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Ultimate Speed Racing Info

Greater Pittsburgh Soapbox Derby

Ultimate Speed Racing









In the summer of 2005, the All-American Soap Box Derby will be looking for the fastest gravity-powered racecars in the world. Since 1936, the All-American Soap Box Derby has been racing coaster style cars down the world famous Derby Downs Soap Box Derby racetrack in Akron, Ohio. This has traditionally been an event for youngsters with a focus on cars that a child or teenager can build within rules designed to level the competition. The 2005 Ultimate Speed event will make a marked departure from that tradition.










The competition will be open with minimal rules and regulations. The goal of the event is to attract creative entries designed to reach speeds never before attainable on the historic Akron hill. The event will be open to registered teams consisting of a driver, crew chief and two car handlers. The competition for each team will consist of three timed runs (one run in each lane), down Akron’s 989’ hill. The car and team that achieve the fastest single run will be declared the winner.



The spirit of the rules will be to ensure the following:


1.      The event must be safe for contestants and spectators.

2.      The cars must be able to be launched from the existing Akron starting gates and trip the timing lights.

3.      The cars must not damage the asphalt surface of the track or the run-out area.

4.      The cars will be limited to gravity power only and will include no propelling or driving assisting devices of any kind.


2005 Exhibition Race Open Registration: November 15 through December 31, 2004.


Team members: A racing team will consist of a driver, crew chief, and two team members. One team member will be required in the run out area (car loading area) and one team member will be required at the starting line (car unloading area) during any run of the race car on Derby Down's track. A maximum of four team members, named in the registration process, will be allowed. The Team Driver must be 16 years through 18 years of age on All-American Soap Box Derby annual race day. The Team Driver must have participated in an All-American Soap Box Derby sanctioned Local or Rally Competition.


Team Selection Criteria: The first 27 correctly completed team applications determined by postmark within open registration period will be accepted as participants. A $100 participation fee must accompany registration. Registration fees for teams not correctly completing application or not falling within the first 27 qualified applications received will be refunded. 


Qualification Runs: Qualification runs will be completed Thursday race week, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM prior to racetrack calibration. The twenty-seven registered teams will compete for the nine race-team positions available Saturday, All-American race day. Qualification run format will be twenty-seven teams, twenty-seven heats, and each team participating in each lane. First through ninth place will be determined by a team's best overall elapsed time from start to finish line.   


Race Day Format: Nine teams, nine heats, and each team participating in each lane. First, second, and third place determined by a team's best overall elapsed time from start to finish line.


Safety: The race car must be constructed so that the driver can maintain a line of sight that assures safe navigation from starting gate to the finish line. Driver must wear approved protective headgear. The driver's head cannot be in front of his feet, no lay forward positions. Wheels can be no larger than 24” diameter. No glass or other materials that would shatter or cause injuries to drivers and spectators in the event of a collision can be used in the construction of the car. Breaking and steering systems must pass pre-race inspection and a track test. The car must be able to stop multiple times within 200' without adjustments.



Akron Starting Gate and Timing Light Requirements: Dimensional rules will assure that the cars will successfully launch from the Akron starting plates, will not infringe on a competitor's lane, and will cross the finish line triggering the timing equipment consistently. The maximum length of the car is 96”, including wheels. The car nose must be the forward most portion of the car body at all times. The nose shall be no sharper than a 2” radius and shall be located on the centerline of the fuselage. The starting ramp paddles must contact and support the car by the nose. The contact patch of the nose and the starting paddle must be greater than 7” and less than 9" above the ground. The maximum width of the car is 40”. The minimum ground clearance is 3” with driver in car. A wheelbase should be maintained that assures the wheel/ground contact area does not extend over the back edge of the starting plate. The distance from the ramp paddle to the back edge of the starting plate is 88". The track of the wheels must be greater than 30” at the inside edge of the tread and less than 36” at the outside edge of the tread. All cars must have at least 4 wheels touching the ground at all times.


Track Surface Damage: Maximum weight of car and driver is 300 pounds. The tread of each wheel must be made from an elastomer and must have a min ” width contact patch with the track. If a drag brake is utilized, the track contact pad must be made of rubber and of sufficient surface area to stop the car as described above.




Car Limitations: No propelling devices will be permitted including mechanical, electrical, magnetic or pneumatic or any other device designed to store and release energy. The driver must remain still at all times, except for steering and braking maneuvers. No lunging or other motions intended to assist in propelling the car will be allowed. The driver must be able to easily enter/exit the car in 30 seconds or less. No liquids can be used for ballast. All ballast must be bolted in a fixed condition to the chassis with 5/16” bolts, minimum. No electronic devices will be permitted in the car.

Track Specification (approximate): Track length is 989 feet. The finish line to starting plate elevation is 48 feet. The track grade averages from the initial 55': 13% grade, the next 500': 6% grade, and the end section runs about 2% grade. Some key elevation drops: at 100' elevation is 38', at 200' elevation is 28', at 350' the elevation is 18', and at 600' the elevation is about 8'. 






Awards:          First Place (Fastest Time) $3000 Educational Funding

Second Place (Time) $2000 Educational Funding

Third Place (Time) $1000 Educational Funding

Innovation $1000 Educational Funding

Trophy Awards: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place fastest times







Record Time: The fastest time on the All-American Soap Box Derby track was achieved by a car designed and built by the Pearson family, driven by Alicia Kimball, and utilizing a German design pneumatic wheel, in the 67th 2004 All-American Soap Box Derby inaugural run of Ultimate Speed Racing. The time achieved on the 989' track was 27.190 seconds.

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Local Race Director Brian Brain