A modern “soap box” cannot be called a box ...
Want something more? I agree! But you can come up with a lot of things, and most importantly put your hands on what you would like to achieve, and don’t wait for the “top” to come and solve all the problems you see.
One of the ideas I personally do not give rest for a long time, but little by little, and to solve it, my hands will reach.
And it was like this that in 1956, in the USSR, we published the book by the children’s writer N. Kalmy “Children of Mustard Paradise” about the plight of ordinary people in America. I read it somewhere in 1964, and I remember well that I just really liked it, and, by the way, it is on the Internet, where you can read it today and even listen to it. In some ways a very fun book. In it, for example, at the end provides an explanation of such words as "hobby", "business", which later became familiar to us. And then it was from this book that I learned about the “tobacco boxes” races popular among American boys. Described in the novel, these same "boxes", and in fact, the very real racing cars, were very detailed. And I immediately wanted to do the same. But ... in the position I was much worse than the most deprived black children of the United States - they had something to make such a car, but I have nothing to do. Neither me nor my comrades down the street.
Here is this book from my childhood.
In 1968, I already read about how to make such a car in the magazine Modelist Designer. It was also written there that such cars are simpler karts, they do not need engines and fuel, that they are noiseless and environmentally friendly, so they can be raced anywhere where there are streets with a large slope. And just here in Penza there are a lot of such streets, so our city is just the perfect place to hold competitions of such gravitational cars. That is, the idea in the USSR was recognized as sensible, but for some reason did not receive incarnation either at that time or subsequently. Meanwhile, these races, as well as the construction of such a car - an excellent means of developing children's technical creativity and training future drivers.
Well, ah история Soap Box Racing began in 1904, in Germany, where the first self-made car race for children was held in the city of Frankfurt.
But its name - “the race of the boxes from the soap” (Soapbox Derby) - these competitions received only in 1933 year. This name was invented by the photographer of the Dayton Daily News, Myron Scott from Ohio, who once saw children making their cars from plywood packing boxes for soap, troughs and children's baths and riding them along steep city streets. He decided to write a report about it, and when he wrote, he immediately understood that there was a real “gold mine” in front of him. After all, this was the time of the Great Depression. People simply had no money for expensive entertainment. And here you and technical creativity, and excitement - all together! In addition, Scott liked the democratism and entertainment of these competitions: after all, the machines did not require engines, the materials were quite accessible, and the results depended solely on the engineering talents and driving skills of the little boy sitting in the cockpit. Therefore, he took the initiative to hold such competitions on an official basis and achieved that in the same year they were held in Daytona, in which more than 300 “soap boxes” took part. That is, his idea was a success!
In 1934, the restless Mayron Scott managed to organize the national championship “Soapbox Derby” in Daytona. However, next year they were transferred to Akron. Moreover, the city authorities were pleased with the results of this event, which even identified a real race track for them.
Since then, the city of Akron in the United States has become the real capital of the races of "tobacco boxes" - and here the winners of championships from different countries and states of America began to meet each year, and where they determined the absolute world champion.
Winner of Soapbox-derby 1934 of the year.
The peak of the popularity of these contests fell on 1950 – 1960-ies, when the Chevrolet car company became their sponsor. Movie and television stars didn’t stop appearing on them, and supporting small athletes from 11 – 15 years sometimes came before 70 000 people. However, in the 70 of the last century, this championship gradually lost its popularity. Why did this happen?
The reason is trivial and very simple: over time, after feeling the smell of big money, adults came to the sport, and they ruined everything. To win, they began to hire professional engineers and build cutting-edge expensive cars. Fraud cases have also become more frequent: after all, where there is a tote, it is inevitable. So, in 1973, fourteen-year-old Jimmy Gronen lost the champion's title two days after the final race, when his car was illuminated with X-rays and found that there was an electromagnet in front of his car. At the start, he turned on and pulled his “soap box” to the metal platform, located at the beginning of the route, which gave the car an additional impetus. The author of the invention, uncle and official guardian of the failed champion Robert Lange, was held responsible for assisting in this crime.
