Hard to believe, but we are less than three months away from our first Soapbox Race of 2022.
There will be three races this year, starting with Greenfield's Soapbox Races on Saturday, May 7th at noon on Nash's Mill Road. This is an excellent hill, and despite being held the same day as the Franklin County Fair last year, we had a good crowd and some serious racing action. The Friends of Greenfield Recreation earned about $3500 from the event, with special thanks to primary sponsor Greenfield Savings Bank and all the other sponsors, materials donors, and volunteers. We hope to repeat it again this year, but with more people!
The second Soapbox Race this year may be in Bernardston. The committee is exploring holding theirs on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, May 29th, to coincide with the annual Gas and Engine Show. A perfect combination! The hill will be Eden Trail down to West Mountain Road. It's a wicked course and adult racers will reach speeds over 50 MPH. This will be the first race in Bernardston since the town's 250th anniversary celebration back in 2012. Ten years ago!
The third Soapbox Race this year will be back in Montague, on Sunday, September 18th at Unity Park, as usual. This will be the sixth race they've held in Turners Falls, and as usual they break all kinds of records, with an excellent turn out last year. In addition to earning $2500 for the Montague Parks & Recreation Department, thanks in part again to primary sponsor GSB, they had 41 racers go down the First Street hill, with some record-breaking speeds (37 MPH recorded for the first time) and spectacular (soft) crashes, as well as amazing cart designs. One of the crowd favorites was a red cardboard octopus submarine, complete with flailing tentacles and port windows.
Despite its Nascar-like modus, building a soapbox cart is really a STEAM project, combining Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. It's perfect for school kids and adults, families and friends, and even local companies who want to leave it all on the track. All carts must be hand-built, and anyone from 8 to 80 yrs old can race. All races start at noon. And this year we will introduce a new Semi-Pro category (in addition to kids, teens and adults) to each race for those who build serious speed carts and want their own special prize.
The popularity of the event, and the sport itself, is evident in the distances people will drive to race their carts. We've had racers come from as far away as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York State, and of course Vermont and New Hampshire. Most of these people came to town, stayed overnight, ate local fare, and put on displays of ingenuity and daring-do for the onlookers. Please come out for the races and give them your support.
All Soapbox Races are organized by each town's recreation department (or friends of) as fundraisers for their programming and equipment, with the help of the Northeast Soapbox Association. Each race is looking for sponsors, volunteers, vendors, and of course racers! If you are interested in going down the hill, volunteering, or helping fund this unique event, please start your journey at NortheastSoapbox.org where you can find the full year's schedule and links to each town's races where you can register your cart or your intention to sponsor or volunteer (get a free t-shirt, hey!). This year there will be no same-day cart registration, and the cut-off is in the week before the race.
Ready? Set... GO!