Indiana is home to the Wilbur Shaw Soap Box Derby Hill, one of the longest
tracks in the country, measuring 1,000 feet. In 2017, Wagner Reese is
proud to be supporting the track and the
Indianapolis Soap Box Club this year. Headquartered at the Shepherd Community Center, the not-for-profit
is organized as an after school club working directly with the Indianapolis
Soap Box Derby. The club engages students in Science, Technology, Engineering,
Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) through the medium of Soap Box Derby. By
employing a STEAM-based education program designed around building and
racing SBD cars in the “Racing Capitol of the World”, students
are mentored and learn while having fun in the process.
Educating young Soap Box Drivers with the STEAM program is important but
keeping drivers safe – especially from head injuries is also a priority.
A recent study by an Indiana University researcher concluded that young
adults (and children) who have suffered severe head injuries, and those
who had more than one head injury, were more likely to be affected in
the future. So before your child coasts downhill at “breakneck speed”
in a small car with no engine, make sure they are protected from injuries
and accident-prone decision making with these tips from the All-American
Soap Box Derby (AASBD).
Don’t Be Afraid To Stop. Tell your kids if they need to stop for
whatever reason, just stop. That includes stopping for any reason that
might make them feel uncomfortable driving like: an animal on the track,
dust disrupting their vision, or if a helmet comes loose. Your child should
always feel comfortable putting on the brakes. Let them know officials
won’t hold this against them.
Hands On The Wheel. Although most young drivers will want to raise their
hands at the finish line, they will need to keep steering until the car
comes to a stop. Just like driving a car, if you don’t have your
hands on the wheel, you are not in control. The same message needs to
be sent to SBD drivers.
No Helmet. No Ride. Check to make sure the helmet is strapped on properly.
It’s the only way to protect his or her head if they crash, rollover
or are suddenly ejected from the car. They need to be wearing a helmet
during practice runs as well.
Head and brain injuries can have serious long-term effects, and the results of Traumatic Brain
Injuries can be life altering.
Start Slow. Make sure your child can control his car even when he’s
going really fast. It is a good idea to start them slowly, on smaller
hills and roadways tracks to allow them to get comfortable with the speed.
Teach him safe driving practices too. For example, over-steering can lead
to a spin-out or cause a car to hit the guardrail.
Stay Alert. Make sure your young driver knows to stay alert and not allow
himself or her to be distracted. That means no texting or cell phones
in the SB car. Sideline friends cheering while operating the SB car can
also easily distract them but they should avoid trying to communicate
with onlookers. Also, they will need to be making sure there are no pedestrians
in the way before they dart down the track. People will not hear a SB
car coming at them since it has no engine.
Wear The Right Gear. Open-toe shoes are not appropriate. A SB driver’s
footwear should have a sole with a good grip to decrease the chance his
or her foot will slip while braking. Long, heavier fabric sleeves also
are a good idea. They’ll add a bit of skin protection in a crash.
Shorts are okay, though, especially if riding on hot, Indianapolis summer day.
Wagner Reese invites other businesses and individuals to also support this
growing nonprofit through gifts of your time and resources. If you feel
called in any of these areas, please contact Daric Moenter at (888) 204-8440 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make a contribution directly to the club by visiting
www.shepherdcommunity.org and entering “Soap Box Derby” in the comments section.