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Derby Planning Documents

Quick Note on Our Vision
The under-girding and overarching principle behind this event is fun. That's it. If it's not fun, what's the point?

Everything we do can be traced back to that.

  • Safety. It's no fun to get hurt.
    The sport has inherent risks--if it didn't have it wouldn't be racing and it wouldn't be fun. Recognizing that, we try very hard to establish building and racing guidelines that keep parts of humans from contacting mechanical things and roads in a way that tears up the humans.
  • Fairness. It's no fun to feel cheated.
    This is why we have the classes and most importantly the spec wheels. If you think we're restrictive you've never raced Pinewood Derby cars and you know nothing about NASCAR. If you don't have a level playing field--perhaps a bad metaphor in downhill racing--you don't have a competition. You can have an event, but if someone has an advantage that someone else doesn't have access to, you can't pretend it's a competition.
  • Accessibility. It's no fun to be left out.
    We've tried very hard to make the threshold to entry as low as we can without compromising safety. Derby cars are not hard to build with the skills and tools available to anyone. If you don't have them it's a good excuse to get involved in the sport with a friend or neighbor. The wheels are cheap, but they're the same crappy wheel for everyone (see above). We don't want anyone to be left out because they couldn't afford to be competitive.
That's it. World Peace doesn't hang in the balance. Other than details of making the cars fit on the ramp and get moved around, every rule we have targets one of those areas. If it doesn't, it's just in the way and we need to look at it.

Payson Derby 2018 Update
Well, that was a first. Not one racer showed up this year. Not one. The only cars there were the two I brought.

I think the weekend may be bad for a lot of people--they go out of town for Labor Day or have other things going on.

Please give me feedback on whether there's a better time or day for the race. Payson City is willing to work with us on this. They said they are willing to try again next year. That kind of surprised me. If I had been them I would have dumped the event and not looked back.

Please let me know if there's something better we can do to keep this thing alive.

Payson Derby Race: 2 September, 2017
Payson is going to host the race again this year as part of Golden Onion Days. It will be held Saturday, September 2nd, 3:00 pm.

There is NO FEE to race. We are trying to keep it simple, so in addition to having no registration fee, you show up by 2:00 pm on Saturday to register.

Disregard anything in the rules or Racer's Packet that is different from that information. I will update the racer's packet as soon as I can.

Please tell everyone you know about this.

Here is the .pdf file of the rules for the race this year (Clicking on "Racer's Packet" above gets you the same thing). As I said, disregard the registration.

Meet on the north side of 100 S on 500 E by 2:00 if you plan to race. That's the street just west of Peteetneet at the bottom of the hill.

Even though there is not a pre-registration it would be very helpful if you contact me if you are planning to race. Also, please ask about any questions or concerns you have about the rules. Above all we want this to be a safe event.

The new electronic scoring system made everything go much smoother and faster. We hope to be able to implement some more improvements to that this year. One upgrade we are hoping to have finished is the ability for spectators to follow the results on their smart phones in real time.

Flyer (.jpg)

Flyer (.pdf)

. . . and the bad news is . . .

I guess Spanish Fork won't have have a race this year, either. Maybe you should let them know how you feel about that if you get a chance.

Results of the 2013 Race
You need to check out this story Fox 13 Utah did on the race.
1. Porter Black
2. William Black
3. Shaylee Leftwich
Jacob Stueck
Ranson McConahay
Alyssa McConahay
1. Taten McConahay
2. Calen
3. Andrew Jones
Preston McConahay
Heather Hope
1. Russ McConahay
2. Jordan Leany
3. Eric McConahay
Roger Hope
Roxanne Miller
Randy McKean

Rule Changes for 2013
Rules are essentially the same as last year with the following exceptions:
  1. Minimum wheelbase has been shortened to 42"
  2. Brackets will not be used; all races will be timed. Racers will be placed by lowest overall time.
  3. Race will not be held during Salem Days. It will be Saturday, August 24

I will update the rules document soon, but some of the schedule issues are still going to be pending.

