A Soap Box Derby is fun for a whole community! It gives parents and children something to work on together, and is fun for everybody to watch! A soap box derby also draws kids and communities away from the electronic world and back into the physical world together. Our Town, Woodside California holds an annual Woodside Soapbox Derby.
Soap Box Cars:
Soap box derby cars need to be assembled by hand. A great way to make your soap box derby fun before the race is to have build days. Build days all participants in the race are invited to come build their cars together. It’s a great way to build camaraderie and have fun assembling your car. It also gives people access to help and troubleshooting as they assemble their cars.
The most personalized aspect of soap box derby cars is their decorations. This is where children can get creative and really own their cars. Don’t be afraid to add things onto the car. We’ve had a car that was decorated to look like a helicopter with a plastic bubble for the cockpit and a propeller as the cherry on top. We even had a car that had a hundred bananas hand glued to it. Add stickers to a car! Spray paint it! There are no bad ideas. Have fun with this.
We had our soap box derby in a town parking lot. One advantage to this is that town property makes it feel like a town event and everybody’s invited. Try to have your soap box derby in a public place. Another advantage of holding your race in a public space is that it attracts people passing by!
To help the soap box derby cars start quickly and gain speed, we had launching ramps at about 45˚ angles. Without launching ramps, it can take a long time for cars to get up to speed or to build momentum. Make sure that your course either has conditions that allow cars to start quickly or add launching ramps.
We posted the times of racers to a public web page that updated in real time, so that everybody could see their times and rankings. This made the race digitally interactive, and allowed people to see their scores easily.
Safety is very important, so we had yellow cones and caution tape around the course. We also had hay bales at the end and around the sides of the course, and we installed safety brakes on all the cars. People were stationed at the corners, ready to catch cars that went off course or needed help. Make sure that your soap box derby has enough safety features. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
As a good rule of thumb is to not have the race time exceed two hours. If the event is too long, people will lose interest. We had NASCAR sounds and Rock N’ Roll as the background for our race. We also a had an emcee announcing and commentating. Having a free BBQ after the race encourages people to stay through the entire race and attracts more people to come, watch, and socialize. It’s also always good to have two ways that people can register. We had a registration table at the race, and before the race, we had a website for registration online.
After the race, we gave out awards. Our awards were little plaques with race cars on them. We had awards for the first, second, and third places, along with the fastest car and the shortest average race time. The most anticipated award turned out to be the award for most interested decorated car.
Above all, the point of a soap box derby is to unleash creativity, have fun, and draw a community together. After all these tips you’re ready to hold your own soap box derby. On your mark, get set, go!