There are plenty of reasons why people come out to the Soap Box Derby. Sometimes it’s about family; sometimes it’s about traditional crafts and ingenuity. Sometimes it’s just about speed and bolts and teasing an aerodynamically slippery wooden box to reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour under the slightest tug from gravity.
At the end of June, the Salem Soap Box Derby Association hosted the 62nd annual All American Local Championship at Bush’s Pasture Park, site of a rare and pristine track that runs alongside Willamette University’s McCulloch Stadium.
For several days, the place transformed as competitors aged 7 to 17 pushed each other to sit tighter, gaze straighter and coast faster. Parents, cheering on, saw the event as a way to pass down the values of perseverance, sportsmanship and hard work.
Photos by Frank Miller. Intro by Erik Schmidt.