Official Rules

The Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby

Official Rules as of February 1, 2020*

Race Categories

·       Category 1:  Age 7-11 (maximum 2 drivers/car)

·       Category 2:  Age 12-17 (maximum 2 drivers/car)

·       Category 3:  Age 18 and over (maximum 2 drivers/car)

·       Category 4:  Outlaw Class (1 driver/car)

·       Category 5:  Harry Norman STEM Team Challenge

Race Registration Fees & Deadlines

Category 1-4 Race Fees shall be $25 per driver entry per category. Perks includes: one (1) event t-shirt and one (1) event badge/lanyard. Registration Deadline to receive t-shirts/badges: April 3, 2020. Anyone registering after this date will pay a $50 registration fee for an entry into the Outlaw Class and are not guaranteed an event t-shirt.

Category 5 does not have an entry fee. Event t-shirts will not be provided; however, event badges will be issued for all team members and their team manager. (See STEM Team Challenge Entry Form for special pricing for event t-shirts for the team members.)

NOTE:  Race fees are based on drivers entering the race, not vehicles.  This allows families with one car and multiple children to participate without building each driver their own car (2 drivers/car max). If drivers using the same car are ever pitted against each other for any reason, the driver with the lower official registration number will automatically win UNLESS they specifically withdraw in favor of the other driver OR the other driver may borrow another driver’s car.


Derby Car Guidelines & Rules

1. Driver Safety

1.1 All drivers MUST wear an approved helmet. Additional safety gear may be worn at the driver’s discretion. 

1.2 Restraints are not mandatory, but are recommended. Please consider the age and ability of the driver.

1.3 Drivers must be in a sitting position with legs facing forward. Drivers may lean back for aerodynamics, but may not lay head first.

2. Derby Cars (Category 1-3)

2.1 Drivers are encouraged to be creative and think "outside of the box"; however, derby cars should be constructed with SAFETY in mind.  While vehicle parts may be new, used, or recycled from almost any material, they should be structurally sound.  All bolts should have locking washers or nuts to secure them while any sharp edges should be rounded over.

2.2 Derby cars must be completely gravity powered.  No other mechanical propulsion is allowed, i.e. springs, rubber bands, pedals, human propulsion, weighted drives, engines, or motors of any kind.

2.3 Derby cars should be mostly handmade, i.e. you cannot simply use a motor-less "go-kart" frame.  No "Power-Wheels” or other commercially made vehicle. If you are unsure of your selection, please ask a race coordinator before you start or continue construction on your derby car entry. Officials/Inspectors have the final say.

2.4 Derby cars must have a minimum ground clearance of 2.5" and a maximum of 9".

2.5 Derby cars must have a rear axle wheelbase width min/max of 12"- 40; front axle wheelbase width min/max of 24”-40”; and a maximum body width of 40".

2.6 Derby cars must have a wheelbase length min/max of 56"- 80" and a maximum body length of 90".

2.7 For the April 25, 2020 race, each derby car will have a MAXIMUM of two (2) drivers. This is a decision made by the board to expedite the race process and eliminate race stoppage.

3. Derby Car Wheels (Category 1-3)

3.1 Derby cars must have (at least) 4 wheels, and must be fixed in a single direction, no casters or swivels.

3.2 Wheels shall have a minimum of .75" width and a maximum of 6" width.

3.3 Wheels shall have a minimum of 4" diameter and a maximum of 30".


4. Weight Limits

4.1 Starting in 2020, weight limits for cars have been eliminated.  Results in 2019 showed that adding more weight could be a detriment to overall race time. You are encouraged to practice with different weights to find out what works best with your car design and the weight of the driver.

5. Outlaw Class Derby Cars

5.1 Outlaw Class cars must be completely gravity powered.  No other mechanical propulsion is allowed, i.e. springs, rubber bands, pedals, human propulsion, weighted drives, engines, or motors of any kind.

5.2 There are no other “rules” for Outlaw Class Derby cars regarding weight limits, dimensions, wheels, etc. Please keep driver and bystander safety in mind regarding your vehicle. If your derby car cannot be placed on the Launch Ramp or if it will not clear the bottom of the launch ramp/pavement, it will be eliminated from competition. All other rules regarding Steering (par 6), Braking (par 7), and Decorations (par 8) DO apply to your vehicle. Outlaw Class derby cars will not be inspected; however, they must still check in with the other cars on April 24th, 2020. If the vehicle is too big to fit inside the school, the owner will be responsible for its overnight storage and return to the PITS on race day prior to the start of the Outlaw Class races.

