The drivers are ready to roll.
About 80 area kids have spent the past 10 weeks polishing, tweaking and fine-tuning their soap box derby cars ahead of this weekend’s big races.
The 15th annual Windermere Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby — the only soap box derby in Washington and the largest west of the Mississippi River — sends drivers two at a time down the track at speeds around 25 mph all day Saturday at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island.
“The momentum continues to grow for this event,” said Marla Heagle, board member of the Arrowhead Ranch Foundation. “In the 15th year, we have captured the most attention because of key new sponsors like Alaska Airlines. Support from our key sponsors means we are creating more opportunities for children and families to grow in this sport through our foundation.”
Winners of the race’s two divisions earn trips to the All-American World Championship Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.
Last year, two local racers won titles at the national showcase.
Bella Siddle won the rally stock division, becoming the first racer from Washington to win an All-American Soap Box Derby title since David Krussow of Tacoma in 1966. Ronan Johnson won two prestigious races — the Rally Masters 3-Lane Challenge and the Legacy World Championships.
Last year, the Stanwood-Camano race featured 80 racers on the dedicated soap box track at Arrowhead Ranch — one of only 23 dedicated tracks in the U.S., which has about 110 race sites each year.
The event, from start to finish, helps cultivate and sharpen skills like mental toughness, sportsmanship, communication, teamwork and craftsmanship, local race officials said.
“My dream of soap box derby racing started in 2007, and I just knew it was something we needed to bring to Camano as a way to bring our community together,” said Randy Heagle, a board member of the Arrowhead Ranch Foundation. “But to be honest, the main reason I wanted to bring derby racing to Camano Island is it sounds like a whole lot of fun.”
The race, which is free to the public, starts at 9 a.m. at 615 Arrowhead Road. Spectators are encouraged to follow the signs for parking in a field next to the ranch.
The local race is divided into two groups. In the stock division, the combined weight of the stock car, wheels and driver cannot exceed 200 pounds. For the super stock division, the combined weight limit is 240 pounds. Stock division drivers must be ages 7-13; super stock drivers 9-17. The top finisher in each division wins a trip to the World Championship on July 24, where racers compete for the title of world champion and more than $36,000 in college scholarships.
The local soap box derby event incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, while encouraging active mentorship and family collaboration throughout the derby car-building process. Most racers and family members have spent the past few weeks attending driving and building clinics in addition to working on their cars, many of which are paid for by local businesses.
In addition to races, spectators can see Terrance Bedford sing the national anthem and enjoy local food vendors: Pure Smoke BBQ, Arrowhead Pizza, Piroshky Piroshky, Kona Ice and Juniper Bites.