DIY: Edible Car Derby at Home

miniature car made out of food

NC State’s BAE 100 course, an introduction to biological engineering, ends with a special treat: Professor Andy Hale, of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, holds an edible car derby, challenging students to construct miniature vehicles and pit them against each other in delicious timed trials. With a few items from your pantry or refrigerator, you can put on a derby of your own at home.

Below, you can find all the info you need. Grab your cucumbers, pretzel rods or whatever inspires you. Get an adult to supervise and provide assistance, and check out our video from a previous derby for inspiration.


The hardest part to replicate will be the ramp for the cars. The class uses a 1-meter board, angled at 20 degrees, that ends on a flat surface. Something long enough, solid and supported should do the trick. If all else fails, try propping up some flattened cardboard for your ramp. The vehicle that rolls the farthest receives the most points (10), with a sliding scale for the rest.


  1. The vehicle must use at least three different food items.
  2. The vehicle must be entirely edible — no toothpicks, tape, glue, etc.
  3. The vehicle must have at least: a body, three wheels (the wheels must rotate) and two axles.
  4. All parts must be dry at the time of competition.
  5. If you form teams, each team member must eat a portion of the vehicle, with the whole car being consumed in 6 minutes or less.


  1. A competition official will release vehicles at the top of the ramp. The official should place the front end of each vehicle on the start line and release it.
  2. There can be no outside influence on the vehicle after its release.
  3. Any vehicle that does not make it down the ramp will not receive distance points for that run.
  4. Each vehicle will have two runs. The greater distance of the two runs will be used to determine the points awarded.
  5. For vehicles that tie in distance, deviation from the centerline will be used to break the tie. The closest to the centerline for the longest run will win the tie-breaker.
  6. Three members from each team will be asked.

Scoring (50 points)

Distance (10 points)
This is the performance part of the design. The vehicle that rolls the furthest on the flat plane will receive 10 points. The second place vehicle will receive 9 points and so on.

Durability (5 points)
1 point for a vehicle that slides down the incline, does not roll but stays intact
2 points for a vehicle that makes one run down incline but fails to do so twice
3 points for a vehicle that makes two runs down the incline, requiring only minor repairs
5 points for a vehicle that makes two runs down the incline with no repairs

Design (15 points)
Edible Materials (up to 5 points)
2 points if the vehicle uses the minimum of three edible materials
1 additional point if the vehicle uses four edible materials
2 additional points if the vehicle uses five or more materials

Wheel/Axle Design (up to 10 points, pick the one that applies)
2 points if the vehicle does not start on its own or slides (2 points)
4 points if the vehicle rolls down incline, but with assistance
6 points if the vehicle rolls poorly down incline, but without assistance (6 points)
8 points if the vehicle completes run down incline without assistance, but hits the rails on the way down
10 points if the vehicle completes run down incline without assistance and without hitting the rails

Creativity (10 points)
2 points for the use of a theme, slogan and team and vehicle identity
2 additional points for use of a clever idea or material
2 additional points for use of different colors or textures
2 additional points for vehicle-like appearance
2 additional points for unique uses of materials for special effects

Edibility (10 points):
All members of the team must participate by consuming a portion of the vehicle. The entire vehicle must be eaten within 2 minutes to receive the full 10 points. Points will be awarded based on the total consumption time. No team will be allowed to eat for more than six minutes. Judges will be permitted to stop a team from eating if a problem arises.

Be sure to share photos with us on social media of your delicious derbies.

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