On a recent trip to Portland, I had the luck of attending the 19th annual PDX Adult Soapbox Derby. Held on the streets of Mt. Tabor Park, dozens of teams hurtled downhill in their homemade gravity-powered vehicles to the cheers of the gathered crowd.

The derby vehicles (and I use that term very loosely) came in all shapes and sizes. Some teams favored the more traditional soapbox racer design, with a focus on being the fastest down the course. Others bucked speed for moxy, with designs ranging from a giant steampunk R2-D2, to a Hungry Hungry Hippo chasing a marble.


My favorite team had to be the Ghostbusters car, complete with Slimer and proton pack-toting Ghostbuster passenger. Notable others included the Ferrari-red number 42 with Formula-1 sounds bellowing from its body, and torpedo-shaped Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.

Soapbox Derbies are a great reminder of the creativity and ingenuity that is present in every community, and they show that amazing thingsĀ can be accomplished in the spirit of friendly competition. Even if you’re not inclined to build one, they’re a fantastic way to meet other Makers in your town or city and get inspired.