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 things¬†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.