Physics I – Race Car

Filled under: Projects

Date posted: May 1, 2013

Spring 2013

Our Physics I final project was creating a gravity powered vehicle with the goal of achieving the farthest distance when released from a 3 meter long ramp at an inclination of 20 degrees. The trick for the longest distance is not weight, but the reduction of friction and correct wheel alignment. Once graphite was added to the wheel axles our distance tripled!


The chassis is made from a scrap Maple plank. The frame is 1/8″ laser cut plywood. I added head lights and tail lights for the coolness factor. The chassis and frame was painted by my team member Chau.


If there was time I would of added a Arduino and a accelerometer to detect when the vehicle is at rest to activate the tail lights… but this is good enough for 5% of our final grade.



The tire axles are held in by set screws via tapped holes in the chassis. This really helped align the tires. Other teams glued their axles into their frame…yikes!



Slipped over the tire axle is a drinking straw section to create a tighter fit. You can see the graphite residue markings at points of contact between the wheel walls and the chassis.

Well, we won by a mere 10 inches. Second place was a Fiji water bottle filled with sand and popsicle sticks for axle supports – they did a good job.