Gravity Racer World Record: Introduction

Following our successful Speed with Guy Martin challenge last year (where we smashed the gravity sled record at a whopping 134.368 kph / 83.49 mph) North One TV decided to get in touch again and see if we would help to set the gravity racer record with Guy Martin ( at the helm? Hmm let me think about that for a moment….yes we would!

Guinness World Record define a gravity racer as ‘a motor-less vehicle capable of holding a driver which has no form of on-board propulsion.’ Other people may be more familiar with the term ‘soapbox’ racer and indeed one of the most famous races is the Redbull Soapbox Race (  )

The Guinness World Record rules further stipulate these key areas that must be adhered to:

  • The soapbox may only be propelled by gravity and an initial human-powered
  • push. There may be no mechanical aids to this push.
  • Any length of run up is allowed.
  • Any design is allowed so long as it is complying with the above definition.
  • No external assistance or propulsion may be used, all motion must be provided
  • solely by gravity.
  • The soapbox must be controlled by a driver.
  • Any length and gradient course can be used for the attempt, it is up to the
  • person making the attempt to choose the location most suitable.
  • Only attempts after which the soapbox is brought to a controlled stop can be
  • accepted.
  • The speed must be calculated by timing the soapbox over a distance of 100 m.

There is no mention of weight but to make the attempt meaningful for the soapbox community we decided to design the racer with a maximum weight (including the driver) of 200kg

There is no official gravity racer world record, however to set a record we knew we had to beat the unofficial one set by the Bodrodz Atomic Splinter Gravity Car Speed Run in September 2012 at 84.4 mph on the Burkhalter Gap road in Georgia, USA.

Arguably this was a much more difficult challenge than the sled with numerous areas to consider such as; the chassis, brakes, steering, suspension, aerodynamic body, safety, the location and of course generating the fastest speed possible! Each one could be a separate project in themselves but we had 4 months to come up with a design, build it, test it and then attempt to set a world record.

The Sports Engineering team with Guy Martin

The Sports Engineering team with Guy Martin

We have decided to bring you the science and engineering story behind the episode and this will be brought to you over the coming week in 4 parts. These will include;

  1. Theory
  2. Design
  3. Location
  4. Record attempt.

Watch this Sunday 8pm on Channel 4 to see how we get on!


Christina King

Making things happen in #sports engineering/science & #health @sheffhallamuni. Engineer & business professional, love fitness, mindmaps & ride a big motorbike.

Find me on Twitter @ChristinaEKing