Tag Archives: all-american soap box derby

All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships

KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Photos by Daniel Mainzer Photography NASCAR has Daytona, endurance racers have Le Mans, crap-can racers have ChumpCar, and kids who race soap box have the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships in Akron, Ohio. For a kid involved in gravity racing there is no bigger achievement than the three lane "show" at Derby Downs. This year Krider Racing and Speed:Sport:Life went to the big race to check it out. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL My son, Gus, was lucky enough to earn the opportunity to participate in the 2011 World Championships after getting a lucky break in the qualifying race in California, thanks to Alison Parman. The Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby, headed up by Chris Harris and sponsored by ASI, shipped Gus’s sleek blue and yellow Masters Division racecar to Akron. We shipped our tools FedEx and then grabbed a 2,400 mile flight to Ohio. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Ford gave us a 2011 Ford Taurus SHO (all-wheel drive twin turbo charged hot rod) to cruise around Ohio. The SHO turned out to be the perfect ride for a racing family of four on a world championship adventure. The navigation system worked great for us out-of-towners who couldn’t afford to get lost and possibly be late for the race. The 365 plus horsepower engine mated to a six speed automatic transmission made merging onto the confusing Ohio freeways absolutely effortless. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL We loved the car and decorated the rear window to let everyone in Ohio know that California was in the house. One time, I jumped on the throttle and threw the heads of my family back into their headrests. My son said, “I wish my soap box car could borrow some of the SHO’s power for my race this weekend!” “Sorry, Son, gravity will be your only engine this weekend.” KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL One derby dad didn’t agree with the “gravity is the only engine” sentiment and in 1973 affixed an electromagnet inside the nose of the derby car. This magnet would help pull the car out of the starting gate as the metal gate dropped down moving the car beyond the static moment of inertia and into kinetic energy mode. It may not sound like much, but when these races are won and lost by a thousandth of a second, anything helps. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The battery which operated the electro magnet was stashed inside the headrest of the car (as seen above). The car is kept in the All-American Soap Box Derby history museum and is on display as a warning to other derby dads. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Each kid had the chance to take two runs down the infamous hill before the race on Saturday. Our test runs went well with Gus coming across the finish line first in each practice. Gus’s car received a fresh aerodynamic paint job completed by the guys at Miracle Auto Body and Paint in Napa, California. The new aero work was proving extremely beneficial at cutting down drag and helping him slip through the air to be fast at the finish. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Before the race the car endured a very detailed technical inspection. If the officials in yellow shirts found anything they didn’t like, they mandated the car be brought within spec while fixing the car directly in front of them. Once they were satisfied with the repairs, then the car and driver were weighed in (in the Masters Division the total weight could not be above 255 pounds). KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The job of a derby dad is not an easy one. You spend most of your time holding a heavy soap box derby car and making sure it doesn’t roll down the hill and hit some other kid. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Our final practice run went great. The car seemed to go straight, and we didn’t appear to have any problems. Gus was happy with the car and the narrow one eighth of an inch we gave him to peek out under his helmet appeared to be enough that he could avoid the guardrails and stay within his lane, which is a good thing. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The All-American Soap Box Derby has been running this event for 74 years and it is steeped in tradition. Hollywood star, Corbin Bernsen (best known for his role in the film Major League), wrote, directed and starred in a new film, 25 Hill, about the All-American Soap Box Derby race. Bernsen was at the race all weekend, headed the parade and even spoke at the awards ceremony. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The race at Derby Downs is a weeklong event. Occasionally we had a free moment to run around Ohio and check things out. Cruising around in the Taurus SHO, we found the strangest local phenomenon (well, strange to us Californians) -drive through liquor stores! KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The folks at “The Brew Thru” would come right up to the window as we kept the old Taurus running and ordered two cases of Dos Equis. The patrons at “The Brew Thru” even gave the kids candy. It was awesome! America -give me alcohol, give me horsepower, give me convenience or give me death. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Finally the big day came, and it was time to race. Over 500 kids from all over the country and even the world made the trek to Akron, Ohio, for the world championships. Teams from New Zealand, Canada, Germany and Japan were in attendance. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Members from the Soap Box Derby International Committee approached us and asked if Gus would like to represent the United States of America in the Masters Division International race. The International race took a representative from each country and let them run in a separate competition to crown an international champion. Gus would be the only U.S. representative in the class. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL On Saturday, after a long hard day in the heat and humidity of Akron, the kids raced down the hill narrowing down the elimination brackets. At the end of the day all that was left was the finals. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Kids sat in the shade and stayed hydrated while derby dads muscled the cars around the pits waiting for the next round. For the finals in the International Division it would be Gus Krider, representing the United States of America versus Makenna Laughlin, representing Canada. Makenna, from Peterborough, Ontario, was the 2010 Super Stock Division International Champion and moved up to the Masters Division for 2011. It was going to be a close race. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL When the gate dropped Makenna, number 36, driving the purple car in lane one, picked up an early lead. Gus, number 29, driving the blue and yellow car in lane three, drove straight as an arrow beaming for the finish line. At the line, whichever kid crossed first would be the 2011 International Masters Division Champion. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL At the finish it was Gus Krider who nosed across first, earning the 2011 International Masters Division Championship title for the United States of America! KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Gus accepted his congratulations from his biggest sponsor, Grandma Cindy, who owns C.J. Fix Co. Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation in Napa, California. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL We celebrated the American victory by taking our American made Ford Taurus SHO to Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell and home of the world’s greatest Cheese Steak sandwich at Geno’s. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Congratulations to all of the kids who participated in the All-American Soap Box Derby, especially those kids from Northern California (pictured above) who represented so well. A special congratulations goes out to Veronica Harris, who finished second in the All-American Soap Box Derby Super Stock Rally Division. Great driving Vern! For more information on All-American Soap Box Derby check out the Racer Boy post on Speed:Sport:Life.com.