6. Steering

6.1 All derby cars must have a reliable steering mechanism, with stops, to limit the movement to no more than 25 degrees, or any degree to prevent the wheels from contacting the vehicle body, in either direction.

7. Braking

7.1 All vehicles must have a braking system!  All brakes must be friction based.  Brakes can be applied to the tires, the axel, or to the ground (or any combination of the three). Any ground contact system must be rubber soled and cannot damage the ground surface.  Braking systems must be completely controlled by the driver and cannot be a parachute or anchor system, (i.e. nothing can be dragged behind to slow the vehicle down).

8. Decorations

8.1 Name of driver(s) and/or a "racing number" will be allowed on any vehicle.  Drivers are encouraged to decorate their vehicle any way they want with certain exceptions (see 7.2);

8.2 Topics that include politics, guns, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or otherwise controversial topics WILL NOT BE ALLOWED on any derby car.  If you are unsure if your chosen theme fits this rule, please contact a Derby Car Official.  During derby car check-in and on race day, Derby Car Officials will enforce this at their discretion.

9. Vehicle Inspections

9.1 To maintain fairness, vehicle inspections will occur.  All cars must be at the Fannin County Middle School between 5-7pm on April 24th, 2020 for inspection (certain hardships will be considered if you cannot make the time frame, but you must contact a race official).  After cars are inspected and pass all requirements, they will be moved into the school facilities and stored overnight. No modifications can be made to the cars after a passing inspection, with the exception of safety and adjustable weight modifications (per section 4.5) under the watch of an inspector/official. Cars failing the initial inspection will be allowed to exit the facility for modification and allowed to be re-inspected for entry into the race.

9.2 On race day, cars may be inspected at ANY time at the discretion of an official or judge.  At the end of each category, cars in 1st through 4th place may be inspected prior to announcement of winners and distribution of prizes.  Play fair--as you and the vehicle may be disqualified!

9.3 If anyone suspects another driver/team of cheating, please address an official immediately and let them investigate and handle the situation. Trust the officials to do their investigation and handle the situation appropriately as no follow-up will be provided to the person making the report.

10. The Soap Box Derby Race

10.1 Races will be held in a bracket style within each race category (age group); the first bracket will be a “best of three” race (the driver winning 2 out of the 3 races will advance to next bracket); each additional bracket (up to the semi-final bracket) will be determined by ONE race with the winner advancing (lane choice will be determined by a coin flip); the semi-final bracket and championship bracket will be determined in best “two out of three” runs with a coin flip determining the first lane choice after which racers will alternate lanes until a winner is determined.

10.2 Races will be held on a side by side “track” with two cars racing against each other.

10.3 Cars will be launched from the top of a declined ramp. Launch occurs when the “gate”, a metal plate that rests against the front wheel, is lowered at the direction of the launch judge. The winner of the run will be the first vehicle whose front wheels break the plane of the finish line.  Finish line judges will use their best judgment to determine the winner of the 1st or 2nd run if it is “too close to call”; if a “tie” is called upon the third run, a fourth run will be required.

10.4 Participants will be assigned a registration number at the April 24th inspection (ideally, in order of check-in).  These numbers will be drawn (at random) to decide the race brackets (at the discretion of derby officials, modification to the bracket MAY be made to ensure Round 1 of the bracket does not pair two drivers using the same car against each other, see Note under Race Registration Fees).  

NOTE:  This assigned number will be your official race number, not the number that may be on the side of the car.

10.5 Lane Choice: During the first bracket, Semi-Final, and Final (best 2 of 3 races brackets), the lower of the two registration numbers will have first option of lane choice. Consecutive runs will switch lanes to determine the best two out of three winners.  Per par. 9.1, races in middle brackets (not the 1st bracket or the Semi-Final and Final brackets) will have lane choices determined by a coin flip by the launch ramp judge. If at any time, lane choice becomes an “issue”, the launch ramp judge will decide lane choice.

11. The Harry Norman STEM Team Challenge

11.1 Teams are to be comprised of no less than three and no more than five students. There will be ONE driver (listed on the entry form) for the vehicle for the downhill race portion. Teams will be led by a Team Manager (teacher) and listed on all registration forms. Winning teams will have their prize money checks written to the Team Manager for their discretion.

