July 2020 - October 2020

Da Vinci Derby Race Track with Da Vinci Art Alliance

Derby starter kits were provided to local community members to engineer, assemble and personalize a derby car to race on this custom race track. Competitors were awarded for speed and creativity. The results were livestreamed during the Da Vinci Fest Live on Oct. 22, 2020.

Students worked on this hands-on activity to learn about engineering and design at home. To get started, they received starter kits that included a 7-inch block of wood, wheels, and axles. Videos were created with tips such as using an aerodynamic shape and distributing weight across the miniature cars.

The Race Track Construction

This 4’ by 5’ by 25’ 8-lane derby race track was made in collaboration with Bresslergroup (a Philadelphia-based engineering design firm), Da Vinci Art Alliance (DVAA) artist members, and community members. DVAA is a non-profit art space based in South Philadelphia that provides resources, exhibition space, and community for our artist members and surrounding neighborhoods.

On weekends throughout the summer, we built the track at the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion. We worked out of their workshop with the garage door rolled up to provide air circulation. We wore face masks according to COVID-19 workplace guidelines and distanced as best we could. We also wore ear and eye protection depending on the machinery we handled.


Due to COVID-19, we were not able to hold the race in-person. Instead, we filmed the race at NextFab, a network of membership-based makerspaces, and streamed it at the Da Vinci Fest Live. This virtual festival showcases the innovation, diversity, and artistry that makes Philadelphia so vibrant.