Soapbox derby cars never looked so good. Porsche Styling, Huntington Beach, Calif., took the conventional four-wheeled, cigar-shaped soapbox design and turned it upside down with its Porsche Soapboard. Described as a surfboard on three wheels, the design debuted at the Gravity Car Derby Festival 2003 in Irvine, Calif. Porsche's soapbox racer has a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis with a honeycomb-core material for added stiffness. Its aerodynamic wheels are said to have the lowest rolling resistance tires available. It also uses a braking system adapted from racing bikes. The front windscreen is vacuum-formed acrylic, designed to streamline air around the driver.
Another break from tradition is the cockpit. Instead of the typical hole cutout, drivers slip into a neoprene-lined compartment, similar to a surfer's wetsuit, that stretches to fit most people comfortably. Pilots are zipped in and essentially become one with the vehicle. The handle bar used to keep cars on course is designed for low-wind resistance.
Porsche's Soapboard took first place in the competition's Design Showcase Div. The Gravity Car Derby Festival, organized by America Works for Kids, is designed to help foster kids become confident, working members of a community.