CO2 car racing at the Northfield Middle School

Chad Dougherty Tim BiergertI got an invitation from my mentee, Chad Dougherty, to attend his Industrial Tech class at the Northfield Middle School on Monday to watch the CO2 car races. IT instructor Tim Biegert and Instructional Educational Assistant Lance Poole graciously allowed me to take some photos and video.

For the CO2 races, each student shapes a block of wood into a car body shape, drilling holes for the axles and the CO2 cartridge. Considerable sanding, sealing, and painting in involved. Students attach two eyehooks to the bottom of each car so that a string can be used as a guide to keep them on the track.

On the day of the race, student cars are paired up to race against each other but the key metric is the elapsed time for each car.  Mr. Biegert inserts the CO2 cartridges and a student triggers a mechanism that punctures the seal on the cartridges and sends them down the track at 20-50 MPH, taking about a second to finish. Finishing times are automatically recorded to a computer and displayed on the screen, with rankings likewise updated after each race.

It was quite an exciting event to watch and clearly exciting for the students. Here are 6 more photos and a 10-second video clip of Chad’s race.

Student CO2 race cars Industrial tech class Tim Biergert

Student CO2 race cars Tim Biergert Chad Dougherty and teacher Lance Poole


  1. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    My husband David Kamis, art and industrial arts teacher at Middle School, has been telling me about these race car events in his classes for years. Nice to see one on video.

    January 31, 2010
  2. john george said:

    These cars put a whole new meaning to “pouring on the gas.” I remember having a small rocket engine in my youth. It was powered by a small fuel pellet that burned and provided propulsion. I wasn’t having any success trying to fly any of my balsa model airplanes with it, so I tried fastening it to one of my model train cars to see if it would push it around the track. It flew off the car and lodged under my dresser in my room. Once the thing ingnited, there was no turning it off. It is a wonder I didn’t burn the house down with that incident. Both my parents passed away without ever learning about my experiment. At least the CO2 doesn’t have that kind of potential.

    February 1, 2010

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