Race This Year to be August 17th
The race this year will not be during Salem Days. The mayor wants to try something different and hold it the weekend after. That date is August 17, 2013. I guess the idea is to alleviate some of the burden on the city during Salem Days, make the race a bigger event, and provide another weekend to draw people into town.

Details have yet to be worked out, but it will probably run about four hours in the middle of the day and probably down Center Street Salem to the ball park. This gives us two full blocks of race track and much more time.

Our Build Clinic will be held on June 29th in Salem. I'll post more details as we get closer.

The Utah State Lawn Mower Racing Association will be helping us this year, towing our cars back with lawn mowers. We hope this is the beginning of mutually beneficial alliance between our two sports. I know I want to get into lawn mower racing and they have a group that is building cars for our race. Depending on the interest, we will probably end up with a new category for lawn mower derby racers.

Support them by attending their races and visiting their web site for more information.

If you need any other information please contact me by e-mail (fleany "at" or on our Facebook page. We are called Salem Derby.

2010 Race Evaluation Notes

Results of 2012 Race
Many thanks to everyone who helped make this year's race a success. We had 13 cars and 23 drivers. The results are as follows:
Colt Class:
1st. Michelle Beal
2nd. Ranson McConahay
3rd. Jacob Stueck

Other Racers:
Sam Beal

Mustang Class:
1st. Shaylee Leftwich
2nd. Kenyon McConahay
3rd. Taten McConahay

Other Racers:
Cassie Strong
Jayden Sperry
Caden Miller
Ryan Buirley
Thayne Scott
Hyrum Beal

Stallion Class:
1st. Abbey Leftwich
2nd. Dave Hill
3rd. Russ McConahay

Other Racers:
Jordan Leany
Jared Beal
Jordan Kodel
Amie Hill
Kyle Curtis
Tyson Scott

People's Choice: Jeff Stueck's Tron Car
Results of all past races can be found in this spreadsheet.

Results of 2011 Race
Many thanks to everyone who helped make this year's race a success. We had 9 cars and 17 drivers. The results are as follows:
Colt Class:
1st. Tyler Babbel
2nd. Porter Black
3rd. Ranson McConahay

Other Racers:
Cassie Strong
Jacob Stueck
Hyrum Beal
Travis Redmond

Mustang Class:
1st. Taten McConahay
2nd. Kenyon McConahay
3rd. Dallin Hanchett

Other Racers:
Jason Strong
Colton Redmond

Stallion Class:
1st. Dave Hill
2nd. Russ McConahay
3rd. Amie Hill

Other Racers:
Jordan Leany
Jared Beal

People's Choice Car(s): Russ's Dragster and Jeff Stueck's Shark Attack

Inspection Tonight
The preliminary inspection is tonight at 6:00 pm in the parking lot by Knoll Park.

Race in American Fork
American Fork City is having a soap box derby race on July 5th. It's too late to register to race, but you can go watch. For more information visit this link where you can download the rules and entry form.

With any luck this may be the start of a valley-wide league.

New rules posted
I've posted the rules for 2011 in pdf format. The text is also posted below.

We are now on Facebook
Please post your feedback and suggestions on our Facebook page. We are called Salem Derby.

Older posts

Basic Plans for Building a Car

This is a simple plan for a derby car (click on the image to enlarge). It shows a good way to do the steering. You could also run the steering column vertically (see below) then the cables would come out the same side as they pull on (as opposed to the opposite side as they do in the below design).

Note that the brakes shown here are not allowed under the rules. The brakes must stop the wheels.

Salem City Gravity Gran Prix
Official Rules and Specifications

Last updated 7/15/11

For rules in .pdf format click here
Eligibility and Registration

The 2011 Salem City Gravity Gran Prix will be held Wednesday, August 10, 2011, at 6:00 pm. The race is run just west of Knoll Park on 300 South. Inspection and weigh-in begins at 5:00. Flag ceremony will take place at 5:50 and the first racers will leave the ramp at 6:00 sharp.


Registration is through Salem City offices, 801-423-2770. Registration fee is $15 per driver. Every car must have a unique number given upon registering. You may use any number you choose as long as it isn't being used by a car that is already registered.

