The Stream Team

Red Bull Soapbox Race entry offers fun, excitement, and worldwide exposure

There’s a big race happening in Edmonton on June 22 and the Stream-Flo Group is in it.

Outlandish and wacky with a good dose of weird thrown in, the Red Bull Soapbox Race is a spectacle unto itself.

Every year or so the energy drink company selects some cities and their iconic hills and upwards of 60 participants to hurtle down them over jumps, with nothing more than gravity and initial human propulsion providing the horsepower.

After hurriedly putting together the Stream-Flo application a few months ago, Joel Pelletier, marketing team lead for the organization, said it was an exciting moment when the confirmation email from Red Bull saying they had been selected appeared in his inbox.

“It was awesome,” recalled Pelletier of that morning. “Our entry came together at the last minute after we had been contemplating it for a while.”

With no time to spare and the deadline looming, those who had expressed interest in participating and joining the potential team got together in a Teams group chat and signed off on a swing check valve being the design concept. Then Pelletier put together a drawing and some concept art as part of the application, they snapped a team photo, wrote up a quick blurb, and hit submit. Right before applications closed.

The concept Joel Pelletier put together as part of the submission package.

“We did all this in kind of one day, it came together super fast,” laughed Pelletier in retelling the rushed application process.

Had it not been for a chance encounter in the Edmonton lunchroom between Pelletier and Stream-Flo Design Engineer Alex Skiba, the whole thing might not have ever happened.

“I saw the email come out from Celeste (Fitzpatrick) saying Kevin (McNeill) and Nathan (Kwasniewski) thought this might be a good idea or good little project for anyone interested in taking part in it,” said Skiba. “Then in the lunchroom I ran into Joel, I think two days before the deadline, and Joel was asking me about it and I was saying ‘If you’re interested, I’m interested too, man.’ So then from there we basically got a plan together.”

That plan put Skiba in the role of recruiter and he quickly got to work securing the necessary team members, while Pelletier took care of the application requirements earlier outlined.

Those on the team are:

  • Joel Pelletier
  • Alex Skiba
  • Sean Heatherington
  • Paul Tensen
  • Jeff Castor
  • Celeste Fitzpatrick
  • Nick Deleff
  • John Guo
  • Yan Navadvorski
  • Hazel Senko
  • Alanna Burwash
  • Ryan Weitzel
  • Sander Morisbak
  • Tyler Mokry

The Stream Team. From left to right on the top are Hazel Senko, Joel Pelletier, Sean Heatherington, Paul Tensen, and Jeff Castor. From left to right on the bottom are Celeste Fitzpatrick, Alex Skiba, Nick Deleff, John Guo, and Yan Navadvorski. Not pictured are Alanna Burwash, Ryan Weitzel, Sander Morisbak, and Tyler Mokry. 

Finding a competitive advantage

After receiving word from Red Bull that The Stream Team, which they named themselves, was in, the “good little project” all of a sudden got a lot bigger, and more serious.

First up, research.

“We started off with just a video review of past competitors, found one that won, and we watched that video several times and looked at the nuances to see what were the small things that that car was doing that gave it an advantage,” said Pelletier.

After reviewing a few more past competitors, The Stream Team settled on some early design decisions that would help shape their path moving forward.

Alex Skiba (foreground) has taken on the role of project lead for The Stream Team. 

“One of the big things was suspension,” explained Skiba. “Most of the winning teams didn’t actually have a suspension system, they just had big fat tires and that was more than enough to keep the car from shaking your teeth out.”

So, no suspension.

A major consideration and limiting factor in the final design was the weight limit Red Bull placed on the soapboxes, with the craft not being allowed to exceed 175 pounds.

“We definitely wanted two people in the car just to make it a better experience,” said Skiba about another decision they formed following their video research. 

“You got one guy sweating bullets trying to keep the car straight going over jumps, and if you have a second person on the back pumping up the crowd, waving, doing other things as you go down, it’s a lot more enjoyable and entertaining,” continued Skiba. “So we wanted two people for sure, but that makes it difficult for the 175 pound weight limit.”

So the team contemplated between a lighter aluminum frame, versus a heavier steel one.

