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Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Soapbox Derby '06
This year there weren't any soapbox racers shaped like what a 3rd grader might refer to as a "pee pee," but I think the entries topped '06 in terms of creativity. The brave racers that ascended the slopes of Mt. Tabor Park last Saturday brought with them mobiles that boggled the mind and tickled the imagination (not necessarily in that order). Myself, Cup O' Noodles, his pal Sam and the awesome power of my 3.2 megapixel Canon camera were on hand for the later half of the 2006 Portland Adult Soapbox Derby.
My favorite would have to be this one, a cubicle racer that was somehow driven by two racers as they pretended to do office work. Another racer with two turkeys and their human jockey counterparts was also pretty gosh darn impressive even if this photo isn't.
Sure, they didn't stand a chance against the sleek, high-performance mobiles that looked like they were designed by German engineers but who cares? When you're riding a turkey made out of construction paper and who knows what else down a steep, windy road, your primary concern should probably be survival.
There were also a couple of guys running around in Ghostbuster uniforms. We never did figure out if they were there to race or decided to attend dressed like Bill Murray for reasons known only to them.
Oh, and this guy wound up going backwards into a curve. If he made it all the way to the finish line like that he's a true American hero. It should also be noted that the following one was made out of a kiddie pool:
Ahhh, the whole thing brings a tear to my eye. Good ol' reliably weird Portland. Where else can you spend a day on an extinct volcano chugging tall boys while watching area residents fling themselves down the slopes in cubicles? Maybe somewhere in Iceland or possibly the Bay Area. If human beings in Berkley are buzzing around in soapbox racers that make these machines look like the work of trained hamsters, I don't want to hear about it. Let me continue to cling to the illusion that this is the quirkiest place on the planet, Twin Peaks, Duckberg and Black Rock City notwithstanding.
This was the 10th annual derby and, based on what I've read, it had to be toned down this time around. The organizers were sued by one racer that crashed in 2005, forcing them to create a limited liability company to handle any potential disasters. They also had to make the hard decision to at least suggest that racers remain sober prior to launch. The grand final of the event, which pitted all of the still operational mobiles against one another at the same time, was also sadly cut but not without good reason. To learn more, click here for the Mercury's coverage from last week. The article's title? "Speed! Death! Beer!"
To get a closer look at these amazing photos in all their 3.2 megapixel glory, along with shots of a racer shaped like a stegosaurus, click here for a Flickr gallery.