This Saturday, kids — and some adults — will race down 17th Street in South Slope’s annual Soapbox Derby. Making a racer isn’t as easy as putting a box on wheels, so Monica Wuhrer of Open Source Gallery shared some tips for building a great soapbox derby racer:
1. The most important component of a racer are the wheels, said Wuhrer. “Good wheels make the car.” The rear wheels should be larger than the front wheels, and spin straight.
2. Steering is more important than speed. “Speed isn’t everything, it’s the ones who manage to get through the course without missing anything that win.” Wuhrer recommends drilling a hole in the middle of a 2-by-4-inch wood block, then connecting the block to the axle and base with a screw, so you can then steer by pushing with your feet on either side of the 2-by-4.
3. Make sure you’re comfortable, so use cushions and packing, from computer boxes, for example, to provide cushioning. If you crash, you’re going to need it.
4. Always be fashionable. “Some cars are maybe slower, but they’re super cool because of the work and the ideas that got put into it,” she said. “When they are original, for me, that’s what makes a good car.”
5. Once the race is over, you’ll want to stop. Wuhrer recommends using a piece of wood, screwed to the side of the car, that can drag along the ground.
— Meredith Deliso