Soap Box Racing
So you wanna race cars
like Jeff Gordon or Dario Franchitti, but there's a couple of problems. You don't have a car and you don't have a license.
Well, why not try soap box racing? You get to build your own car and you can go fast enough to get that racing rush.
Soap box racing began way back in 1933 in Dayton,
Ohio. It got started when a bunch of kids raced against each other down a hill in cars made from pieces of crap and junk from
around the house. These first race cars were made out of orange crates, sheet metal, wheels off a baby stroller and even soap
boxes. Year after year the races kept getting bigger and the soap box cars kept getting better. Soon a soap box championship
was being held every year with kids and their cars coming to Ohio from all over America. A few years later, the event became
international with kids coming from all over the world including Canada, Mexico and South Africa.
The great thing about soap box racing is that
you need to be both a good racer and a good builder. One of the rules of soap box racing is that each kid must build his own
car. That means you can't
just sit inside and watch cartoons while Daddy
does all the work in the garage. You have to build it and you have to race it. It's a little easier now because you can buy
soap box race car kits which have everything you need. But lots of kids still build their cars completely from scratch.
The key to winning a soap box derby is a good
car and good racing form. The car has to be aerodynamic and the driver has to be able to curl their body towards their toes
as much as possible so they're almost part of the car itself.
So do you think you would make a great soap box
car? Soap box derbies are generally open to kids between the ages of six and 16 and there's probably one going on near you.
If you want more info on building and racing soap box cars, check out the All American Soap Box Derby site or head to www.soapboxderby.org
If you've raced soap box cars before, Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. how
you built your car and how you did in the race.
For more on racing, click here.
Speed Secret #1...
Steps to Getting Started in the Greater Pittsburgh Soap Box Derby
Submitted by Chuck Freyer, Derby Director
1. Get Involved! Get to know a RASBDA member. Some of
us might even live just right across the street. Print a copy of this Website and mark your calendar. Call the Association
President, the Vice President, the Derby Director, the GPSBDSecretary, or the Public Relations Committee Chairperson
and get your name on the mailing list.
The Association is always looking for help
and may just exchange a few speed secrets for some volunteer help.
2. Get a Car! There are three classes of racers:
Stock - Intended for children (ages 9 - 16) under 5'5" and
110 lb.. The car is a kit that can be assembled in less than a day. The Stock car and driver weight limit is 200 pounds.
Super Stock - Intended for children (ages 9 - 16) under 6'
and up to 150 pounds. The car is very similar in hardware and dimensions to the Stock car and can also be built in less than
a day. However, the body shape can accommodate the larger and/or older child. The Super Stock car and driver weight limit
is 230 pounds.
Masters - Masters cars are for ages 11 through 16. Cars can
be built from advanced kits (requiring over 60 hours of assembly time) offered by the All-American or they can be build from
scratch to specifications outlined in the All-American Rule Book. The Masters car and driver weight limit is 250 pounds.
Used cars, Stock and Super Stock, are available.
They can be purchased from racers who have outgrown Soapbox Derby or they can be purchased from racers who have changed classes.
The Derby Director, usually has a line on one or more cars.
A Practical Speed Secret:
Kids grow quick. If your driver just fits into a Stock car, consider getting a Super Stock car. Your child
will grow out of the small car quicker than you can get it paid for.
Sometimes, you can even borrow a car. Sometimes,
for individual rally races, racers have extra cars that need a driver. Call one of the GPSBDA members and see if they can
help you find one available.
3. Read the Rules! Read and re-read the rules and the
assembly directions and then build your car. Give your self some time to find the right weights and to be sure that your car
is safety wired correctly and has all the right lock nuts and washers. Call an GPSBDAmember for help. They have their own
construction problems, so they may even ask you for help in return.
After you have assembled your first car, take it it to an experienced Derby racing family and ask them to look it
over. It's amazing what you can miss.
4. Learn! Read all you can and feel free to ask as many
questions as you have. One of the most interesting Internet sites is http://188.8.131.52/derbtech/derbtech.htm. It's a long list of technical papers, some written by some serious engineer types, on Soap Box Derby construction and engineering.
Pinewood Derby is a good training ground as well.
Some of the principles of car design are the same and some are different, but Pinewood Derby can give you a feel for the attention
to detail that is necessary to succeed.
5. Go Racing! Give some your driver some seat time. Rally
races help you prepare for the All-American. It is a very competitive series and you can learn a lot in just a few races.
You have to travel and compete against families from a multi-state area. But the effort will give your driver the seat time
he or she needs and give you an idea how the cars can be tuned. Children can compete in Rallies at age 8 and can continue
through age 17. A child can have a whole year of Rally racing before even being eligible to race in an All-American Local.
See You in Akron!