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Pair of Downtown Teams Hoping to Compete in Red Bull Soapbox Race

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 24, 2009, at 04:11PM
Team Crocker & Jones

Team Crocker & Jones

Will a home court advantage help propel Team Crocker & Jones or Team El Duderino to victory this September in the Red Bull Soapbox Race?

The two teams haven't made it into the final field just yet, but the Downtown-based designs are among 80 teams competing for 40 spots on race day. While they wait to hear their fate, blogdowntown emailed a few questions to Ryan Jones of Team Crocker & Jones and Erik Thoreen of Team El Duderino.

The race, to take place on September 26, will send competitors down the steep incline of Grand Avenue before a daunting left-hand turn onto 5th street and a sprint to the finish line at 5th and Olive. Oh, and there may just be a jump in there somewhere.

Speed -- and just plain making it down the course -- are important, but so are the themes for the whimsically designed racers. Entries are judged on style and creativity, not just their finish position.

Ryan Jones of Team Crocker & Jones

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do? How long have you been Downtown?

I've been in downtown about three years now, renting for the first six months but now with a place in the Textile Building. I'm working these days at our family lumber yard, Jones Lumber, in Lynwood -- an easy commute down Alameda from downtown (and not a bad resource for soap-box-building).

How long ago did you start working on the design? Were you the primary designer, or did others on your team help out there?

The team will either include a few other names once we secure our additional members or an overhaul into something a little more catchy, but as a placeholder we've just used the names of the two designers. Hate to admit it, but we started the design concept the day before it was due (thanks to a reminder post on your site). We (Jeff Crocker and myself) both had ideas kicking around for a while beforehand, and we were able to agree pretty easily on a concept that would allow for some fun embellishment and enough design freedom to engineer something that could handle the course (we hope). Plus it makes for some fun research -- old locomotives like 'The Rocket,' Jules Verne stories, and anything Steampunk.

Do you think being Downtown gives you a home-court advantage if your design gets chosen to compete?

Being a downtowner might be a little of a blessing and a curse -- it's nice to know the course ahead of time so as to prepare for it, but having ridden my fixed-gear down that so many times I know just how nasty a hill it is. That should help us when designing something to take that corner, but I know it would get my nerves on end a little more than anyone who hasn't gone down it yet.

If you get to enter, how do you think your vehicle will handle that left-hand turn onto 5th? That's one nasty hill and turn.

As for the handling that turn, we think we have a pretty solid plan. I hate to give away our concept, but we're designing a very left-turn-specific vehicle that features a sort of 'outrigger' to the right at the full 6' width limit. That should keep all of the weight as far to the left as possible -- and it should look pretty slick.

Erik Thoreen of Team El Duderino

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do? How long have you been Downtown?

About 3 years ago, my brother/teammate and I decided to buy a loft in the Historic Core of Downtown. I'm the Leasing Manager for the Old Bank District as of a year and a half ago so I changed my primary residency to 4th & Main. I am also a student studying real estate development and transferring to USC this fall.

How long ago did you start working on the design? Were you the primary designer, or did others on your team help out there?

My initial design involved a bathroom but after some research, I found that this concept had already been done. In an attempt to keep our design original we had to change our design with only hours to go on the day of the deadline. We thought about what our shtick would be if we were street entertainers on Hollywood Blvd. I said I'd be the the Dude from the Big Lebowski and my team agreed that it was a great concept - mostly because it's only the funniest movie ever. Now that we had the theme down we just designed the car around that. I am the primary designer and Sara's a wiz on the computer so she put the design on paper.

Do you think being Downtown gives you a home-court advantage if your design gets chosen to compete?

Being a Downtowner definitely gives me home-court advantage because I know that hill like the back of my hand.

If you get to enter, how do you think your vehicle will handle that left-hand turn onto 5th? That's one nasty hill and turn.

I might have to do some modifying to my vehicle to handle that left-hand turn but I'm sure we can pull it off.... although you can be sure I will be dressed in full leathers and pads!

blogdowntown wishes both entries good luck in the selection process.

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