2011 Rules

Gravity Games Advisory

The following is important information for participants in the upcoming Gravity Games

1) To All Racers: Protective wear. Although all racers will be required to have helmets and appropriate foot-wear, don't forget appropriate clothing as well. The rules state "no loose fitting or dangerous attire will be permitted," but you might also want to consider protective clothing as well, such as a leather jacket and knee/elbow pads.

2) To racers in the Middle-School Class: Revised weight limits. It's been brought to our attention that the 200 pound empty car plus driver limit may result in loads that could be too much for the cars' axles. We are therefore changing the weight limit to 230 pounds total, i.e., the combined weight of the driver and car. This is the same limit used in official Soap Box Derby races and will result in a safer race. The official rules have been updated to reflect this change. We sincerely apologize for the late modification to the rules, but safety is paramount to us.

3) To racers in the Middle-School Class: Cables. During a recent test run, a middle school kit car had a problem with the brake cable interfering with the steering cables. While there were no injuries, the car did not successfully make it down the hill. Please examine your car and make sure these cables are run properly and do not impede each other.

Bets of luck this Saturday!
-The Google/ASU Team



Description: With funding from Google in cooperation with Appalachian State University, this competition will provide students from levels of middle and high school, college/university, and corporate competitors an opportunity to design and construct cars held to designated safety and design standards.

The event will be held on Saturday, November 19, 2011.


  • To have a fun, educational, inspirational, and competitive event that allows hands-on engineering

  • To enable students and professionals the opportunity to interact

  • To unite members of the community in an environment of fair competition and celebration

  • To develop an engaging competition and event that can be replicated for the future

  • To award prize money to educational institutions

  • To explore and demonstrate potential energy propulsion systems

Mission Statement

The Gravity Games strive to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with real-life application through construction and competition of a downhill racing event. The Games foster community engagement through sponsorship and will award prize money to Caldwell County non-profit organizations. The competition focuses on the design, construction, and racing of a potential energy powered vehicle, on a downhill course.


Judging Committee - The Judging Committee will be comprised of representatives from Google, NC, Appalachian State University, and Lenoir public officials. This committee will be responsible for inspecting each car, participant, and race track for adequate safety and security. The Judging Committee has the final say on whether or not one may participate in the competition.

Rules and Regulations

Violations of the rules outlined below can result in disqualification of a participant and/or team, at the Judging Committee’s discretion.


There will be a limit of 32 teams per division, 5 members per team. Eight slots within each of the middle school and high school divisions are reserved for schools in the participating school districts. These teams will receive event funded kits for their vehicles. The additional 12 slots in each of these division will be filled by teams providing their own funding in the order in which electronic applications are received.

  • Middle School – A race powered by gravitational potential energy using a cart kit purchased from aasbd.com.  Any child middle-school age (14 years old) or younger is welcome to compete.

  • High School – A race powered by any approved form of potential energy (see below). Starter kits from GoKits.com are allowed but not required.  Any child high-school age (18 years old) or younger is welcome to compete.

  • Open (University / Corporate / Private Teams) – A race powered by any form of potential energy with no supplied materials.

Registration information will be posted online at www.ncgravitygames.com.  Registration must be received by October 28, 2011.

Parental Consent / Waivers

  • Participants ages 10-18 (at the time of the competition) are required to have parent or guardian consent or driver must be 18 years old (at the time of competition).

  • All participants age 18 and over must have a signed waiver on file prior to the race.

Weight Limitations

  • Middle School - Car weight limit: 230 lbs (with driver)

  • High School – Car weight limit: 300 lbs (without driver)

  • Open Category – Car weight limit: 500 lbs (without driver)

Size Limitations

  • Middle School - The dimensions of the car must not exceed: 4’ wide

  • High School – 4’ wide

  • Open Category – 4’ wide


  • Participants must wear adequate foot protection covering sole, toe, and heel while racing

  • Participants must wear certified protective helmets in their proper position on the head.

    • Head wear must be inspected and cleared by the Safety Committee.

    • Middle School – Helmet supplied with cart kit is required.

    • High School and Open Category – Helmet approved for motorcycle use is required.

  • Participants must wear adequate and appropriate clothing. No loose fitting or dangerous attire will be permitted.


  • Participants must not use, possess, or distribute alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, with the exception of those prescribed by a physician specifically for that person.

  • Verbal or physical abuse and/or unsportsmanlike conduct will not be permitted, whether directed towards another participant, official, and/or spectator.

  • No firearms will be permitted on the field of conduct.

  • Competitors will not attempt to gain an unfair advantage over another participant.


  • All cars and material components are subject to inspection and subsequent disqualification by the Safety Committee if deemed harmful or potentially dangerous.

  • No chemical or electrical engines allowed.

