The 2007 Light Racers Competition

Along with the Space Elevator Games, the 2007 Light Racers Competition was held.  This was a competition of model “cars” (I use the term “cars” very loosely here) which were powered solely by light; no fuel, no batteries, no sun, no problem (as the promo says).

Although not strictly Space Elevator related, it was held at the same venue as the Space Elevator Games were and, I must say, was quite a crowd-pleasing event.  This event was targeted towards families and school-age kids and includes a science curriculum which can be taught that has studies relevant to this event (for more info, see the Light Racers homepage).

There were several (8-10) teams entered.  Many of the cars didn’t move at all, or just barely.  I’m guessing that they had been “tested” outdoors in sunlight.  When brought indoors and put in the spotlight beams, there just wasn’t enough juice generated to get them going.  But that’s valuable experience which will be put to good use next time.

The competition was held indoors in Building 2 (Climber Row) on Saturday, October 20th.  Ben Shelef of the Spaceward foundation laid out a course the cars had to navigate – they needed to travel from one end to the other without veering outside the boundary lanes.  There was one large spotlight trained on the car from start to finish and a second, booster light which was trained on the car at the start, just to get it going.

The two fastest cars were also the two smallest.  The fastest car, by far, was the one put together by McGill University.  It didn’t win any prizes though and will be the subject of my next post.  This post is dedicated to the winning team, the Kansas City Space Kids, a subset of the Space Pirates.  This car was put together at the last minute by Brian Turner and his team and was good enough to win a $2,500 prize!

I have two videos for this post.  The first was nearly a prize-winning run, making it from one end of the racecourse to the other, but veering out of bounds just before reaching the finish line.



This second video is of the winning run.  The KC Space Kids car completes the entire course, inside of the boundaries, to the acclaim of the crowd!