Annual Soapbox Derby returns to Madison Avenue

A race to place



Atlanta United fans race down the track with their soapbox.

Over the start line and down the hill they go, through the path of hay bales, racing towards the finish line. Parents and kids cheer along the sidelines. The annual Madison Avenue Soapbox Derby has returned to Oakhurst attracting almost 3,000 guests from the Atlanta area.

Little, homemade cars on 4 wheels and a frame race down Madison Avenue. An opportunity for kids and teenagers to enter their soapboxes to race.

Starting in 2011, the race has become an event that attracts spectators, sponsors and competitors. Created by local residents, the goal of the derby is to bring the community together and to raise money for charity.

“That’s the big difference [with the derby]; we give every penny away to children’s charities,” president of derby planning committee Sterling Roach said.

A soapbox flips before the finish line. Helpers and volunteers race to help the competitor.

The event featured more than 55 soapboxes competing in 95 races.

Decatur residents aren’t the only competitors. Middle school students from The SAE School in Mableton, Georgia have participated in this race for three years.

“We started this two years ago to see if we could actually make a properly functioning car,” SAE student Liam Lambert said.

At the SAE school, the kids take the soapboxes into their own hands. They split into teams to create all the different parts of the car.

“We have a couple of projects within different classes, and this project is our first one for project based learning,” Lambert said.

The students precisely calculated the dimensions and mechanics of the car in order for it to function properly and safely. They build the car off of a metal frame known as a chassis.

SAE students (from left) Liam Lambert, Henderson Rossir, Amari Hutchins.

“Our chassis is made out of a metal rod with two wheels that are welded on in the front and in the back. We have brackets that hold on to a bicycle wheel. We had to shorten the staff because if we didn’t, it would tilt too much or it could potentially break off, and our break is made out of a hockey puck basically,” SAE student Amari Hutchins said.

Aside from the races in the side streets of Madison Avenue, tents with food from many restaurants in Oakhurst, including Steinbeck’s and Universal Joint, sold their food. Kids who weren’t in the races still had an opportunity to take part in fun activities. A small booth with face paint was set up not far away from the race track.

The derby complete with all its activities and races makes for a memorable annual event for local participants.