Geeks Gear Up For Atlanta Soapbox Race

 Team Ka-Pow shoots for a win in the 2009 Atlanta Red Bull Soapbox Race (photo by Francois Portmann)

By Jon Waterhouse

If 10th Street in Midtown Atlanta wasn’t going to be closed June 9, the sight of the pirate ship from “The Goonies” rolling at top speed along the asphalt would certainly be enough to stop traffic.

This and 35 other manmade vehicles, several with geeky themes, will be competing in the 2012 Atlanta Red Bull Soapbox Race. Competitors are challenged to construct the wackiest human-powered vehicles possible. No motors here. And since these rides sometimes rely more on style than substance, not to mention a heavy dose of backyard engineering and elbow grease, the vehicles often disintegrate in a burst of color and debris as they fly downhill, crash into hay bales and catch air.

Showmanship points count, too, so expect the teams to be pushing the envelope with over-the-top costumes, skits and theme music. Red Bull has hosted more than 40 soapbox races across the globe with competitors drawing inspiration from their pop culture psyches. At the Atlanta race in 2009, one team even created their own version of the Batmobile, complete with Batman and Robin duds. A homemade version of Speed Racer’s Mach 5 zipped across the finish line in a past race.

Atlanta’s 2012 race will be no exception. MTV Geek has compiled a short list of some of the geekiest teams taking it to the street.

The Goonies

The inspiration for this team’s vehicle comes from the 1985 adventure flick starring a fresh-faced Josh Brolin, a Corey, and a pre-“Lord of the Rings” Sean Astin. If they’re able to bring the design sketch to life, expect a pirate ship complete with a plank, cannons and, of course, wheels. Team members are planning to dress as Sloth, Ma Fratelli, her two sons, and Chunk.

Stumble Force

This team will be rocking it Bedrock style. Fred Flintstone’s foot-powered car from “The Flinstones” was the template for this creation. We can only imagine this team’s racing outfits will include plenty of prehistoric fashion statements and animal prints. A victory dinner featuring brontosaurus burgers would be apropos.


It’s enough to make Erik Estrada flash that glistening white smile. Based on the late ’70s and early ’80s TV show “CHiPs,” these guys will be donning highway patrol officer costumes and blasting the “CHiPs” theme in hopes of a win. The vehicle is designed to look like a pair of police motorcycles cruising in tandem, although they’re actually connected.

Chic Racers

Call it “Revenge of the Nerds” on wheels. It’s all about geek chic, and these Waldos take the hill in a vehicle that looks like a pair of giant, pink high heels. Designed by a quartet of Georgia Tech Ph.D engineering candidates, it represents the Chic Boutique Tour, an experience that takes women on a shopping excursion to boutiques throughout a particular city.

Noon. June 9. Free. 10th Street between Piedmont and Monroe. Midtown Atlanta, Georgia.

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