DIY RC Derby (With Nails & Blades)

I live in a house of dicks.

Each of my roommates has been in the past, or is currently, in the private security industry. According to Google the word Dick in this instance is of Gypsy or Romany origin, Dik, meant ‘to watch’. This later became slang for detectives and watchmen of the late 1800’s (Dicks) which carried into modern pop culture and noire.

Dicks. All of us. Dicks.

Which might explain why when I pitched the very childish, very dangerous notion of trying to play “RC Mario Kart” in our kitchen, everyone agreed it was the wise, sensible choice.

However, this came with a few ground rules, no pun intended. I posted them to everyone’s door several days before the derby, which I will include here in case anyone wants to play along from home.

1) Any number or type of spikes, blades, tools, or instruments can be applied to your car. However, no object may exceed the total length of your car.

Example: A car measuring 6″ in length cannot have a spike or instrument longer than 6″.

2) The balloon or “target” must be inflated enough to keep a spherical shape.

3) The balloon or “target” cannot have more than 25% of its surface covered by spikes, fairings, or armor.

4) No flying vehicles.

With these rules in mind, here is the chariot I chose for this challenge…

Without knowing what vehicles my competition would bring to bear, I picked an RC bike that could pivot faster than your average 4-wheeled sports car. We knew this challenge would take place indoors and I wanted something that wouldn’t be hindered by walls and corners.

Because my initial tests of the “Cyklone” revealed that the bike had good forward speed but exceedingly poor turning (it either spins or runs forward, with hardly any cornering) I focused my efforts on front-end damage.

I relieved the blade of its handle by sticking it in my bench vice, and gave the edge a good lick or five on the whetstone. As for attaching it to my car I relied on plumber’s epoxy putty and some sandpaper to tooth the plastic.

I also found that the treads on the back were hard plastic, like the rest of the body, and couldn’t get traction on the linoleum. A few hoops of hot glue solved this.

With the long knife mounted to the front at an upward slant I was pretty confident my RC would ramp up anything it couldn’t puncture, and a few nails on the seat and body would provide some added protection where the balloon would be mounted. Or so I thought…

And because everything looks better in black, a quick shot of primer.

If assassins dream at night, they have nightmares of being chased by my thorny pod while they run in place. If machines could have spirit animals, combines with farmer’s blood in their teeth would pick my RC car as their totem. When the oracles foretold of ancient evils returning to the land, they were envisioning the dark horrors that merely held the doors open for my hellcycle.

Unfortunately, looks do not win redneck robot battles. It turns out Ben Hurrt, my opponent, had a far more effective design. This whole blog post would be a procedural about his cart’s construction except we forgot to take pictures of it being modified step-by-step. Instead, I offer a video of Ben Hurrt kicking our asses.

Oh, and if anyone ever suggests putting sharp objects on an RC car in your presence, you can tell them what will happen; hilarity, embarrassing stretches of near-misses and spin-outs, and lots of drywall damage.

If you couldn’t watch the video because your boss doesn’t love sick spin-outs, the resounding winner was Ben Hurrt. He managed to keep his balloon out of our reach almost every round.

Near the end, with no balloons remaining and the Carpet Cutter firmly stuck off-screen in a wall, we turned on each other. You can see my poor motorcycle’s stabilizing wheel hanging limp and broken from the left side. Our videographer eventually stopped recording when our batteries began dying. By the time our cars had ran out of gas, all I could do was lodge my front blade into Ben Hurrt’s spokes and let him drag me around the floor, like a tired boxer clinching until the bell rang.

Oh well. At least my Xenocycle looked menacing.

Special thanks to Zach, the driver of Ben Hurrt, who also edited this video together in glorious 90’s style and uploaded it to the Youtubes. Twice.


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