Soap Box

Oakley Downhill Derby


Oakley is pretty good at events for the employees and we’ve been lucky enough to do a LOT of random things there over my 5 years. However, the Downhill Derby we put on last year took the biscuit for the best yet. It was wild – the commitment from the teams that entered blew my mind.  Stupidly, I thought that it might be a big disappointment. I mean, surely none of the teams would put in real effort, nobody would fabricate legitimate racecars, test performance weeks in advance, carefully select people based on the skills they bring to the team or generally grind the company to a halt for a few days in 2011… surely not… Wrong. It done gone got brung. Big time. 23 teams entered from the company, every one with a unique theme and every one planning to win. Derby tanks, kegs, rum bottles, golden baths, Nascars and fighter jets rolled up to the start line one Friday afternoon to compete with a ferocity I’ve rarely seem.  People might have died.  We got pretty clear instructions from our head of design:  “You’re the design team here – win”.

It quickly became clear we had some serious talent on the team. One of the designers arrived at work one day with a tubular chassis he “knocked together last night” and the “sketches” from the designers looked like we were in the final review process for a new sports car. It became really fun, really quick.

We built a P51 Mustang and dressed simply as racecar drivers, keeping it classy. Classy is a little dangerous though, we could be seen as boring, boring at Oakley is very bad.  However, our team genius, Jano, is an extrovert and had an idea that guaranteed zero boredom - that his idea skirted along the lines of indecent exposure was conveniently overlooked by the company. . Ricky Bobby “on fire” in his tighty whities 100% STOLE THE SHOW.

The 2 40,000 cubit ft smoke bombs that I lit in our exhausts prior to the green light didn’t hurt either…

Pictures tell the remainder of the story. We did as instructed and won everything and are now Oakley sponsored in the official Red Bull Soapbox Race in Los Angeles this year. Watch this space.

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