Soapbox Race Team has a License to Speed

Soapbox Race Team has a License to Speed
Azmina Ghelani, Kevin Choi and Enoch Hwang give Phillip Allen a rolling start on the racer.
The Shaken, Not Stirred team designed a soapbox racer for international super-spy James Bond.

All James Bond vehicles have in two things in common: incredible speed and sophisticated style. If the international spy ever needed a soapbox racer, he's in luck.

Team Shaken, Not Stirred expects to give a splashy, yet sophisticated performance with a custom designed race car at the Red Bull Soapbox Race in Los Angeles on Saturday, Sept. 26. Lightweight and highly maneuverable, it stops on a dime and comes loaded with gadgets that would make Q proud.

“I don't know if anyone has seen a soapbox car like this,” says Phillip Allen, driver and team leader.

Designing and building the car was a summer project for Cal Poly Pomona mechanical engineering juniors Allen and Enoch Hwang and UCLA undergraduates Kevin Choi and Azmina Ghelani, all of whom have been friends since middle school.

The real James Bond couldn't have asked for a better engineered soapbox racer.

The overall design is based on a tadpole trike and a recumbent bike. Students used four wheels in the final model but kept the body narrow and maneuverable. The brakes, front and rear suspension, and all four wheels came from two bicycles. The aluminum frame was cut, welded and bolted together by students, and they created molds for the plastic exterior, which will be painted silver.

While a fast time down the half-mile course is important, two-thirds of the team's score is based on creativity and showmanship in the vehicle's decoration and a short skit. Past teams have built cars that look like the Kool-Aid pitcher, a taco, a Rubik's Cube and a garbage truck.

Team Shaken, Not Stirred is counting on the 007 theme to win over the judges. The soapbox racer includes a few surprise gadgets: rockets that pop out, a parachute launcher, exterior LED lights, and special door hinges that will open like a Lamborghini car. During the race, Allen plans to wear a tuxedo and raise a martini glass — mostly likely filled with Red Bull.

The course in downtown Los Angeles is steep downhill journey that includes a couple jumps and a tricky inclined turn ramp. Many of the soapboxes aren't expected to survive the entire half-mile track, Hwang says. In test runs, he's tracked the car at a top speed of 35 miles an hour, and it handles extremely well.

Allen has high hopes for the upcoming race. “Speed-wise, I think we have it. I think our chassis is better than most other teams. We have a really creative group here.”

To see more photos from Shaken, Not Stirred, visit the team's website at Learn more about the Red Bull Soapbox Race at