Our 16 Favorite Soapbox Derby Teams From Saturday's Red Bull Race
Red Bull chose Dallas to host its famous soapbox derby race last Saturday, leaving 67 thousand folks asking Siri where this Austin Ranch place actually is. But they found it, and crowds invaded the suburb to see forty teams compete in two categories: crowd favorite and fastest time.
Some were made by friends who wanted to tackle a project together. Others were packs of coworkers or school chums. All shared a passion for innovative building and a complete disregard for personal safety, so these teams became our heroes. We chatted with them, photographed them and cheered them through victory and complete annihilation. When the final cart skidded through the balloon-arched finish line, we wiped away nostalgic tears, then hunkered down and tallied our scores. We had photographer Mike Mezeul II on hand to gather all of these action shots, so now here's our 16 absolute favorites.
#16 Ku De Ta
Ku De Ta (the secretish saltwater pool behind Three Sheets) recreated a small version of their flagship war vessel, which was parked behind them for comparison purposes. Posing in front of the racer were Ku De Ta's beautiful workforce, donning very skimpy military outfits. Next to them stood the cart's builder and driver, a fella dressed like a general. He assured us that the Ross Avenue party spot is on "a mission to overthrow Uptown."
Weight: 180 pounds.
Composed of: Steel and recycled parts, like freezer panels.
Strength: Toughness. It will not be destroyed.
Weakness: A high center of gravity
#15 Kappa Alpha's Oregon Trail
This team of frat bros wound up clocking in the day's fastest speed and snatched up the racing award. (No word on whether or not this vessel could also ford a river.) Even before they launched their ride, these guys sniffed out victory: They tested the cart's handling power by tying the wagon to the back of a pick-up and whipping it around. She got up to 35 mph with no problems.
Weighs: 134 pounds
Composed of: Tube steel, wood siding, a canvas top and toy horses.
Strength: Fast and stable at high speeds.
Weakness: The flooring is just a thin sheet of plywood.
#14 Guy On A Buffalo
The idea, like all great things, came from You Tube. This dude crew was hanging out, watching these crazy Possum Party videos when they saw a commercial for the Soapbox Derby. The planets aligned. A team was formed. A man rode a buffalo.
Composed of: Chicken wire and paper mache on a go-kart frame.
Strength: It's a guy on a buffalo.
Weakness: High center of gravity.
#13 The Black Sheep
This Denton team was a wild card pick; they never thought they'd make it this far. But look at that sweet design -- the judges sure did, and it wound up securing them a spot in the race. Modeled after the Black Sheep Squadron this sucker grabbed its biggest cool points catching air on the ramps. The group of friends even learned how to weld, just so they could bring their idea to life.
Composed of: Steel, wool, aluminum and vinyl.
Strength: It's solid, with a good frame.
Weakness: It has no shocks and is front-heavy.
#12 Fighting Jayhawks, KU ROTC
This racer started out as a joint project with the KU engineering department, but there was a... falling out. The ROTC kids shrugged it off and decided to build the thing themselves. Looking at the aftermath, maybe they could have used that engineering help after all. Still, these boys drove nine hours to compete and spent a couple of "intense" weeks of labor building the thing, so we admire their chutzpa.
Weight: One pound under the maximum.
Composed of: 2X6s, wood and steel.
Strength: Its weight improves speed.
Weakness: We'll let driver Andrew Martin tell you this part. "I have no floorboard or seat. I'm actually sitting on a 2X6 piece of wood with no harness. As long as I stay in the car, it should be good." (He didn't.)