Seifenkisten – it all started in Oberursel

Many people have heard of soapbox cars, but I’m sure not many associate the term with the type of vehicles that took place in the annual Seifenkistenrennen the other day in Oberursel.

I suspect even less know where the sport originates from.

Whilst the original design may go back to wooden crates used for transporting soap, the modern designs are either more ambitious or extravagant.

Some resemble racing cars, others old-timers.  But what makes the races particularly interesting is not just the speeds at which they travel, but the unusual ones.  One good example of this would be the “sofa on wheels” that took part in the races here this year.

The length of the course is strictly governed, as are the weight and ages of those taking part.  But even the start ramp has a specification to make the races across Germany as equal as possible.  And yes, there is even a national championship.

Seifenkisten on Oberursel 2010

Seifenkistenrennen in Oberursel

What makes the race in Oberursel special is that the town lays claim to the origins of the sport.  The story goes that the first race was held in the Ackergasse, by children who built their cars having been inspired by the racing cars and their drivers taking part in the Gordon Bennett Cup that was held in the area in 1904.

There is even an exhibition about it in the town’s muesum.


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. Tweets that mention Seifenkisten – it all started in Oberursel | Sport | -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Graham Tappenden and A Brit Abroad, All Things German. All Things German said: Seifenkisten – it all started in Oberursel […]

  2. […] Neben der Familie hat ein ehemaliger Rennwagen eine wesentliche Rolle in der Geschichte. Der Rennwagen stammt von 1908 und ist große Rennen gefahren. (Diese Rennen galten übrigens als Vorbilder für die Erfindung des Seifenkistenrennens in Oberursel.) […]

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