Active Wheel Resistance System for my soapbox racer had a slight setback

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Go-cart with broken axle

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Not all races end well. This cart collapsed after the “active wheel resistance system” failed over a jump.

The best laid plans of mice and men … Racing in a soapbox derby over the weekend, we had a top-15 finish and a place in the final. We were there with a three wheel design using high pressure, slick tires racing a course with a single jump and a triple chicane. Sounds basic. And we were the only under-age team to make it to the final run. … We had entered a basic soapbox trike at  a Ghent event and had hoped for a decent finish. The two riders, the driver under 12, managed to get into the finals with a top-12 finish. There were two since riders under-age have to be accompanied by someone over the age limit.  The instructions given to me by the children for the second round were simple – push harder. All the riders had to do was stay the course. But there were warning signs about the mechanical stability of the cart immediately after the first run. A friend noticed the wheels were far from vertical. He considered them on the verge of collapse. He told me, of course, but rather than alert the mothers, I opted for a technical explanation for the inverted design. The wheels offset were now part of an Active Wheel Resistance System…. Lots of laughter as we pushed the cart to the top of the hill for the second round. I really did not notice how bad the inverted wheels were until after the children were catapulted down the course with a long, strong push. They looked great through the chicane and, as far as I was concerned, they had only the jump to make and then scott-free to the finish line. Over the jump and a sudden move to the right – but I thought they were OK… until race announcers said they had crashed. At the hump, the speed and lift had created an impact that had sheered off the axle on both sides. The cart came crashing onto its rear and slid to a stop on the grassy verge. Brilliant. When I got there, I checked the wheels immediately., The axle had broken off but did not permanent damage to the hubs, both excellent wheels remain in perfect condition. No punctures, either. Oh, the kids were not hurt. No broken bones, no scars, not even a scrape. They were both celebrating being involved in a crash. Race organisers were wonderful, saying we had brought some drama to the event. Everyone was safe and happy. They were even awarded a prize. Soapbox racing is a pass-time for cyclists. We understand wind resistance and wheel friction. We can create a basic steering mechanism, assemble some form of brake. And, of course, we love the idea of rolling fast down a hill.

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