Power Tool Drag Racing @ RMSC STEMFest Feb 9 2019


Jim D is coordinating volunteers for this event. Please chime in if you can help for 2 hours or more.


Hello Synergy Mill! This is new member JimD. I have enjoyed meeting many of you at recent Wednesday night events, but have not met all of you yet. This is a bit of an introduction.

For the record, I grew up in Louisiana and am recently retired from being a Mechanical Engineer / Program Manager for 30-some years in Cincinnati. My wife and I have a part time second home in Greenville and are in the process of downsizing and moving from Cincinnati to Louisville (mostly) and Greenville (the other mostly).

I have some history (since 2009) at Cincinnati’s Makerspace, Hive13 where we started doing Power Tool Drag Racing in 2013. We didn’t invent it, but some say we have come close to perfecting it. We have grown it from our humble origin at midwest maker faires to winning awards at the big maker faires in Detroit, New York, and San Francisco. We have tapered off a bit in recent years, but our goal has always been to inspire kids with an experience showing how engineering is fun. A day at the PTDR is a blast.

In discussions with Doug and Joey while getting to know Greenville, and wanting to make opportunities to promote Synergy Mill and engage with the community, we thought to collaborate and bring this PTDR to a local event. We reached out to the folks at Roper Mountain and they eagerly agreed to host a race at their STEMFest 2019 event coming up soon.

Steps are underway and we are looking for a few good volunteers to help. The race will be indoors at Roper Mountain Harrison Hall on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. There will be opportunities to help set-up the track on the Friday before, support general public racing on Saturday, and teardown and pack-out after the race.

We hope some of you will have the time and heart to help. It will be fun. Stay tuned for further details that will appear in subsequent posts to this thread.

JimD (and Doug and Joey)


I’m available for help, will see you there.

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Here’s a shareable link for the event on our website:


Hello all:

This is a quick general update. Current status is the same, maybe with more detail here.

The attached PNG shows the selected layout to fit in the Harrison Hall Design Lab. It will be a short track, 36’ O.A.L. indoors in the lab, rather than 88’ O.A.L. standard. I will pack and drive the PTDR to Greenville in the pickup during the day Wednesday, 2/6 and be at the SM meeting that night. We can get in to do setup on Friday afternoon and (optionally) early Saturday. Show time is from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday. Anticipate several hours of pack-out Saturday afternoon and possibly early evening.

The PTDR setup should be complete. The one exception may be the PA system. I’ll work with Joey or Roper Mountain on that detail. Setup and teardown are orderly and methodical and not difficult. Anywhere from 2 to 6 SM folks to help Friday and Saturday will be enough help. RMSC will have a few high-school volunteers and such kids usually make good helpers. Depending on skill sets and interests, the extra people during the races allows some break time for the principals. It does stay busy during prime time. There are PTDR T-shirts for the volunteer staff if our legacy inventory has the right sizes.

We will plan to do general public match races using the stable of well-worn Harbor Freight belt sander house racers. Any custom racers from Joey and others will be for display and exhibition races. I’ll bring one or two of the beat-up angle grinder circular saw beasts but we won’t race them indoors on the nice lab floor.

Other questions for now?



Hi any and all who are still thinking to help with the PTDR:

There is still time to step in to help. Reply on this thread to join the SM volunteers. Saturday, Feb. 9 will be next weekend. The long range weather forecast shows 49 degrees and rain so it will be good to be indoors.

The following extra information just came in from our contact Valerie Mosher at Roper MountainIt. It is a lot of good detail and we will review it again on Wednesday night.

  • Event Flyer (get the word out!)
  • Event day reminders (free pizza for volunteers!)
  • Parking Info (we will get parking passes!)

The PTDR is guaranteed geek hillbilly racing fun!


STEMFest 2019 Team-

We are very EXCITED about this year’s event! You all have put together fantastic and engaging activities and demonstrations! We cannot wait to share all of this with the community! Please feel free to get the word out about the event through your promotion/marketing/social media networks! We have begun event promotion and would love for you to share, re-tweet, tag us, etc.!

Please see the following attachments:
The event flier for event promotion
Graphics/artwork for event promotion.
Parking/volunteer pass

· EVENT DAY Reminders
o Please have all your volunteers arrive through the gate no later than 8:15am on Saturday to be sure there is sufficient time to unload, park check last set-up, etc. Please be in place and ready for visitors by 8:45am.
o We will provide an 11” x 17” sign with your logo and the name of your activity, feel free to bring other signage, displays, and giveaways.
o If you are doing a make-and-take activity I would plan on enough materials for ~700 visitors.
o You will be provided an RMSC/building contact person the day of the event to help you with logistics.
o A hospitality room with snacks and water will be available throughout the day and a pizza lunch will be provided for volunteers who will be in attendance the entire day.

· BREAK-DOWN- We would like materials to be removed after the event Saturday Feb 9th, however, we recognize some items are larger and may not be easily removed that day. You can still pick up larger items on Monday Feb 11th.


· Print and display gate/volunteer pass on the dashboard of your car
· IF you are dropping off materials you may pull in front of your building to unload your items. Contact Val if you are bringing an oversized vehicle.

Look forward to having you all at another great event!
Thanks for all you do!

STEM Specialist

Roper Mountain Science Center
Greenville County Schools


Quick update and latest plan:

The PTDR track kit arrived in Greenville last night. It was raining in Kentucky and Tennessee on the way down. Portions got a little wet, but all is ok. We unpacked the main parts at Synergy Mill last night.

Confirming plans and remaining opportunities:

  • Jim will do a quick track setup today at SM to see all parts are on-site and operational.

  • We need to find a compatible speaker box in-town that works with the sound system before Friday noon. Joey, Brandon, and Roper Mtn may have solutions, TBD.

  • We have a volunteer opportunity for one or two folks to be pit crew today/tonight/tomorrow at SM to tune-up the stable of Harbor Freight belt sander house racers. There are six or seven ‘rode-hard-and-put-up-wet’ racers that need some TLC. We’ll need three or four that will last through six hours of non-stop racing excitement on Saturday. The tune-up is easy work, involving replacing damaged power cord plugs, installing new belts, adjusting belt tracking, and such. We have some parts for this, who can help take this on?

  • The current plan for Friday setup at Roper Mountain is to be on-site at 2:30pm to start at 2:45pm and (hopefully) be done by 5:00pm. Jim, Doug, and Joey are the current team, but there is room for a few others who may want to help too.

  • We will be back at Roper Mtn Saturday morning, starting anytime after 7:00am or 8:00am for remaining setups and test runs. Jim, Doug, Joey, Russell, and Hans are the team. Waiting to hear from possibly Dwyte? or any others? who still want to help.

  • SHOWTIME racing will be non-stop from 9:00am to 3:00pm on Saturday. Extra hands make light work. We should get some RM high-school volunteers to platoon the track opperations. RM will have a break room for volunteer workers and pizza at lunch.

  • We will start teardown a bit early, and the last race will be at 3:00pm. We will then start a quick tear down to pack out and load the two prick-up trucks and leave by 5:00pm.

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I can help out today