Arrowhead Ranch got the green flag to host the Stanwood Camano Island Soap Box Derby. The 14th annual derby, which was shut down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be back June 19.
In 2019, more kids and their families were involved in the soap box derby process from start to finish — both at the Camano Island track and other derbies around the world.
“We’re really seeing a resurgence,” Mark Gerberich, president and CEO of the International Soap Box Derby, said during a March 2020 visit to the area before races were canceled. Now, the hope is to recapture that momentum. “I honestly think people are so itching to get out and about that I don’t think we will miss a beat,” said Randy Heagle, who with wife Marla, owns the local Windermere offices and are the soap box derby’s lead sponsor.
In 2019, the Stanwood-Camano race featured a record 93 racers on a dedicated soap box track at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano, one of 23 dedicated tracks in the U.S., which has about 110 race sites each year. Heagle said organizers are bracing for more than 100 racers this year.
When the local race started in 2008, it was on a Stanwood street with 13 racers and a few hundred spectators. Last year, a few thousand came to Arrowhead Ranch to watch more than 200 races. Now in its 14th year, the Stanwood-Camano race is ready to kick off the season with a series of open houses and workshops where kids and families build the cars.
Kids ages 7-17 and families interested in racing can see the track, check out the cars, talk to experts, take a run down the hill and learn how to register during an open house at the ranch at 615 Arrowhead Road, Camano Island. Attendees can register as a participant, volunteer or sponsor. The free open house runs from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 10. For information, visit arrowheadranchcamano.com/soap-box-derby.
Kids typically attend build clinics and test their cars throughout the spring in the run up to race day. During build clinics, racers work one-on-one with mentors learning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) skills and how to work with tools as they build and customize their cars. Their work culminates with the main event, when thousands line the 1,000-foot long track watching kids top 30 mph vying for the top spots and a trip to the national race in Akron, Ohio. The track also plays host to a rally stop later in the summer, part of a national soap box rally circuit.
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