How to Steer a Soap Box Car

During a soap box derby, where motorless cars coast down hills, it is generally agreed that the best steering is no steering, since every adjustment from the driver slows the car. By knowing when to steer and when not to steer, you will be able to get a better performance out of your soap box car.

Things You'll Need

  • Helmet
  • Soap box car


    • 1

      Determine which type of steering mechanism is being used for the soap box car you will drive. Generally, it will be a bar or handle that is either vertical or horizontal, and it will be attached to two cables that lead to the front wheel and spindles. True mechanical steering mechanisms, which link a column to the axle, are not allowed in soap box derby competition.

    • 2

      Practice using the steering mechanism until you feel comfortable with the way it moves and reacts to your touch. Notice any changes in the pressure or tautness of the steering cables, as this may indicate that they need adjustment.

    • 3

      Wedge your arms between your body and the inside of the cockpit, and spread your hands as close to the outside of the steering mechanism as possible.

    • 4

      Take several practice runs before you enter any soap box derby. Become familiar with the amount of pressure you need to steer the car so that you can make the smallest possible corrections during the race. Avoid abrupt or jerky movements as you steer, which will immediately slow the car.

    • 5

      Concentrate on a line of travel, once the race begins, that runs along your lane from the starting line to the finish. Follow that line for the entire length of the race. Do not look to your sides or at other cars, since this will make you drift in that direction.

    • 6

      Make very subtle corrections in your steering in order to avoid drifting out of your lane, into pylons or into other cars. Always apply the least amount of pressure to the steering mechanism to avoid getting into trouble. Remember, the straighter you go, the faster you will go.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose which type of steering mechanism you want to use, either vertical or horizontal, depending upon your size and how much extra room you have inside the cockpit. Vertical steering mechanisms are best for taller drivers whose legroom is at a minimum.
  • When foam is added to the inside of the cockpit to reduce wind resistance, make sure it doesn't restrict your arm movement in any way or hamper your ability to steer.
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