11.2 All students and their cars entering this category must follow Driver Safety guidelines in paragraph 1, as well as Steering (par. 6), Braking (par. 7), and Decorations (par. 8).

11.3 Students are encouraged to be creative and think "outside of the box"; however, derby cars should be constructed with SAFETY in mind.  While vehicle parts may be new, used, or recycled from almost any material, they should be structurally sound.  All bolts should have locking washers or nuts to secure them while any sharp edges should be rounded over.

11.4 Derby cars must be completely gravity powered.  No other mechanical propulsion is allowed, i.e. springs, rubber bands, pedals, human propulsion, weighted drives, engines, or motors of any kind.

11.5 Vehicle Limitations. Cars are to be no longer than 90” and no wider than 40”. All cars must have 4 wheels, and must be fixed in a single direction, no casters or swivels. There are NO weight minimums or maximums.

11.6 The STEM Team Challenge cars are required to be at the vehicle inspection on April 24, 2020 at Fannin County Middle School between 5-7pm. At this time, all supplemental paperwork is due (see par. 11.7.1 for specific paperwork required and their due dates).

11.7 Winners will be determined by a tally of points in three (3) categories: The STEM Engineering Design Process, Vehicle Design and Decoration, and a Timed Race.

          11.7.1 The STEM Engineering Design Process. For maximum points, students must use and document the STEM Engineering Design Process for the creation of their derby car; tell us which team members came up with certain ideas and implemented solutions.  In short - Show us your work!  A small composition notebook is highly recommended for this portion of the challenge.  To allow our special STEM Team Challenge judges adequate time to review your work and allocate appropriate points, this documentation MUST be turned in no later than 5pm on April 17th, 2020.  Any work completed after this time can be turned in as supplemental paperwork on April 24, 2020 during vehicle inspection at FCMS.  No documentation will be received or considered after April 24, 2020.

          11.7.2 Vehicle Design and Decoration. We want spectators to say “WOW!” when they see your car; therefore, you are highly encouraged to design and decorate your car to accomplish this. Make sure you follow all decoration guidelines (par. 8) when completing this task. STEM Team Challenge judges will judge your cars in this category when they are dropped off to the FCMS on April 24th, 2020 between 5-7pm.

          11.7.3 Timed Race. For maximum points in this category, your car must be the fastest car that completes a full run from the launch ramp to the finish line. Your car will race on the track TWO times, once each on the right and left lanes, and the best time will be used as your official race time.

11.8 Winning teams (1st place & two Runner-Ups) will be announced in a special ceremony presentation.  Prize money will be presented at this time to the Team Manager (teacher on registration form)

12. Derby Car Adjustments / Repairs

12.1 We are aware that derby cars may require adjustments and minor repairs during the race. If needed and available, there may be a designated work area with basic power access. Racers are encouraged to bring their own power tools and back up supplies. Please do not be alarmed if an official inspects your derby car after you’ve worked on it.


13. Prizes

13.1 Category 1-3: Winners shall receive the following prizes;

·       1st Place - $250 cash

·       2nd Place - $150 cash

·       3rd Place - $75 cash

NOTE:  If the winning racer is driving a “school car” (one provided by the school), the check will be written to the school’s STEM teacher for their disbursement.

13.2 Category 4: Outlaw Class races shall have ONE winner who receives a “prize package” made up of donations from the Business Package Sponsors.

13.3 STEM Team Challenge: First place team will receive $600; two runner-up teams will receive $300 each. Checks will be made to the Team Manager (teacher on registration form).

13.4 Best of Show: Winners will be decided from a panel consisting of one member from each of the 5 Executive Sponsors. First Place = $100, Second Place = $50, Third Place = $25.

14. Event T-Shirts & Badges

14.1 All drivers are encouraged to wear their event t-shirt on the day of the event—event shirt will be given to driver upon vehicle check-in on April 24th, 5-7pm.  Whether they choose to wear the event shirt above or below safety gear is the choice of the driver (as long as it does not impede with their safety gear).  Additional event t-shirts will be available for purchase on race day while supplies last.

14.2 Anyone entering the race car pits, vehicle staging prior to launch, and other official event areas must display an event badge.  This helps prevent safety issues and minimizes liability and accidents.

* NOTE – Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby Board Members reserve the right to change these rules at any time they see fit to promote reasonable and fair play.


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