Krider Racing Qualifies For All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships in Akron, Ohio

KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Growing up with the last name “Krider” means you’ll probably spend a lot of time at the race track while your dad, uncle, grandpa, etc. are up to their usual Krider Racing shenanigans (running hard, crashing cars and winning races). While most kids are enjoying a weekend of sitting on the couch killing zombies on Call of Duty you’re stuck at the racetrack doing menial tasks like cleaning wheels, sweeping out the racecar trailer and writing down lap times. But eventually, if you’re patient, it will be your time behind the wheel. Last weekend it was finally Gus Krider’s time to race and for the rest of family to crew for him. It was an All-American Soap Box Derby race in Palo Alto, California, and the results of that race are sending Gus to Akron, Ohio, for the World Championships. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Gus picked up a beautiful cup trophy filled with jelly beans which he said, “taste like victory.” But his victory wasn’t an easy task, he had a lot of fast racers to overcome and last but not least (just like in any type of racing) luck was on his side. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Gravity is the only engine in Soap Box racing and friction is the enemy of any racer. The trick as a driver is to find the smooth quick line on the track which means missing the small man hole covers and using the natural crown of the roadway. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Since there was definitely a “fast” line on the track that meant that poor Gus was stuck hearing more than one long lecture from his “crew chief” dad. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Eventually his dad finally shut up and then it was just Gus and track. He raced smooth all day and moved his way up the standings. In the semi-final race he had an epic close race against Vern Harris with the difference between the two racers only three thousandths of second. That win put Gus into the finals. The winner of this race would go Akron, Ohio, to represent all of Central and Northern California in the World Championships. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL His final opponent was Alison Parman in her beautiful beach themed car. Alison is a three time veteran of the World Championships and her car is probably the most fantastically built Masters car in the country. Gus won the first phase in lane two by three tenths of a second. During the second phase Alison came back with a vengeance and picked up a win in lane two by five tenths of a second giving her the win by two tenths overall. Gus had raced great all day but a trip to Akron wasn’t in the cards for him this year. But… any racer will tell you sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL During the awards ceremony Alison announced that she would not be making the cross country trip this year and she was deferring the local championship offer to attend the World Championship to the second place car, which happened to be Gus Krider. This revelation sent the crew into celebration. Krider Racing would be racing in the Indy 500 of the Soap Box Derby world July 23, 2011. Thank you Alison and the Parman family! KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL To get Gus’s car from California to the World Championships at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio, the title sponsor of the Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby event in Palo Alto, California, Air Systems Inc. is shipping the car to Ohio. Thank you Air Systems! That saves us a very long tow. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The biggest thanks needs to go to the Harris family and the entire crew at Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby for putting on an awesome event that so many kids had the opportunity to enjoy. Without people like this, who volunteer their time to make these events happen, nobody would have the opportunity to race. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL Stickers on the Krider Racing cars were done by Figstone Graphics. Gus Krider wants to thank his biggest sponsor, C.J. Fix Co. Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation in Napa, CA, -yes that would be Grandma Cindy. His sister Addy Krider, in the hot pink racer, finished 5th overall in the Super Stock class taking home another trophy for Krider Racing. This gravity only racing is actually starting to take off for the team, first the Pinewood Derby at the 24 Hours of LeMons and now Soap Box Derby. Who knew you could have so much fun without an engine? To learn more about All-American Soap Box Derby check out the full “Racer Boy” post on Speed:Sport:Life

Racer Boy: Soap Box Derby –Gravity Is Your Engine, Your Kid Is Your Driver

KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL After getting your ass handed to you at the local mini-golf go-kart track by eight year olds, you’ve given up on your own dreams of racing F1 (don’t feel bad, the little whipper snappers have a hundred pound weight advantage on you in a 5 horsepower go-kart). But the reason you were at the go-kart track in the first place is because you’re a daddy now. In fact one of the eight year olds that was shaming you in Turn 1 was your own kid. You have looked into competitive go-kart racing for your child but after you did the math and saw it was going to cost the same amount to get a competitive go-kart and equipment for the kid as it would to buy you a new Lotus, you realized it ain’t gonna happen. Now what? I have the solution for you. Congratulations Dad, you’re now getting a racing promotion, you are going to be “crew chief” as you and your kid take on The All-American Soap Box Derby. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL THE COST This isn’t as cheap as the Pinewood Derby but it’s still reasonably priced. A basic stock kit from All-American Soap Box Derby (AASBD) is 387 bucks. However that is a bit misleading because that kit does not come with wheels ($100) or any weight (around $100 more once all is said and done). So you are looking at a 600 dollar investment which does sound like a lot (Hint: get Grandma and Grandpa to sponsor). Plus entry fees for the weekend race can be between 35 to 70 bucks. Think that is too much? Try to budget a season of racing for a kid in quarter midgets ($25,000 and up). KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL SANCTIONING BODY The All-American Soap Box Derby (AASBD) is the main player in the soap box derby world and they run a National Championship in Akron, Ohio every year. The AASBD has local clubs and chapters nationwide for kids to compete in and try to qualify to attend the national championship. AASBD requires that the kids be between the ages of 8 and 17 years old and that they use the provided AASBD cars and wheels. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL There are other sanctioning bodies locally that have more grassroots events with home built cars allowing for a lot of ingenuity in their design and less cost. Those local events also let younger kids participate. The biggest problem with these smaller events is they are generally hard to find out about. I lived in a city for three years and then found out by chance one day we had a race (I saw a car in the back of a pick-up at an intersection and chased the driver down like a madman). I found out they had been running a soap box derby race for kids for over 20 years. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL THE HIGH For the kids running down the hill it is an absolute blast. They have the wind in their face, they are running neck and neck with another competitor down a steep hill. For a lot of kids it is their first experience of real speed (believe it or not we have seen speeds up to 32 miles per hour in these cars). As the father, it will give you a mild heart attack as you run down the hill cheering your kid along and hoping that the wheels you put on the car hold up. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL CAR WEAR The cars don’t have much in the way of moving parts so these cars can last for years, being passed down from big brother to little sister in some cases. Occasionally I have seen some cars run off course and hit a barrier (which isn’t good for the barrier or cars, but the kids always walk away unscathed). The good news is they don’t have internal combustion engines so there won’t be any late night motor swaps or expensive machine shop bills. Just align the axles and you are good to go. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL YOUR DAY Before you can head to the track you are going to need to buy and build the car. For AASBD you have three choices, Stock, Super Stock or Masters. Stock is the easiest kit to build and doesn’t require painting. Super Stock requires a lot of paint and Bondo to get the car smooth and aerodynamic. Masters is the “builders” class and requires hundreds of hours of work to get the car “perfect” for racing. The instructions are easy to use and a basic tool kit can build a Stock car. The kids and dads can work together assembling the car (which is part of the fun). If you want to personalize the car and give it a little flair (which the kids love) you can add decals or designs to the car. We always used Figstone Graphics since they do custom stickers for any sort of race car, whether it has an engine or not. Once the car is built, get the car up to weight by adding metal plates in the interior (check for the maximum weight in your class and weigh the car with your kid in it). Next thing to do is find a race and pack up the truck. It’s time to let the kid cruise down a hill. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL At the event the car will be inspected. Tech inspection is very serious in the AASBD. Every single bolt has to be O.E.M. and they measure and weigh the cars quite closely. This is not the place for Smokey Yunick engineering if you know what I mean (for those who don’t, it is known as creative rule book reading or simply: cheating). The car will also be weighed before and after the race. There will be a grid sheet and a bracket set up for the kids to begin eliminations. The grid sheet will tell you which lane you are running in and which opponent you will be racing against. Get in line and hurry up and weight. Once you are up you can place the car into the ramps and then wish your kid luck, you have done all you can, it is in their hands now. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The kids will head down the hill and you will scream your lungs out for them to “drive straight” and “don’t use the brakes until after the finish!” The kids won’t listen to you, but they will have the time of their life while racing. