On Saturday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, some very recognizable personalities were seen tearing through the city streets as a crowd of 115,000 spectators lined 5th Street and Grand Avenue for Red Bull Soapbox Race.
An Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike driving a Humvee soapbox kicked off the event festivities, and throughout the day fans witnessed Care Bears, some very Angry Birds and an all-female team that had “Gone Gaga” as they raced their homemade soapboxes in the quest for fame and glory.
The challenging course -- with jumps, a 90-degree turn and tight chicanes -- caused several spectacular crashes, but some teams managed to master the layout and sped through to the finish line in one piece.
What is Red Bull Soapbox Race?
It may be fast, it may be wild -- it may even be weird -- but there are rules to keep it legal (and safe!). Each soapbox must be powered only by gravity and imagination, which means no stored power or external energy sources are allowed. And size does matter! All vehicles must be less than six feet wide and 20 feet in length, no more than seven feet high and cannot weigh more than 176 lbs (not including the driver). Drivers must be at least 18 years old, but engineers and grease monkeys of all ages were welcome to be part of the five-person team.
Los Angeles Lakers fans rejoiced when team Lakers FanWagon claimed the top podium spot and with it a V.I.P. NASCAR experience. The team wowed the crowd with their gold and purple semi-truck soapbox, modeled after the Lakers’ championship parade in 2010.
The team donned elaborate costumes depicting Kobe, Pau, a Laker Girl cheerleader and a sneaky Lebron trying to steal the championship trophy. “This win is for the amazing Los Angles crowd,” said Chris Moreno, driver for team Lakers FanWagon. “We wanted to prove that the Lakers are number one after all!”
Team Angry Bird Droppings, with eye-catching costumes and a feathered craft based on the popular iPhone app, took second place. 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.
The People’s Choice Award (decided by spectator text voting) went to The Baked Muscles out of Fresno, Californa, who almost bared it all in their sword-and-sandal-style costumes based on the film “300.”
Using Their Best Judgement
Team scores were based on three criteria: speed, showmanship and creativity. The panel of judges included Amber Lancaster, Sharni Vinson, John Schneider, “Psycho” Mike Catherwood, Sam Page, Miles Daisher, and Candace Accola. Blake Lewis, former “American Idol” runner-up, also served as guest DJ for the event.
“The best part of this whole event is how everybody here is in a great mood and only has one purpose – to have fun,” commented “Psycho Mike.”
“Vampire Diaries” actress Candace Accola noted that her favorite part of the event was “seeing the camaraderie” and “sense of community” in the crowd.
The first Red Bull Soapbox Race took place in Belgium in 2000, and has since visited almost 30 countries including Austria, England, Jamaica, Czech Republic and Australia, to name a few. As the only race in 2011, the Los Angeles event was the tenth U.S. Red Bull Soapbox Race to ever take place, with the first stateside race held in St. Louis in 2006.
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