Derby Time Again!!!

Chris Kouba

Next on the list is a chassis tune- check the wheel balance, prep the bearings, adjust the brakes, re-install the aero bits, and SEND IT!

Check. Check. Check. Check. And check!

Wheels were already pretty well balanced following the change of tires, so didn't burn too many calories there. The bearings still let the wheels spin when a stiff breeze goes by, so no much to do there either. The mechanical calipers retract as needed and the rotors are still straight, so good news there too. I reassembled the bodywork and slapped on all the panels and started taping them up.

Went testing with Bill this past Thurs, and things went well. The car was almost in the full aero kit as it will be on the day. The wheel well bottoms were fairly open and the wheel pants were not completely taped off, both so I can achieve full lock. The only missing bits of tape were on the tail, where I will tape everything down because both of my pushers achieved better results with the lower push points and the tower will stay retracted this year.

It was a fairly cool day in the Gorge compared to most August days when we've been out there. When we started, the temp was 66° according to the truck, and it held pretty steady as we monitored it for each pass, topping out at 68°. Based on this, I had a feeling we wouldn't set any record speeds that day.

Sure enough we didn't, and everything else also went exactly as expected. The pavement was in reasonable shape still and traffic was just as light as ever. The one local who came by was still happy to see us crazies up there running down their hill. We walked the course, swept the marbles off, took copious notes of "the line", and then loaded up the hill.

We made three passes, recording a 56, 57, and 54 MPH top speed. Based on our cool temps, I think this is right in line with where we were last year when the temp was in the 80's and we saw over 60 MPH. The really good news is everything still seems to be rolling right, and the revised front end felt like it was working well. It's a little on the heavy side for effort, but I think that'll be helpful at speed.

We had two meetings on the course over the weekend as well, and I walked it both days to study the gradients and pavement quality. Inexplicably, it doesn't seem as bad as it did in the past- almost like I could take some liberties when setting up for the Learning Curve- but I am skeptical of that assessment. I know my normal line and I think I will be sticking with it for the most part. I did identify a possible opportunity to carry a little more speed at the expense of a longer line through a corner, but I think the speed will pay off over the length of the course. I will give it at least one shot to see if that pans out.

All in all, I think the car is ready and we have a very strong team assembled for this year. I have two pushers, both of whom have gotten me out of the blocks significantly quicker than my original pusher. I have my long time team manager, Bill, on the hill this year (missed him last year) and the usual support cast of my wife and friends who have run with me before. We all know what we need to do and they all do it well. My dad is also in town again for the event and may even be promoted from his apprentice role last year. Maybe "Chief Lackey" or "Head Go-fer"?

The event is still ~10 days out, so plenty of time to get anxious, but I think we're organized and ready from a hardware and strategy perspective. It's now all down to execution and making one clean pass at a time.

The info below is something I sent to some of my local friends. If you're in town, come of out on Sat, 8/19, and catch the circus:

It's time again for the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby (Portland's PDX Adult Soapbox Derby). It's next Saturday, the 19th, starting at 10a and running all day (~6p) on Mt Tabor. The park will be closed to non-event traffic, so find a spot to park in the surrounding neighborhood and hike in to catch the circus.

Starting at 10a, each of the 42 teams gets 3 passes down the hill, running 3 cars at a time and usually taking until 1p or possibly longer. After that, the top 27 fastest get slotted into 3, 9 team single elimination brackets, still running 3 cars at a time, and with the first car across the line advancing to the next round. The course winds nearly from Mt Tabor's summit, down its west side, and ends next to the pump house for Reservoir 5. Find a nice place to toss a blanket and sit or just shuffle around for the event. Either option works.

Official info can be found here:

Mt Tabor is at:
SE 60th Ave &, SE Salmon St
Portland, OR 97215

Map of the course:

Hope to see you there,
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Chris Kouba

The derby is in the books: no record, but won it again.

It wasn't hot enough to pull off a record, and in the end, never managed to even beat my time from last year. I addition to it being cooler, there was a headwind along the finish straight which was pretty hefty. Best times were consistent 72.5's with great pushers, and the work I did with the front end paid massive dividends.

I took a cautious first run and lightly feathered the rear brake before entering the Learning Curve. Applying the steering input, the car just simply turned in. It felt FANTASTIC.

From here on out it was full send- never used the brakes on course for the rest of the day.

I am officially going to take next year off, but one of the other Scuderia nerds want to go down the hill for his 70th birthday, which would coincide with an excellent opportunity to jump back in.

And I already have an idea for the concept to use....

Will post pics as they start to show up. I again didn't take any because I was a bit busy with other things all day.

For those keeping score at home- 5 entries, 5 wins. I'm OK with that.

Chris Kouba

A few pics showing up online now, found one of me:


Video clips too:

Also brief footage of a start at 23:11
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Chris Kouba

The event photographer is MONTHS ahead of last year!!



He always does excellent work!

Many more pics of the event here:

It's quite the circus.