Valve cover racing in northeast Nebraska

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:06 AM CST
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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KOLN) - During a trip to South Sioux City, we learned about the pastime of valve cover racing, and how one man has a race track in his own garage.

“We take valve covers from car engines, put wheels on them, and then we have a track, and we run them down the hill,” Gravity Falls Racetrack owner Larry Doerr said. Valve cover racing is a bit like soap box derby, but on a much smaller scale. “It’s all of the same theories,” Doerr said. “The longer the valve cover, the farther the back wheels are up the hill, and the more push you get. Weight is important, as are wheels and bearings.”

Doerr enjoys having visitors come to his home garage to take part in valve cover racing events.

“We have anywhere from 12 to 24 people come once a month in the winter,” Doerr said. “We run six races. It’s a good get-together for the car guys once a month.”

10/11 NOW asked Doerr how he got into this.

“They had it at the Good Guy show in Des Moines,” Doerr said. “That’s how I heard about it and got started. I built a track just to play around with, and decided, well, as long as I have a track, I might as well have races. We do a few summer car shows, and we do a big race at the World of Wheels car show in Omaha. Our races involve adults, but we also have events for kids, especially in the summer.”

People seem to take valve cover racing pretty seriously.

“Everybody makes their own wheels, and weight placement is a big deal,” Doerr said. “On my track, you want the weight in the back. The size of the wheels matters, as well as the weight of the wheels. You want fairly light, hard wheels. You can’t have metallic wheels. They have to be plastic, rubber or whatever. There is a 10 pound weight limit. And, the racer can only be up to 10 inches wide, 10 inches tall, and 30 inches long. It’s the cheapest form of racing you’ll ever do.”