Seifenkisten Derby I

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Preparation and the competition of 4th soap box race in Lahr


Lahrer Seifenkistenrennen 1979 im Ortsteil Burgheim: Bau der Fahrzeuge und Rennen; Start der ca. 600m langen Rennstrecke an der Burgheimer Kirche. Redner: Oberbürgermeister Philipp Brugger (*1924; im Amt des OB 1961-1981); Werner Erb, Stadtjugendpfleger.


Reference / film number :  LFS05802 1
Date :  1979
Coloration :  Farbe
Sound :  Stummfilm
Timecode :  00:23:26
Running time :  00:00:00
Reel format :  Super 8 mm
Genre :  Amateurfilm
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

The colored amateur film from the Schmalfilm-Club Lahr about the 4th Lahr soap box race was shot in 1979. The race took place on Sunday, June 24th at 1pm. For the Mediathek Oberrhein the long film was split into two parts (see film "Soap Box Derby II"). The Lahr Film Club was founded three years earlier in 1976 and this film was one of their first joint films. It was shot with a total of five cameras, including Super 8 cameras. Each of the cameramen (W. Adrian, H. Ebert, G. Franck, E. Hanusch, W. Hierlinger) took on their own section of the race. At the end of the shooting, G. Franck assembled the material in such a way that a uniform film was created. This included the preparation for the race, the construction phase, training and the final race. M. Imhof, I. Kempf, W. Lehmann, A. Poirat, W. Vollmer were also involved. The film was actually a sound film with H. Imhof as speaker. The sound version has not survived. The assembly took much longer than the actual shooting. The film was made on behalf of the city of Lahr and with the support of the Canadian army, which at that time had its European headquarters in Lahr.

The film begins with impressions from Lahr and a camera pan over the city. The new town hall, the stork tower, the old town hall and the pedestrian zone with old houses and a beautiful fountain are shown. This is followed by a meeting of the organizing committee for the 4th Lahr soap box race - all adults. The planning had already started 2-3 years earlier. There were clear guidelines for the construction of the soap boxes in order to ensure safety. The vehicles had to comply with the regulations, otherwise they were not allowed to start. The Zilla company provided the crash helmets for the children, the jerseys were sponsored by the youth care organization with the uniform youth prism emblem. Those involved in the race and the audience were insured by the city treasury.

The construction of the soapbox consisted of many steps, which are documented in the film. First of all, the basic wooden framework was built using a template. Depending on the type of construction, this was either clad with plaster of paris or fiberglass, leaving the participants with a lot of leeway. The interior of the soap box with the cables for the steering required the most effort. After the box was built, the wheels were attached, which were the same for everyone. A basic sanding of the surface was necessary in order to get the maximum out of the vehicle. From March 28, 1979 on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 p.m. in a basement room of the elementary school in Dinglingen that had been prepared as a workshop by the technical aid organization, the hobbyists were helped to build their vehicle. The tools needed to build the soap boxes were made available. First the participants received instructions, then they could assemble their soapboxes themselves with help.

Retail stores, companies, clubs and associations (e.g. Spar, BMW, Honigbaum Reifenhandel) took on sponsorships for a soap box. These sponsors took over the cost of the wheelsets. Until shortly before the soapboxes were ready, 54 sponsors could be found. The main sponsor of the race was the Sparkasse Lahr. In their foyer you can see an exhibition with posters, photos and newspaper clippings from the soapbox races since 1969. Two soap box trolleys were also exhibited there, one with a metal frame over which an Obi dinghy was hung. This was one of the main prizes for the youth. The Sparkasse provided the drivers with uniform caps so that the participating teams could be distinguished from the spectators and assistants.

The adults assembled the sloping launch pad from solid wooden beams in a courtyard. This was first tested before it was then set up on the route. The vehicles were inspected in the courtyard of Friedrichs Schule on June 23. Here it was checked whether the weight and all safety regulations were observed. Then you can see the construction of the launch pad, which is shown in fast motion in the film. The start was at the Burgheimer Church in Burgheimerstraße, the entire race track with a length of about 350 m was secured with barrier tape and bales of straw. The destination was at the Stefanienstraße junction. There was a good 'run out' for the vehicles to guarantee maximum safety. The training runs took place on Sunday from 7:30 a.m. The test drive of two participants in pouring rain is accompanied by a camera from a transporter. After the test race, all participants got a snack with stew, a roll and a lemonade to strengthen themselves. They were welcomed by the organizing committee and got tips for the race, which started immediately afterwards at 1 p.m.

Marius Schwan, Marvin Walter, Alexander Galperin

Places and monuments

Lahr; Lahr-Burgheim

  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.