The annual Soap Box Derby in West Point, California drives home classic fun

ByChris Bollini Localish logo
Friday, November 10, 2023
Soap Box Derby drives home classic fun
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The community gathers to cheer on local children as they race down Main Street.

WEST POINT, Calif. -- For more than two decades, the small town of West Point in California has hosted their annual Soap Box Derby.

"What I love about soap box derby is that you race and just have fun," young derby racer Arik states.

"Last year, I wasn't old enough to do it, but this year I was finally old enough," racer Grayson declares.

Entrants between the ages of 7 and 15 years old build their own cars for the competition.

"It's pretty much a bunch of plywood and wheels," racing parent Alexis shares.

On race day, the enthusiastic racers walk up Main Street to the starting line.

"They will come racing down this highway," organizer Shelly Timm explains; "it's a car race."

"Our mini NASCAR, yeah," founder Kevin Downun adds with a chuckle.

The West Point Soap Box Derby first started in the late sixties, but then soon after, stopped.

"The founders moved out of town," Timm explains.

"They quit doing it for a few years," Downun reveals.

Kevin Downun who raced in those early events himself wanted to ensure that the Soap Box Derby would not be forgotten.

"By the time I was old enough to do something, me, my wife and my dad brought it back around," Downun shares.

"We are one of the few left in the nation, in the whole country," Timm adds.

As racers zoom towards the finish line, the cheers of the crowd fills the street.

"The crowd loves it. These kids feed off our crowd," Timm says.

"This is a great experience to try," Arik states.

"I will continue and when I'm done, my kids will take it over because it's our passion," Timm declares.