Well, as soon as the races from a unique and fascinating family show turned into another and very expensive hobby for adult eccentrics, Chevrolet refused to finance them. There was even a new direction - the creation of super-perfect “cars” without an engine and a new kind of competition with them - “Extreme gravity races”. The price for them has become just beyond the limit. Only one hydrocarbon fiber for one of these machines cost 15000 $ and about the same amount went to the wheels and everything else. But their mass with the usual races of "boxes" was simply incomparable.
Tobacco Box Races in Oklahoma.
Chances to return this mass sport to its former popularity appeared in 2000, when it was included in the program of the famous show of historical cars, which was held by the Red Bull brewing company. This event annually gathers more than 100 000 viewers. Therefore, in order to increase the entertainment and attractiveness of competitions, everything possible was done. For example, for races of 2004, a ramp was built with a height of 4,5 meters and a length of 23 meters, which turned into a hundred-meter asphalt line. The track was fenced with straw chippers. It was not so easy to carry out a soapbox in a straight line: control with the help of flexible weights required considerable strength and a good feeling of the track. But then the story repeated: every year the “soap cases” became more and more difficult, more expensive, and gradually the competitions lost their appeal, so these races were the last.
But now they are once again being held in Luxembourg, and even with great success! So, 2011 children's cars made of wood and metal took part in the 33 races of the year. The drivers were between 10 and 16 years old, and they competed in two categories: speed and slalom. Then the audience (and in total in the Luxembourg town of Differdange they gathered about three thousand) chose the most beautiful “box”.
It remains to be noted that the race "boxes of soap" is a very useful thing for children, and in all respects. Racing participants build their carts on their own (in the US, of course, you can buy a set-designer, but you still need to assemble at least one of its parts). Since there is no engine, and avtomobilchiki move under the slope under the influence of gravity, then when descending from a good slide accelerate to 50-70 km / h, but no more, so serious accidents are excluded. At first glance, the organization of the route is a big problem. However, nothing particularly difficult is required of her - the most common asphalt and the presence of a noticeable slope - that's all, to hold these competitions. And abroad, they are often timed to coincide with the holiday of the city and are the reason for advertising drinks and food. All this is of great interest to sponsors, not to mention the obvious need to develop children's technical creativity in our country and to distract children from idle pastime!
The poor, destitute Negro in his "box".
As for the design, the basic requirements for the "box" are reduced to having a steering wheel, brakes and a helmet on the driver's head. Accidents and other injuries happen very rarely - small wheels do not travel well on off-road, so if such a “car” moves to the side of the road, it loses speed very quickly. It is also quite difficult for him to tip over, because he has a large turning radius and the center of gravity is very low. Mutual collisions do not pose a danger, because the speed of the competing vehicles is about the same and they travel in the same direction.
Even the minimum and maximum weight of the little car can be limited, since the heavier car accelerates faster. But the main thing is, of course, the absence of an engine. Therefore, there is no noise or smelly exhaust on the track, as a result of which these races can be held literally in the city center.
The number of wheels may be regulated, but in any case there cannot be less than three and more than four. Start of cars is made from a special ramp - a platform which is lifted by a jack from the side of the road, preventing the cars from rolling down. When it starts, it lowers and the cars begin to move.
In winter, of course, it is unwise to ride, but if someone is interested in this idea, then during the winter cars can be built, and competitions can be held in spring or summer. Some difficulty is the transportation of such a machine to the place of competition, but if there is no car, then it can even be towed on a string, or it can be taken to a place by taxi with a roof rack.
Well, the stations of young technicians or schools always have places where such cars can be built and stored.
So why should the activists of the children's patriotic upbringing simply not take, and not start to break through the idea of “soapbox racing” in their city? And spend them on the Day of the city! Usually, for such an event, neither the governors, nor the mayors, nor the candidates for governors and mayors, nor the candidates to the Duma, spare any money. So you should tell them: “Here lies your popularity, idiot! Children are your future electorate, not your son. Think! ”Look, it will be possible in one place, our media, constantly experiencing a shortage of positive information directly from Russia, will inflate this“ initiative ”and who knows, maybe your city, built on steep hills, will eventually turn into new“ New Vasyuki?