Soap Box Derby

Dear Liza,

I know I have told you that one of the things I like most about Portland is that the grown ups here like to be silly and have fun, just like kids. Today we went to see the Adult Soap Box Derby up on Mt. Tabor, where a lot of really smart people get together to design push cars…just for fun.

Babe the Blue Ox of the Lagers (Loggers)

Auntie Bridgett didn’t go, because she was not feeling well, but Grandpa Nelson and I drove up to Tabor Bread for breakfast. This is the bakery with the wood fired oven I told you about last week. Their quiche and rye doughnuts are just as yummy as their breakfast cookies!

We continued east and parked just at the base of Mt. Tabor. Thousands of people go to see the Derby, so parking is pretty tight. And of course, it’s all uphill to walk there. We followed the crowds up trails, cross country, and along roads, up and up.

Teletubbies on the Road!


At exactly 11:00, we heard the shouts as the first group of cars headed down the road. Each race has three cars in it, and they are timed. After a few races, the slower cars are eliminated, with races and eliminations continuing until there is a winner.

Some cars are built for speed, low to the ground with smooth turning wheels and careful engineering. The Tabor Accounting Group had the fastest car I saw, though I don’t know the final winner yet, and I didn’t get a picture because it was moving so fast!

Others are built just for fun, like the big rainbow slice of birthday cake and Wall-e. One, called The Rainmaker, had a water cannon and sprayed the squealing crowd as it went by!img_9617.jpg

The event was very typically Portland. Lots of kids, dogs, happy people, food and beer. The rules are few and even those are loosely enforced. Some people brought picnics and blankets, spread out on patches of dried grass (still no rain!) and got comfy. Others, like us, walked to the top to see a few starts and all the cars, then made their way down to the finish line, enjoying the mountain and the crowds, the scenery, and being outdoors.


It is fun to see what mechanically clever people can do when they decide to get together and have fun. I am sure many fine engineers and scientists may get their start designing a better, faster, slice of cake for the Derby.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

2 thoughts on “Soap Box Derby”

  1. Oh my. we have all kinds of cars in Monterey this week.
    I no longer deal with too much walking, so I don’t attend. Sunday at Hartnell is HAIR. Jim and I saw it way back when. I will be interested in opinions from a few of the ladies. Love the idea that the rules are simple and the finished projects are sooooo colorful and fun.


  2. “Rules are simple and the finished projects are so colorful and fun.” Talking about the decorated cars not HAIR.


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