The state venue for the Maine Soap Box Derby Race is Houlton Maine.
Derby racing is not new to the Pine Tree State. Since 1934 when the big national race started in Akron Ohio, through out the years Maine fielded a crop of new racers. Boys and girls that competed for the chance to head out to the mid west to represent their local town on the bigger stage.
Derby racing in Maine was big in the 1950’s, 1960’s when the parents or sponsor only ordered wheels and axles, a helmet . That was it with the rest of derby car building left up to the racing team. To collectively figure out what to construct for the driver to slide into for the hang on, strap in, get down.
Here we go down the derby race hill in one of two lanes. A street shut down for the day of racing in Maine to determine a derby winner took a lot of work in the build the hill and tear it down to put it back into its original intended use for local vehicle traffic.
Back in 1995 when the now defunct MBNA was active in the Northport / Camden Maine area, $20,000 was set aside by then rolling high credit card giant.
Ear marked for the planning and implementation of a Maine state soap box derby race program. To bring back was had taken a nap. Fueled with money to lubricate the wheels to jump start down hill gravity racing, the strong derby association in New Hampshire was tapped. To help Maine put on a program to create boys and girls to climb into sponsored cars to compete in heats. Down hills in a small Maine town or one of the handful of cities in Vacationland.
So with the help of the Granite State to the south, the wheels started spinning as kit cars were orders from the All American Soap Box Derby Association. Shipping companies started delivery of the stock, super stock cars. And outlined the procedure to build these two classes plus the master derby car division. The latter designed with a tad more latitude to add your own ingenuity and engineering for older derby racers. To keep their interest captive and competitive with the spirit of racing.
Because entire families have kids who derby race in Maine and other state locals.
Take your pick Watch some Maine soap box derby race videos. To see how things rock and roll, for the rattle and hum. The three divisions designed to draw from all the ages and stages of youth in this competitive down hill car racing sport. Where gravity is your engine. Plus lots of applied science to explore more reasons why some kids and their derby race cars are faster to the finish line.
Dealing with changing weather is part of soap box derby racing and kids, their families prepare for as one factor of the sport to always consider. Because any kind of wind, rain, snow, blistering heat. Or surprise, all of the above that Maine is famous for that happens during long derby races. Held under skies of all colors in the ever changing weather report on any given day when down hill soap box derby races are held.
In 1995 a resurgence soap box derby race in Maine was held in Camden.
A few families from Houlton Maine with children who raced in the stock division took careful notes. Bringing back what the parents and pioneer racers learned on the coastal town race sponsored by MBNA. To kick off a race in Houlton Maine where a peaceful take over of Drakes Hill, happened. A public US highway not far from the International border crossing into Canada was where the local Northern Maine soap box derby race was held until 1999. The earlier version, not kept up to date Northern Maine Soap Box Derby site shows the history. See link below for new fresh current soap box derby news for the Maine program. Video link for a soap box derby race in Maine.
More on our national champion, the five local soap box derby races in Maine, who they were back in the late 1990’s. And explaining the reason crash and burn out happened in the derby racing in Maine program. The lone soap box derby race venue Houlton Maine is where the state competition is held each June. Why did this small Aroostook County town derby racing program survive? Because of the wisdom of locals to build an engineered hill specifically for down hill racing events. For local races and derby rallies held around the calendar to sharpen driving skills. To provide opportunities for racers to log more time behind the wheel. For youngsters filled with “the thrill of the hill” fever to compete in downhill soap box derby car racing.
The Houlton Maine local, now state race dual purpose competition is June 17th, 2017.
The day before used to safety check derby race cars and check weights, educate new racers. And to make sure everything is kept fair in the spirit of racing where every driver hops out of their cars, meets in the middle of lane one and two to shake hands, congratulate. As someone moves on up into the medal rounds of the heat sheet for derby racing. To eventually create a new winner to represent the state of Maine in the world series, triple crown of racing in Akron Ohio the following month of July each year.
Your Me In Maine author is lucky to hail from Aroostook County where the state derby race is held.
I have enjoyed fielding two local soap box derby race winners, a son and a daughter who headed to Akron for the big race. Helping create four more drivers who won and went onto Ohio. All four of my kids were involved in kit car downhill racing on the local, and down state, New Hampshire soap box derby race circuit. With a Jeep pulling a loaded trailer with four derby cars, all the tools, weights, etc needed to race at many events around New England.
I stayed with what was the largest race in the nation five years in a row because the derby program has been so good to my family. And the excitement of new racers who don’t want to wait until they are sixteen to drive a car is infectious.
Once you hear the launch release topside on derby hill looking down the track, and the sound of wheels rolling, derby mania returns deep down inside for me and others who have stuck with the Northern Maine soap box derby program.
Each car and driver has plenty of personality and it is fun for an adult to be a little kid and share in the racing excitement.
There is nothing like an 8 year old who is terrified at the top of Derby Hill that transforms to all grins and a desire to dig in and learn how to win at the bottom of the hill. When the zoo crew by the timer and cones hollers “BBbbrake”. And the driver pops up, asks did I win, was it me? As he or she looks back over their shoulder up at the timer lights to see which lane has the winning light shining.
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