Drawing from every corner

At this stage of the game, Master Flo employees had been recruited onto the team (after an application of their own had been disqualified according to Red Bull due to sharing the same address as Stream-Flo but that’s a story for another day) and their network of experts joined the cause.

Experts such as Master Flo Materials and Welding Engineer Chris Penniston, who along with Alanna Burwash helped guide The Stream Team toward the heavier steel frame.

“With aluminum you basically get a weaker joint and need to do some extra steps to heat treat and get the strength back in the welded joints,” said Skiba about the advice that was given. “Whereas with steel tubing, we’re used to steel tubing, we have welders who can do it, it’s a lot more cost effective. That was basically one big decision that saved us a lot of time.”

Another group of experts that helped shave time off the entire process was the logistical prowess of our purchasing department, with Skiba saying Jay Sharma, Krista Weber, and Braeden Shute all personally assisted in getting him critical components on short notice. Machinist Vincent Wong also chipped in to speed things up by performing some vital machining on the rear axle. 

Then a call to a trusted partner was placed.  

A helping hand (or two)

When Stream-Flo Production Manager Garry Askin heard The Stream Team needed a welded frame, he was quick to get in touch with Terr-el Oilfield Welding & Repair, a vendor of ours.

Not only did they step up, they went above and beyond, says Skiba.

“They provided all the steel tubing and welding and fabrication for the frame and vehicle,” he said. “They did it really fast, too. Chad and Benji (Hansen), the owners, personally took it upon themselves to make sure that that car was fabricated with quality and was how we needed it.”

The Stream Team poses for a group photo after visiting Terr-el Oilfield Welding & Repair to inspect the fabrication work that was done. 

Helping matters even more, Terr-el and the Hansens provided all the materials and their services free of charge. A supremely generous act on their behalf, and one which The Stream Team is extremely grateful for.

As things stand now, the group is gearing up to get the craft in working condition so they can test the rolling chassis, with cosmetic work to make it look like a check valve scheduled to take a couple weeks after that milestone is achieved.

Flair and function

In the meantime, a performance is being developed.

“We have to do a 30-second skit with music,” explains Pelletier. “It’s going to be wild.”

The skit, cart itself, and final time will all be taken into consideration when Red Bull chooses an overall winner. So every facet needs to be securely fastened for The Stream Team to take home the big prize, something their diverse team will hopefully give them a leg up on the competition with.

“We all have different skills but everyone’s so open minded and inclusive,” said Pelletier, adding we’ve 100 per cent tailored our expertise in a new way with this project.

Vote for The Stream Team to win People’s Choice (you’ll have to scroll down a little)

“Everyone’s just having so much fun. Since I’m in marketing I don’t interact with the engineering guys on a day-to-day work basis so to actually get to work with them is fun,” Pelletier went on to say. “The team of engineers that are spearheading the build are so organized, so professional, I’ve just been amazed at their ability to problem solve. We’re definitely getting closer.”

This week The Stream Team added wheels to the craft, taking it one step closer to becoming functional.

It’s a sentiment shared by Skiba, who has become the de facto project lead for The Stream Team.

“Interacting with Joel, seeing the capabilities that we have from a marketing point of view, getting the visuals for the concept, that was a huge thing,” said Skiba. “Joel put a fantastic visual together. I think we’ve all kind of enjoyed — and we’re going to continue enjoy into the final days here — getting creative with the car.”

Kevin McNeill and John Guo discuss the finer points of gravitational aerodynamics (one imagines) during their visit to Terr-el Oilfield Welding & Repair. 

The creativity they come up with will be just as crucial as the safe, solid, and reliable craft Skiba has stated is his main responsibility in delivering as project lead, since flair will be on par with function in the eyes of Red Bull. And the eyes of the world, which will soon be cast on Edmonton’s Queen Elizabeth Park Road and The Stream Team hurtling down it.

“It’s a big opportunity to market ourselves and have fun,” said Pelletier of the international event and media exposure it will entail. “There’s definitely multiple goals being hit here.”

Full stream ahead, as they say.

Sean Heatherington has the finish line in his sights as he visualizes racing down Queen Elizabeth Park Road as hundreds cheer for The Stream Team to reign supreme.

Have questions? Contact us today to get in touch.

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