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August 2017


We are in the middle of the racing season and I think there has never been so many gravity (soapbox) events in the UK. Since the Goodwood Festival of Speed highlighted the sort of fun you can have the numbers of events around the UK and abroad has steadily increased. There are basically two types of events. The serious, (fast) and the not so serious. Both are great fun. I attended two of the not so serious (reasonably slow) events this year. One in Stoke on Trent and the other one was in Thetford. I am also thinking of attending the Hunstanton event in a few weeks. The standard in the fun events both of organisation and racer build is incredible. If you think you have a fast racer do not assume that you will take home any awards. The national standard is good. But whatever the result you can be sure of a really good time and a fantastic spirit among the contestants.

For events the best lists are on . I have found other event sites but this one does seem the best. Not all local events are nationally advertised so it is still worth looking locally.

Loughborough College entered the Mountsorrel soapbox derby last weekend in the Lotus Eater Mk1. We built this racer with the students for the Gadget Show a few years ago. Good luck to the team.

“Just to let you know, Loughborough College Motor Vehicle students became the first team ever to win two trophies at the Mountsorrel Revival Soapbox Race Event. Loughborough College won trophies in the following categories: Fastest time. Best Engineering award with our Formula Gravity racer. 13 Aug 2017. Keith”

EventRamps at events

Since the Red Bull events in London some events now are copying by including jumps from ramps. These ramps are usually about nine inches high and are an extra excitement for the spectators. Many racers have come to grief on landing, although it can add to the excitement of the event, it does add considerably to the problems of both the racer and the driver. Most gravity racers are designed to race on a flat, fast surface at speed.
So we have a racer and driver weighing up to 200Kgs at speed, launched about a foot into the air crashing down onto usually no suspension. The forces are considerable both on the racer and driver. So about 4 weeks ago I decided to try a ramp at about 35 – 40 mph in my racer, which has almost no sprung suspension. The result was interesting. The racer in our case was fine on landing because it was robust, but even with a supportive seat and good padding, I can see that the shock of landing could cause back / spine problems. Events are now tending to offer the option of taking the ramp or a few seconds penalty if avoided. I am going for the penalty in future; Probable consequences to both racer and driver are not worth the jump unless the racer is specifically designed for the landing.


Formula Gravity has spent most of this year so far looking again at the design and build of our racer kits, because we do not want to be just the best, we want to evolve as well. So with great interest we learned of a school that raced just our basic kit with no bodywork or extra streamlining added. They intend to add all that in the future. Why miss an event. Result was that they won! To be fair I do not know of the opposition or the racecourse, but I am so pleased they managed a successful event and got out onto the tarmac ASAP. Our racers can of course be rebuilt or added to each year anyway with different cohorts of pupils, so we look forward to a great design next year.

Our kits, equipment and services

Our school and college kits are sold through Technology Supplies Ltd who has a stock, so you can get your racer kit in days and start your build. Our racers are also in the USA, India, New Zealand and Australia.

There is a list of what you will need to build the basic racer, but to cut to the quick the list is just a drill and spanners, Generally you need what is in most home garages plus a drill. If your school or college does not have this we can do a bit extra for you and supply the necessary spanners. So do not let the lack of facilities stop you. We can help.

Remember you are not alone. We are on the end of a phone or Skype, and if necessary we can visit and help.


Can you name the two F1 drivers?
Stacks Image 19513

They are of course Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas when they both drove for Williams, who came to a photoshoot we held a while ago.

Happy designing, building and racing

David Ackroyd

March 2017


As you can see from our Newsletter we have redesigned our logo, it looks good on the front of a racer! We do have a limited supply of logo stickers for our past customers!
Please get in touch if you would like one.

Some Events

Lots of events this year. As usual most are on the web site.
Formula Gravity is proud to be awarding the “Best Kart” cup for the Stoke on Trent soapbox event on the 4th June. This is the second year that this event has run and I hope it will be a great annual event now. I think that the lists for competitors is now closed, but I think there is a waiting list.

I am looking forward to this event.
The Annual Penn House event on the 24th June is always a great event with magnificent machines. Well worth a visit. Safe but challenging.

Thetford Town Council are trying a new soapbox event this year down Kings Street.

I have great hopes of this event as it is near to our base. We have already been helping a local company Garmet with their build. This sounds like an annual event from now on as thee has been a lot of excitement and building.

Hinckley soapbox

This event on July 9th is another superb event and as usual is a really good safe run. Lots to do as well to enjoy the day.
Worlaby soapbox event is one of my personal favourites. Not for total novices perhaps, but a great run.

It seems that the soapbox calendar for the UK is expanding fast. Check out events near you.

