Rocket Car Challenge

Jane Reilly  |  Published: May 14th 2018

Children from 12 schools from the area around RAF Halton have taken place in the regional final of ‘Race For The Line’, the building and racing of a self-made Rocket Car.

The Regional Final allowed the two fastest teams from each school to visit RAF Halton to race for a place in the National Final. Two schools where forced to drop out at the last minute but the remaining schools brought 19 teams, four pupils per team, to the race. Each team started to design and build their new Rocket car from scratch under the same rules and parameters as before, making it as light and aerodynamic as possible. The build phase was finished by lunch time with a wide variety of designs and fun ideas on show. All the work and ideas came from the pupils with organiser, Chf Tech Stu Dutton, having to tell numerous teachers to step away often, as they also got engrossed in the new project wanting to produce the best car.

Each school brought wheels, axles and anything else that is part of the underside along with tools that are needed to attach the wheels to the axles, and a member of The Learning Partnership Team was in attendance at each regional final bringing everything required for the job plus spare backup plastic wheels and axles for teams that break or lose their own.

Halton staff conducted the training day at RAF Odiham on a freezing wintery day in January, visiting the 12 schools comprising of Luton, Dunstable, Wing, John Colet School in Wendover, High Wycombe, Bishop Stortford and Gerrard’s Cross. Race days have taken place across March often in the snow, with the team of Stu Dutton, Sgt Sunita Aven, Cpl Kirsty Orr and SAC Suman Garewal. having helped the schools race 410 Rocket cars and engage with 1479 pupils from the Year seven.

After lunch and visiting the Trenchard Museum the Rocket Car racing started with 19 cars on the starting line, in front of the Tornado on Henderson Parade Square. With the sun out for the day the pupils were in good vocal form counting down 3,2,1 for each car to be Rocket initiated and sent across the Finish Line. The racing went amazingly well with only one misfire and one to be re-run after hitting the timing gate due to a gust of wind.

The second car raced on the day, team MMA from Chalfont’s Community College in Gerrards Cross were the winners by some way, producing a car that clocked a time of 19.7 milli-seconds which converted into 113 mph. They now progress to the National Final on the 28th June at RAF Wittering.

Stu said: “The whole project has been amazing to run and take part in, from helping to build and race the cars with the schools, to engaging with the staff and pupils who were interested in what we do here and the Royal Air Force in general, not just within Science Technology Engineering and Maths STEM platform but about our trades as well. It has been a fantastic opportunity to show the RAF service persons talents in a massively positive way via the platform, from which the whole team has thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

The Station Commander submitted a car,  X-Ray 1, which raced against mine and Cpl Orr’s previous Rocket car, Lucky 13, which won the duel and was timed and converted two mph quicker at just below 30 mph.”

participants 2
participants 3
participants 4
participants 5
participants 6
Station Commander with car & trophy
car in motion
cheering it on
look at it go
Photos of the day. All photos Crown Copyright.
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