After 10 years on a Stanwood street, race gets new track
The Stanwood Camano Island Soap Box Derby is on the move.
After 10 years racing down 800 feet of 276th Street NW in Stanwood, kids will now cruise down a nearly 1,000-foot new track at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island.
“We’ve been watching this site for five years,” said Randy Heagle, who, along with wife Marla, owns the local Windermere offices that are the soap box derby’s lead sponsor. “We were always paying attention for a possible site in Stanwood, we just couldn’t get it to work.”
The Heagles bought the ranch — across Arrowhead Road from the entrance to Utsalady Elementary School — about two years ago and now are ready to raise up the start of the track by about 20 feet in the northeast corner of the property. The track will run about 1,000 feet downhill toward the southwest at an angle that won’t be as steep as the hill in Stanwood.
The site, which includes a house and a barn, should allow for a more leisurely race day, Heagle said.
“Blocking the street used to frustrate some neighbors in Stanwood,” he said. “I mean, I get it, and we always tried to be courteous. So instead of celebrating, we were always trying to clean up and get out of the way.”
The open, grassy area surrounding the track should provide a different ambience.
“Families can barbecue and relax the whole day instead of it feeling like an all-day scramble,” Heagle said.
However, some logistics of race day operations remain to be worked out between now and race day, such as the best option to bring cars back up the ramp, Heagle said.
The 11th annual Windermere Stanwood Camano Island Soap Box Derby takes place June 16 at 615 Arrowhead Road. A trial run will happen May 31. The race will again send winners to the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship race in mid-July in Akron, Ohio. Winners of the international race receive college scholarships and other prizes.
Last year, 51 participants — two at a time — raced in cars representing myriad local businesses and service clubs.
“We started this to bring families together,” Heagle said. “You see a great-grandfather with his great-granddaughter working together on a car. It’s his chance to spend time with her. It’s just heartwarming. Then you see the lights go on in the kids’ eyes and it’s an amazing thing.”
Dozens of Windermere employees and community volunteers help during clinics and the race, which remains one of the largest Soap Box Derby races in the western United States.
In the stock division, the combined weight of the stock car, wheels and driver cannot exceed 200 pounds. Drivers must be age 7 by race day and not 14 until Aug. 1.
For the super stock division, the combined weight cannot exceed 240 pounds. Drivers must be age 9 by race day and not turn 19 until Aug. 1.
Build clinics for drivers and coaches start April 12. The 2018 race is slated for June 16. See soapboxderby.org/stanwood-camano-island.
Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.