I do suggest that if you are unsure of the run or if you have pupils that you contact the event organisers for details of any ‘junior’ or starter requirements.

Bloodhound SSC Project

This project is one of the most ambitious I have heard of and as such the task gets really complicated in all aspects. 1000mph is not easy. So the run for the Speed record will be postponed until 2018. Good luck to them. I am sure it is easier to write about than do it! Great that one of the spin offs is that the project has enabled some 100,000 pupils to get engaged in STEM. A great result on its own.

Kit & Parts For Our Gravity Racers

Kits and parts for our gravity racer kits are now flying off the shelves. So order yours now.

If you would like to talk to other teachers about how they have used our project and the results they have had from pupils, please get in touch with me and I shall put you in touch.
Not only is this a curriculum engineering project but also an enhancement project and a team building project that raises expectations beyond any other that I have come across. Phone me for a chat and I shall back up that statement! 01284 830428.

As well as the racer build part of the project I spent a day with pupils at Hartest Primary School. We invented and built a wind tunnel (£0) to test the model racers that the pupils had built. Fulfilling the curriculum nicely and having a really fun time. All part of the project.

Advanced Fun Parts

Many times I have been asked to supply a drag chute like the one we had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This was specially built as a one off, but now I have found a supply!

Good luck and attach them low down to avoid the front lifting off.

Memory Stick Information

Available from me on request. All about the project.

Project T-Shirts

We were thinking of supplying t-shirts with our wings logo for project participating teams if there was a demand. Could any school or college wanting one please contact me so we can get numbers.

Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School Case Study

Now building its fifth racer. This must be our premier school for the project.

Three years ago teacher Jamie Williams looked for an enrichment project aimed at FSM pupils to raise expectations and aspirations. He chose the Formula Gravity soapbox project as it fulfilled all criteria for Key Stage 3, also Key Skills in Maths, ICT and English. The team first researched companies for funding and engineering help. Enrolling STEM Engineering Ambassadors,

Formula Gravity staff visited and gave technical help; local companies for funding and Engineering Ambassadors to help build. South Wales Fire Service safety visits, South Wales Police Support and visits, RCT Health and Safety Officer visits, Penarth County Council race organizers. Edwards Buses for event transport.

Using cross curricular staff the pupils planned the project:- Art work, Ticket design, uniforms, a presentation movie for school website, publicity, Food Technology for pupils presentation to Parents Governors and industry, Health and Safety policy, Risk Assessments, aerodynamics, body design and all the engineering skills needed. Each year about 20 pupils have been involved. They have become more engaged as teams in school with improved confidence attendance and behaviour. Links with parents and community have grown. All are now very positive about the project. The teams are now winning public events and getting recognition in the local press. A very successful project using Industry Engagement by a very dedicated teacher.

More project information from David Ackroyd by email or phone.

Happy designing, building and racing

David Ackroyd

October 2016


Many schools contact us wanting to do our project and need ideas looking for funding, so here are a few suggestions:-
Firstly, our project is used by teachers in so many ways. It could be a pure engineering task with no other involvement, or it could be the full project that we did at my school when we first started.
That included the research into design, building models, building a small wind tunnel,
Finding out about vehicle safety, artwork, Press releases, Building up local contacts with companies for help and work experience and of course funding.
We put a note into the Work Experience request from the school to local companies. This was our best idea as it linked us to our local community and covered our racer in local logos from companies who not only helped our funding but also helped in the actual build. We also got some funding from our local Education Business Partnership scheme. PTA organisations and the local Chamber of Commerce might also help.
There are funds available from other organisations. The Institute of Engineering and Technology have a school grant scheme that you might benefit from They also have a great school pack you can get, together with other information about careers etc.
For our school this worked we got our funding. We also got links to the local community. (One of my students never returned from his work experience in a local garage, he is still there 14 years later. Perhaps I should visit and sign him off!)
Good luck.
Lots of schools are now looking for ‘Enhancement program’ projects.
Or for AQA curriculum:-


I have been following the Hanley Soapbox event with interest. Unfortunately I could not attend but it seems to have been a very well attended and well organised event that is on again next year. I enclose a note to me from the organiser Leroy.
, it exceeded our expectations, hundreds of people turned up to watch the event, the local paper (The Sentinel) did a report with video and pictures. One of the contestants also did a video that can be seen on You Tube (Hanley soapbox). We had 11 karts and 17 contestants, and were inundated with request to enter next year’s event, it was absolutely brilliant.

The You Tube taken by Elstree School Design &Technology (Hanley Soapbox) gives a great idea of the runs at both Hanley Soapbox Event and also the Brackley Soapbox event. Congratulations to the team at Elstree School. These seem good events for schools and colleges to enter. I suspect that more event information will emerge from the organisers of these two events next year.

