Home > STEM Learning > About > What is CO2 racing, exactly?

What is CO2 racing, exactly?

Often described as Pinewood Derby® on steroids, CO2 racing features small wooden cars racing in pairs down a special track, except the track is level, cars are powered by escaping carbon dioxide rather than gravity – and there’s much more speed!

Here are the basics:

  • Students convert a wedge-shaped piece of wood (about 12" in length) into a sleek race car body using hand or power tools. Paint, wheels, and axles are added to make the cars roadworthy.
  • Pairs of cars are strung on a 65.5-foot racetrack (the track can be on the floor or a specially designed elevated surface), and CO2 cartridges are inserted into holes in the back of each car.
  • Cars are fitted to launching devices that then puncture the cartridges, releasing the compressed gas to start the race.
  • The cars speed down the track and cross the finish line in about a second!
  • Race times are recorded to determine car pairings for a final round to determine a winner.

If you’re new to the concept of CO2 racing and want to learn more about designing, building, and racing CO2 cars via video, visit the Video Gallery to learn about the what, why, and how of CO2 dragster racing.