Muscle Kart Racing

Muscle Kart Racing Push Car racing was a popular activity in the early 1900s. Children would be propelled around a track in a home-made car. The STEM Racing Series seeks to revive the sport by introducing “Muscle Kart” racing as a means to teach valuable knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Muscle Kart Chassis Booking Request

The Team

Muscle Kart Racing is open to anyone ages 5-12. Teams consist of 1 driver and 6 runners, all within specific age groups. A team might consist of people from the same club, organization, neighborhood, school class, family, Scout troup, etc.

The Car

Each racing team starts with a pre-assembled chassis. In some situations it may be best for students to start with a disassembled kit. Detailed and fully illustrated assembly instructions are included. The racing team researches, designs, and builds a body for their car from cardboard and other inexpensive materials. The body is not structural and does not affect performance.

The STEM Learning

Many skills are required to successfully complete a Muscle Kart Race, including documentation of the design process, budget accounting, research on karts/driver, designing kart specifications and analyzing data.
Cars are free of charge within Illinois, and each school is responsible for consumables (glue, tape, accessories, etc…). Due to funding uncertainties, we may need to charge for mileage.

Muscle Kart FAQs

Why Muscle Kart Racing?

There is a growing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). This has resulted in many STEM schools being set up and many STEM-related activities and competitions being held in children’s museums and other venues. There are many different competitions in areas such as robotics, coding, and bridge building available for these students to hone and display their skills. None of these, however, would be considered a “sport,” as none of them have a physical component. Muscle Car racing will teach and apply STEM skills and require a physical component.

There is a growing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). This has resulted in many STEM schools being set up and many STEM-related activities and competitions being held in children’s museums and other venues. There are many different competitions in areas such as robotics, coding, and bridge building available for these students to hone and display their skills. None of these, however, would be considered a “sport,” as none of them have a physical component. Muscle Car racing will teach and apply STEM skills and require a physical component.

How do we build the Muscle Kart?

You can order a Chassis Kit for the Muscle Kart, which includes steering, brakes, seat, and safety considerations. The body can be built of cardboard/tape or other inexpensive materials. A Chassis Kit Production book and a Chassis Kit Assembly book are available to order. Contact Brad Christensen (bachris@ilstu.edu) for pricing and more information.

How do I integrate STEM concepts along with Muscle Kart Racing into my curriculum?

Many STEM concepts could be covered with kart design and racing. You could incorporate testing air resistance, measuring and minimizing weight requirements, or measuring kart acceleration. We are in the process of developing a curriculum book to aid you in the design of your lessons. Contact Brad Christensen (bachris@ilstu.edu) for more information.

What other roles can be incorporated into a Muscle Kart Race?

There are many roles that can be divided among students outside of building the kart. Budgeting, event organization, course design, etc. can all happen simultaneously with building the testing the kart.

Ideas for Using the Muscle Kart Chassis (pdf)

Is Muscle Kart Racing safe?

As with all physical activities, there is a risk for injury. The primary risk to injury is to the kart pushers. Safe course design can minimize that risk. Please download the safety considerations below to make your Muscle Kart Race a safe one.

Muscle Kart Safety:

There is some potential for injury during construction but reasonable safety practices in the classroom can address them. I would suggest that students cut cardboard with tin snips rather than with utility knives. Also, jab saws used for cutting holes in drywall work well for cutting cardboard. They make a rather rough cut, but are relatively safe and cut curves easily. Of course, do not allow students to push the cars around the classroom or hallways unsupervised. Quickly revoke driving privileges of any person involved in “demolition derby” activity. On the track, the driver is relatively safe. A helmet and gloves should be required. Also, all runners should be instructed to avoid collisions and stabilize the car in case of a potential rollover. All drivers should wear the seat belt. Be certain the seat is securely fastened. It is adjustable, but MUST be secured with screws in the metal brackets. The effectiveness of the seat belt is greatly reduced if the seat comes out. The primary safety concern with the Muscle Karts is injury to the runners. It is quite easy for the car approaching from behind to clip the heels of the runners from the car ahead. Also, there is potential of a runner falling and being injured in the fall and/or hit by another car. There are a number of ways to reduce this risk:  The more cars that get “bunched up” the greater the potential for injury. Limit the number of cars to reduce the risk. If necessary, allow only one car on the track at a time, competing “against the clock.”  Designate lanes or designate “passing zones”  Make the track very wide with plenty of places to pass and few “tight spots”  Race on grass, so that a fall is not as serious as falling on pavement. All runners should be required to wear protective gear. A helmet, gloves, and closed-toed shoes should be considered minimal. Elbow and knee pads would be helpful. Long sleeves and long pants would also reduce the severity of an injury. Uphill slopes are not particularly dangerous, but be wary of downhill slopes.

For more information about this project, please contact

Bjorn Vidakovic
energy@yoomeyoo.com