Next event that I know about is the Brechin Cartie race 29th October ‘Halloween in the City’ event.
Of course events for 2017 are not yet advertised, so look on the usual Scottish Carties web site for information as it is published next year.
If you have not done so the Scottish Carties web site is worth checking right through as it has amazing information and ideas. Ideal for beginners and extreme sport teams alike.

To up the speed, and unless you have not heard, the USA have claimed the speed record at 104mph. So that should get you all building in your workshops over the winter!

I just though I would include a picture of a racer that I just got sent from Perth Australia. Nice one!!!!
Stacks Image 19499
Racer Kits Going Out

We are sending out racer kits and parts right now to schools, so it is a good time to order. Our racer kits are supplied exclusively through
This company gives schools and colleges a one-stop shop for all parts of the project, and lots of help if needed.
If you want further information or just a chat about ideas 01284 830428


It is always good to keep up with what’s available so I have had a chat with our tyre expert at Schwalbe. Schwalbe Kojak are still excellent tyres but they recommended for real performance the Durano 28-451. Faster and better in the wet. I have found them at about £20 on the internet. Due to Brexit Schwalbe have now put a17.8% price increase on tyres due to the money market. I have not tried these tyres yet, so no personal recommendation, but I intend to try a set before the next event. I would like any comments.

Happy designing, building and racing

David Ackroyd

September 2016


Our participating schools have done well this year in events with Bryn Celynnog School getting fantastic results in different categories and top places in the race event at Penarth!
They now have four of our racers. They won the under 12 entry at Penarth. I am sure that the team felt as happy as our Olympic winners. Congratulations on a great project.
Stacks Image 19495
You might like to see their school website with all that they are doing with the project.
The students are involved in all aspects of the project including getting involved finding sponsors, art work, design and publicity. They were lucky finding sponsorship and engineering help from the Royal Mint. Students also engaged with the local STEM Ambassadors who are helping.
The skills learnt by the students are too numerous to mention, but overall key skills and teamwork were very evident. The confidence boosting experience of a successful fun project also motivates pupils in all aspects of school.

Curriculum and accreditation

As a teacher I was always looking out for a good project to do with the pupils. That is how I found out about gravity racers and the events. I was soon hooked and the rest is history. I refer you to this bit on our website.
To be honest it seems obvious to me; the learning and fun that can be had with this project. But what of the National Curriculum and can the pupils get accreditation for their work? Does our project fit in with school exams?
The answer is a firm yes!
Over the holidays I spent some time looking into the requirements of some exam boards.
But every school is different in not only facilities to build, but mainly the personal teaching methods of each teacher. I have long since discovered that no two schools have approached our project in the same way. This is one of our strengths as we allow teachers strengths and imagination to flourish individually
So to write a book ‘How to do a Gravity Racer Project’ would not be a great help.
(We actually did this once, it was never used) Teachers use the bits they want and leave out others. We need to have a project that can be used, where wanted. Also one that can tick most or all of the requirements of an exam board syllabus.
We fit nicely into GCSE boards Design & Technology syllabus. I found it easy to marry up the requirements of the project with the requirements of the exam.

I also looked at the AQA Syllabus.

Engineering Technical Level 3 seemed to be good for our project. I would like to add here that before we initially built a racer, we built racer models and then we designed and built a small wind tunnel to test them in.
Using 3D printers we also designed hubcaps and other parts needed.
The following year we rebuilt everything enhancing our designs with knowledge gained the first time. So mini projects were going on as well as the main build.

I phoned the AQA Engineering help line and discussed the project. The result was very positive. I suggest that after initial curriculum research at school or college, a phone call to the Exam board help line is a good idea. I got a lot of ideas from them.

I the spent a very long booked phone call to the Curriculum leader of Engineering for OCR. I thank him for his time, willing help and continual support.
We were working off the OCR website :-
Again we had a lot to discuss. Our project seemed to fit nicely into the curriculum.
I think we could fit the requirements for the whole course!
For any extra help or just to check what you intend to do there is a help line.
024 76 496378 (Always best to get help from the real experts)

Good luck if you want to go this route. Of course the students also get something that stands out well on a CV.

Lastly we can let any teacher / lecturer have the contacts of others who are actually involved teaching the project for help and ideas.

