Shelby Stong, 27, from Lake Stevens, Derek Strong, 24, the driver is from Lynnwood along with Grant Hawley, 27, from Seattle and Scott Hanson, 39, the co-pilot who is also from Seattle and E.Z., 28 from Seattle, decided they were going to build a soapbox car to enter into the Red Bull Soapbox Race which took place in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 21.
“We are a team of fabricators who love going out and having fun,” Shelby Stong said. “I saw the advertisement for the race in Seattle in 2007 and I had to enter, this is what I do. When this race came around I had to try again since the last event was so much fun.”
Their team, the Bigfoot Bandits was one of 40 teams to be chosen out of hundreds of applications. Their soapbox car is inspired by the large, hairy, bipedal humanoid also known as Big Foot. It is thought that Sasquatch inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, namely Granite Falls.
The team had to build their car entirely from scratch, which they did in Stong’s garage.
“Grant, Derek and I grew up together on the same block in Lynnwood and I have known them since I was five. We have been building bikes, cars, and anything else we can conjure up since then,” Stong said. “When I applied for this race we were in a tight spot with busy schedules and a quick deadline so I needed some experienced fabricators to help us whip out a craft.”
According to the rules, teams were judged on three criteria: speed, creativity and showmanship.
All soapboxes must be human powered, meaning no engines or external energy sources. Pre-fabricated cars are not accepted. All vehicles must be less than six-feet wide and seven-feet tall, less than 20 feet in length and no more than seven inches from the ground. All cars must weigh no more than 176 lbs. (not including the driver). Drivers must be at least 18 years old.
The Bigfoot Bandits car had a woodsy theme featured hunters and the notoriously hunted Bigfoot, the team’s homemade soapbox racer was a chopped log dressed up with live pine branches.
“Although they gave it a valiant effort, the course dominated with it’s two jumps, 90 degree turn on a berm wall and tight chicanes. Overall the team came in 32nd place,” a Red Bull spokesperson said in a statement.
“We ended up crashing about half way in and were unable to finish. It was a good crash though,” Stong said. “Even though we didn’t win we had one hell of a time and we will be at it again the next opportunity we have.”
This is not this first time the group has competed together, it’s actually the third time for most of them and they hope is that there will be many more competitions to come.
“I invited Scott as a newcomer and Matt from the previous team to help out. Matt was unable to make it so E.Z. filled his spot late in the game and really came through for us,” Stong said. “We participated in the Seattle Red Bull Soapbox Race in 2007 as the Lake Washington Tech All-Stars where we piloted a ferryboat towing the space needle. This last spring the team competed in the Red Bull Schlittentag at Crystal Mountain as the Cockeye Sockeyes. Both the previous races we finished in fourth place.”
As far as this years competition in L.A., first place went to Team Lakers FanWagon. Second place was awarded to Team Angry Bird Droppings, with eye-catching costumes and a feathered craft based on the popular iPhone app. Third place went to The Flying Scotsmen, whose tartan kilts didn’t restrict the team’s bagpipe-shaped soapbox from flying down the course with the fastest time of the day.
Other winners included The Baked Muscles who won the People’s Choice award.
For more photos and information regarding the Red Bull Soapbox Race visit www.redbullsoapboxusa.com.