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August 2018


Important Changes Afoot

The sport of Gravity Racing has matured over the last decade. We are now very different from the old concept of ‘soapboxes’ both in construction and in events.

In a nutshell :- ‘Soapboxes’ are for fun and amusement of crowds. Great for publicity, as used by Red Bull. Low speed crashes and crunches are part of the spectacle, as are some of the amazing soapbox designs. Most of the contestants do not really expect to complete a course with obstacles and ramps to jump over, but enjoy the fun. Jumping over ramps has now been banned from Gravity Racing as back and spine injuries can and do happen. Hence ‘soapbox’ events will no longer be advertised on the national Scottishcarties website - http://scottishcarties.org.uk. Only ‘Gravity Racing’ events will now be on the site.

‘Gravity Racers’ are different. Built from professional standard designs to a National Technical Specification. Safety is the main driving force of the designs. Built in are safety features that would protect the spectators and driver at speed. Drivers also must be equipped with safety gear. All racers are scrutineered and can fail. Our tracks have no jumps or ramps. All H/S documents in place.
I have been involved with Gravity Racers since 2002 and crashes are almost unknown. I have never heard of a serious crash yet, all due to meticulous design and planning of the event and the racer. There are many Olympic sports that use gravity:- skiing, bobsleigh. sledge, ski jumping, skateboard, luge. Although we are not yet on the list our sport is run to that standard.

So to sum up, there is a great difference between a soapbox and a gravity racer, and the difference is growing. We are not soapboxes.

With speed controlled by gentle slopes to run down, school pupils have safely become involved very successfully in engineering and events around the UK.
One of the important differences is also that of insurance for events. We are working with insurance companies to insure safe reasonable gravity racing events. Please contact us for any update that you might like.

Formula Gravity

Just to again state some of our objectives. (Full details on our website.)
  • We are trying to raise expectations.
    We are highlighting STEM subjects.
    We are encouraging research methods and invention
    We are non-profit making.
    We do sell Gravity Racer kits.
    We do help.
    We do have great success.

Congratulations

To teacher Jamie Williams at Bryn Celynnog School and his team of pupils who have won the prestigious Penarth Downhill ‘Under 12 Years’ event for the fourth year in a row.

We now have a full team of under 12 engineers and drivers for the fourth year who have achieved. A STEM project to be proud of.
We will put more photos of the event when they become available
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Formula Gravity Race Results

We took our racer to the great Stoke on Trent event. Our result was not as good as the Bryn Celynnog School.
We had two runs. The first was a test run which was good and then for the real run against the clock. I reckoned that we had a chance of doing really well. The run felt fast and the racer performed very well. On the finish line I was hopeful. I was then told of a problem, the timekeeper, who was also a helpful policeman, had had to leave and deliver a baby amongst the spectators. So no result. The course had been changed so no re-run.
Despite our result it was a great day and we did have a good event with lots of friends.

Our other events at Penn House were not interrupted and we were happy with our performance.

So far this year we have had another successful design, build and race season. With the new academic term starting soon we have kits and parts ready to go.

Help & Support
For any help and advice please contact myself or for sales please contact Luke at
Technology Supplies 0845 567 0000

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April 2018

Since Formula Gravity first started in 2002 the gravity-racing scene has really taken off.
I think that the input of excellence set up at the Goodwood Festival of Speed was certainly a huge catalyst. The amazing racers that I first saw racing under incredible tight scrutineering and engineering criteria were to fire the imagination. This helped to kick start the sport and helped allied gravity sports to come into the sporting arena.

To sum this up, is it not time that some of the gravity sports were officially recognised for funding and also Olympic consideration? Skiing and bob sleigh are gravity sports. What is the difference if other vehicles of equal engineering and riding / driving skills are used?

Events

Lots of events now all over the UK. Events are good as they give teams all the local contacts and also you know what you need to build to race.
For events the best lists are on http://scottishcarties.org.uk . 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.

Do check your events early as some events are just for speed and others have obstacles’ such as those in the Red Bull events. You might need to design differently.
(We got caught out last year and demolished an obstacle or two. Great fun though)

Sales

We do have racer kits on the shelves ready to go. Just your own bodywork needed.
(We did have one of our racers win an event last year just as the kit skeleton. So you can always put a body on later!)
We do of course sell just parts if that is what you need.
https://www.technologysupplies.co.uk is the sales team, or you can always chat to me first about the project and I can then put you in touch.
For more ideas and information about how the project can be developed and used in education please look at our website which gives initial ideas and information. If you then wish you can call and chat over the ideas - 01284 830428

Other Things You May Like

You might like to check these out faster things.
Project ‘Bloodhound SSC’ www.bloodhoundssc.com 1000mph for Britain
Project Aussie Invader http://aussieinvader.com/the-challenge/ 1000 mph for Australia

Yes, we do seem to have a challenge! Some good info on the websites for pupils.

Last But Not Least

If you no longer wish to receive a newsletter and be deleted from our records please write ‘unsubscribe’ and reply to this email address. If you wish to remain on the newsletter list please email ‘remain’ and reply.

August 2017

Events

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 http://scottishcarties.org.uk . 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.

http://www.loughboroughecho.net/news/local-news/your-soapbox-cars-set-mountsorrel-11568884

“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.

Design

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. https://www.technologysupplies.co.uk/

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

Question

Can you name the two F1 drivers?
Stacks Image 19513
Answer

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

Editorial

Logo
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 scottishcarties.org.uk 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.

https://www.evensi.uk/hanley-park-soapbox-derby-hanley-park/193311082.

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.

www.leapinghare.org/events/norfolk-1/thetford-1/community-1/soapbox-challenge/

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.

www.hinckleytimes.net/all-about/soap-box-derby

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.

https://www.technologysupplies.co.uk

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!

https://www.kickmotorsport.co.uk/products/mini-dragster-chute

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.

bryncelynnog.org.uk/gra#10CAB1F

More project information from David Ackroyd by email or phone.

Happy designing, building and racing

David Ackroyd