Valve Cover Racing Rules

Don't know what Valve Cover Racing is? Think "Pinewood Derby" for the Car Guy!

Valve Cover Racing is a competitive event similar to the Pinewood Derby that you might remember from your days in Cub Scouts. But the racers are made from a valve cover from an automotive engine, rather than of wood blocks.

Rules and regulations will change depending on the venue, but the basics remain the same: Competitors must construct a vehicle using a valve cover from a car's engine. Usually it must have four wheels. It can be decorated or modified within the rules set by the organizing body. The valve cover is powered by gravity.

In a valve cover race, two or more racing valve covers are placed at the top of a specially constructed incline, which can be straight or curved. They are released at the same time and the first to cross a finish line at the bottom of the incline wins the race. Win lights or timers may be used to more accurately determine the winner of a race.

Considering building one? Starting with a valve cover from an automotive engine, a "Valve Cover Racer" is created by adding a chassis, wheels and weights. Racers can be engineered in any way you want, so long as they follow the official rules and can take on any personality or character that you see fit.

Building a valve cover racer can be as simple or complex as you wish to make it. We've seen everything from a basic bolt-together racer to one so detailed that it even had working headlights. The simplest design uses a valve cover, plywood base and rolling gears from a skateboard.

For some direction on how to build your racer, visit and search on the phrase "Valve Cover Racing". You will find many different approaches from simple to complex. Don't be afraid to put your personality into the design and paint job. Take a look at the photos here and online to get some ideas of how to build and decorate a racer.

"Test & Tune" events as well as individual races will be conducted throughout the year. An elimination round will be held at the Gears & Ears Car Show on Sunday, June 24 at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, Rt.71 west of Rt. 47, Yorkville, IL with finals at the Fiesta Days Car Show. Please visit the Valve Cover Racing Events page for a complete list of scheduled events where we'll be displaying and playing with the race track. If you have a Valve Cover Racer, bring it along! If you don't, please consider building one!

NILSRA Rules for Valve Cover Racing Events

  • Be made from one automotive engine valve cover;
  • Have four (4) wheels, none of which extend beyond the front or rear of the valve cover;
  • Have wheels no larger than six (6) inches in diameter;
  • Have wheels which rubber or plastic running on the race track surface (no metal);
  • Have a minimum of one half (1/2) inch of clearance;
  • Be propelled by gravity only;
  • Not contain any moving weights;
  • Be no longer than thirty (30) inches, measured end to end;
  • Be no taller that ten (10) inches in height;
  • Be no wider than ten (10) inches; and
  • Weigh no more than ten (10) pounds, ready to race.

To download a copy of the 2018 Fiest Days Car Show Event Flyer, please click here: 2018 Fiesta Days Car Show Flyer.

To download a copy of the 2018 NILSRA Valve Cover Racing Flyer, please click here: 2018 NILSRA Valve Cover Racing Flyer.

To contact the Northern Illinois Street Rod Association, please write to us at


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