Indianapolis, IN – The Soap Box Derby National Championships 150 plus entries from the United States, during the Labor Day weekend.
When I was growing up, I knew myself as a boy of extremes. Whether I was playing it too safe, or too loose, I never could find that sweet spot. For instance, I would enter my wooden cart in the Pinewood Derby every year. And then lose. Every year. But my heart wasn’t as into it as it was when I would get home from Boy Scouts and take our gasoline driven dune buggy for a spin. On the other hand, riding that go-kart did come with it’s near misses and close calls. And nobody’s mother wants to hear her kid’s dead. Let alone from something as lame as a mailbox collision.
One thing I never thought of when I had the chance is a happy medium to the mania. For those who looking to closely simulate the horsepower adrenaline of NASCAR, Soap Box Derbies are a fine start.
Dating back to the 1930’s, soap box derbies began as kids using elbow grease to compete in roaring, engine-less machines of wood. (The kind that was often used to make crates for soap boxes.) Their greatest adversary? Gravity. As the kids hurtle downhill, the momentum of force pushes down on the weight of the cart to propel rambunctious racers safely.
Cut to current day, Wilbur Shaw Memorial Hill saw dozens of junior drivers haul wherewithal down the country’s longest track, 2200 West 30th Street.
By enticing the children with the joy of soap box derbies, they learn a bit of science along the way. Indianapolis City-County Councilor Monroe Gray Jr. even affirmed that “STEM is very much a part of soap box derby racing.”
With all the physics and woodwork shown to the pre-adolescent adrenaline junkies, their dedication to maximizing their mach is impressive.
But it’s not all youngsters crossing the finish line. 59-year old Debra Houston was lauded as the eldest competitor at the event. Regarding soap box derbies, Houston believes “it teaches [kids] to be on time and to want something.”
Many families, were on time, rooting uproariously for every contender, while keeping in ordinance with mask safety and social distancing.
The Soap Box Derby racing scene still grows strong on Facebook as well as it’s own dedicated website and is likely to see a spike. This is possibly due to the past weekend’s success holding the Nationals in Indianapolis for the first time in 20 years.
So by the looks of it, soap box derbies are may grow extremely [fun] from here. And as far as history’s concerned, they’re still on the first lap.