By Ross Trethewey
1995, Dedham, MA
The first year, I wanted to do it all on my own, and I finished in the bottom third. The second time around, I asked my dad for help, and of course he was all about it. I’m thinking we’ll use his power tools to get the block more crafted. Instead he goes, “Let’s put together some sketches, then call up Norm to see if we can get into New Yankee Workshop.” I was like, “Wow, you can do that?” He said, “We can do that.”
We literally had the workshop to ourselves. There were vacuum hoses hanging down, tools with lasers—I didn’t even know where to start. I just remember it was so clean. We used a planer to thin out the block and a lathe to get the rocket-ship nose. We chiseled the underside for the weights to reduce drag. The wheels come with nails, but we got rid of them and put in an actual axle. We sanded it and painted it red.
I remember my dad was always stressing safety. He’d always say, “Just think about when this piece of wood goes in the machine, what does it want to do?” That has always stuck with me.
We weighed the car at the shop and we were a little under 5 ounces—I think we played it a little safe. We ended up finishing second, but building the car with my dad is something I’ll never forget.
Shown: This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, taking a break during a 1998 radiant heating project with his sons Evan (center) and Ross, and the family cat, Simon. “We have always built stuff together,” says Evan.