Rocket Racers is a very fun activity that is designed for camps but can be done anywhere you choose. The basic premise is that campers build small cars that they then race against each other (safely) using model rocket engines.

This has many advantages over traditional model rockets such as:
1) It can be done inside or outside and isn't weather dependent
2) The whole activity is self contained so it can be done in a designated area (unlike rockets which can go everywhere)
3) It's more fun because campers are racing each other instead of just launching.
4) It's faster to set up
5) In my completely biased opinion, it's a lot cooler (this has been confirmed by campers and random staff walking by)

This Instructable shows how to make the Track that the cars race on, the Launching mechanism, the scoring Flags, and the pieces for the Racers as well as how the campers will put them together.

The Track is fairly simple, as is the Launching mechanism (based on a model rocket engine one modified to launch two engines at once). The scoring Flags were a bit difficult to come up with (if you want to make your own) but not very hard to make with instructions. The Racers are designed to be as easy as possible to make in bulk and very simple to assemble.

Lastly is how the entire system of the activity runs as well as safety instructions and concerns along with a bonus Engine Award mini-Instructable. 

Step 1: Tools and Materials

- Drill with drill bits
- Screw driver
- Saw (handsaw will work but a miter saw, especially a power miter saw, will make the work go faster and more precisely)
- Something to cut PVC with
- Soldering iron w/ solder
- Safety equipment (goggles, mask, etc. You'll also need goggles for the actual racing)

Track (open to suggestion; look at pictures in step)
- 4x 1" x 10" x 6' board
- 5x 2 x 4
- sheet metal
- plexi-glass
- 24' 1/8" wire rope cut into two 12 foot pieces
- screws
- something to use as shock absorbers. I used very dense styrofoam but tennis balls will also work (one cut in half is fine)
- strong tape (i recommend/used Gorilla tape, duct tapes stronger cousin)

- 3/4 inch thick scrap wood; enough to make a box around 12x5x5 inches
- hinges
- three switches (if you can, make one a key turning kind. It looks awesome). The best choice (To see why, see Step 7) would be momentary NO (normally open, i.e. off) switches/buttons
- wire
- 4x AA battery pack
- 4x alligator clips
- solder/soldering iron

- Scrap 2x4 (I actually used a 2x3 stud)
- Lego plate/axle pieces (used to make a smoother turn/slide instead of rubbing against the wood itself)
- Scrap 1/4" thick wood
- Rubber bands

Cars (each)
- 6" x 3.5" x 1/4" board
- 4x wheels w/ axles
- 3.25" length of 1" diameter PVC
- 1.5" eyebolt w/ nut (the shaft should be 1.5", not the whole bolt)
- Whatever you want to use to decorate the car with
My high school shop class used Pinewood Derby cars and fired them with CO2 cartridges pierced with a spring-loaded nail. I always wanted to do your idea as a kid, but never got around to it. Maybe it's time to revive the dream and set my kids loose with this.
This is awesome. This is the kind of camp experience that lingers and turns perfectly ordinary children into engineering monsters. Great build and great documentation.
Fun! It reminds me of the Cub Cars I used to make (and race) as a kid!

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