For most people, Power Wheels — those battery-powered kid cars — exist solely as memories in the rear-view mirror of childhood. Unless, of course, you’re one of the DIY daredevils of the Power Racing Series.
The PRS is a nation-wide league that challenges participants to build working electric vehicles for $500 or less using open source tools and technology. Using stripped-down and souped-up Power Wheels cars, teams from around the country race on specially designed tracks in the spirit of lighthearted competition with the hope that the cars will inspire the street-legal electric vehicles of tomorrow.
At the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire, Toyota Rav4 EV sponsored six Power Racing Series events full of high-flying, battery-powered action.
Genevieve Wong, a 24-year-old member of Nimby Racing, drove her team to an endurance challenge victory behind the wheel of a red Ferrari F430 Power Wheel. Although her car wasn’t the most flashy or comical (a true PRS asset), Wong completed over 200 laps to take the checkered flag.
“We just cut the car down the middle and widened it, so now it looks like a go-kart,” Wong told Discovery News. “It’s very wide, so it didn’t tip over like some of the other teams. There are double wheels in the back for traction.”
At the previous day’s races, Wong’s team started off using a truck starter engine, the kind responsible for holding the the world record for electric bar stool speed at 55.9 miles per hour. “It goes really fast, but it didn’t work out too well,” Wong said. “Yesterday’s motor burnt up the speed flex rotor. We had to swap engines with a Little Tikes car, which lit on fire.”
While Wong is unsure about how fast her souped-up Ferrari can go, she said her team pulled an actual motor engine off another scooter and it’s powered by two car batteries.
“Those are Optima batteries,” Wong said. “We’re actually sponsored by ChumpCar, which provides us with batteries.”
Wong’s team takes their name from Oakland’s DIY hacker/maker space, NIMBY, billing itself as “the largest do-it-yourself industrial art space in the Bay Area,” boasting over 40 different art groups and craftsmen in the shop. Check out more photos of Wong’s car being built at NIMBY headquarters here.
Credit: Facebook/NIMBY Power Wheels Racing