Most of us have memories of seeing Power Wheels advertisements on TV, dreaming of far off adventures over rocky terrain in our own power wheels jeep or zooming around the Indianapolis Speedway trying to claim first place. Then we see the real things that barely have enough power to hit 2 MPH. Downhill. Most of us gave up on our grand fantasies in these tiny toys and bought real cars that ran on gas instead of dinky batteries, but a few bold men and women would not let reality crush their imagination. Collectively these people are known as crazy, but these crazy people have taken old Power Wheels vehicles and souped them up to herculean proportions in an attempt to show the world that they are not in fact crazy. This act in and of itself may too be crazy, but the results can only be described as awesome.
This year’s Maker Faire hosted the second annual Power Wheels Racing event featuring 8 teams, each with their own unique ideas about how best to crush the opposition. With teams from Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago, the crowd had no shortage of choices deciding which team to favor with their cheers and support. The competition consisted of 3 events: the drag race, the 15 lap race, and the endurance challenge, though the battle began not on the track but in the pits.
The drag race was a series of nail biting finishes coupled with a handful of runaways, as some teams were unable to get their vehicles shipshape before their turn was up. These setbacks did not deter the teams’ spirits or devotion to having a good time, sometimes even serving as great entertainment. The fans laughed riotously as Pumping Station 1 was reduced to driving their car backwards due to their forward drive system being out of commission, though this was quickly overshadowed by the comedy of Milwaukee’s pink trike bifurcating itself on the starting line. Regrettably, i3 was matched up with the eventual winner of the drag race competition and was eliminated first round, but this only served to bolster our resolve on the next two.
The 15 lap race was perhaps the best attended of the 3 races with a non stop tale of drama and heartbreak as machines struggled for position only to be cut down by mechanical issues. Driving strategy played a big role in this race with the Milwaukee cars creating a formation to block other players from passing which lead to some exciting and aggressive driving by other teams to defeat this dastardly strategy. i3 maintained a strong lead for much of the race until mechanical problems eroded the multiple lap lead enjoyed by our expert driver, “Kara Thrash“. After some quick fixes, i3 got back into the race but was not able to retain the lead position eventually finishing third.
The final challenge was a one hour endurance race. Given the prior mechanical problems the teams had experienced, this was shaping up to easily be the toughest race of the event. OmniCorp Detroit made an amazing show for themselves by operating the whole hour with only a single, well timed pitstop for more batteries giving them a colossal lead and an easy first place. The real drama was between i3 and Milwaukee’s Baby Burrito car, who had employed a “slow and steady” approach keeping their pit times down and steadily gaining laps. i3 was significantly ahead until a motor controller failure put us in the pit lane for an extended period, surrendering second place to Baby Burrito. Getting back on the track with minutes to spare, Kara Thrash put in a monstrous effort, driving like mad in an attempt to catch second place. Unfortunately, time was against her and she was unable to recover from the pit time, but won massive crowd support for her valiant effort which was still enough to secure a third place finish.
When the final points were tallied, however, i3 had a huge surprise in store for them: they had won first place in the championship! This was due to the “moxie system” which allowed the fans to vote for their favorite teams based on their ability to entertain the crowd doing silly things or just generally being awesome. The crowd opinion became evident as i3 could hardly contain the volume of moxie point slips they received. This edge granted by the fans (who this event is really for after all) was so enormous that it granted i3 first place, so when we say we couldn’t have done it without your support, we mean it! We really couldn’t have done it!
Thanks to all the competitors!