2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Portland Adult Soap Box Derby. Each year, a group of adult Portlanders make their way to the hills of Mount Tabor, Portland’s own volcano, with intricate, hand-built soapbox cars to tear down the side of the volcano in an epic race of insanity and near-death craziness much to the great amusement of the huge crowds that assemble there.
It’s a ton of fun, but how did it get started and why?
In the 1990s, two crazy Portland guys (who living in Portland isn’t crazy, really?), Paul Zenk and Eric Foren, decided to import the soapbox races they had witnessed in California where teams of racers flew down the hills of the Mission District of San Francisco. In 1997, Zenk and Foren assembled a group of six racers, made their way to the top of Mount Tabor, and flew down the side of the volcano to their deaths.
Well, not really to their deaths; more like to the birth of the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby as we know it (and love it) today. Twenty years later, more than 40 teams hand-build cars (read: vehicles) each year to race on a closed course where the soapbox cars can only be powered with a single push to the top of Mt. Tabor and by letting gravity take care of the rest.
The Portland Adult Soapbox Derby is a fantastic event and fun for the entire family (except pets – leave them dogs at home) and we highly recommend you check it out if you’ve never been. Unfortunately, the 20th anniversary has come and gone as it took place on Saturday, August 19, but you can get ready for next year by visiting the official website: www.soapboxracer.com.
Do you have your own insane/hilarious soapbox derby experience either in Portland or elsewhere? Feel free to share it in the comments!