I’ve been a fan of the Power Racing Series for a long time. You can’t help but love watching these hacked up cars zipping around the race track with the comically too small cars, making their drivers look like giant toddlers. The silliness and the fun masks some very important aspects though. The Power Racing Series is cultivating the next generation of engineers and tinkerers that will shape the future of smart cars everywhere. By keeping it fun and silly, people are more driven to participate and their creativity is pushed even further.
When it all started out, it was just pure fun. You’d take a power wheels, often found for free on curbs, and you’d bring it back to life and race it. As people began to get more competitive, modifications began to happen. In the beginning you could almost keep pace with the cars while walking. Now, some cars are are so quick that riding on them is an adrenaline blasting thrill.
It isn’t all about speed though. As Jim Burke, the founder of the series (and also Make:‘s Graphic Designer) points out, there’s the aspect of Moxy. You see, it isn’t enough to simply show up and go fast. You have to also win over the hearts of the crowd. This is done through costumes, displays of humor, bribes of candy, and simply making a loveable car.
Jim sees a bright future for the series. They’ve been dabbling in fully autonomous cars, and in doing that are really at the cutting edge of the industry. Big car companies may be exploring the same paths, but they tend to be messing with tools that cost considerable amounts of money, placing them out of reach of many schools and clubs. The power racing series is attempting to get young engineers and enthusiasts involved in competitive autonomous car racing at a much more accessible price level.
As Jim explains:
We don’t want teams that cost $20,000 per school. We want $1000 teams and 20 schools.
The hope is, that we can get more creative minds tackling the issues of autonomous cars by lowering the cost barrier. Not only that, but surely the Power Racing Series is the perfect fit to make autonomous car racing more appealing my simply bringing their ethos of fun along.
If you want to learn more or sign up to participate, check out PowerRacingSeries.org