Competitors are divided into three weight classes. Suggested ages for the classes are:
      Colt class: 8-12 years; Mustang class: 13-17 years; Stallion class: 18 years and older.

A single car may compete in multiple classes (in the case of multiple children in one family, for example) provided it meets the weight requirements for each class in which it is competing. (All ballast must be bolted or otherwise securely fastened.)

The race is open to everyone, regardless of age or gender. Non-residents of Salem City are welcome to participate. Sponsors are allowed and company names, logos, etc. may be displayed on the cars.

General Information

Racers are to be completely gravity powered. No starting or propulsion devices of any kind are allowed. Driver must be in a seated position. No head-first configurations are allowed. Reclining to any degree is an acceptable configuration as long as driver visibility is not impaired.

Some hints and guidelines for building soap box derby cars are available on the internet. Tips and links are available at Be aware, however, that this event is in no way affiliated with The All-American Soap Box Derby and rules and specifications for those events do not necessarily apply.

A preliminary inspection will be held July 28th at 6:00 pm at the Knoll Park parking lot. Plan to attend this inspection to avoid any surprises or disqualifications on race day. If you cannot attend, contact Frank Leany to make arrangements to have your car inspected well before race day.

Any questions, comments, or requests for clarification should be directed to Frank Leany at fleany at (include the words "Derby" or "Gravity Gran Prix" in the subject to avoid being deleted as spam).

Vehicle Specifications

  Minimum  Maximum
Track width (outside of tires)* 24 inches 36 inches
Vehicle height (highest point)  3" ground clearance 60 inches
Seating surface height (highest point) (3" ground clearance) 16" above road surface
Total vehicle length 72 inches 96 inches
Wheelbase 48 inches 72 inches
Vehicle Weight
Colt (about 8-12 yrs) - none - 275 lbs. with driver
Mustang (about 13-17 yrs) - none - 340 lbs. with driver
Stallion (about 18+ yrs) - none - 400 lbs. with driver
*Width of body cannot project beyond maximum width
**Colt class racers will be started below the ramp to reduce their top speed

All weight must be bolted or otherwise securely attached. No loose ballast is permitted.

Cars may be made of any material. Any metal frame elements that extend beyond the wheels must be properly blunted with a cross bar to prevent piercing in the event of a crash. Sheet metal on the body is okay. Axles and components may be steel.

Road clearance must be no less than 3". To clear the ramp the ends of the car must be above a line 20° degrees with horizontal from the wheel centerline. The furthest forward point of the car must be no higher than 12" so the starting gate will contact. Car must have 4 wheels and all four wheels must be in contact with the track at all times.

Cars will be towed up the ramp after each race, so a tow hook (eye bolt) should be provided for the tow strap. The hook must meet the clearance requirements outlined above.

To share ideas and techniques for build a derby car, we will hold a clinic Saturday, June 11 at 10:00 am, at 205 E 800 S, Salem. Visit for more details and other clinics.


This is a spec wheel event. All racers must run the specified wheels. Wheels are Harbor Freight no. 36054-0VGA, 13" diameter pneumatic tires with integral bearings. Wheels fit on a 5/8" axle.  A 5/8" bolt 4-1/2" long is just the right size to go through the hub. Wheels must have some sort of locking arrangement on the nut such as a locknut or an additional nut.

Wheels may be trued, balanced, etc, but no material may be removed from the wheels other than that necessary to balance. Wheels may be lubricated, but no modifications to the bearings are allowed.


All vehicles must be equipped with brakes that contact the rear tires. Brakes must be able to completely stop the tire. The driver must be able to steer while braking. Braking tests will be conducted at the inspection on July 28to ensure that they are adequate. Cars without adequate brakes will not be allowed to race. Hand brakes are discouraged. Consideration will be made for those with physical limitations.


Steering must be positively controlled. Driver must be able to steer with one hand. Pivot axle steering must have limiters that prevent the car from turning a radius tighter than 15 feet. Careful consideration should be given to the steering ratio (angle of steering wheel turn to angle of front wheel pivot) to ensure that the steering is not too sensitive.

