If you were like us, growing up consisted of going fast—whether it was racing your friends downhill on a Tonka toy, skateboard, or BMX bike—and it was done with reckless abandonment. Fast-forward to the present day. Sure, we’re a bit older, questionably wiser, but one thing for sure is that we’re still as passionate about going fast as we were 20 years ago.
When Red Bull announced their second annual Los Angeles Soapbox Race, we quickly sprang into action and submitted our application. Within a week, we received the news we had been patiently awaiting: We were one of 40 teams selected to compete in this year’s race.
Although soapbox racing sounds like a kiddy sport, it has progressed to a whole new level, thanks to events like the Red Bull Soapbox Race. While the underlying goal of this event is to have fun while building the craziest contraptions known to man, competitors have continually pushed the envelope, bringing new and exciting soapbox racers year after year. Representing Import Tuner and the community of sport compact enthusiasts, we had a ton of pressure hanging on our shoulders.
Team Import Tuner
Gary Castillo, of Design Craft Fabrication, is best known for building a variety of race cars, from drift and time attack to his involvement with the Scion xD rally car. Gary’s creative ingenuity and fabrication skills are an asset to the team. Although, he has a tendency to over-engineer anything he touches—our soapbox included!
Troy Sumitomo, of Five Axis in Huntington Beach, is the man when it comes to building concept vehicles, including the infamous Scion xB DJ car and the recently debuted Scion FR-S concept car. Luckily for us, Troy was all too familiar with the Red Bull Soapbox race, as he told us, “I wanted to be part of the Red Bull Soapbox Derby after attending the L.A. event last year. I promised myself I would do this once in my lifetime and the opportunity finally came! Besides, I want to smoke Geoff, my employee competing this year and his Wayne’s World team!”
Philip Chase, the man behind Tein USA, offered his assistance in helping to build our soapbox from the ground up. Phil’s vast knowledge of suspension played a major part in bringing our soapbox to reality.
Just when we had given up finding someone crazy enough to fly down a hill in our creation, Gary came up with the ingenious idea to call Dai. Who better to pilot this engine-less drift car than Formula D competitor Daijiro Yoshihara, fresh-off a First Place podium finish at Round 2 of Formula D at Atlanta. If any individual were qualified to handle this beast, hands down, it would have to be Dai.
With the groundwork laid, we knew the upcoming weeks would be quite busy as we put together this car. Look for recaps in the weeks to come on our Facebook at www.facebook.com/importtunermag, as we divulge our progress, and be sure to check out the next issue as we wrap up our build and bring you exclusive event coverage of our soapbox competing for the win.
The craft must be entirely human powered and cannot use any stored energy (no external energy sources). Forget about slingshots, catapults, or anything besides your own burliness and gravity.
The craft must have operational brakes, steering, and a horn.
- •The craft must weigh less than 176 pounds (not including the driver).
- •The driver must be at least 18 years old.
- •The craft can be a maximum of 20 feet long by 6 feet wide by 7 feet tall, and no more than 7 inches from the ground.
The concept of our soapbox was to build a shrunken-down version of a real car, similar to a ChoroQ (Japan) or Penny Racer . . . but bigger.
Summit Racing rod ends, tube inserts, and mild-steel tubing of various sizes, supplied for our chassis.
Gary, behind the drill press as he preps the tube end for the chassis. Look at that determined face!
Our fearless driver, Dai Yoshihara, paying a visit to the shop to spec the chassis according to his body dimensions.
The set of Jr. Dragster brake calipers, pads, and a universal master cylinder kit Wilwood sent us for our brake setup.