We made it! – Red Bull Soapbox Race

Area 515 Red Bull Soapbox Race Team (left to right): John Whiteman, Cody Henry, David Champion, Ryan Renze, Tom Pesek (Carlin Al-Andas and Don Cady not pictured)

In June, members of the makerspace participated in the Red Bull Soapbox Race in downtown Des Moines. The Red Bull Soapbox race is a long-celebrated maker tradition of building the wackiest, fastest, and most creative non-powered vehicle and racing downhill against contestants from all around the country.

David Champion piloting Print the World in the 2022 Red Bull Soapbox Derby

Working within a construction time of 2 weeks and materials consisting of bed frames and children’s bicycles, the team hacked together Print the World, a sleek, bullet-style soapbox with a giant 3D printer on the back. David Champion, an experienced race car driver, used this glorious craft to shoot downhill at blistering speed with the focus and caution that can only come from someone who knows exactly which welds in the frame could break at any moment.

Print the World – The Area 515 team’s entry in the 2022 Red Bull Soapbox Derby

What the craft lacked in style, it more than made up for in sketchiness. Most of the crash-safety features involved zip ties and pool noodles. In fact, the maker space mantra of “As Sketchy As Possible” was the team motto and inspiration, as well as “If we don’t get them to make a new rule because of us, we didn’t do our job right.” The latter holds true as on race day, race officials would not allow a passenger to ride backwards while David drove, something that apparently has not been attempted at any Red Bull Soapbox Races in the United States. While no trophies or prizes were won by our team at this event, the team counts it as a success that the craft and driver made it downhill (relatively) in one piece, and they had a heck of a lot of fun doing it.

– Cody Henry