Racing this Season, some serious “cosmetic” upgrades will likely turn the car into a cat bus.

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If you want some hilarious writing please take the time to read his New York Post Race Analysis and get a nice glimpse at the kind of methodology required to run a tiny electric car team. Surprisingly there’s more to it than you’d expect and Charles carefully outlines one mistake that most of us can relate to:

I will bring a spare “part I don’t think I need” because I will probably need it.
I will bring a spare “part I don’t think I need” because I will probably need it.
I will bring a spare “part I don’t think I need” because I will probably need it.

Want to Join the Fun?

If you wish to participate in the Power Racing Series, there’s still plenty of time to sign up! While you’re cutting it close for Bay Area, there’s an open call for makers in both Detroit and Kansas City and later this summer for Nashville, Atlanta, Fort Wayne and New York!