TheMARYLAND INDEPENDANT SOAPBOX FEDERATION & INCLINE TRIAL SOCIETYWas formed to
give an outlet to fun loving outlaws and miscreants of all ages. Following the lead of the San Fernando Valley Illegal Soap Box Federation,
we began forming our group in the summer of 2008. The goal was to
have a great time while organizing an opportunity for folks to do something a bit out of the ordinary. While the competition is wild, and we live by the outlaw spirit, we do have rules that must be followed
for the safety of those involved and the wellbeing of the group. The
focus is on the creativity, ingenuity, and artistry of the machines and not so much on who gets to the bottom first.
It’s all about having a great time and enjoying the thrill of the ride. So grab some wheels and cobble something together and come join us for some wild down hill fun and adventure! If you need help, let us know! There are plenty of folks ready and willing to help
you get started in any way they can.
It all started with a few videos on YouTube and a “That looks like a Blast” comment. It’s been all down hill from there!
Why are YOU an underground/illegal soapbox racer?
We asked, Why do you do this? Why do you get up before the crack of dawn on the weekend
once a month so you can drive an hour to race your soapbox car? What motivates you to do soapbox racing, what makes
it fun for you? And while we're on the topic, what got you into this and how did you get started?
Here are some of the answers...
First off, I don't do it just to go fast. I don't do it just to compete. And I don't do
it just to build.
I am a maker. I love to make things: it's what I do for a job and it's what I do for fun;
it is my creative outlet. If it weren't kart-building it would be something else like circuit design or product repair.
But this is a complete system design. I have to think about statics, dynamics, ergonomics, reliability, manufacturability,
electrical design (for a lighting system that will come eventually). it involves making in many different veins; working
with different materials to accomplish many different tasks
Also, I enjoy learning, trying new things and techniques
that could help me make better things now and in the future. Since I've joined this group I've learned how to work with
metal: by cutting, drilling, welding, grinding, sanding, painting, milling, turning on a lathe, tapping threads, riveting,
etc. I've learned to use new tools I'd never had the opportunity to use before like a mill, lathe, welder, angle grinder,
tubing notcher, tube bender, bench top brake, etc. I'm applying what I've learned in my engineering classes: statics
for the frame design, reading a book on suspension so I could make one that was functional, all the wonderful intricacies
of ackerman steering and how that really affects us and how to design for it. I'm still learning how to design things
so that they're simple and reliable; now it seems I have a penchant for fragile and complex. I've also learned about
photography and videography: what's good in a video camera, how robust they'll need to be, how to take good (or halfway decent)
pictures of something to capture the detail in it, how to edit a video, and so on. being involved with this group has
all been about learning and expanding my horizons
Lastly, I love to use what I've made. just making the kart
would be cool and an achievement in itself, but being able to race it and see how it works (and that it works at all) is the
icing on the cake. after all, I build my karts to look good and to be fast. so far it's been one or the other,
but this kart should eventually be fairly quick and look good too.
what got me into this was just a random desire
one day to go soapbox racing. I looked up some videos, found the SFVISBF web site, and eventually found this group.
|Jerm driving II 2011 ECC Round 6
People who have known me for a long time often ask why I’m messing with this stuff after
being involved with so many interesting and wonderful racing cars.
I’ve had the pleasure to be involved
with some really interesting people in my racing career and also some really fantastic machines.
just how is it that I can go from being the Formula Atlantic Champion in 2006 driving this car,
To Driving this car
in the MISFITS racing series?
Well for me, it’s all about the competition. It doesn’t matter what I’m driving,
as long as I can strive to be competitive doing it. It really doesn’t make any difference to me if
I’m going 224mph on the back stretch at Pocono, or doing 24mph down hill powered by gravity. Racing
is Racing! Its that drive to do it better then the rest of the group that makes the competition interesting.
And as my racing mentor is often heard saying, “I know there’s a lot of money in racing, I put it there!”
Or, “The fastest way to make a small fortune in motor racing is to start with a BIG one!”
These statements are very true when talking about motor sports, and I know I spent a large fortune during my time
in the driver’s seat! In the early 90’s when driving a Ford GT-Pinto, we figured up our expenses
at the end of the season and discovered we spent $1,000 an hour to drive the car. And we scrimped and saved
wherever we could to try to keep that figure as low as possible.
In 2006, with the Formula Atlantic,
that figure had grown to be over $5,000 an hour to drive the car. And we were very fortunate that
nothing expensive broke, blew up, or got crashed.
I enjoy my time behind the wheel of a motorized race
car, and I’d still be doing it if someone else stepped up to pay the bills, but unfortunately, even with our record
of winning every race we started with the Formula Atlantic, no big teams stepped up to sign me on as a driver. The incredible
expense needed to be competitive, or to just go to the track and have fun has taken the enjoyment out of motor sports for
Plus I've done enough of it over the years that it just
no longer provides the thrill it once did.
As a kid, I lived at the bottom of a steep hill about
¼ mile long. All the kids in the neighborhood built cars out of 2x4’s to race down that hill.
We started the STA (Superior Timing Association – we lived on Superior Ave.)
the road and raced 2 cars at a time. We even had a race queen! But she did run away
when it was time to kiss the winning drivers! And so did a few of the drivers - they didn't want to get cooties!
In 2008, I stumbled across the SFVISBF web site. Ironically, doing something like this was something
my employees and I had discussed doing for a company summer picnic. We talked about it and everyone had
build ideas, but we never got around to doing anything about it.
I had tried to get Jola involved
in doing autocross and motorized track events, but she wasn’t overly thrilled about it. But this
was something she expressed interest in doing.
So I built 2 cars for us to play with and see if this
was something we really wanted to do. It was! But we had difficulty trying to get other
friends involved. Some thought this was too juvenile and was for kids. Others thought
this was too dangerous. And a few just never took the time to start building a car, or even had the ability
and resources to build their own car.
So before the 2009 season opened, I decided to build 2 more
cars. We wanted to build them to the same design as the previous cars, just as light as possible.
This was to see how a light weight car would compare to the earlier heavier cars. But the main reason
for building them was to try to get other people to come play.
About that time, The Jerm stumbled
upon our web site and we decided to build 4 loaner cars in place of 2. He was going to help and in return,
he would have one of those cars to use until he built a car of his own.
Since that time, more people have come
to race with us. And almost every Saturday, we are here cutting, grinding, welding, painting, and eating
So playing this game is far more then just the competition of driving in the race.
It’s also about the design and build. And being able to try new and different things to see
how they work.
But above all that, it’s about the friendships and camaraderie of the group.
Meeting new people and enjoying some crazy times together while getting to experience the thrill and sensation of speed
in your own creation, without the enormous expense!
It's not because I like to make things or because I'm an adrenaline junkie, it's because I like to make things and I'm an adrenaline junkie. And too cheap to take up racing proper.
don't need that big of a fix, so hurtling down the hill over potholes is about right. And the engineer in me loves to build
things / learn how to build things... maybe even more than I like the racing. And the fact that it's underground racing
makes it a little more appealing too, makes it sound edgy, at least in my head.
To answer the other part of the
question: The Jerm got me into this. He kept inviting me every weekend he was going out until I came along.
|Ice Man with Totally Legal
something and praying it works...That's the American way...
Also, it's the cheapest habit I have...except it encourages
my need to buy tools.
|Jolly Roger Opening Day 2011
the thrill and the camaraderie. There's nothing like the feeling of barreling down a hill at 60 MPH, in a motorless
go-cart, with traffic coming at you and little control teetering within a seemingly inch of injury or death. Its AWESOME!!!!!
|CROPP in White Lightning 2011 ECC Hill #3