Soap box derby family from California headed to world championships

Caden Krynski, left, and his brother, Cole Krynski, get ready for a practice race for the All-American Soap Box Derby in their new cars.

Cole and Caleb Krynski of California are aiming to be the next world champions of soap box derby racing.

Cole, 10, and Caden, 8, began competing in soap box derbies last spring, and have worked their way up; both managed to get first place titles in rally races this past fall.

The Soap Box Derby, established in 1934, is a youth racing competition where families build and race gravity-powered cars, which are propelled by being rolled down a hill. The participants are 7 through 20 years old and are usually assisted on the track by their family members.

Both Cole and Caleb are participating in the Washington, D.C., area local race on June 15, and have already qualified through rally racing to race in the World Championships in Akron, Ohio, which begins on July 14. They hope that by winning the local race, they can represent the entire D.C. metro area at the world championships.

The Krynski brothers have competed in eleven different cities in their career, as far south as Sanford, Fla., and as far north as Bristol, Conn. This racing year, Cole currently has 182 points from rally races, and Caden has 186 of the 180 rally points required to qualify for the world championships.

The boys were inspired to start racing by their mother, Sarah Krynski, who was a soap box derby racer for eight years. She represented Pottstown, Pa., in the world championships from 1998 through 2000.

“Soap box derby is such a great sport because it’s so family oriented,” Sarah said. “My dad was an auto body mechanic. Cars and racing were his passion, and I got to learn some of that.”

The boys work with their parents to build the cars before racing. “It’s not just Mom and Dad throwing the car together,” their father, Dan Krynski, said. “The kids have to be involved, and they have to learn about physics, gravity, all kinds of STEM topics.”

“It’s so much more than throwing a car together and rolling it down a hill,” Sarah said. “If you want to compete, you have to put your brain into it.”

Soap box derby cars can either be purchased as ready-to-build kits or put together with previous soap box car parts. This year, the Krynskis have been constructing their cars with used parts, after returning their borrowed cars from last spring.

The family also received sponsorship from Hilltop Signs and Graphics in California, who wrapped the boys’ cars with their own designs. “It’s really nice for a family business to step up like that for us,” Sarah said.

The Krynskis said there is competition between the brothers, who in last year’s local championship came in third and fourth place. “It may come down to them having to race each other,” their mother said.

The family plans to keep racing, as their youngest, Chloe, who is 4, will be old enough to race soon.

“When we first started racing, they were a little iffy on it,” Sarah said. “But now they’re always asking, ‘Where are we going next weekend? When do we get to race?’”