When our middle son, (the one that's graduating this month.) was in about grade five or six, he came home one day and informed us that he was interested in entering the soap box derby that they hold in our town every year. To be honest, I'm pretty sure the first image to come to my mind was one of the kid, sitting in an apple box with four different sized wheels, aviator goggles, and a propeller beenie on his head. I didn't even know our town held a soap box derby at the time.
...... There's a bit more to soap box derby than that.
You have to buy a kit that basically gives each kid the same car. The box that holds the car parts is a pattern for all the pieces that you need to cut from plywood. Every car has the same wheels and steering. Every car has pretty much the same design, although you can paint them however you like or put on any sponsor decals you want. The kit gives you a couple options for brakes but really, as long as they look like they might work, you're probably going to pass inspection and be able to race.
Our middle son, being the mechanical sort he is, even at that time, wanted a different type of car. We couldn't change the basic car. That was against the rules. And so was born, what I am pretty sure for our little derby, was the very first, soap box concept car.
|It used to be a little spiffier but survived a crash into a spruce hedge.|
I think that he felt like the guy with the Lamborghini in the Wal-Mart parking lot when we showed up with the car that day.
You race three times against two other cars, best of three wins the heat and you advance. He was a very technical driver, studying the track from each of the three starting ramps. He discovered the middle lane was the fastest, the right lane was the slowest but if you ran with one set of wheels in the dry tar strip where they patched the pavement, you could gain a little speed. The left lane has an approach half ways down and if you drifted left, you could shoot through the dip in the road from that approach and make up some speed.
|on the starting ramp|
When our youngest son wanted to race as well, we had to build another car. We tried to make a aerodynamic, fiberglass body. It turned out OK, but is rather heavy.
Only our youngest has raced for the last number of years and we use the first car. I seem to remember throwing out my back one time lifting the heavy car onto the ramp. He's more of a carefree driver than his brother was. I tried to impart some of the wisdom his brother had obtained from his time behind the wheel but he asked me if it was OK if he just went straight? I guess it worked, he won gold in his age group.
|with the gold medal|
I don't know if my kid will race again, he's getting to that age where it's not all that cool of a thing to do. I had fun with it though and if he doesn't race again, i'll be a little sad. I'm going to miss the kids, hunched down in their cars to eliminate wind drag, white knuckling the steering wheel as they will gravity to suck another ounce of speed out of their cars as they cross the finish line. That and the ten year old's talking smack on the starting ramp.
.............The race this year was a week earlier than usual and i'm generally done seeding by then. I'm still not done but as it turned out, i had to wait an extra day for a field i was trying to seed to dry a bit more, which allowed me to go to the races. That's the same field that threatened to open up and suck my tractor and seed drill right out from under me. The extra day was all i needed, as the day after the race, i was able to travel across it no problem. Funny how things work out sometimes.