10 Great Gifts to Inspire Your Kids About Race Cars and Design

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We take a look at 10 great gifts (plus a few more!) that you can give your kids to help them get excited about race car design and building.

Let’s get started…

Ages: 4-9

Racecar Alphabet

An excellent book for kids (and parents to read with them) is the Racecar Alphabet. As you can imagine it uses the alphabet to go through a history of many famous race cars. What makes this book great is that it not only teaches your child words and how to read, but it does so with race cars that aren’t made up as fiction. There are real cars: Bugattis, Mercedes grand prix cars, NASCAR and more so you as the parent can enjoy it as well.

If I Built a Car

Dr Seuss move over. There’s a new kid in the driver’s seat. If I Built a Car is a combination of great rhyming, vivid imaginative detail and great illustrations. Kids absolutely love this book and what’s more they actually learn useful information about designing cars and learn to read. I’m sure more than one child has been inspired to create their own car after reading this book.

Klutz Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Kit

Ok, so Klutz Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Kit doesn’t fall into the race car category, but it does provide a heck of lot of neat creations to build that are both fun and hands-on—16 different projects worth of them. Lego has always been a creative learning tool for kids, but in this case even more so. The book that accompanies the 105 parts has easy to read instructions that will enable 4-8 year olds to build mechanical contraptions that actually move.

Ages 6-9

Lego Creator Sunset Speeder

Lego Creator is a fantastic part of the Lego line-up. Each set provides three different toys that can be built and does so at a reasonable price. The Sunset Speeder includes blocks and instructions that 6-8 year olds can build: The speeder car, a rig truck and an F1/Indy style race car. This type of set is a great step up or joint activity to go hand-in-hand with the books mentioned earlier. It enables kids to channel their excitement about the cars they read about to actually using their hands to build their own.

How to Build a Car: A high-speed adventure of mechanics, teamwork, and friendship

Wow. The title itself seems like a lot to say, but it does aptly describe this book. How to Build a Car is dear to our hearts for the sake that it is about learning how cars work, how they are put together and about building a race car. This book shines because it has a great story combined with real, kid-level car building and great illustrations which together make the whole book an inspiration. It is intended for ages 6-8 years.

Ages 7-11

Big Book of Race Cars

7-10 year olds will enjoy Big Book of Race Cars immensely for its full color illustrations – heck, I’m an adult and I enjoy them and so will most adults I think. The content is much like that of a coffee table book which goes into junior-level detail about a variety of race cars, bikes and even trucks. A wonderful overview of race vehicles for kids and adults to share.

Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car: Speed Secrets for Crossing the Finish Line First!

One of the best books available on designing and building a Pinewood derby car, Building The Fastest Pinewood Derby Car is great because it offers the opportunity for parents and kids to work together on building these gravity-based race cars. Although normally associated with American Scouts ages 7-11 and older, these race cars can be built and raced by anyone, including families.

Car Science

This book for 7-10 year olds is a fascinating way to learn the science behind cars. No boring theory here—every page provides interesting facts, illustrations and cut-away diagrams that will satisfy your kids’ curiosity and encourage more. If your kids ever wondered how a car really works, Car Science is the book for them.

Ages 8-15

DK Eyewitness Books: Car

While not technically a race car book, this is another of DK’s great books on the history and development of the automobile. Its pages are filled with full-color photos and illustrations of the cars and their parts alongside brief and engaging history. DK Eyewitness Books: Car is probably a bit beyond the interests of those under 8 years old, but for kids 8 and older it offers an absorbing look at the past to the present, and an appreciation of just how much the car has changed. For reading on their own or as a way to build excitement about a car project with a pre-teen, this book is great introduction to cars.

LEGO Technic Models

Books are a good way to get your kids interested in race cars and cars in general, but the interest and excitement they generate can fade if they aren’t given a way to focus that energy into a productive path. Like the Lego model kits mentioned above, Lego Technic gets hands-on, but unlike Creator or other Lego sets, Technic offers quite amazing mechanical parts.

Take for instance the Black Champion Racer, one of the easier sets to get started on. For kids between 7 and 14 years old, this F1-style car has working steering, moving pistons, spring pull-back motor and detailed parts that make it more than just a simple toy.

The Desert racer is also for 7-14 year olds and includes a winch, spring pull-back motor, large off-road tires and detailed structure.
For 9-16 year olds, Lego offers more challenging and even cooler kits. The Hot Rod has an authentic look to it and V6 engine with real moving pistons, a folding convertible roof and real steering. If your kid doesn’t like this, keep it for yourself!
On the awesome scale, the Formula Off-Roader tops our list of Technic kits in this sampling. It features 4 wheel, fully independent suspension, working steering, an inline 4 cylinder engine with moving pistons and crankshaft that is turned by the rear wheels through a differential. Did I mention this is Lego?!!!? This one is intended for 9-16 year olds, but as an adult, I’m there too.

Race Cars: Science, Technology, Engineering

For 10-13 year olds who are interested in a career in race car design or automotive engineering, Race Cars offers an engaging look into what race car engineering can offer, while at the same time giving advice on what they need to know to get into that career. It might be worth buying one of the Lego Technic models above to go with this book to show them “hands-on” that engineering can be a rewarding and creative career.

Other gift options

If the options above don’t quite fit the age range or natural talents of your kids, your nearest Amazon has plenty more to choose from. Combining reading with constructive toys is a good way to help your kids grow their interest and skills in building and creativity. At the very least they will be using their spare time in productive pursuits.

Happy Gift Shopping!