2017 Official Gravity Game Rules
  1. 1. Check the 2017 NC Gravity Games FAQ frequently! The FAQ can be found on the internet here. This is where clarification will be posted for specific Official Rules (“Rules”) questions received from teams.
  2. 2. TO ALL RACERS: Protective wear. Although all racers will be required to have helmets and appropriate footwear, 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.

Registration deadline: Registration closes at midnight ET on April 13, 2017.

Scope:

  • Description: With funding from Google Inc. (“Google”) in cooperation with Appalachian State University, Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill and the City of Lenoir, this 2017 NC Gravity Games, also known as the “Lenoir Gravity Games April 29, 2017” (the “Competition”) will provide students from elementary through high school, college/university, and corporate competitors an opportunity to design and construct cars powered by gravity and other energy sources, and compete against other teams for the fastest time.
  • The event will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m.

Objectives:

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

Mission Statement:

  • The 2017 NC Gravity Games strives to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with real-life application through construction and competition of a downhill derby-type racing event. The 2017 NC Gravity Games foster community engagement through sponsorship and will award prizes to the winning teams. The Competition focuses on the design, construction, and racing of a potential energy powered vehicle, on a downhill course.

Overview:

  • Judging Committee
    • The Judging Committee will be comprised of representatives from Google and Appalachian State University. The Judging 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.Official Rules:
    • The Judging Committee has the sole discretion as to whether a violation of these Rules will result in disqualification of a participant and/or team. 
  • Divisions:
    • Kits Only - A race for kit cars powered by gravitational energy. Any student from ages 7-14 on the date of the race is welcome to participate. Cars will be based on either the All-American Soap Box Derby (“AASBD”) “Stock”, “Super Stock” (design type) kits ONLY, using Z-Glass wheels; a picture of these types of designs can be found at this website: http://www.soapboxracing.com/
      • There will be a maximum of 40 teams in this category. Registration is first come, first serve.
      • The NC Gravity Games is focused on encouraging teams to develop and progress to more engineering-focused categories as they mature. As a result, a given organization / school / coach may have only three entries in the Kits Only category. Students may only compete with one team in this division.
      • All AASBD kit cars must be constructed according to the manufacturer's specifications and permitted modifications, which are outlined for each kit size:
    • Engineered – A race for "scratch-built" cars, not based on any pre-made kits, powered by gravity (specifications are below). Team members must be at least 10 years of age to participate.
      • There will be a maximum of 48 teams in this category. Registration is first come, first serve. There is no limit to the number of entries in this division from any given school/organization/coach.
      • Entries must be primarily constructed by team members. For example, taking a pre-built go-cart chassis and putting wheels and a custom body on it would not be a valid entry.
      • Judges will assess the construction of each Engineered entry. Vehicles that do not meet basic safety or structural requirements (e.g. it must be strong enough to stay together during the race, and not be dangerous for the driver), or those that are composed mostly of pre-built components may be disqualified.
      • If you have questions about your design, components, and eligibility, please contact contact@ncgravitygames.com.
      • A high level set of design guidelines can be found here. Design Guidelines.pdf
    • Engineering Challenge - this year’s engineering challenge is “There and Back Again.” The specific engineering challenge is to design and construct a vehicle that is able to store potential energy during the downhill portion of the race. The car will then engage a drive system that allows the car to reverse back up the course as far as possible, using only the energy stored or captured during the race. No pre-charged or filled energy sources may be included with the car. Any energy storage or capture mechanism must be verified to be “discharged” or “empty” at the start of the race.
      • The winner will be determined by a combination of fastest time, and furthest return distance (the team that makes it back up the hill as far as possible).
      • Allowed energy storage mechanisms include, but are not limited to:
        • Mechanical (e.g. flywheel)
        • Compressed gas/fluids - e.g. compressed air tank that is filled during the downhill race, but only with approved safety controls
        • Electrical - e.g. starting the race with fully discharged battery, and storing energy during the downhill portion of the race.
        • Other mechanisms?
      • A high-level design description must be submitted to contact@ncgravitygames.com for review and approval during the registration process. The review committee will assess the design for fairness and safety.
      • Energy capture mechanisms may only be engaged after the start of the race.
      • Batteries must be fully-enclosed VRLA (valve-regulated lead-acid). Pre-charged batteries may be used to power decorative elements of the car, but may not directly contribute energy to the drive systems of the vehicle (other than by being an overall component of the mass of the vehicle).
      • If batteries are to be used for energy capture during the following rules will apply:
        • 12V batteries, of no more than 5Ah capacity (e.g. this model)
        • No more than 4 batteries may be used as part of the drive system.
        • Batteries (and their terminals) must be accessible for testing of voltage levels prior to the start of the race.
        • Battery charge will be verified immediately prior to the start of the race.
        • Batteries will be considered to be fully discharged if they display <= 11.5V using an approved, external voltage meter (the Gravity Games staff will provide this) and the batteries can be demonstrated to be incapable of providing motive force to the car at the start of the race.
        • Qualified “discharged” batteries will be provided if the competitor’s batteries do not pass the discharge test.
        • Competitors found to be swapping batteries or tying in any untested batteries prior to or during a race will be disqualified. 

