by Hugh Donagher
On June 1st, the Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby will return to Old Mountain View. Building on the momentum and success of last year’s event, the organizers are excited to bring this event back to “the perfect hill” in Old Mountain View: Dana Street between Calderon and Pioneer. Many anxious soap box drivers, ages 8-17, are looking forward to their second chance at racing for the right to represent Silicon Valley at the All American Soap Box Derby at fabled Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio at the end of July.
Approximately forty drivers are expected to enter this year’s event, competing in the Stock and SuperStock divisions. These drivers race in a bracket that gives all of them more than one chance to advance in the standings. Each heat they race consists of two phases. In the first phase, two drivers race down the hill. At the finish line, the wheels from the two cars are swapped, and the cars swap lanes, after which the cars are returned to the starting line and the two drivers race again. The aggregate of the times from the two runs determine the winner of the heat. The winner of each heat advances to the winners’ bracket and the other driver advances to the consolation bracket. This continues throughout the day until the winners are eventually declared at the end of the day’s racing.
In addition to the traditional Soap Box Derby, this year’s event will again feature a SuperKids Classic, expanded to include more kids facing different challenges, such as blindness and low vision. In the SuperKids races, children who are physically or developmentally disabled race in cars built for two that are piloted by qualified Soap Box Derby drivers. Like the winners of the Stock and Super Stock divisions, the winner of the SuperKids Classic will advance to the National SuperKids Classic, held concurrently with the All American Soap Box Derby in July.
In the weeks leading up to Derby Day, all drivers must build their own cars, participate in mandatory safety and driving clinics, earn their “driver’s license” and finally, submit their car for weighing, inspection and impound the night before the race.
Committee meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at Clocktower Coffee Conference Center, 425 North Whisman Road, beginning at 7:00 pm. Anyone is welcome to attend. If any parents and kids are interested in participating in this year’s race, attending a meeting is a good start, but an email to OMV resident Hugh Donagher (firstname.lastname@example.org) will put you in touch with the organizers.