Car Eligibility

  • Middle school teams must use the purchased cart kits specified for their division. There will be one kit provided per division per school district. Additional teams in each district must purchase the kit identical to the one provided.  High school teams will receive a kit, but may choose to use some or all of the kit components in the construction of their vehicle.

    • Middle School = http://www.soapboxracing.com/,

      • Stock or Super Stock, white or red kit and set of Z-Glas Wheels (item # STW01 or SS01 & P02)

    • High School = http://www.gokit.com/

  • Gravity may be the only propulsion mechanism in the Middle School category.

  • Gravity and potential mechanical energy may be the only propulsion mechanisms in the High School and Open categories.

  • No human powered cars or engines will be permitted. Other than acceleration due to gravity, no external propulsive energy may be added the drive system after the start of the race (i.e., all energy must be potential energy that is “pre-charged” before the start gate drops).

○ Examples of allowed propulsion systems

■ Springs

■ Counterweights

■ Elastic bands

■ Flywheels (mechanically spun)

■ Manually compressed hydraulics or pneumatics

○ Forbidden propulsion systems

■ Chemical engines (gasoline, diesel, etc)

■ Electromagnetic (batteries, electric motors, etc)

■ Nuclear (fission or fusion)

■ Any combustion-based motor

■ Pedals (human-powered)

■ Animal powered (mules, dogs, hamsters)

  • The potential mechanical energy must be able to be manually charged within 20 minutes by 2 team members without using any charging mechanism that requires or previously required electricity (ie: compressed gas cylinder).

  • The potential mechanical energy can only be engaged by the driver at the starting line (no additional team members are allowed at the starting line)

  • For the Middle and High School divisions, participants must take part in the construction of his or her car; an adult mentor is permitted to assist in the construction of the car, but the majority of the work should be completed by the team members. The judges will have discretion to evaluate and disqualify obvious violations of this rule.

  • A minimum of three wheels are required to remain in contact with the ground at all times.

  • Each car needs to be able to steer and stop in a reasonable distance (whether a car meets these criteria will determined made by the Safety Committee).

  • The car may be decorated and painted as long as this does not break any of the rules nor interfere with the participant or other competitors.

  • For the middle school division, modifications to the purchased kits are allowed providing no material from the original kit is removed. Additions materials may be added for style and creativity. No changes shall compromise the safety features of the kit.

  • Modification, alteration, or tampering with the car after inspection is only allowed with the approval and the supervision of the Safety Committee.

  • Each car and driver must be inspected and approved by the Safety Committee before racing. The Safety Committee may postpone, restrict, or disqualify any participant or car deemed to be unsafe to race. The Safety Committee does not need to provide explanation for disqualification and has the final say in eligibility of all cars, participants and teams competing in the Games.


  • Each car must accelerate from a standstill by gravity and/or self-contained approved mechanical sources without the aid of external propulsion devices including human power.

  • Participants must remain in the car until all cars have crossed the finish line.

  • Participants may not interfere with other cars or drivers.

  • If the car is not drivable at the time of the race, your opponent will be awarded a win.


  • The first round will be a time trial. The competitors will then be ranked, paired, and placed into a tournament bracket .

  • The second round will be a two car head-to-head race, determined by the time trial (first) round. The victor will move on to face another second round competitor and the loser will be placed into a consolation bracket.

  • The competition will progress in a double-elimination style bracket until the final two cars remain.

  • The final round will be a best two-out-of-three competition run head-to-head.

  • Heats will start at 5 minute intervals during the competition. Teams that are not in place at the start of their heat will receive a loss for that heat.

  • NOTE: Depending on the number of applicants, the first round may be eliminated and the pairings determined by random drawing. Teams will be notified of this decision soon after the registration is closed.

Race Track

  • The course will run a straight track along Church Street in Lenoir from the church parking lot to the cross street of Harper Avenue.

Starting and Finishing

  • Electronic sensors will provide precision for start and finish timing.

Judging Criteria

There will be awards given to the 1st place team in each division in each of two categories:

  1. Speed - First to cross the finish line. See “Racing” and “Heats"
  2. Creativity - Quality, Artistic expression, Use of materials, Aesthetics (a rubric outlining judging criterion will be distributed to each team). Photos of each car must be submitted to the creativity judging staff by November 14th via an email attachment to gravitygames@appstate.edu for preliminary judging purposes. Final creativity judging will be performed on the day of the event.
  3. People’s Choice - Award given based on votes from event attendees. Go to the "Registration" to get your ballot.

Competition Timeline

Registration starts : 8:30 a.m.

Timeline for individual division registration and racing will be distributed to all teams 2 weeks before the event dependent on the number of teams competing.

Awards to follow immediately after completion of the final rounds of each division.