Registration information will be posted online at www.ncgravitygames.com. Registration must be received by midnight ET on April 13, 2017. Registration is first come, first serve.

Parental Consent/Participation Agreement:

  • Participants ages 7-17 (on the day of the Competition at registration) are required to have a parent or legal guardian sign a Participation Agreement on the minor’s behalf in the form attached to these Rules as Attachment 1. (Download below.)
  • All participants ages 18 and over (on the day of the Competition at registration) must have a signed Participation Agreement in the form attached to these Rules as Attachment 1. (Download below.) 

Weight Limitations:

  • Kits Only - Assembled car, weights, wheels, safety equipment and driver weight limit: 200 lbs. for "Stock" kits and "Super Stock" kits. Any vehicles or car/driver combos that exceed this weight will be disqualified. Please note: The Super Stock weight restriction is lower than the specified maximum and standard weight limit for this category. We have adjusted this rule to eliminate the weight advantage for Super Stock kits.
  • Engineered - Car weight limit: 300 lbs. (without driver)
  • Engineering Challenge - Car weight limit: 300 lbs. (without driver)

Weight Adjustment:

  • Once the official inspection and weigh-in is completed the weights cannot be changed, unless another driver is driving. It is the responsibility of the team to ensure the weight does not exceed the limit after the initial weigh-in. The cars, with driver, will be re-weighed at the bottom of the hill following each run. If overweight, the car will be disqualified.

Size Limitations:

  • Maximum size varies by division. The dimensions of the car must not exceed:
    • Kits Only - Only AASBD "Stock" or "Super Stock" kits are permitted (no Masters cars)
    • Engineered - 6' wide X 8' long X 7' high
    • Engineering Challenge - 6' wide X 8' long X 7' high

Attire:

  • Participants must wear adequate foot protection covering sole, toe, and heel while racing.
  • Participants must wear ANSI certified protective helmets in their proper position on the head.
  • Headwear must be inspected and cleared by the Safety Committee.
  • Helmet approved for bicycle, derby, or motorcycle use is required.
  • Participants must wear adequate and appropriate clothing. No loose fitting or dangerous attire will be permitted.

Conduct:

  • 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 race course or staging/support areas.
  • Competitors will not attempt to gain an unfair advantage over another participant.

Materials:

  • All cars and material components are subject to inspection and subsequent disqualification by the Safety Committee if deemed harmful or potentially dangerous.
  • Please feel free to contact the safety board at contact@ncgravitygames.com if you have any questions.
  • No chemical or nuclear engines allowed.
  • No pre-energized potential energy sources allowed (other than gravity).

