Soap Box racing

DeDeutsche Version

  Well, what is a "Soap Box" ? A Soap Box is a small racing car without engine. It runs fast when the street where you drive is steep and it runs slower when it is flat. It is so simple. All you can do is to brake ahead a curve or a chicane. But you cannot accelerate when you braked too much. That is it what it makes so difficult.
Why the name "Soap Box" ? Well, it begans like this: There are some children who would like to build a race car. All what they had was an old soap box (a wooden box where soap was stored in) and the wheels of her old baby carriage. They installed the wheels at the box, sat in and drove down the street. It begans so simple, but today a "racing Soap Box" is a really high technology vehicle.
Season 1989 How it begans for me ? 1989, when I am 9 year old, my godfather asked me if I want to drive his self-built Soap Box one time for some tests. At the first test I was faster than his son. It is clear that I become immediately a driving license to drive one season of the Swiss Soap Box Championship. I was quite good for the first year, got two 2nd places and was at the end of the year 5th of the Swiss Soap Box Championship.
You can see my first Soap Box at the photo. It was a green Soap Box with wooden chassis, simple body and disc brakes at the rear wheels.
Season 1990 Next season I got my own soap box. It was a new model with some improvements. And it was a bigger, because I grow up. This model was one of the fastest Soap Boxes of the season. I won several races and become 2nd in Swiss Championship. My brother drives this season with the prototype of the new model. It was quite good, but the rivalry was very hard in his category.
The 2nd Soap Box named "Macy" had new disc brakes at the rear wheels and a new body built with polystyrene strengthen by fibre glass polyester. New are also the more robust rims.
Season 1991 Season 1991. The Soap Box was the same exept some details. In the middle of the season we added new and smaller ball bearings for lower roll resistance. In this year I won much races and the Swiss Championship in the rookie category. This was very great! We visited in 1991 first time the Europeen Championship in Berau, Germany. I become 2nd and this was the big sensation in our Soap Box club. The Europeen Championship was my first race with faster speeds. I think we drove about 65 km/h (about 40 mph).
Thanks to Stefan Rufer for the Photo.
Season 1992 1992 I came into a category with older and faster opponents. The rivalry was very hard, so I had a bad season. We tested some new tires. The Soap Box was quite the same as 1992. In the Swiss Championship I was in the top ten, the exact place I do not know at this time.
Season 1993 We built a totally new Soap box in 1993. It was a bit shorter than the old, because we have much "slalom"-races with chicanes in Switzerland. It is important, that the Soap Box is not too long for this. We built also a new body wich has better aerodynamics. A front wing was also added. This is not for aerodynamic advantages, but to prevent that any objects get between a front wheel and the nose of the body. The season was not very good, because I drove quite bad and because the new Soap Box had some start difficulties.
Because there were some other Soap Box Clubs in Switzerland, our Swiss Championship renamed to Bernese Championship.
Season 1994 1994 was the season with the shortest time difference between the winner of the Championship and me: 0.01 seconds which I lost in the race of Meiringen. I lost with this 0.01s three points. At the end of the season, I was one point behind the winner. This was very bad !!!
OK, I was 2nd in the Bernese Championship but what I wanted this time is TO WIN THE BERNESE CHAMPIONSHIP !!!
The Soap Box was except some details the same as 1993. We built much wider rims which are better for the new tires, the barum slicks.
In 1994 we visited the Europeen Championship in the Czech Republic. The race was fast (about 75km/h or 45mph) and the local rivalry was very, very, very hard. The Czech people are more professional in Soap Box racing than we. I was about 15th at the end.
Yes, there was a World Championship in this year. It was in Berau, Germany. I was 4th in this race. Remember that not everybody drove this race because it was not really official.
Thanks to Heinz Leuenberger for the Photo.
1995 afther the training overturn. Scratchy body.

Europeen Championship 1995
For season 1995 we built a technical totally new Soap Box. It looks like the old one, the chassis and the body are the same, but technical almost every part changed. We added new hydraulic disc brakes from Sachs for all four wheels. This was a really big improvement that allowed much shorter braking distances. We added also new ultra fast ball bearings from RMB (RMB is a company in Switzerland specialized in very precise ball bearings). Before the season we tested very much.
The first race begans not very good: I had a little crash and a new part of the steering mechanism broke. The friend from RMB bets with me, that I cannot win the race. We bet, if I win this race, I will get the ball bearings for free. We bet and I won !!! How ? It is simple: The competitor who started ahead me had a big crash and had to give up the race. Unfortunately, they had no timing for me. I was able to drive again and succeeded with the best time.
Oh yes, I won the Bernese Championship and became 4th in the Swiss Championship. The Swiss Championship were two races with other Soap Box clubs in Switzerland (this is now the REAL Swiss Championship).
In mid of the season I had a big crash in training: We tested fast slalom chicanes. I got the chicane to fast and slided over the road. The Soap Box with me inside overturned twice and was quite a lot damaged. Fortunately I was nearly unhurt. From this time, we used every time safety belts. I also took part the Europeen Championship in Grenoble, France this year. The race was very fast, about 80km/h (48mph). I became 4th. In the last run I had a big crash with about 60 km/h (36mph). The Soap Box was serious damaged, but I was OK. I worried much about this crash, because without it I surely got a top three place !!
Thanks to the official photographer for the great Photo of the Europeen Championship.
Season 1996 Season 1996. The body was repainted because of several crashs in 1995. Minor changes in the design of the body. New helmet. It was a very good season. I won almost every race of the Bernese Championship and of course the Championship itself. In the Swiss Championship I became 2nd behind the Europeen Champion who comes from an other club in Switzerland.
We did not visit the Europeen Championship 1996 because our club boycotts this race. The course was much too long (about 6km, 3.6 Miles), too fast (about 100km/h, 60mph) and the worst case: too unsecure. At the trial race in 1995 there was a terribly accident. I do not want to write more about this.
Season 1997 1997. The last season in this category. Again not much changed on the Soap Box. I won many race of the Bernese Championship and the Championship itself. In the Swiss Championship I became again 2nd behind the same guy as 1996. He was too fast !!
The Europeen Championship was this year in Slovakia. It was a long and fast race on a wet course. Yes, it rained every day of the race !! I became 6th in this race. This was quite good because almost all faster competitors had much better aerodynamics and full suspension on their Soap Boxes.
Thanks to Martin Lehmann for the great Photo.
Season 1998 1998. I drove not every race this year and concentrated me at the Swiss Championship. I won the Swiss Championship but I have to remark that there were not much compeditors. The Soap Box changed only in weight.
Thanks to Alwin Maeder for the 1st Photo.
1998 without front wing At the 2nd race of the Swiss Championship 1998 we did some experiments without front wing. Because there were not much chicanes, it was more important to have best aerodynamics than a front wing.

Related links:

Bernische Seifen-Kisten Vereinigung
Association Romande de Speed Down