Some of our services

  • We can supply a gravity racer in kit form. We are the only company that makes them.
  • Our racer kits are supplied exclusively through
  • This company gives schools and colleges a one-stop shop for all parts of the project, and lots of help if needed.
  • Help on your builds is also available on the phone from both Technology Supplies Ltd. and Formula Gravity ltd.
  • Racers can be built with students in about 100 hours. Much shorter time if you are not teaching it as well.
  • Our racers are tried and tested since 2002. Lots of records broken with this design.
  • The design of the body is up to you. We can advise designs and materials.
  • We sell parts such as wheels separately as well.
  • We can visit your organisation and lecture / advise.
  • We can advise on events.
  • Our Web site has building suggestions and help for staff and pupils.
  • We also give talks to schools and colleges to inspire engineering in the UK.
  • We can advise also on Health and Safety and Risk Assessments.

Other News

Our sales / services were up last year by 30% so we must be doing something right.

We visited schools around the UK for talks and to attend meeting of parents and sponsors. This was an amazing experience to actually see our project in action.
Also to meet the students and hear first hand how it has helped them.

Do not forget to check out the website for news and ideas.
This website has become the main UK gravity site and lists a lot of events you can enter. There are other events as well not listed.

We are ready to send out gravity racer kits now and to work with schools / colleges.
Please contact me at Formula Gravity if you wish to order or just chat about a project.
You can also order direct from out sales team at Technical Supplies Ltd.

Happy designing, building and racing

David Ackroyd

April 2016


It is now some 14 years since I first saw the amazing Gravity Racers at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Bitten by the gravity bug I was lucky enough to get an entry for my school as the Vauxhall VXR entry from 2002. The Festival was a catalyst for both gravity sports and the technology needed for this to evolve. I think that the sport must be one of the fastest evolving ever with amazing machines and so many events across the country. Not only can Gravity sports be enjoyed as an Extreme sport but also at basic level bringing equal fun and enjoyment to teams. I am continually amazed by photos of builds by schools and colleges who are using the challenge to achieve amazing design builds using our kits as a basis.

I would be delighted to post any photos and write-ups from either staff or pupils on our web site.

We now have over 200 kits out in schools and colleges since we started to supply them in 2008. It would be great to find out more about how the projects are going.

So please contact us and let us know of your project. Photos are especially good. We would of course ask before publishing any information or photos.
As the project is primarily educational we would especially like to hear about academic, career and job success that the project has instigated. We have heard many successful stories from many pleased students.
Also we would be happy to help any of our projects.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Searching the Internet for information about gravity racing I came across a recording of our record run in 2008.

ITN Edu may also have some other ideas for schools or colleges.

Gravity Sport Starts Up

Since Christmas we have been busy sending out full Gravity Racer kits and also parts to existing teams. Now is the start of the Racing season and it is certainly not too late to build up one of our kits to participate. The racers do not have to appear in their final livery at events. Remember you will be starting a project that builds up each year.
Our racer kits are available from Technology Supplies Ltd. who will also supply any other of your build or technical needs. (A One-Stop Shop)

If you just want to chat about starting a gravity racer project, or you have any problems with your build or event please contact me on 01284 830428.
We have lots of more detailed information on a free Memory stick.
We are also available for visits and talks etc.
Remember that has events and lots of information.
Although we have our own web site, Scottish carties site has become the UK first choice for the sport. I am sure that they would include any events that you can add.


Last year there were so many UK gravity events that I lost count. For schools and colleges local events hold great attraction. First they can give access to local companies and individuals who may help the project and the school. Also the event is not too far for the team to travel. Local events are usually pupil friendly with a sensible run at reasonable speed. Do check with organisers before committing.
Although racers built from our kits conform to UK and most World regulations some events do add extra requirements. So check to avoid problems at scrutineering on the day. Penn House event in Amersham now requires electronic horns for entry. They recommend: -
Great run. Great event. Might still be some places.


I hope to be at the conference, which sounds really good.
STEMtech Conference 2016 - Book Now
The 3rd Annual STEMtech Conference and Showcase 'Skilled for Success' is now open for registration!
The event will be held on the 13th and 14th June 2016 at the Telford International Centre.
Technology Supplies are proud to be the headline sponsors of the event, which is leading the way for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in UK education.
Tel 01293 854401

The Bloodhound SSC project has some good educational projects for the classroom. This is a very British project that is continuing the British habit of beating the rest of the World by gaining World Land Speed records.

To conclude I enclose a statement from Ampleforth College: -

“We are currently building a gravity race car as an extra-curricular project. It is by its very nature an inspiring and motivating activity which as well as being enjoyable has taught the students (years 10 – 13) a good range of engineering skills and knowledge which they have been able to apply to the task and which will enhance and complement their related studies in Design and Technology. I can most definitely recommend it as a project. For the motivational benefits of faster results I would recommend buying the full kit”

Amazing top-secret photos!!!! Certainly F1

Now please let us know how you are all doing.

David Ackroyd