Put down your video game controllers and step away from your Mario Kart. The best way to race isn’t on a television, it’s down a volcano in Portland.
But this is no children’s game — the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby (Aug. 18) pits grown-up kids against each other, each designing and assembling their own downhill racers in pursuit of maximum speed or big laughs.
The annual event reaches its sweet 16 this year. But as long as these homemade racers tickle the spine of Mount Tabor, an extinct volcano that is now a forested urban park in Southeast Portland, the event will never grow up. Each year, dozens of teams build cars to zip down the course, a great mix of curves and straight-aways, lined with picnicking onlookers — many sipping cool brews in the designated beer garden.
Prizes for speed, engineering, fan-favorites and lifetime achievement are handed out to deserving daredevils, but the cheers may be more valuable than any award. Everything from streamlined, lacquered, wooden one-man bombers to fully-packed Scooby Doo Dream Machine doppelgängers zooms down the hill, making this a great day in the park for kids and the young-at-heart alike.