Power Tool Racing 2015
Where angle grinders and toasters are equal
Setting a race track on fire won’t win you any prizes, but it will entertain the crowd. When it comes to Power Tool Racing, fun is what it’s all about.
For four years running Iscar Plus has hosted the Power Tool Racing competition in conjunction with Buckley Systems Ltd. This year was one of the best yet, with everything from toasters on wheels, to men in suits, to total wipe-outs.
Power Tool Racing challenges friends and customers of Iscar Plus to build racing cars out of hand-held power tools, to be raced down parallel wooden tracks against one another. The overall fastest car is crowned Grand Champion for the year. The event is free to enter and open to the public on the day.
“The point of Power Tool Racing is to promote friendly competition,” says Nathan Stronge, CEO of Iscar Plus. “We challenge people to put their creativity and know-how to use in a fun way. The great thing about it is that winning doesn’t depend on the size of your wallet. A $100 racer can outperform a $500 racer.”
Friendly competition was the name of the game this year, as for the first time Iscar Plus invited University Engineering students and Workshop Apprentices to enter in their own Trainee category. Each team that entered this category was provided with the same power tool by Iscar Plus. Doing so allowed apprentices and students the opportunity to showcase their engineering talent from an even playing field. Six teams from AUT, Accord, and FSAE (the University of Auckland’s Formula SAE club) went head-to-head in a Battle of the Trades showdown, with the overall winner racing in the finals against professional engineers.
The winners of the Trainee category were AUT’s Car Ramrod, built by Thomas Hume and Yoshi Lim. This was the first time Thomas and Yoshi had built a power tool racer. Their best race time was 2.434 seconds, a mere half a second behind the top racing time of the day. When asked what they thought of the whole experience, Thomas and Yoshi showed their spirit: “The event was a great opportunity for some healthy competition between university students and workshop apprentices. We already have some of our club (ASE – AUT Student Engineers) teams planning ahead for the next one. We will definitely be competing in future events.”
The Grand Champion and winner of the 1.91kW+ category was Fisher & Paykel’s entry: Let’s Torque. Dressed for success, the boys behind Let’s Torque put in hours of work to produce a machine that outperformed the rest.
“As we thought may happen, practicality triumphed over theory on the day,” says Kent Dalziell, leader of Dirty Laundry Racing. “The fact that we had five people in our team and the support from all at Fisher and Paykel Production Machinery was probably an advantage to us. There was a fair few late nights before the event and we are rapt our hard work paid off. The last minute decision to rock up in suits as a joke worked out better than we thought.”
Kent and his team from Fisher & Paykel have been enthusiastic entries in Power Tool Racing for two years running, and have high ambitions for next year: “We will be back faster than ever and plan to set a new track record. We learned so much about teamwork, scheduling, costs and design from this event. We had a little bit of fun along the way too!”
As the driving force behind Power Tool Racing, Nathan Stronge wants to encourage more engineers to get involved. “We like to see people getting together to build a car, because engineering isn’t just work and no play. It takes creativity, ingenuity, and teamwork to build a racer that will make it to the end of the track.”
Time is not a concern either: “It is up to each team how much time they want to spend on this project. More doesn’t necessarily mean better,” he explains. “We’ve had entries that took a few days to put together that have won against entries that took weeks, and vice versa. Victory depends on working smart, not hard.”