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL After the kids make their runs the cars are trailered back up the hill on these trick car haulers (which is great for dad’s back). At the top of the hill a “wheel swap” is performed where the wheels off of one car are traded with another. Then the same two kids race each other again in opposite lanes from the first race. This way there is no lane or wheel advantage. It is the difference between the times of both runs (one for each kid in each lane) that determines the winner of the round. The winner will move up the bracket to the next round, the loser will be out, or move to a secondary bracket (called the loser’s bracket) to compete in just like in E.T. Bracket Drag Racing. The more races you win, the more runs you get down the hill. Simple as that. Eventually there will be nobody else to race and you are the winner. Well, when I say “you” I mean, “your kid.” KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL THE PEOPLE You will find a great group of people volunteering and running these races. These things take a lot of time to put on and many children get to enjoy the benefits from the work of a few people who selflessly donate their time to organize the race. It is a family affair and there are lots of dads on hand to help with the construction of the cars and set up advice. You learn quickly that even though these cars are “stock” some just seem to be faster than others (just like in any form of racing). Spending time with the dads who build the fast cars will usually earn you a few set up tips that might help your kid’s car scoot down the hill fast too. The kids that race in these events are always smiling and having a good time. They are competing with each other but the competition itself always seems to take a back seat to just the good time of running down the hill at speed. Usually it is the dads who care about who wins the race or not, the kids just like driving the cars. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL GLORY For the kids and parents winning one of these events is awesome. There is usually a trophy presentation and sometimes the kids even get their names in the newspaper. This is pretty cool for a ten year old kid. But even if you don’t win, kids find glory in just being a part of the event. Sometimes there are parades prior to the races and the kids get to participate and show off their cars. Kids love this sort of stuff. They are in the limelight for a weekend and it’s a neat thing to seem them experience. For dads, the crew chiefs, it is the satisfaction that the car you built brought home victory for the family race team. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL OH, YOU WANT TO WIN, DO YA? In order to do well in All American Soap Box Derby or any other local derby you have to have a competitive car. The only engine in these races is ole Mr. Newton and his theory of gravity. Therefore the only thing keeping these cars from heading downhill super fast is friction. You need to find a way to get rid of as much friction as possible. Alignment is a big factor in this case. Using alignment tools will help you to build a car that isn’t fighting itself with a toe-in/toe-out condition or cambered wheels (putting too much weight on only one part of the bearing). KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL The other thing to fight friction is to give the car as much weight as allowed and by putting that weight toward the rear of the car (to give it as much potential energy as possible). The cars can only weigh a certain amount at the event, but the car that weighs as close to as possible what that maximum amount will have an advantage. But the real key to winning is the kids themselves. They have to drive the car straight and make the track as short as possible. They need to keep their heads down and make the cars as aerodynamic as they can. This all comes from experience. The more races you run, the better your chances are of bringing home a win. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL And for many lucky kids the ultimate prize is in Akron, the All-American Soap Box Derby Championship on a three lane wide track in front of thousands of fans in grandstands. This is the Daytona 500 for Soap Box Derby. RACER BOY GAUGE Let’s review the Racer Boy gauge cluster here: KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL FUEL (Cost): The fuel gauge is around three quarters of a tank. The cost of the car will set you back a bit but after that the racing is relatively inexpensive. You do have the cost of the entry fees and getting the car to the event. Some people have motor homes and car trailers, while others just bungee cord the soap box derby car to the roof of their Chevy Tahoe. RPMs (Adrenaline): The tachometer is at 4,000 RPMs. Dads, your adrenaline will only get going about 2,000 RPMs while watching the kids go down the track, but the kid’s heart will be hitting 6,000 wile they’re driving. We’ll average out the two and call it 4,000. MPH (Danger): The speedometer is at 30 miles an hour which is about as fast as these things go. This is a very safe event. More kids are hurt cheerleading every year than racing soap box derby cars. VOLTS (Time): The volts gauge is around half because there is some time invested in building these cars and getting them to the event. You’ll spend hours in the garage getting that alignment just right. MILEAGE (Car Wear): The mileage is at 100 miles because that is about all the miles you will put on your truck taking the soap box derby car to an event. The derby cars themselves last for years and years. However, check the AASBD site before an event because inevitably every year or so they require an update for the cars (probably won’t cost you more than $30 for the new part). All of the cars are required to be the same so you will need the latest updates. KriderRacing38s 2010 Acura CL CHECKERED FLAG Whether you are a gear head or a racer yourself, Soap Box Derby is a really fun thing to get involved in with your children. It teaches them how to use tools during the car construction, how to fine tune a car set up during the race, and the spirit of competition. It is absolutely a great bonding tool for parents and their children and it is totally fun and safe for the kids. See you at the bottom of the hill.