Check Out These 5 Racetracks from the Motor City Maker Faire

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Check Out These 5 Racetracks from the Motor City Maker Faire
"Power Racing is like a Dollar Store Formula 1" says the events founder James Burke
“Power Racing is like a Dollar Store Formula 1” says the event’s founder James Burke.

As a general rule, Maker Faire Detroit hosts the largest field of Power Racing Series vehicles. Perhaps it’s due to the Motor City’s historical affinity with racing or, more practically, the Faire’s geographic proximity to the middle of the United States. Whatever the reasons for a perennially jam-packed pit row, Detroit hosts a Power Racing Series that is bigger and more exciting than any other race location of the year.


Those who attended this year’s (2015) race will attest that its scale upheld the wisdom of the generalization. With 20 vehicles, with teams hailing from all over the United States, the stack of cars rolling up to the starting line stretched half the length of the track’s longest straightaway. Four main races took place throughout the weekend — three lasting between 15 and 20 minutes and one 75-minute endurance race. The series has called the Motor City home since 2010 and remains a huge draw at the event.

While Power Racing Series is a huge part of the Detroit faire, it’s not the only race oriented experience.


With a very similar name, Power Tools Drag Racing set up an enormous straightaway track adjacent to the Power Racing Series, more Mario Kart, course. Rather than a road course style, Power Tools Drag Racing does it without turns.

Starting gate for power tool racing
Starting gate for power tool racing.

The track was equally well attended and anyone in the crowd could wait in line for a chance to control the power tool. Best of all, adorning each power tool was a horse costume. Look out Kentucky Derby!

Power dragsters
Power dragsters.

Built with one purpose — shattering a World Record for the biggest Hot Wheel car loop — a team from Hot Wheels built a three story structure, that wowed crowds and made some serious noise, all despite lacking any car engines. You can read more about the spectacle and get the skinny on some of the physics that constrained the build here.

Enormous Hot Wheels track features metal tracking to handle extreme forces
Enormous Hot Wheels track features metal tracking to handle extreme forces.

Though Shell had one of the smallest tracks on the Faire grounds, it was perhaps one of the most hands-on. Upon entering the Shell booth, you were given a box with a salt water car to construct. The white liquid spills on the black track are salt residue left from car’s fuel source. In addition to their booth, Shell graciously provided the Power Racing Series with track barriers that allowed for one of the safest race tracks on the grounds (quite an upgrade from the hay bales that are usually used).

Shell demoed a classic oval track
Shell demoed a classic oval track.

The final awesome track on-site was not on the ground, but in the air. Members of the Detroit Drones Meetup set up a large course on the front lawn of the Henry Ford Museum for First Person Video (FPV) multirotor racing. Spectators were safely behind a large net and were able to share the high-speed excitement thanks to a large video panel streaming one of the racer’s goggle view.

Detroit drones
Detroit drones.
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I love to tinker and write about electronics. My days are spent building projects and working as a Technical Editor for MAKE.

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