by Jim McMillan
The All-American Soap Box Derby held in Akron, Ohio in 1999 was a very interesting race from many perspectives. With a new track, new cars (Scotties), and a new corporate sponsor (Goodyear), it was in many ways a whole new race. From what I could see, Akron did a great job in 1999. And, while everyone's experience at the AA is different, this article is meant to highlight the things that we saw at the race.
Ramps and Lanes
The track was newly re-paved for 1999. So comparisons to the recent past will be very difficult. I understand that during Wednesday's test runs that it rained and about 300 parents went running to the track to try to see how the water ran down the lanes.
The calibration must have been interesting on Thursday. When we showed up on Friday evening we found Lane 1 set almost even with the slope. However we noticed that the ramp wasn't set even with the slope. One side was about an 1/8" to 1/4" lower than the other. I don't know if this introduced cross-bind in the ramp, but I haven't seen it set that way in the past four years. After the race I examined Lanes 2 and 3. I found that they were set at exactly the same height, 1/2" above the slope.
Race day was very hot and very windy. The wind primarily blew down the hill. Lane 2 was the dominant lane in 1999 winning 54% of the Stock Car and 53% of the Super Stock Car races. Lane 1 seemed slow all day but it wasn't as bad as Lane 3. Lane 3 won 16% of the Super Stock and only 11% of the Stock Car races. Allen Endres showed that he was the true All-American Champion by winning three races in Lane 3 and setting fastest time for the AA Masters in the final. Well done Allen!
Links to the lane results are below:
Lane 2 and 3 ramp setting - click on the picture to enlarge.
I found it interesting that in the first year where Red and Blue shells were offered for the Stock Division that a true "All-American" final resulted with Red, White & Blue shells all represented. The Red car of Justin Pillow representing Central Florida was the champion.
Some have complained that the fancy paint jobs on some Superstock cars were unfair. It is nice to report that two cars in the final, including the champion were plain white cars. The lesson; you don't have to paint to be fast.
The All-American also upgraded their FinishLynx digital photo-finish system from black and white to color in 1999. Ken Morrow has posted photo-finish pictures from the Masters Division at: http://aasbd.org/master99/master99.html You will note that the FinishLynx system produces a light/dirty green background. Also, look at the shadows that were produced by the bright sunshine on race day. A black or dark color nose with a black shadow definitely doesn't help the photo reader. I understand that the new bridge for 2000 will try to address the shadow problem with additional lights. However, there were lights in 1999 and, shadows were evident.
Scotties dominated the new Kit Division - hard to call it the Masters Division when only one "stick car" made the top 9. In late October the All-American Control Board recognized the disparity and gave the stick cars one additional inch of axle fairing. However, as Tex Finsterwald commented...the second year of after a major change, the cars get a lot better. Scotties may again dominate again in 2000 due to experience gained in 99.
I predicted that Allan Endres, local Akron champ would win mainly because of his brother's AA Championship in the Kit Car Division a couple of years back. My reasoning was that if the Endres' family could do it once with "Kit Car", they could do it again. While I didn't get a chance to inspect the interior of the car (perhaps others can share how it was set up?), here is what I observed of the outside. The first thing I noticed about Allan's car was the most rounded nose that I saw on a Scottie with full axle fairings. I took a picture of the nose on the trailer after the race.
Click on the picture to enlarge
Alan also had minimal cable exposed by crossing them within the car and very efficient axle tree fillets (the transition between the axle airfoils and the body). Alan was also the heaviest All-American Champion ever. Therefore, he had a relatively wide tail in comparison to the second place racer, Ashely Brand of Nebraska. The difference in the treatment of the car's tail section will be something to observe in the future.
Click on the picture to enlarge
There was only one lean-forward car in the entire field, the beautify rally car of Billy Hurst who had a paint job that changed color depending on the angle of view. Gorgeous!
While we may or may not have seen to last of the stick cars, there were some strong feelings about the Scotties in some quarters.
Best of luck to everyone in 2000!
Return to the Derby Tech Page