Clothesline Race-O-Rama MK2: Sat., Nov. 20, 2010

Twin Cities Maker will be hosting our second annual aerial variant on those little wooden derby cars at the Hack Factory on Saturday, November 20th at 1 pm, an event which we’re dubbing:


You will build a racer, attach it to the cable in the shop, and have it race to the finish and back to the start on its own power. Fabulous prizes will be awarded in various categories. We had a potluck for our Alpha and MK1 races; we’ll stick with that tried and true formula. Autumnal jollity will be had by all.

*** UPDATE ***

Make Magazine has generously offered to sponsor this event with some pretty swanky prizes, and Bill Gurstelle has donated an autographed book as well. We anticipate a nice participation goodie for everyone who fields a racer, and we’re not talking about something from the shop’s junk bin. More details on prizes in the reminder post in a week or so!

Guests are more than welcome to come see machines fail in humorous ways. Prizes will be based in part on the number of racers, but there’ll be buckets of Make swag, other goodies yet to be determined, and at least a month’s free membership to TC Maker if we get 10 racers. Odds are that everyone will get something swanky.

You need not be a member to participate.

We will provide the approximately 100′ long piece of 1/8″ steel cable and it will be suspended as close to level as we can manage, with as little slack as we can manage. At either end of this cable will be a disk approximately 4″ in diameter that you can bonk your vehicle into. Each racer must travel from the start disk to the end disk, touch that disk, and return to the start disk to be eligible for most (but not all) of the prize categories. Each vehicle will race against the clock, with the fastest overall taking home the grand prize. The entry fee is $10 per vehicle; build and enter as many racers as you’d like. Judging and timing will be by TC Maker  members not competing in the event. Each racer may only win one category.

Racers Restrictions V2:

Each vehicle:

  • Must weigh less than 3 pounds, fully fueled
  • Must be able to fit within a 12″ cube and can not extend beyond those dimensions at any point during its race
  • Must begin the race in contact with the start/end stop
  • Must contact the far stop and return to the start/end stop
  • Must be fully autonomous after the “go” signal is issued (although any trigger mechanism is allowed for “go” switches: buttons, verbal commands etc.)
  • Must be able to be quickly placed on the wire without requiring the end of the wire be passed through anything (the wire will be fixed at the start of the day for the whole day)
  • May not damage or adulterate the wire or stops in any way (no residue, soot, char, rubber, goop, or anything else left behind, no cutting or abrading, or smashing into so hard as to break, and yes, we expect things to bonk into the stops pretty hard)
  • Must finish the race with all parts (except fuel) it started still within the proverbial 12″ cube volume
  • Must be safe for racers and spectators alike

Any form of propulsion or motive action is allowed, except liquid fueled rocket engines, jet engines, and high pressure air, water, or steam mechanisms. Solid rocket motors are allowed, with the limitations that they be store-bought, not larger than 1/4A rating in size, and be limited to two per racer. Also, your “go” command can not involve outside means of propulsion (e.g., you can’t shove it).

Race Rules:

  • Each racer gets up to three starts, with at most two completed runs, the best time being the score. Failure to complete the course after three attempts disqualifies the racer from the time trial. The contestant may, at their discretion, and if judges feel time allows, choose to attempt to complete the course with that racer in order to qualify for the vanity competitions after all other time trials have completed.
  • Judges may rule that a racer is failing to make headway if a racer has not moved within a period of at least 30 seconds at any point.
  • Non-race vehicle contact of any kind with the cable, stops or racer after the “go” command is given, will disqualify that start (contact is allowed after race completion, or admission of failure of attempt).


  • Fastest, Penultimate Arrival, and Tertiary Speed (only one win per contestant in this category) – or “there and back again”
  • Most Absurd – We like silly things!
  • Loudest – It’d be nice if the sound involved its propulsion
  • Bittiest, Lightest – Physically smallest and lightest racer(s) to complete the course
  • Creative Locomotion – Well, huh, we’d have never thought that’d move it
  • Most Efficient – Finish time over starting mass
  • Epic Failure – Need not complete the course; must be judged to be an honest failure, and not intended to fail entirely

You’ve got a month! Show us your stuff!

13 thoughts on “Clothesline Race-O-Rama MK2: Sat., Nov. 20, 2010

  1. In addition to more details on the “disks”, I would like a clarification on the rules. They state no “high pressure air, water, or steam mechanisms.” Does this mean no high pressure air, no water, no steam, or just no high pressure canisters?

  2. i can almost completely assure you that the end disks will be ferrometalic metal, pretty flat perpendicular to the cable, and extending a minimum of 1.5″ around the cable on all sides. i’m hoping that they’ll be fully rigid, but need to fabricate them first. full details and possibly a picture will be in the update post. they might be painted.

  3. I am planning on participating in the CLOTHESLINE RACE-O-RAMA and had a couple of quick questions. Do we need to preregister or just show up at 1:00? Is this a “Family friendly event”? That is can my wife and two kids come and watch the fun? Finally, what kind of a potluck is it? More of a snacks, cookies, bars, etc, or more of a meal? I assume the former but thought I would check.

  4. What about an outside power supply – using the cable as an electric rail? Does that break the rules?

  5. I would have asked some questions if it were possible to send in an entry that some volunteer could put on the line for me, but this message make me give up entirely:

    “You have been permanently banned from this board.

    Please contact the Board Administrator for more information.

    A ban has been issued on your IP address.”

    Such paranoid rudeness is not my thing, so I’ll pass on this one.

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