Car Eligibility:

  • Gravity may be the only propulsion source in the Kits Only and Engineered divisions.
  • No human powered cars or engines will be permitted. Other than acceleration due to gravity, no external propulsive energy may be added to the drive system after the start of the race.
  • Forbidden propulsion systems: (Except for engineering challenge division where electrical, mechanical or fluid systems can store energy and be used to reverse up the hill)
    • Chemical engines (gasoline, diesel, etc.)
    • Any electrical power source
    • Potential energy systems (besides gravity)
    • Nuclear (fission or fusion)
    • Any combustion-based motor
    • Pedals (human-powered)
    • Animal powered (mules, dogs, hamsters)
  • For all divisions, team members 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 Judging Committee will have sole 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.
  • Due to design stability concerns, “standard” (single wheel in front) trike designs are not permitted. “Reverse” (single wheel in rear) trike designs are allowed.
  • Each car needs to be able to steer and stop in a reasonable distance (whether a car meets these criteria will be determined 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 safety of the participant or other competitors.
  • Modification, alteration, or tampering with the car after inspection by the Safety Committee 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, in its sole discretion, 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 Competition.

Racing:

  • Each car must accelerate from a standstill by gravity only 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, the round will be considered a forfeit, unless judges approve an exception.

Race process/Heats:

  • Kits-Only Division:
    • The Kits-Only division will be run using a bracket system with initial time trial.
    • The first round will be a time trial. The competitors will then be 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 victor.
    • The Competition will progress in a single-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.
    • Cars 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, unless judges approve a delay.
  • Engineered Division:
    • The Engineered division will be using a bracket system with initial time trial.
    • The first round will be a time trial. The competitors will then be 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 victor.
    • The Competition will progress in a single-elimination style bracket until the final two cars remain.
    • The final round will be a single competition run head-to-head.
    • Cars 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, unless judges approve a delay.
    • 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.
  • Engineering Challenge Division:
    • The Engineering Challenge division will run based on a “best of three” option for each team.
    • Each team will be given 3 heats to race down the hill.
    • Each heat will consist of 2 randomly chosen Engineering Challenge teams
    • Lane assignment will be random
    • After concluding all 3 attempts, each team will be allowed to select which race will be considered their “official” entry. The race time and return distance from only that entry will be used for determining winners.
      • Points will be awarded for fastest times as follows:
        • 10 points for the fastest time
        • 5 points for second fastest
        • 1 point for third fastest
      • Points will be awarded for the longest return distance as follows:
        • 11 points for longest distance
        • 6 points for second longest distance
        • 2 points for the third longest distance
      • The team with the highest point total will be declared the winner
      • In the event of a tie, there will be a run-off. The point total from that round only will determine the winner of the division.
    • Cars 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, unless judges approve a delay. 

Race Track: 

  • The Kits Only, Engineered, and Engineering Challenge division races will all run down Ashe Avenue, starting at Church Street, heading East.
  • Starting and Finishing:
    • Electronic sensors will provide precision for start and finish timing.

Awards:

  • Judging Criteria:
    • There will be awards given to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place team in each division (Kits Only and Engineered) for speed based on bracket results. Speed is based on the first car with a participant to cross the finish line in each race. See also “Racing” and “Heats" within these Official Rules.
  • There will also be “Design and Engineering” awards in the Engineered/Engineering Challenge category based on the following:
    • Rubric document, which describes the judging criteria can be found below.
    • The car’s overall design and engineering, including the mechanical and electrical design (e.g. novelty of propulsion system, creative engineering solutions), artistic expression, use of materials, and aesthetics (rubric is below).
      • Creativity: Is the idea original (not a copy of something else)? Does the idea show that you are skillful at inventing something new?
      • Form: Is the design really cool to look at? Will people think it looks different and interesting?
      • Function: Are the controls easy to use? Does the passenger fit in well? Is the passenger comfortable?
      • Craftsmanship: Are the details of the design as perfect as they can be? Do all the parts work smoothly together? Do all the parts of the design work together visually?
  • Additional awards may be given on the day of the competition based on the judges’ discretion.

Final judging will be performed on the day of the event.

Competition Timeline:

  • Registration starts: 8:30 a.m. on April 29, 2017.
  • 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 after completion of all races on April 29, 2017.

Related Files

Gravity Games 2017 Participation Agreement.pdf

OfficialRules-DesignRubric.pdf