Hurtling downhill at 35 mph doesn’t seem like a big deal if you’re in a car with a seat belt and nice cushioned seats. But in a soap box racer that weighs about 100 pounds and has only a couple of inches of steering, it’s a little different.
Levi Doty, 15, is in his first season as a soap box racer. The rookie racer has already beaten all of the competition in the Albuquerque superstock division and is heading to Akron, Ohio, for the World Soap Box Derby Championships. Doty will drive his soap box racer on July 27.
More than 422 racers from all over the world will be in Akron for the championships, but Doty isn’t worried about his competition.
“I just have to drive the track right and do my best to win,” Doty said.
A former bullrider from Valencia County, Doty also doesn’t worry about the danger involved with flying down a hill at 35 miles per hour in a rickety, self-built soap box car.
While the racers are in Akron, they will attend a camp to teach them about racing. They will also have the opportunity to take a number of practice runs so they can get used to the track.
The track in Akron is rumored to be 15-20 mph slower than the Rio Rancho track Doty is used to. But even the difference in the track doesn’t worry Doty.
“I just have to stay in my lane and drive the track how I see it, and I’ll be fine,” Doty said.
Doty has one more year of soap box racing left and he plans on racing in the Masters division, which will require him to build his own car. This year, Doty’s car was donated to him by his sponser, Southern Blvd. Dental Center.
“It’s going to be hard to build the car like the rules say,” Doty said. “I’ll have to use a certain kind of bolts and nuts and washers.”
Doty will be finished with soap box racing after next year, but hopes he will be able to continue his racing career at Duke City Raceway and beyond.
“I want to race in the Indy 500,” Doty said. “I don’t even care what kind of car I drive, as long as it goes fast.”
All of this racing insanity got started when Doty, who grew up in Los Lunas and now lives in Albuquerque’s South Valley, and his cousins decided to try out soap box racing this year. But the family has had Soap Box Derby sucess before. One of his older cousins made a pair of trips to Akron in 1995 and 1998.
Levi has four cousins currently racing soap box, though none of them will be going to Akron. Casey and Shawn Miller of Belen and James and Ryan Alguire of Socorro all competed in the Rio Rancho Soap Box Derby.