Attachment points for the steering must be positively secured along the axis of force of the cable. Screw in eyebolts will only be permitted into solid wood—not laminate or pressed wood. Fasteners bolted through with locknuts are preferred.

No rope pull steering is allowed. Foot steering is not allowed. Cable wind steering (a cable is wrapped around a cylinder that pulls on the axle as the shaft is turned) is recommended as an easy way to positively steer. Tiller steering is highly discouraged, especially if the car is equipped with a hand brake.

See attached detail for information on steering.


All drivers must wear an approved helmet (DOT, Snell, etc.). Bicycle helmets are not allowed. Cars should have full bodies including floors to prevent the driver from accidentally contacting the pavement. The vehicle must not have any sharp projections, loose parts or edges that might pose a safety hazard. All ballast must be securely fastened and cannot move, accidentally or with driver intervention, during the race. Anything inside the cockpit that could injure the driver in the event of a crash should be padded. Seat belts are not required.

Care should be taken to ensure that the center of gravity of the vehicle is as low as possible. Maximum height of the seating surface is 16" above the road surface.

In order to maintain the safety of the event the race committee may impose additional requirements as conditions warrant.

Note: Please understand, we take seriously our responsibility to protect racers and spectators. We aren't picking on you when we require that you change dicey items on your car. Questionable equipment not only jeopardizes the safety of people at the race--your children and mine included, it puts the future of the event at risk.

Spirit of Fair Competition

The objective of this event is to provide fun for everyone regardless of resources. To that end the rules strive to provide maximum safety and fair competition with the fewest requirements possible.

As issues arise that are not specifically addressed in the rules the racing committee will pass judgment to maintain the spirit of the rules. If you have a question about whether something is appropriate, ask. A phone call now could prevent a disqualification at inspection time. As clarifications are made they will be applied universally to all participants.


A preliminary inspection will be held at 6:00 pm Thursday, July 28, 2011, in the parking lot by the pond. The purpose of this inspection is to give the participants time to apply any modifications that may be required. Helmets will also be inspected. No one will be allowed to race with a helmet that is not Snell or DOT approved.

At this inspection each racer will be given a blank leader board card (unless he already has one). This card is to track your position during the race. Take this home and decorate it with your car number and name and the paint scheme of your car so that it’s easily identified with you. Be sure to pick up your card after the race.

Final inspection will be performed at 5:00 on race day. Winning cars in each heat may be inspected after the heat to ensure that they conform to the rules.

Race procedures


Final inspection and weigh-in are at 5:00 the day of the race. Take your signed inspection sheet and leader board card to the recorder who will issue you a name badge certifying you’re allowed to race. Drivers meeting is at 5:40. Flag ceremony will take place at 5:50 and the first racers will leave the ramp at 6:00 sharp.

Cars will be towed up the hill after each race. Park your car behind the ramp. Follow the instructions of the race steward who will ensure that you are lined up for your next race.

Drivers must keep hands and arms inside the body at all times. Any actions that appear to be pushing or propelling the car could result in disqualification from the heat. Any car that leaves its lane during the race may be subject to disqualification. Crowding or other unsportsmanlike driving is not allowed.

Racing will be double elimination in heats of 2 cars each with 3 places being awarded in each class. In addition, a People’s Choice Award will be given to the car that the spectators vote as their favorite.

The format of the race may change as conditions and participation warrant.

Racer's Checklist

  Registration and Entry Fee due Monday, Aug 8, 5:00 pm, City Offices, 423-2770

  Preliminary Inspection, Thursday, July 28, 6:00 pm, Knoll Park Parking Lot

  Pick up Leader Board Card at Preliminary Inspection

  Inspection & Weigh In, get badge, Wednesday, August 10, 5:00 pm, Derby Hill, 300 S

  Driver's Meeting, 5:40 pm, August 10
Flag ceremony is at 6:50. First racers will leave the ramp at 6:00 pm sharp.

  Race, Line up cars at top of track, follow instructions of pit steward

  Awards Ceremony (Take Leader Board Card), After the race

Last Revised 7/15/10

Salem City Gravity Gran Prix has no affiliation with The All-American Soap Box Derby



Recommended Steering Design
Types of steering for soap box derby cars