Additional photos courtesy of Red Bull
As Southern California natives, Jesus Abril Jr., Oney Flores, Ruben Soriano, Jose Soriano, Manny Barraza, and David Cruz are all too familiar with the history and culture of Los Angeles. When this group of friends heard that the Red Bull Soapbox Race would be returning to Los Angeles and would be held in their backyard of Elysian Park they saw it as the perfect opportunity not just to pay homage to their Mexican-American heritage and culture but also to shine light on a part of Southern California history that few know about. So they entered the Red Bull Soap Box Race under the name The Spirit of Chavez Ravine as a tribute to the nearby Chavez Ravine area.
Inspired by the Lowrider culture that they all so deeply grew up in, The Spirit of Chavez Ravine modeled their car after a 1939 Chevy coupe, which according to teammember Abril is a style that they felt “was more in line for the historical setting of Chavez Ravine,” given the events that took place in the Chavez Ravine area during the ’40s and ’50s.
When asked what the most difficult part about building the car was, the team answered that the part that gave them the most headache was the braking system. Abril stated that they went through three iterations before they were able to get it working correctly and that during the entire build process there were many times where they were tempted to just quit. But The Spirit of Chavez Ravine did not let adversity get them down and they were able to get the car finished just a few short hours before the race.
For each team competing in the Red Bull Soap Box Race part of presenting their cars is the performance of a skit. The Spirit of Chavez Ravine performed a skit inspired by the Zoot Suit Riots of the ’40s and the Battle of Chavez Ravine of the ’50s before Abril and his fiancee, Flores, climbed into the car and sent it down Elysian Park’s Angels Point Road. And while The Spirit of Chavez might not have broken any speed records that day they were able to channel the spirit of Lowriding as Red Bull’s announcer compared their run down the hill to a Sunday drive down the boulevard.
Red Bull Soapbox Race
First held in Brussels in the year 2000, the Red Bull Soapbox Race is just one of the many events that Red Bull organizes to help bring awareness to their brand. Today, over 100 Soapbox Races have been held all over the world, with the most recent race being the 37th held in the United States and just the third to take place in Los Angeles.
Each event consists of dozens of teams piloting homemade vehicles of their own design and powered by nothing except gravity and their own imaginations in a timed race down a hill, with each team being judged on speed, creativity, and showmanship.
Even though Red Bull gives out awards the Soapbox Race is not about competition, it is about being able to kick back and have some good clean fun.