Name in Original Language
Area Where Played
The origin of this game is uncertain. Some people say that it was invented by the son of an automobile mechanic, who used to play with his dad’s waste. One day, he decided to build a skate with the wasted pieces, and from this rustic skate, the ball bearings car was born. Due to having trouble in keeping a standing position, the son of the mechanic decided to go up onto a sloped street, sat down on the skate and went down the slope, forming the game.
What is known is that in the end of the 60’s and early 70’s, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte were the first cities to have many children going down the streets in this kind of car. Back then, the kids used to play much more in the streets and the cars were all homemade. In order to get the ball bearings (used as wheels), the kids used to do little tasks for the mechanics. After that, they fixed the wheels onto a wooden body and the car was ready to race.
The game is originally an amusement for the kids in their leisure time. Back in the times when it began to spread over Brazil, the traffic in the cities was extremely lower, and the children were able to play more safely on the streets. That’s also the reason why it appears first in big cities like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. These cities, in spite of the few cars, had much more paved streets then the smaller ones. With the growing traffic, the game has almost disappeared in the big cities and is now more likely found in inner cities.
The construction of the cars is an important task to the players. As said, the wheels of the cars are specific pieces from old cars, called ball bearings. The kids got the wheels from the mechanics and built the body of the car with wood. The two front wheels are fixed onto a mobile piece of wood, which allows the car to make curves. The brake is just a piece of wood that touches the ground when needed.
After constructing a car the player is now available to race. All the racers line up and the winner is the one who crosses the ending point first.
The players are not allowed to use their hands to touch the ground, in order to boost the car.
Nowadays, there are institutions that promote these races and even divide the cars into categories. In these cases, the participants pay an inscription fee, and the winners win prizes such as brand new cars and money. In these races, the racers have to use protections such as helmets, elbow pads and gloves.