Valve Cover Racing

The Members Of The Pacific NW Met Owners Club And British Columbia Mets Introduce You To Valve Cover Racing!

An Introduction

So you’d like to know a little bit about Valve Cover Racing...

About 6 years ago I heard about some folks who put wheels on engine valve covers and raced them down a track - just like kids race the pinewood derby cars they build. It sounded like they had a lot of fun so I decided to “throw it out there” for one of our upcoming club events. I expected maybe 5 or 6 people whom I considered “mechanical’ would put together a valve cover racer and that would be it – I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Almost immediately I started receiving emails and phone calls asking for in-depth clarification of the rules. I had to get busy and learn more about this “sport.” I researched several sites on the internet to see what a track looked like and how people were building their racers. All that studying and it came down to just a few simple rules – no power source (gravity only), length and width limits of the racer are determined by how the track is built, weight is an arbitrary number given as a maximum to keep the playing field a little more even.

Our first Valve Cover Racing event was held at one of our club “Can-Am” Regional get-togethers. We had about 70 people in attendance and 12 valve cover racers! Someone had planned ahead (not me – I was busy building the track!) and arrived with trophies, a bright yellow racing suit with appropriate patches for the judge to wear and a starter’s shirt (complete with black and white stripes) for me to wear as I dropped the starting gate. EVERYONE gathered around the track to watch and take pictures of the races. We had some amazing valve covers rolling down the track, false starts, crashes, close calls, racers that decided to turn left before the end of the track and even a “photo finish” in the final run that required the judge, the photographer and the starter to view and confer to declare a clear winner – by ¼ inch!

Everybody was hoarse from cheering and a lot more folks started building racers. After two or three events the ladies decided they’d like to get in on the fun and decorate their own racers. So we’ve now expanded to a “Valve Cover Racer Beauty Contest” with five categories that takes place just prior to the races – that way the ladies can race their creations too. Now, I’m not crazy enough to think I could get away with picking the winners in the “Beauty” contest without catching a lot of flack – so in one of my extremely RARE moments of clarity I thought it best to make the selections “people’s choice!” The guys have gotten into the decorating too – especially in the categories “Scariest” and “Most Innovative” though all categories are open to all entrants.

Valve cover decorating is totally up to the entrant. How you decorate your valve cover is only limited to your imagination, and if you want to race it, by the racer rules as well.

Valve cover racing is really quite simple. You build a racer that conforms with the rules keeping in mind that in order to win it needs to be pretty fast.

For some decorating and/or building ideas check out our pages and galleries on the Valve Cover Beauty Contest, the Valve Cover Racing Rules, and Valve Cover Building Tips. However you build your racer - don’t forget to add in LOTS OF FUN!

Construction Tips & Ideas

Ideas and a few tips on building a Valve Cover Racer

Valve covers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Our rules don’t require you to use any particular kind of valve cover – it can be from a Met or a Chevy or a Kubota tractor – it just has to be a valve cover. There’s no further restriction as long as your racer doesn’t exceed the weight, length, width and wheel rules.

You’ll want to put some kind of wheels on it, as many or as few as you think you need to reach the finish line! Some use old roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard wheels, model car wheels – your choices are almost endless!

Come up with a method of adjusting the steering so you can make it run straight - shortest distance between two points is a straight line, right?

Do what you need to do to make the wheels turn freely – if they drag a bit it’s like driving your Met with the emergency brake on. Pinewood derby folks polish axles, some people use bearings, some racers are oiled up so much they drip oil on the track! (WE blame the British Valve Covers)

Incorporate a design theme to make it look fast, or pretty, or like Frankenstein, or… The possibilities are endless. We hold the Valve Cover Beauty Contest BEFORE the races so you don’t have to worry about damaging your decorations during the race. Your decorations can be screwed, glued, or tattooed (painted) on or they can be removable if you’re worried about wind resistance.

Weight is pretty important. For the most part the more weight you have on board the faster your racer will roll. There are exceptions, but they seem to be few. Keep the overall weight to no more than 10 lbs and maybe make some of it removable for small adjustments due to differences in scales used to weigh your racer for different competitions.

After all, once you catch the Valve Cover Racing bug – we know you’ll be holding VC Races as soon as you get back home.

Beauty Contest

The Great Valve Cover Racer Beauty Contest

The ladies suggested we hold a valve cover decorating contest as well as the races. What a GREAT Idea!

Build your valve cover racer (it doesn’t have to race if you don’t want it to – but that’s half the fun!) and decorate it to whatever theme you wish.

Prizes are awarded for Prettiest, Sexiest, Cutest, Scariest, and Most Innovative (our euphemism for UGLIEST), that should cover all ages and genders! Definitions of these categories are up to the beholders filling out the ballots.

Judging is by anonymous ballot. Each entry will be numbered and that number will be written on the ballot for each of the appropriate categories, and placed in the voting box.

Of course the decorating contest entries may race as well (voting to be completed just prior to the valve cover races first heat) - as long as they follow the VC Racer rules (and guys - no sniveling if the ladies win!).

Rules & Regulations

Official Valve Cover Racer Rules

  • The cars shall have no power source - All motive force is provided by gravity (we provide the gravity for FREE!)
  • Cars shall be based on actual automotive valve covers (domestic or foreign)
  • Length shall be no more than 22 inches (measured from front-most point of “body” to center of rear axle)
  • The lowest point of the front of the racer or start gate bumper cannot be higher than 2” from the track surface (has to be held back by the starting gate)
  • Overall width no more than 10 1/2 inches (has to fit on the track!)
  • Wheels can be inside or outside of the valve cover
  • Cars can have four or less wheels on the ground with a maximum diameter of no more than 6 inches
  • Car weight limit is 10 lbs (will be weighed at check-in)
  • Consists of two lanes each 11” wide separated by a low railing. The gravity ramp is 16’ long at an approximate 25 degree slope, transitioning to a runway approximately 13’ long with a tarp at the end to catch the racers.
  • The starting gate rises from the center of each lane to a height of 2”.
  • Practice runs for alignment/adjustments prior to start of the races are encouraged
  • Races will consist of sudden death heats (one run, winner advances) with a two out of three heat final. Heats are determined by hat drawing. First name drawn takes left lane, second name the right. Final heat loser chooses lane for next run.
  • Drivers will place and align their own racers at the starting gate and the Flagman will release the gate. No penalty for crossing out of your lane once the runway is entered.
  • Do overs: at the discretion of the audience
  • Judge’s ruling is final! (no retribution or sniveling please... but the track will be available for grudge matches after the event.)

2014 LeMay Valve Cover Race

Interested in what happened last year...

We're using the same track as last year ... visit our Facebook Gallery Page for details from our event last year:

Click Here

Visit the Pacific Northwest Metropolitan Owner's Club Click Here


Sponsors and supporters of this event.