information has been provided to help soapbox derby racers gain a better understanding on some of the ways your cars can become
more competitive. Drivers can make all the necessary changes to improve control and speed of their car and it will only improve
you chances for winning by about 5%. The driver controls 95% of what it takes to win a race. The driver needs to no where
to drive the car on the track, make as little corrective steering moves as possible and keep a low aerodynamic position in
the car. One extremely small mistake by the driver can replace all the advantages made by setting the car up correctly.
These are only some of the many things done to make cars more competitive. Most all secrets to racing derby
cars can be obtained through involvement with soapbox rally racing held during the spring and fall of every year.
- Wheels should
be taken off car and cleaned after each use. Wheels can be cleaned while on spindles as long as spindles are cleaned and lubricated
afterwards. Rotate wheels and spray brake fluid or lighter fluid in bearing as they rotate. This will clean all dirt and oil
residue from the wheel bearings. Allow the bearing to dry for a minute and then rotate the wheels again and add a lightweight
machine or honing oil such as WD-40 to the bearings to prevent rusting. Prior to racing the wheels should be cleaned and oiled
again because the oil will turn sticky after long time storage. If you dont clean wheels before racing, your first run down
the track will warm the oil and make it fluid again which then places the faster wheels on the competitors car during the
second round, so make sure you clean your wheels before final inspection and impounding of cars.
is critical. Make sure it is perfect and within 1/64 of an inch. Tighten all nuts and bolts holding alignment so it wont come
loose during race day do to vibration and mishandling of the car.
- Spindles should
be polished and lubricated on your car. Although the wheels rotate on bearings, the heavy vibration of the car on the asphalt
road will cause the bearing collar to slip on the spindle. If the spindle is clean, polished and lubricated with light oil
the collar can slip on the spindle. For every amount of slippage on the spindle the wheel is gaining distance on the track.
Slippage on a 900 foot track may only be an inch or less but that can mean several inches to several feet of travel distance
on the track that hopefully your competitor is not gaining. Spindles can be polished with rubbing compounds (by hand only)
or by using 3000 grit or finer emery cloth.
- Steering needs
to be adjusted to allow comfort for the driver and to prevent unnecessary wheel movement. The steering cables need to be tight
enough to prevent the axle from bending but to provide good tension on both sides of the steering column. Any slack cable
can cause the wheels to wobble slightly causing a decrease in speed. Steering straight will also become more difficult for
the driver if the cables are too loose.
- The front
lock nuts on the kingpin need to be tightened enough so the steering will not wobble but will allow ease in steering ability.
Nuts too loose or too tight will make steering jerky and difficult causing decrease in speed.
- A tight rear
kingpin is a necessity, however do not over tighten. Akron allows no more then 180 inch pounds of torch on this bolt. This
bolt will be checked at rally races for over tightening. Danger is the bolt could shear off causing loss of rear axle. (NOT
A GOOD THING)
- New rule in
2001 is to allow the installation of bushings for the kingpins of all divisions. Strongly recommend installing these bushings.
The kingpin bolt wears on the wood floorboard as cars are assembled and disassembled and through general use. The bushings
also prevent the washers from getting pressed in to the wood floorboard causing the steering to come loose and axles to move
over time. The bushing will firm up the front and rear axles and prevent wearing of the wooden floorboard.
- The turnbuckles
on the steering cables need to be secured from movement during race. The turnbuckle has a stop nut that needs to be good and
tight once steering is adjusted. Highly recommend installing a second stop nut on opposite side of turnbuckle. The buckle
can move even with the wire wrapped around it. This can cause steering wheel to move left or right in order to make the car
go straight and can make it difficult on driver to steer straight.
- Wind drag
can win or loose a race. Highly recommend installing foam in the front and back of stock cars and all around the cockpit of
superstock cars, unless the child is large enough to fill the gaps around the cockpit. Foam is always needed on the front
of the cockpit.
- The bottom
of the car is loaded with exposed hex bolts. These create a wind drag from air moving under the car. It may be only a slight
help, if any, but the hex head of the bolts can be turned so a point of the head is facing the front of the car to increase
- Make sure
the shell of the car is not hanging below the bottom of the floorboard or is not too high on the floorboard. Both of these
will cause wind drag and become less aerodynamics slowing the car.
- The weight
nuts should be tight, but allow nut to be removed easily for weight changes. This is for safety of the driver and it will
actually add strength to the floorboard. Loose weights can move and effect breaking and steering actions along with come loose
during an accident. If you use a tool to tighten wing nut, you better have the tool to loosen them during the race.
- For long term
storage, store the car by supporting it in the center to allow the ends to flex downward. This will cause less bending in
the spindles when car is loaded with driver.
- Driver needs
safety glasses to prevent dirt from blowing in eyes. Many races are lost each year because the driver became distracted. The
eyes are in line with the cowling and all dirt is funneled directly into the eyes.
tape should be used to help secure the drivers helmet adjustment straps inside the helmet. Many races are lost each year from
the drivers helmet not being adjusted properly and from the adjustment strap coming loose during the race. A loose helmet
will either flip up causing wind drag or drop down effecting visibility and control of car.
- Tape an extra
wheel pin and wheel washer on the inside the cars body for safety. Many fall out and get lost during the loading and unloading
a simple tool box with at least the following inventory to maintain your car before and after the race:
and lubricating oil
Emery paper for spindles
Wrenches 7/16, 1/2, 3/8
Regular and Philips screwdrivers
screw driver, spare batteries and charger
Wax and rags
Rags for waxing and for cleaning
car parts (i.e. wheel washers, wheel pins, shell screws and keepers,
Electrical, Scotch, Clear package style tape and duct
Pencil or marker
Glue for foam