Red Bull Soapbox Race 2015 – Improved Apps Antics

By Simon Thompson – SVP Customer Success @ Improved Apps

Improved Apps takes to the road for the #RedBull #SoapBoxRace 2015, London

How it all began…

“Let’s form an Improved Apps Red Bull Soapbox Team!” David (an Improved Apps Inside Sales team member) said to his team lead, Elliot… As an ex-British Superbike rider it didn’t take Elliot long to not only agree, but also claim the rights as driver!

 

The Red Bull Soapbox 2015 event at Alexandra Palace, London #RedBull #Soapboxrace was scheduled for the 12th July 2015 and the deadline for entrants was only two weeks away. A team of four all from Improved Apps was hastily created with Graham from Inside Sales and myself joining the crew.

 

…And so the games began!

The theme for the event this year was ‘The Industrial Revolution” and after a brainstorming session a design based around the five pound note, which has the Stevenson rocket on one side was decided and the ‘Improved Rocket’ #improvedrocket was born.

We started a Facebook page so sponsors, friends and family could follow us – (https://www.facebook.com/ImprovedRocketRedBullDerby) – and excitement grew as we waited to see if we’d been accepted for the derby….

 

RedBull had over a thousand entrants, and on 22 May we were delighted to be chosen as one of seventy teams to take part.

 

There’s was no getting out of it now!…

 

Red Bull got busy and set our team webpage up http://www.redbullsoapboxrace.com/uk/en/team/the-improved-rocket/

 

And we were well aware that with only six weeks to go it was time to get on with the physical build – and it needed to be quick, as we knew we wanted plenty of time for test runs. Not that we were taking this at all seriously or anything!

 

Check out the Improved Rocket build video:

 

 

We were working in the confines of a small garage located near our office so it was easy access for all the team to gather and work…

 

On the 7th June Sammy from Red Bull visited to check us out…and it was great to have something to show for all the hours we were putting into the project.

 

14th June saw the first rolling test run…  Click here to see the first rolling video…

 

We were happy… We had pace and gained confidence in Elliot’s design, although we had shifted somewhat from the original design as we worked things out and tested.

 

Exciting news! Dave TV decided to choose us as one of the teams to follow and film and they arrived for a day of filming on the 18th June…

 

 

A great day was had as we slid down hills in the country testing… testing… testing…. Watch this video

 

We were now getting speeds up to 38 mph! Things were breaking and bending but these teething problems were welcome at this stage…we just strengthened or replaced and muscled on….

 

By the 1st July we were pretty much ready… ‘The Improved Rocket’ was finished….

 

 

But we still hadn’t done any ramp tests… The Red Bull SoapBox race is renowned for its down hill, fast paced course including chicanes, corners and ramps designed to rattle carts apart…

 

It just so happened that Independence Day (4th July) saw our first jump attempt….  Watch this first attempt video here

 

It was a success but things got bent and buckled and we raced back to the garage to fix and strengthen stuff again….more testing continued around our day jobs and family life!   Slo-Motion video of us jumping

 

Sunday 11th registration day came around fast… It was time to check in at Alexandra Palace… Nerves were starting to build…Had we brought everything we needed?… Was the design going to get through following much scrutinizing by officials?… Was it under the max weight of 80 kgs? (nope but we were ready to blag it or get the angle grinder out to shed some load!)…

 

 

We set up our pit area and tinkered… Banter was great around the paddock as we checked out the competition and helped others complete last minute adjustments and fixes! Plenty of drinks were consumed as we waited for the judges decision…Nervous times…

 

We passed with flying colours and luckily they didn’t accurately weigh the Improved Rocket….

 

Our number was allocated and we knew the line up for the Sunday race…. We were 18th…

 

David and I took a well-deserved beer or six…and enjoyed the sun…and views of London City from the old BBC TV broadcasting building and bar at Alexandra Palace.

 

 

Then we nipped back for the one and only chance to walk the track and check out the task ahead…. The ‘Bone Shaker’ ramp below looked interesting!

So that was registration and prep day…. We all stayed at my pad Saturday night and enjoyed a curry and practiced our 20 second intro/spectacle to make sure we could maximise our points, as it’s not all about the speed – showmanship plays a key role too.

 

We woke early Sunday and got to the event by 8am…. We were feeling the vibe as everyone arrived in costume and prepared for the start of the show at noon…. 22,000 spectators gradually arrived and the whole event was buzzing… TV crews and radio interviews were going on all morning as we shared our journey and experience to anyone who asked.

 

My kids were armed and ready…

 

 

And we lined up for our turn….more interviews at the top… The crowd was cheering every one on and the nerves were building…

 

 

Our view from the start….too late for anything now… We were ready to rock…

 

 

We were off!…  Watch this video of us nailing it down the course…

 

We completed the run in 34 seconds (a new track record) and reached a top speed of 49 kph (30 mph)… We flew down the track and everything was perfect apart from the end… We couldn’t stop.

 

Elliot and David had to crash the soap box to stop and some serious damage was done, but the Improved Rocket made it and the crowds went mental…

 

 

We had great coverage on Dave TV which we all watched late Sunday night, and the whole experience really was amazing.

 

All it leaves for me time to say is thank you to Elliot, David and Graham for going the extra mile to pull this off… and let’s not forgot to thank our sponsors… Improved Apps, Maintain Property Maintenance, and Add Signs.

 

Simon Thompson – SVP Customer Success @ Improved Apps